Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Plaza in the news

(Originally posted on March 17, 2007 on a different blog)


The Monthly (formerly the Berkeley Monthly) published its glowing review of the David Stoloff-driven North Shattuck Plaza, Inc. proposal this morning (Wednesday, March 28).
Here is the URL:

Unfortunately, again, there is a basic editorial skew in favor of the Stoloff-driven plaza plan inherent in the article. The statements of NSPI folk such as Mim Hawley, the statements of Peter Hilliyer (Asst City Mgr.-Traffic), and the statements any of a number of other synchronized voices, make it clear that we are struggling against a well-established, well-organized, focused and concerted effort to drive this particular vision of our neighborhood.

It is for exactly this reason that I am so concerned about the hostile atmosphere a small clique of so-called 'activists' have created at nearly every community meeting we've had. We've all experienced their destructive unpleasantness at public meetings, private meetings in our homes, and now at the introductory meeting of the stakeholders (merchants, landlords, and residents) held by mutual agreement last week. Those of us from LOCCNA were charged with listening and gathering information to take back to our community. Unfortunately two of the four LOCCNA representatives in attendance chose to use insults, legal threats and screaming accusations to stifle the process.

Such unmoderated anger is pathological, and it's not helping us create a united community with a common, articulated goal. While as a strategy, expressed anger can occasionally have some value, in my opinion it has been grossly overused in this process and now threatens to consume us with factional divisions.

Having personally lived through the progressive political cannibalism of the 60s, I am very much convinced that there is a better way to create a united community vision. We need to create community consensus based on inclusion, negotiation and engagement. We have to treat each other with respect. We will have to make compromises to come to a unified vision.

We can not allow the loudest, angriest, most hostile voices to dictate the terms of this process.

While a few naive and angry participants have claimed this unacceptable and boorish behavior is the source of our power and the very reason the 2006 plaza plan has been withdrawn, I disagree. The Stoloff-driven Plaza Plan is still here.
What's now missing are the moderate voices of our neighbors, the people who actually live in this neighborhood, as more and more folks decide with their feet to avoid this unnecessarily hostile process.

The Stoloff-driven plaza proposal is officially off the table, but it has not been replaced with a common vision organically generated from the community.
In fact, there clearly isn't even agreement as to how we will come to a common vision, despite the efforts of Alan Gould and others to build a community process here. The reason? A few self-appointed 'public guardians,' driven by their egos and their sense of entitlement, have hi-jacked the process. Too many of our community meetings have been disrupted by these people who are more comfortable bullying their personal opinions into the discussion rather than sharing, listening and responding.

If we can't come up with a civil way to proceed, it is very clear to me that the results will be determined by the 'last man standing'. In this particular case, the 'last man standing' is most likely to be holding David Stoloff's Plaza Plan in 'his' hand.

Speak out. Engage. Support our community. Don't let the bullys win.

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