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. I mentioned 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