In early January, Auntie Ruth read an article in SN&R about a tar-roofing project at a rental-housing complex called The Arbors in Antelope. Some residents there allege that chemicals found in asphalt are causing health problems, such as sore throats and lung infections. Most of the 500 houses have been tarred over the past two years or are set to be tarred by the end of the three-year project (the frequency and length of the project makes it cause for concern). Two weeks ago, a community meeting was held at Center High School to discuss the tar-roofing project. Only a handful of residents attended, although representatives from various government entities were out in full force. “I expected a low turnout,” said resident Shelby Rodriguez, who’s been fighting the tar-roofing project. “People are scared of retaliation.”
This concern might be warranted, seeing as how a few weeks prior to the meeting, an attorney for Carmel Partners—owners of The Arbors—issued a cease and desist letter to Rodriguez, requesting that she stop circulating a “groundless petition” seeking an end to the tar-roofing project (she’s gathered 120 signatures so far). Rodriguez ignored the request. Although three representatives from The Arbors in attendance at the community meeting refused to answer questions, they agreed to meet with Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s office and representatives from the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District to discuss switching to a less toxic roofing method. “I’m really excited about that,” Rodriguez said.
Auntie Ruth is impressed with the city of Berkeley, which is going on a diet. Instead of cutting calories, residents have been asked to cut their carbon emissions. In late January, Berkeley began a program to teach its 100,000 citizens ways they can live a low-carbon lifestyle, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. The city asked people to join support groups in the effort, share tips with others, set goals for one another and periodically tabulate their carbon output. Like other U.S. cities, Berkeley pledged to mitigate its environmental footprint. The city set a goal to reduce its citywide greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and is working on a climate action plan.