To Our Readers:
Welcome to the new look of the Express!
What you are now holding in your hands is only the second cover-to-cover redesign in our paper’s 23 years of publishing in the East Bay, and represents months of work by a team of editors and graphic designers charged with bringing a fresh and contemporary look and feel to our paper. The new design is the creation of the noted New York designer Alexander Isley, with the assistance of New Times Design Director Sonda Andersson Pappan, Michael Shavalier of the New Times design team, and our own art director, Ryan Dunsmuir. I would also like to thank Andy Van De Voorde, Robin Loveman, Ron Koch, and the rest of the New Times corporate editorial staff for their assistance in this project.
In addition to refashioning and updating the way our editorial content is presented, a redesign also provides an opportunity to rethink that content with an eye to both the legacy of our past and the promise of our future. As you leaf through this issue, you will find many things that are new, as well much that is familiar. We hope our new design will make the paper even more useful and readable as we move into our third decade of publishing great writing in the East Bay. We welcome your response.
To Live and Teach in Berkeley
I read with great interest your article in the past issue about developer Patrick Kennedy (“Cityside,” June 22). I find it quite encouraging to know that he is trying to build apartments in Berkeley, a formidable task. It is a fact that there is a housing crisis in Berkeley. Real estate and rental costs have nearly tripled in the past three years, while salaries have stayed virtually the same. Speaking as a Berkeley public school teacher, if decent affordable housing is not made available very soon, I for one cannot afford to live in Berkeley on my salary.
There are a growing number of Berkeley employees whose earnings are above what has traditionally been considered “low income.” Market value for a modest two-bedroom apartment is around $1,600 per month. That means, by the commonly used formula that one’s rent should be about one-third of one’s monthly net income, that a renter would have to clear $4,800 per month to reasonably afford modest housing. This is way beyond the salary of school teachers.
The housing supply has not been adequately increased in Berkeley in many years to keep up with the need. The aftermath of rent control still keeps many units out of circulation. For example, there is an apartment in my current building, protected by rent control, that is being used just as storage space for someone’s business, while I pay about three times the cost for living space that I can no longer afford. When I first returned to Berkeley — where I was formerly an undergraduate and a performing musician — to teach three years ago, I had high hopes that I would move from my small apartment into a house. I have had to abandon all hopes of ever buying a house on my teacher’s salary, and now of even renting one. I am currently looking at a larger storage locker and a smaller apartment.
There is no more unused surface land available in Berkeley upon which to build housing. The only way to go is up. Berkeley is a city, not a village. I believe that mixed-use buildings near transportation corridors make the most sense to build to provide more affordable housing, and to clean up and revitalize this city, if Berkeley wants to attract and keep good teachers and workers. We deserve to have a decent quality of life, the basic needs of housing and food, in exchange for our labor.
Susan Graubard Archuletta, Berkeley school teacher
Vote for Kennedy!
The city should be thanking Mr. Kennedy (“Cityside,” June 22) for 200 more housing units and over 50 low-income apartments that he has built in this city since he came to town. What is all the frenzy and fuss really about?
As a black woman living in this city over forty years now and having endured and suffered from racism in rental housing, I still have hope that we are making some progress. However, we as a city as well as a country have a lot of work ahead of us. Berkeley has a great opportunity for growth and development now that Mr. Kennedy is in our town. Let’s not blow a good thing! Let’s work together, the flatlands and the hill areas to make this a better place for all people to live and enjoy.
We don’t want Berkeley to become a city for only the rich! We desperately need housing and affordable housing now! We have dragged our feet long enough.
Let’s work to speed up the whole approval process. Why should it take years to get approval on these projects? It’s also a fact that Mr. Kennedy has rented to people with HIV. How many developers can say that.
D. Harmon, VIA THE INTERNET
Connect the Dots
Ruth Bird’s broadside on dot-com workers (“Letters,” June 22) could not have been signed with a more perfect punchline than “via the Internet.” Nice work, Ruth!
T. Orlando, OAKLAND