An Urban Bill Of Rights For Berkeley

This column from <em>The Berkeley Daily Planet</em> sees cultural values being rapidly depleted in favor of quick developments and short-term profits. To remind planners and citizens what could be, an 'Urban Bill of Rights' has been written.
August 24, 2006, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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Facing a planning environment more focused on meeting standards than on innovating, this columnist has proposed an "Urban Bill of Rights". This list outlines the basic rights every urbanite should enjoy, from being able to sleep at night without excessive ambient light to avoiding any negative environmental changes brought about by "poor urban design".

"Berkeley is making three serious mistakes. First, we are deliberately and unnecessarily increasing income-based inequities in quality of life. Second, we are moving toward an urban environment where man is disconnected from (his) nature. And third, we are creating an urban environment that undermines our cultural values and individual potentialities."

"We cannot let planners and developers decide what we will do with our lives. I never hear planners discussing psychological health and cultural values. Planners have a different approach. As one Berkeley planner told me, no matter what they build, eventually those who can or must tolerate the new, worse environment will replace those who can’t. As this happens, resistance to further degradation lessens. But I reject this 'race to the bottom.' And with enough time, planners and developers could also train Americans to live like drones in anthills â€" but why let them?"

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Published on Monday, August 21, 2006 in The Berkeley Daily Planet
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