Meeting at Berkeley Chinese Community Church 5/24/00
Well, even though I had just had an outpatient surgery
to get some cysts and skin tags removed, I decided to
head to the local commumity meeeting at the Berkeley
Community Church. The meeting was held in the main
'church room' where they do their religious meetings. That is
we sat in the benches, with the local councilwoman,
Donna Spring up in front of the group in her wheelchair.
The fact that this building is right next door to my house
made it a little easier to check it out.
After sitting down, everyone in the group introduced themselves
and stated their address.
Me, I mentioned that I'm on Addison Street. Apparently
one of the goals was supposed to get us meeting by blocks.
Turns out there was only one couple on Addison Street there,
and we chatted a bit, though they didn't seem too interested
in hanging out or anything -- not that I pushed the matter.
Mostly we discussed termites, and the termite problems their
building has, and what I need to do here at my house to adress
the termite issue.
The meeting itself was highlighted by two big issues. The first
one crime, and the second traffic. On the crime front, they
brought in some kind of policeman, the guy in charge of our
area. I asked a few stupid questions myself, mostly since
I felt like opening my mouth. Like, about how long cars
had to be abandonded before I should call the police. Turns
out the offical answer is 72 hours. One woman there seemed
to have a pretty serious stalking issue -- with some guy who
apparently was robbing her and bugging her in various ways.
And she seemed to have a real problem getting the police
to take her seriously. The policeman's speech mentioned
a few local 'incidents.' Both of these down at the local
park, I think it's Strawberry Park or something like that.
The officer seemed to have that 'police confidence' they get.
He really lit up when he was talking about some kind of
super-duper 'Lo-Jack' car alarm system that people were
getting to protect their vehicles. Had an interesting anecdote
of how they tracked a Lo-Jack car onto a container ship heading
out of the bay. It seems the most common
crimes are the car theft and burglary. Some other people
also reported having identity theft. Me, I've been worried
about this myself, so I've purchased a paper shredder to
take care of my old bills and credit card junk mail.
The second big issue was traffic. There was a very interesting
confusion about whether you could turn left on Alston and
Sacramento, after you've entered the center divider. It's
hard to explain this exactly if you've never seen the
intersection, but basically, the issue is that when you turn
left, you get stuck in the center divide. And there, you see
a red traffic light, which some drivers just stop at. Turns
out in this case, it's legal to continue through the red light,
since you're turning left for an intersection that's 'controlled
for the entire intersection' or something like this. There's
also another confusing sign, at a three way intersection, where
drivers get confused about a right turn okay on red, or something
like this, where it's not clear which turn it applies to.
One woman was quite upset about a barrier at California and
Alston. She says that cars swerve around the barrier, and
blast through the sidewalks, nearly hitting pedestrians.
Apparently the cyclists want this barrier larger, and
no stop signs on California, while, some neighbors want a
four-way stop, or are concerned that the cyclist plan will
lead to more pedestrians getting flattened.
This is apparently a big problem here, and someone said Berkeley
is one of the most deadly places for pedestrians -- though
I can't help but attribute some of this to people around
Telegraph Avenue who seem to walk through on the red lights,
ignoring the cars.
There was a small bit of discussion about trash. Me, I've
had problems here with my trashcans getting stolen all the
time, though I didn't say much about this. Someone else
had landlords who weren't helping them recycle or some kind
of issue like this. One guy was all worried about the
neighbors who let the weeds grow, which I have to confess
to being guilty of on occasion. Really, I'm just busy,
sometimes it's hard to get it taken care of. There was also
a brief discussion of the noise ordinances. Another woman
had loud parties at her neighbor's house.
I did go to the bathroom at the Chinese Community
Church. From the main room with the benches, you
go back through a door in the folding wall. While
I was there, a Tai Chi class was going on, and someone
said, "You can join us for Tai Chi" next Wednesday
if you like. Actually, maybe I might, sometime,
since it's right outside my house. Further back,
towards the back of the building were two small
bathrooms. Slightly old and a little small, but
basically clean and okay.
Anyway, after the meeting, I walked up and chatted up
the councilwoman, Donna Spring for a bit. I mentioned
that she looked much better, and that her hair was very
well done. Actually, she seemed much more professional
and coherent than I remember her from the past.
Since I sort of remember her being a little frumpy, and
a bit confused looking in the city meetings. I think all
the public speaking she's done over the years have sharpened
up her public persona.
that the housing prices around here were going through the
roof, and how I happy that wasn't getting murdered for
property taxes because of Prop 13 -- which was probably
isn't Berkeley political
orthodoxy so maybe that didn't go over so well.
Anyway, she politely excused herself,
and I walked home. I was getting a little
tired myself -- having hunks of meat cut out of me earlier that day.
Once I got home, I ate some food, rested, and wrote this informative
report for berkeleybarb.com.