Homeless in San Francisco, Berkeley Iceland …

by on July 20, 2007

To the Editor –

Just in the 19 months I’ve lived in Noe Valley, the number of homeless, i.e. panhandlers, has increased markedly! And I should note “aggressive panhandling” takes place in the central business district (24th St) at an alarming rate. Last week, in a two block walk down one side of 24th and back up the other, I was accosted by 5 people.

I always try to look at them and greet them, but more and more, I am cursed at when they realized I’m not giving them anything. And there are our pretty little parking meter maids riding up and down ticketing tax paying citizens who have paid for at least a little time to subject themselves to this disgrace. Why aren’t the mini police a part of the solution? Surely there are laws against aggressive panhandling and loitering?

Noe Valley Citizens, PLEASE, stop giving them anything and they’ll move on to the next suckers!

David L. Wood

To the Editor:

Well, the impossible happened on July 17 when two staunch Bates allies, Betty Olds and Gordon Wozniak, sided with the rink preservationists to uphold the landmarking of the entire “Iceland” building. So your article is sort of moot, because of this shocking turn of events. I can’t think of any other development issue other than the Ashby transit village fiasco (and perhaps the see-sawing fortunes of Bates’ LPO reform) that has gone against the Mayor like this one. But I wanted to point out to you, respectfully, that you missed a point in your otherwise informative post from yesterday.

Iceland, the building, would not have been “demolished” under the Bates-sanctioned Ali Kashani development plan. The art deco facade and the entrance way of the the building would have remained landmarked and the rest of the building (which attorney Rina Rickles compared to a “potato factory”) – along with the “berms” (piles of dirt with grass growing on it) would have been fair game for whatever alterations/demolitions were needed to build condos up to the sky (we can assume the “Iceland Condos”)

It’s also very important to realize that a landmarked Iceland building doesn’t mean an ice rink for Berkeley’s future.

The next few months (or years) following the upholding of the landmarking decision to preserve the full structure will now be even more interesting than if the council had voted the other way and allowed the Iceland building to be altered. Again, cynical watchers of Berkeley development politics will say that the building’s future is either as a vacant blighted landmark – or just smaller condos. The hopes of the rink lovers still seem a long way from being fulfilled.

Also of note, it was reveled at the July 12th City Council meeting that the “Save-Berkeley-Iceland” folks lost a key ally to the other side when the YMCA’s rep at the meeting, Mr Fagan Gallati, said the Y was no longer interested in running a rink for the community group, but instead was seriously considering an offer from Kashani to locate a regional headstart center in the “New Iceland” building. If the landmarking of the berms and box had been overturned, the presence of the Headstart center would have granted the developer a density bonus – every square foot of day care space would have translated to another square foot of condos above. (this would be in addition to the political cover provided by pitting one group of kids against another – poor tots vs rink rats) Of course this also seems moot now. But it’s a good example of how deftly the Berkeley development crowd can maneuver at times.

Respectfully, Eric Klein

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Beyond Chron
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San Francisco, CA 94102
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