Letters for March 17, 2011

Baggins End a treasure

Re “Last days of the Domes” by Nick Miller (SN&R Frontlines, March 10):

I am an alumnus of Baggins End. The office of student housing has deliberately misdirected funding that should have been used to maintain and update the domes over the last decade. After 10 years of this, they are now able to use (minor and nonstructural) problems with the domes as justification for their elimination.

It is important to note that the reason this has happened is not because student housing is run by a bunch of evil people. Rather, student housing is not equipped to run an academic program, and that is what Baggins End truly is. Student housing has a mandate to run profitable housing operations that have the goal of housing students as densely as possible with as much profit for the university as possible. There are many institutions and programs throughout the university that do not have that goal, and the Domes is one of these.

Academic institutions are not, and should not be, motivated by profit, but by the production of intellectual capital, instructional value and the nurturing of creativity. Baggins End has a 40-year tradition of fulfilling those goals. Over the last 10 years, a vision for the future of the Domes and the associated institutions in its vicinity (the Student Farm, the experimental gardens, the student co-ops) has been forming, and now the Sustainable Living/Learning task force has formed to begin implementation of this vision. This will be a valuable addition to the university’s academic arsenal: a program of courses and a nexus of individuals and institutions focused on sustainability in agriculture, community development and engineering.

Regardless of your position on global climate change, environmental degradation, water scarcity or other environmental issues, it is undeniable that the future holds difficult environmental challenges. The university is the place where the leaders and innovators of the future will learn how to face and solve those challenges.

Our university needs to be prepared to offer serious programs that address the concerns of tomorrow’s students. There is no program on sustainability at UC Davis. There is no formal curriculum. It would be terrible loss if a failure of vision, that has its roots entirely in the misapplication of a management paradigm, is allowed to result in the closure of such a powerful and effective institution as the Domes.

This is especially true at this critical moment when such an attack may well derail the development of a new and innovative approach to the critical educational challenge that faces UC right now.

Aaron M. King

Long live the Domes!

Re “Last days of the Domes” by Nick Miller (SN&R Frontlines, March 10):

I lived in the Domes in the fall of 1981, and this was my first introduction to UC Davis. It was a wonderful atmosphere and a great way to begin my academic career. Long live the Domes!

Melinda Guzman

Reality check on habitat

Re “The wind blows?” by Auntie Ruth (SN&R An Inconvenient Ruth, March 3):

So the news from Auntie Ruth is that Walker Ridge is going to get a wind farm.

Well, as a reality check: Habitat destruction is habitat destruction. It doesn’t matter whether it is for strip mining, shopping malls, golf courses or wind farms. The plants and animals that live on Walker Ridge will find no solace that they’re being killed so we can build wind farms.

We can placate our souls by saying it is good for the planet, but that’s just so much smoke and mirrors. What’s good for the planet would be improved fuel efficiency and more intelligent placement of these wind farms. Once the habitat is gone, it’s gone.

Barry Riceassistant professor of astronomySierra College

Right to exist

Re “Homeless in Harper’s” (SN&R Editorial, March 3):

Thank you for your support of Safe Ground getting a piece of land. Safe Ground’s main goal is to get land for a small community with sleeping cabins, community building infrastructure, self-governance and services to help people succeed.

But the very right to sleep outdoors someplace (not every place) is also very important, at least until people can get into housing and shelter. There is not enough housing or shelter available for over 1,200 people in Sacramento. It shouldn’t be against the law for these people to exist.

Paula Lomazzi

Share the love

Re “Unsafe ground” by Bob Slobe (SN&R Essay, March 3) and “Hit and miss” (SN&R Letters, March 10):

Bob Slobe speaks for residents and businesses who have had it with city of Sacramento, which is slowly destroying nearby communities by turning the American River Parkway Area into a homeless ghetto. For over 25 years, we have been promised that the next new program will solve the homeless problem. The problem keeps getting worse.

Tell you what: All these people who push for the next new program need to step up to the plate. It is time that new programs and services be dispersed evenly through all council districts. We have buses and light rail. Why don’t we start out by putting the first Safe Ground camp in the rail yard between Land [Park] and Curtis Park?

It is unbelievable that [letter writer] Giles Lauren frequently walks through the Woodlake Reach of the American River Parkway and hasn’t ever seen any of the tons of trash and human waste that everyone else sees. He says it is completely safe, yet at least three bodies have been found in that area in the past couple years. Hikers often are chased by dogs running wild or mugged by these people he claims are only homeless veterans who drink beer and do crystal meth. What it does prove is that Mr. Giles Lauren is blind and has also lost his sense of smell.

Kenneth Lauszus
North Sacramento

Secede from Sac?

Re “Unsafe ground” by Bob Slobe (SN&R Essay, March 3):

Bob Slobe is spot on! Maybe North Sacramento needs to be the city of North Sacramento, once again!

Brad Martin
North Sacramento

It’s more than the Kings

Re “‘Who cares about the Kings?’” by Rachel Leibrock (SN&R Popsmart, March 3):

This article was right on. I will miss the Kings, but not only that, I will miss the concerts, Disney on Ice shows for my grandkids, etc. Having an entertainment center is essential to keep Sacramento on the move. We don’t want to be known as a Podunk town; then do something about it.

I would be willing to buy a brick to go towards the new arena we so desperately need. I have been going to the Kings games since we moved here in ’84, and it makes me very sad that we are letting them slip right out of our hands. Let me know if I can do anything to help keep the Kings here.

Linda Wren

Swap your ‘shadow’ governments

Re “Something’s not right with the government” by Rachel Leibrock (SN&R Feature, February 24):

They want to base the government on religion! I’m as far to the right as sanity permits, and for that reason I would not willingly violate one of the basic concepts of our Constitution. I understand their frustration with our government, and I sympathize with their desires, but get a clue, for God’s sake, and for the sake of the future. Religion-based governments have been disastrous throughout history. Amazingly, many of the people I find associating with this new “cult” tend to abhor the government’s secret plan to bring Shariah law to the United States, which is hypocrisy in the least.

Oh well, not to worry. I predict their numbers will stop growing and hover near the few-thousand mark.

However, they are following a concept I’ve advocated on behalf of for several years now: setting up and acting as our government. It’s not without precedent. Even as we speak, this is being practiced by the Mexican government here on U.S. soil. They give out their phony matricula consular card that is only used here in the United States by illegals, as well as issue their own birth certificates to their citizens born here on U.S. soil, and that’s just to name a few things.

We should do the same, just to keep in practice, and to assert our own independence, lest we soon be subjects of the new republic of La Estados de Notre Americano.

Davi Rodrigues

It’s the housing, stupid!

Re “Redevelopment bites” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, February 24):

I laughed out loud at Bites’ column about the way K Street Mall has been the victim of architecture’s fad du jour more than once. (What’s next: blue fairies from Mars?) One missing item in that account, however, was the solution to the ghost town that is downtown Sacramento and K Street in particular: the lack of nearby customers.

Unless more people live nearby, the shops won’t survive even if they are hip, or have “tank traps,” or no cars, or blue fairies from Mars. The sprawl-friendly Urban Land Institute’s Dollars & Cents of Shopping Centers publication estimates the required population for a viable suburban neighborhood shopping center (a supermarket, a drug store and some little shops on about 15-20 acres) at 17,000 within a convenient drive. Putting even half that many people within a half-mile walk would mean building homes at roughly 15 units per acre (between duplex and two-story-apartment density) for a half-mile radius around the mall, something that does not exist, and as far as I know, is not planned.

Why so few homes? Because offices and commercial remain more profitable to build, and because the recent real-estate bubble shut down the condo projects on Capitol Mall before they were built. Meanwhile Sacramento continues to subsidize suburban development with outrageous tax-free gifts to the land speculators, but hasn’t figured out how to give even modest subsidies to downtown housing. Even pre-bubble projects like the state’s East [End] office building (the one east of Capitol Park), which could have been built with apartments over offices, didn’t miss an opportunity to miss that opportunity. It’s all offices.

Why is downtown a ghost town? Why won’t K Street mall thrive? There just aren’t that many residences within a walk, or even a short drive. Our city planners can rearrange all the deck chairs they like on K Street, but it’ll sink without customers who live nearby, and that’s seldom mentioned in all the conversation about what to do to make it work. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get developers, or even redevelopment agencies, to understand when their paychecks depend on not understanding.

Mark Dempsey