Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What, It's OUR Fault? Can't We Just Blame Global Warming Instead?

This summer marked the tragic departure of Cody's Books from Berkeley because of the city's miserable business climate (see Nuts & Boalts coverage here.

Well, the losses aren't over. Now Clif Bar is departing for lovely Alameda. Why, you ask?

"A few years ago, the company moved its bakery to an off-site location, leaving its space at 1610 Fifth St. for offices. But when the company wanted to build a "modest" expansion, it encountered "Berkeley's convoluted, miserable zoning regulations," said Dave Fogarty, the city's community development project coordinator. [ED: The city's own coordinator called its regulations convoluted and miserable!!] The West Berkeley Plan, which took 10 years to adopt, dictated that the neighborhood be zoned for manufacturing and because Clif Bar's space was offices, not manufacturing, the company could not expand. To keep Clif Bar in town, the City Council said it would update the West Berkeley Plan to allow office expansion, but by then Clif Bar had hired a consultant to find a new location..."

So... what is Berkeley's response to this issue? (just wait, this is truly amazing)

"We're sorry to see Clif Bar go," said Mayor Tom Bates. "We tried hard to keep them. But it seems to be Berkeley's role in life to incubate small companies and see them grow and then move elsewhere."

NO!!! It is not Berkeley's role in life! It is eminently fixable by simply making life in Berkeley more possible by burning every damn zoning regulation in the book!

Ack. My apologies for the overuse of exclamation points. And here, the denouement:

"The loss of Clif Bar is especially painful for Berkeley because the city is trying hard to attract and retain environmentally progressive businesses..."

Not hard enough apparently. Maybe the Berkeley City Council should be forced to see Talledega Nights to get an attitude adjustment.


In other news, some preppie clown just won the Democratic nomination for senator of Connecticut. Too bad I used up all my exclamation points on Berkeley city government. All I can say is, history will find it far to easy to mourn the irrelevance of the Democratic party with a pun by swapping out an 'o' for an 'e.'

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the machinations of Berkeley city government are almost enough to turn me into a Republican. Every time I pick up the local rag newspaper, there seems to be another story about the City Council, say, taking out 20 parking spaces from Telegraph to widen the bike lane by 10 inches, or driving more businesses out with insane zoning regulations, or holding the UC ransom for massive cash payments before any expansion can be completed, or refusing to allow downtown development that doesn't conform to some elaborate and narrow environmental agenda, or spending $10,000 to have citizens vote on whether Bush should be impeached (that alone should qualify THEM for impeachment.)

The zoning cluster-fuck is just one example of a vicious cycle that leads to a) fewer businesses, therefore b) fewer revenues, and then c) shittier services that d) reduce the efficacy of all those progressive government programs.

Of course, the real irony is that, like so many coastal cities, the bizarre policies of city government drive out middle-class people and businesses, leaving no one left but the really rich and the really poor -- the former of which don't really give a fuck because they're ensconced in their nice big houses off of Euclid and Spruce and, anyway, they can still make it to Chez Panisse and Andronicos. You see the same pattern in Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. It's just entry #73 in my book of "Liberals Deliberately Behaving Illiberally" -- and I'm a freaking Democrat!

8/09/2006 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole manufacturing idea was ridiculous anyway. Manufacturing in West Berkeley may have been a big deal fifty years ago, but those jobs have simply moved on--overseas, to industrial parks in the suburbs/rural areas w/ lower rents, etc. Zoning something for manufacturing doesn't mean manufacturers are going to want to locate there. You can lead a zoning code to a city but you can't make it drink, to mix my metaphors in a really painful way. Between that and the mess w/ the new Berkeley Bowl in West Berkeley (NIMBYism at its best, folks) the pathetic downfall of the aging hippie/limousine liberal is all to clear.

However, i'm not sure why TF is complaining about Joe Lieberman losing the Democratic primary. Supporters of this Administration do not belong in Democratic primaries in the first place.

8/09/2006 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All respect to TF, but he clearly doesn't really follow Connecticut politics. What is his beef with Lamont? Too centrist? Not enough of a Bush Admin stooge?

8/10/2006 12:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with TF. I vote Democratic and am disapointed with the direction the party is headed. Millionaire Lamont rode a simple-minded, rejectionist wave to beat Lieberman.

If organizations like and nitwits like Michael Moore continue to gain power in dictating the agenda of the Democratic party, you can count me out.

And folks who say that "supporters of this Administration do not belong in Democratic primaries in the first place" contribute to centrist Democrats' departure.

8/10/2006 3:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Berkeley is a sweet place to live. All of these polices you all are criticising are what keep Berkeley from being as boring as the lame-old suburban hell in which most of you were raised. It would Capital-b-l-o-w if Berkeley started to look like Walnut Creek.

2) I don't know much about Lamont, but in 2006 I know that the war was unequivacollay a bad idea, same as I knew in 2001. It's nice that the leaders and the electorate are catching up to reality.

3) Leiberman sucks and has for a while. I began to despise him when he proposed the removal of the 1st Amendment from the Constitution. And I quote:

"No single policy, governmental or corporation will eliminate the serious threat of violence or prevent another Columbine from happening," the senators wrote in a letter to top executives at Target, Best Buy, Circuit City and Kmart. "But we have an obligation to do whatever we can to reduce the risks, and we are convinced that shielding our children from the hailstorm of cultural messages and images that glorify and legitimize violence will do just that." (

Obviously, the man needs to spend some time with games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto.

Finally, let no one ever say that Berkeley students are super-hyper-expialidocious liberal again. This thread is a testament to that.

8/10/2006 7:23 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

No one who goes to Emeryville for a dinner at a chain restaurant deserves to be in the Democratic Party. And if you shop at Ikea there you're a Fascist war monger.

8/10/2006 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been puzzling over TF's last line about the pun and I just don't get it. Little help here? (This would be embarassing if it weren't anonymous.)

8/10/2006 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a good centrist Dem too, I've been asked a lot about the Lieberman/Lamont race, and friends almost reflexively conclude I supported Lieberman and am disappointed in the results—we should keep the party open, encourage introspection among Democrats, keep a principled voice in the Senate, keep a moderate in there, blah blah blah.

I'm not. For two reasons.

1. I find the charge that Lamont victory's is a dangerous "warning call" to other Democrats to toe the ideological line to be disingenuous and alarmist. The "netroots" or whoever you want to call driving this Lamont thing have shown that they are willing to support moderate Democrats in red states (e.g. Brian Schweitzer and Ken Salazar), that they'll support moderates Democrats in red states who might be able to win a presidential election (e.g. Mark Warner), and that they'll support moderates in blue states provided they're thoughtful, imaginative politicians (e.g. Barack Obama). They just don't want to support Democrats in Democratic states who show little commitment to the basic tenets of the party. I'm as suspicious of the Kossacks as much as the next reasonable, sane person, but I appreciate that they're not on an ideological purge—just one directed at the squishy-spine Dems. Connecticut is a Democratic state. It'll still have a Democratic Senator unless Independent Joe screws it up. Why not have one who's a more consistent ally of the party? That's a perfectly reasonable conclusion for every Lamont voter to have made, and I respect it.

2. There's a difference between "good centrists" and "bad centrists." As a centrist (a good one I hope), it's not the self-defeating far left that bothers me the most—and it's not the hopeless Republicans either. It's split-the-baby, no-conviction, sell-out-to-the-corporate-contributors centrists who, by giving the "good centrists" a bad name, make it that much harder to realize a truly transformational, radical centrist ideology that might actually save America and bring people together.

In my peculiar and selfish definition, "good centrists" borrow ideas liberally from the left and the right, prioritize results and efficacy over partisanship and ideology, think outside the box on policy issues, reject the interest-group mentality of the left, support fiscal discipline, take on the radical right, reach out to new and minority voters without being patronizing, support business and economic growth, win elections, win cross-over voters, prioritize economic issues over symbolic social ones, and genuinely ask themselves at the end of the day what they've done to make the lives of average Americans a little bit better.

"Bad centrists" think the answer to every problem is always found in the mushy middle, think compromise is an end rather than a means, reflexively support the interests of their corporate contributors, refuse to take a chance on any radical and exciting policy ideas, kow-tow to the demands of the really powerful leftist interest groups (e.g. the CTA) anyway, refuse to really take it to the Republicans, and generally ask themselves at the end of the day if their approval rating has ticked up.

I think these two groups are really at war more than most people realize. And you really can divide it up.

For every New America Foundation or Bill Clinton or New Republic (sometimes) or Mark Warner (maybe) or Barack Obama out there trying to create an imaginative and enduring Democratic majority, there's a Gray Davis or a Maria Cantwell or a DLC (sometimes) or an Arnold Schwarzenegger (whoops! that just slipped out) or a Terry McAuliffe or a Zell Miller or a Ron Calderon who either a) drives Democrats further to the radical left because of their spinelessness or b) gives away the store to the GOP.

And Lieberman falls squarely in the second camp. I don't like his hostility to the estate tax, I don't like how we dragged his feet on Sarbanes Oxley and accounting standards reform, I don't like his sanctimonious war on television, I don't like his ludicrous attempt to censure criticism of President Bush, I don't like his shilling for the financial services industry (and his hypocritical opposition to the bankruptcy bill after he voted against a filibuster that could have actually blocked it), I didn't like his performance in the 2000 campaign, and I don't like his lack of interesting policy proposals about anything at all--any and all of which I submit are contrary to honest-to-God, progressive radical centrism, not an expression of it.

To call him a "moderate," therefore, does a disservice to moderates everywhere. So I'm glad he's out. Not because he supported the Iraq war. But because he never did anything to make up for it since.

8/10/2006 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put, 10:39. I think TF is just a wee bit too susceptible to the rightwing spin being peddled by the media on this issue and others. I actually spent some time watching FoxNews on the day of the election and the day after. I could actually tell that multiple talking heads were repeating the same talking points and then I switched to other channels and heard the same thing. "It was the 'liberal elitists' in the richest counties in the country who voted against Lieberman." "Working class Democrats voted for Lieberman because they are more loyal and can't 'afford' the luxury of voting for a radical." "In the working-class town of Cornwall, 95% voted for Lieberman. Of course, Cornwall only has a population of 200 but it is still instructive."

Also, I found Lieberman's allegation of a "denial-of-service attack" on his website laughable. If he got hit with a DOS, why was there a message from his campaign manager there? Kind of reminds me of the time Karl Rove falsly accused his opponent of bugging his boss.

8/10/2006 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Berkeley is a sweet place to live. All of these polices you all are criticising are what keep Berkeley from being as boring as the lame-old suburban hell in which most of you were raised. It would Capital-b-l-o-w if Berkeley started to look like Walnut Creek."

Actually Walnut Creek has some of the same policies in place as Berkeley: restrictions on building heights, restrictive zoning so that you only have residential or shopping districts (4th St is very similar to Broadway Plaza, let's face it). Having lived in both places, I think it's the people who choose to live there, not the zoning regulations, that are the primary determinant of how interesting a given locality is.

The loss of manufacturing jobs further undercuts whatever middle class might still exist in Berkeley. It contributes to a bifurcated city: professionals vs. service people. Though manufacturing isn't glamorous, it can support a family, unlike many retail positions.

It's wrong to claim that the loss of all manufacturing jobs in Berkeley or the Bay Area is inevitable. Costs may be higher, leaving fewer viable industries, but so long as there is a market for high quality goods or local products ("Made in Berkeley" could potentially sell well in certain markets), local firms can find ways to remain competitive.

8/10/2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger Tom Fletcher said...

Anonymouse, change an 'o' to an 'e' and get: Lamont -> Lament.

I recommend practicing on the newspapers word changing games.

8/11/2006 12:51 PM  

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