by Carol Denney March 2019
Police Policy on RVs - What Was the Process? by Carol Denney
What's missing from the coverage of the Berkeley City Council's RV regulations prohibiting parking on public streets between 2:00 am and 5:00 am is any examination of why they were deliberately concentrated in District One by the Berkeley police. There appears to have been no public process for this decision, which was either a unilateral decision by the police, or guided behind the scenes by the City Manager.
Something else is missing; the deliberate concentration of RVs in District One has an eerie resemblance to the "missing middle" targeted areas, areas traditionally communities of color excluded from whiter, wealthier parts of town. And it shares similar geography with the proposed choice of Cesar Chavez Park as the only park singled out for the permitted erosion of its smokefree policy, a proposal coming back to the Berkeley City Council on April 2nd tucked into 90 pages of proposed cannabis dispensary regulations.
West Berkeley is the heart of Berkeley's tax base. But for some reason the small, unrepresentative boards of the property-based "Business Improvement Districts" elsewhere get lavish attention and polished treatment from the mayor while the more representative citizen groups and commissions he courted during the run-up to his election are not invited to even see the legislation that races to council without citizen involvement.
It's tempting to conclude that the mayor and the council majority are as racist as Berkeley's redlining was. But it's deeper than that. Class-based prejudices are thick in the discussions about "missing middle" proposals; poor people don't need trees, or parks, or natural light, or gardens. Poor people shouldn't have parking, while wealthier groups with extensive properties and winding driveways live untouched among the trees, parks and gardens. And there's no guarantee, without real rent control that any of the new nightmarish micro-units would be honestly affordable.
The New Deal embraced the necessity of everyone having access to parks, schools, housing, recreational facilities, education, and yes, bathrooms called "comfort stations" which still exist today nationwide. The Living New Deal has mapped and continues to photograph and document these public works, which, unlike the current Berkeley City Council majority, had an underlying philosophy of making sure the needs of poor were attended with dignity and respect.
Our Berkeley City Council went out of its way to make sure that the 13 million dollar BART plaza renovation did not include a bathroom for fear of attracting poor people, and it doesn't want a pumping station to help RVs with sanitation needs or dedicated spaces for RV dwellers for the same reason. It's a class war. And the weapons are hasty proposals which sail through the council with little deliberation while most of Berkeley sleeps.
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