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Opinion, early 2000

Opinion, January to June 2000

E-mail to the editor

Let's keep the pool open

With a 50:50 chance of the Measure-A final vote going either way, this may be the proper time for us to pledge to keep the pool open. Even prime Measure-A opponent Evelyn Kiresen promised to help with that! If we just missed the 2/3 majority, we should get the Dept. of Health and ADA people to tell us what are the minimum repairs needed. There surely are compromises, like temporarily closing the smaller pool and resurfacing the larger pool, that will permit continued operations at an acceptable cost.

The preceeding "No" letter from George McRae deserves a response. His facts may be right, but residents have shown 2 to 1 that they disagree with his conclusions:

1. Yes, Measure-A could be labelled a "backroom deal". There was no other way of getting support from the diverse groups of pool enthusiasts, fiscal conservatives and their pro-public spending counterparts, except by forging a compromise.

2. The 7% El Cerrito pool user figure may be correct, but over many years most families go through a "swim phase" depending in the age of their kids and other factors. So make that 70%. Also, half the users may be from out of town, but then half of El Cerritans who swim, also go elsewhere, like Albany, Richmond or Berkeley.

3. I have never known a community that did not have a "Swim Hole", even in the third world, and I've lived in dozens of towns and villages on five continents. With no pool or pond, kids will never learn to swim, and would obviously then all drown. Does George McRae wish to have that on his conscience? (Just kidding) So strike out the NOT. The slogan should be "Schools AND Pools"!

Peter Loubal

El Cerrito


No on Measure A

I know that it is a little late, but my conscience would bother me if at least I said nothing. I urge my fellow citizens to vote no on A. It is advertised as a fix for the pool when there is so much more attached to it. It becomes vague as to where the money will be used after the pool and club houses. It feels like a shell game. It smells fishy. There is something very "backroom" about it. And the fact that only 7% of E.C residents use the pool. Why should we be subsidising something used by so few citizens of the city? A prestige issue? "Move to E.C., We got a pool!" Lousy schools but a great pool! I thought it was interesting when the school rankings were posted recentlly showing EC high rateing a 5 out of 10, wheen next door Albany rated a 10. But we got a pool! Schools not pools!

George McRae

El Cerrito

A new beginning for El Cerrito

Residents of El Cerrito finally have a chance to join in a new beginning and build out community. The El Cerrito City Council has voted unanimously to place Measure A on the March 7 ballot. This measure gives us all a chance to join our council members in redirecting city priorities to include the repair and maintenance of our community facilities. Measure A will provide funds to rebuild our swim center and bring it up to current health and safety requirements as well as repair several park club houses so they may be re-opened for our use. Measure A also requires our City Council to designate funds from our General Fund each year for the repair and maintenance of our streets and other community facilities. Join the new beginning; Help Build Our Community; Vote YES on Measure A.

Al Miller

El Cerrito

Vote yes on Measure A

At our stage in life, my wife and I prefer the new indoor swimming pool just across the city line in Richmond, but our grandchildren would surely opt for the refurbished outdoor pool being proposed for the Community Center. Most residents are not regular swimmers, but it should be possible to convince many of them that this is the best excercise once their knees start giving out due to too much, or too little exercise. And, of course, kids deserve the fun and should learn to swim. So please vote yes on Measure A!

Related comments: Pools are regional amentities. With two indoor ones in Richmond and one in Albany, El Cerrito should have an outdoor pool for the hardier users. Neigboring communities should NOT charge each other non-resident fees, so we all can use the most convenient pool, as often as possible, and get to know each other better. Kensingtonians, may wish to contribute "to the common good" by proposing a future $1 million bond, needed for a therapeutic pool, to serve the really old, diasabled and frail. Finally, we all should keep an eye on our City Hall to make sure these facilities are maintained, and replacement funds saved up. Vote for healthier bodies, healthier minds, and healthier fiscal control. Meanwhile, if you haven't, try out a pool. You'll feel great!

Peter Loubal

El Cerrito

Nonsensical hype over the calendar

Since time is a continuum, I've been long impressed with the nonsensical hype over this artifact of our Gregorian calendar. To show how little substance there is in it, consider the following.

For the Hebrew calendar, it's year 5760 with New Year's Day on September 30. For the Islamic calendar, it's year 1420 with New Year's Day on April 6. For the Hindu calendar, it's year 1921. For the Chinese calendar (often tinkered with), it's year 4679 with New Year's Day on February 5 (big day in San Francisco and New York).

Different cultures have calendars based on important events in their histories. With adjustments with regard to our Moon and Sun, each has devised its own way of keeping track of time. In our PC world, the only importance is to be sure that "00" becomes "2000".

For me, the important thing about the Year 2000 is that I have to pay my auto insurance bill. Life, and time, goes on.

George Amberg
El Cerrito


More Peet's supporters

(Copies of letters to Plaza developer Ron Holley:)

I write as a concerned citizen and consumer living in El Cerrito. I have heard that you are considering allowing Starbucks Coffee instead of Peets Coffee in the newly renovated El Cerrito Plaza. There are several reasons why I am concerned about this:

1. Peet's is a locally run and operated business; by including Peets in the Plaza, you will be demonstrating that you support local business.

2. Peet's Coffee and other items (cups, pastries, etc.) are as good or better than Starbuck's Coffee. Peet's Coffee has a large following - I know of people in LA who visit the Bay Area just to get Peet's Coffee!

3. Starbucks is everywhere. It would merely be a repetitious and non-original addition to the plaza. Why would anyone visit the plaza just to get Starbucks coffee? But there would be people who would visit just to get Peets Coffee.

Please take this points into consideration. I look forward to patronizing the Plaza Peets in the near future.

Sincerely, Valerie Mih


Dear Mr. Holley,

I understand that American Stores is currently deciding among coffee stores to lease in El Cerrito Plaza. I would like to voice my support for a Peet's coffee and teas in that location, and NOT a Starbuck's. There are many reasons for this preference: Peet's is a small local business with very ethical business practices; it has the best coffee in the country, and it is not a rapacious corporation intent on putting other businesses out of business. None of those things can be said for Starbuck's. Please go with the Hometown Advantage and choose Peet's! It will be a major draw for the Plaza.

Thank you for your consideration, Lori Pottinger


I live behind the Plaza on picturesque Behrens Street. I travel 3-4 times a year so I heavily patronize coffee shops. Currently our highly educated and sophisticated town lacks a serious latte shop so I go to Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, 3 miles away almost every day for my latte and people-watching fix.

I often shop at the Plaza for groceries and do all my banking at Cal Fed. and after the renovation I hope that I can look forward to a good latte shop as well as a larger book store and some nice and distinctive restaurants.

I appreciate your efforts to restore life to our moribund center, the only center we have in charming El Cerrito where we just bought our delightful new home.

We fervently hope that you will add class to our new center with a Peet's coffee shop rather than a tacky chain outlet like Starbuck's that has a less than sterling image in this area of prolific latte shops. Please, let us have a Peet's and let Starbuck's sprout another isle of mediocrity in a nearby town where coffee is nothing special. Also, we can patronize a local company that is highly respected and admired here for a long time.

Again, please accept my gratitude that we will finally get an El Cerrito Plaza worthy of our nice area of homes.

I'm leaving in 5 minutes for a latte fix in Berkeley. Your decision can save me gas!

Armand Boulay


I was very excited recently when I heard that there would be a Peet's Coffee at the renovated El Cerrito Plaza. Now I've recently heard that American Stores is considering having a Starbucks instead of Peet's. I'm writing you to express my strong support for a Peet's at the Plaza. My husband and I are both big Peet's fans.

We recently moved from Fremont to El Cerrito, and as strange it this sounds, one of the things I was most excited about was being closer to Peet's - -the drive from El Cerrito to Berkeley is so much shorter. There are Starbucks everywhere and their quality just isn't the same as Peet's. Also, the local community is very supportive of this local business.

Currently, I don't shop at El Cerrito Plaza, but having a Peet's there would mean that I'd shop there regularly instead of going to Solano Avenue or the other shopping centers along San Pablo Avenue. I actually go out of my way to get Peet's in the morning before I start my commute. Having a Peet's there would be good for other stores at the Plaza and increase the chance of success for the whole project.

I hope you'll consider the preferences of the El Cerrito community.

Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely, Lori and Mike Trevino


I am writing to urge you to select PEET'S as the coffee merchant at the renovated El Cerrito Plaza.

Like many in the Berkeley area, I go out of my way to buy my coffee and related paraphernalia at Peet's, one of our most successful area merchants and a "signature product" for the Bay area. (I'm often surprised that even my east coast colleagues make pilgrimages to Peet's when they are in the area.) Also, like some in the area, I go out of my way to avoid Starbuck's because I dislike its predatory business practices, geared not only toward its own success but toward the failure of small independents.

A Peet's at the Plaza would be a great convenience; I would no longer have to fight for parking in the Shattuck area of the nearest Berkeley Peet's (quite a distance away).

Rob MacCoun

I just heard a great rumor. Is it true that Peets is considering coming to the plaza? This is truly exciting. I note that you are from Dana Point, and therefore will assume that you have heard much more about Starbucks than Peets. Many people know that Starbucks was truly begun with Mr. Peet's knowledge and interest. Peet's philosophy however was not to go after the same market and he left the Starbucks people to go on their own. Legendary Peets began locally and is a place totally for coffee lovers. Their well selected coffee beans are roasted to perfection with the home brewer in mind. Their store brewed coffee is a sampling, and better than Starbucks. If you have visited Fourth Street in Berkeley, (an amazing success story - with Peet's as well)you will know that there is no way that a Starbucks would be tolerated.

That the "polyester plaza" even has a chance for some first class stores and thoughtful space is exciting. GO PEETS!!!

Marilyn and Mike Harryman

PS we, along with many, will be grateful to see the plaza become a real destination with some thought to the environment. It has been a wasteland for many years. We do not need any more Target type stores. We appreciated and miss sterile Capwells because we could depend on merchandise. Sadly, We have had very little reason to support the plaza in the past few years except compassion for the merchants.


Pretty please, make it Peet's

(Copy of letter to Ron Holley:)

I understand that you are the developer who is trying to make a decision about whether Peet's or Starbucks goes into El Cerrito Plaza. I have some personal, inside experience with both and I can assure you that you would never regret having Peet's at the Plaza.

I went to work for Starbucks in 1983 as Administrative Manager, then became HR Director, working for then owner, Jerry Baldwin. In 1984 Starbucks bought Peet's and I became the VP of HR (the "human beans") and the Retail Division and a Director of the combined companies. In 1987, when the Starbucks part of the company was sold to its present owner, I remained with Peet's until my departure in December 1993.

Primarily, I patronize Peet's, even though I have to walk out of my way to do it (I now work in SF and live in Albany). But I pop in and out of a variety of places. There's just no comparison. Peet's has really retained the feeling of its East Bay origins, from its store design, to its superbly-trained staff (I was instrumental in the design and implementation of their first real Management Training program), to the quality of its unique and special coffees and teas. No matter how many more have cropped up all over the place, Peet's maintains its distinction and hasn't compromised on that. It's a consistent, hard-working, home-grown very special little slice of under-stated elegance.

Most folks think of Starbucks as a pretty slick marketing company whose product is incidental. For awhile I heard Starbucks called the Gallo Brothers of the coffee business, which I thought was a compliment to them. Lately it's more likely to be called "fast-food coffee" because of the fact that it is primarily a high-speed beverage business that likes to plunk itself down near smaller, more established smaller places (Pasqua) and gobble 'em up. Sometimes I ask someone after we walk out of a Starbucks store to try to tell me where the whole-bean coffee was (no one has been able to tell me yet!) and then I ask how comfortable they might be trying to get some information from someone about coffee.

Peet's is full of heart and soul and a terrific feeling when you walk in the door. Bring that to the Plaza and I doubt you would ever regret it (even though it may be hard to resist if *$ starts throwing big $ around when the competition heats up). I believe that Peet's would become an anchor for the Plaza and bring new life and interest from the natives!

...and that's my two cents' worth for tonight. I will be hoping and praying.

Judi Leonor

Bring Peets to El Cerrito

Please bring Peets Coffee and Teas to El Cerrito. There are many of us El Cerrito residents who go to Berkeley every week to buy Peets and sip their beverages, be it at the original Walnut Square shop, or on Solano or 4th Street. My cousin worked for Mr. Peet and the business was started in the East Bay. Starbucks is based in Washington, and as such, all profits would go back to corporate headquarters, not into our local economy. Supporting local businesses to do good work in our community means a healthy community.

Besides the economic factor, there is the taste factor. After all my taste tests, I still prefer Peets over Starbucks anytime. If I go to a town where there is no Peets, but only Starbucks, I'll pass up the coffee and tea and bring my own (from Peets, of course!)

Barbara J. Chan
El Cerrito

Parking control must be fully thought out

The imposition of 4-hour parking limits on BOTH street sides, in "West El Cerrito", is certainly a possible option for dealing with a problem that has driven the neighborhood up the wall. But it should not be imposed without thorough discussions, at several study sessions.

West of Del Norte is a very attractive site as it gives car-poolers the option to return via BART. Other choices have various drawbacks. If car-poolers do not have acceptable alternatives, then most will just increase their walk distance and park in other neighborhoods. Are we ready to introduce like limitations on BOTH street sides, in increasingly large radiuses, at all our BART stations?

This is a complex issue. All factors need to be considered. For example, BART trains are already pretty full. Individual residents would probably want to be the ones deciding whether to have their "less-than-car-length" strips between driveway painted red. Caltrans (whatever anyone may think of them) needs to be consulted, as do the car-poolers themselves. There are a lot of considerations, and much at stake. The sooner we get into this, the better, but the decision should not be rushed.

A first study session should give a chance to all interested parties to talk things over, but we then must make sure that the "Agenda report" covers all pro's and con's, and is made available to all those affected with adequate notice. Preserving "the quality of life in a neighborhood" on one hand, and reasonable "right of access to transportation" on the other, are fundamental rights that must not be denied lightly.

Peter Loubal
El Cerrito

For Peet's sake

Many El Cerritans were cheered by the news some months ago that Peet's Coffee & Tea was coming to the Plaza. Alas, we were too quick to celebrate. Starbucks is also vying for space at the Plaza and the developers have not yet made a decision.

Please join me in espresso-ing your opinion that Peet's is the one for us! Peet's not only has better coffee and tea, it's a local business with a (deservedly) loyal and devoted clientele. I'd much rather spend my dollars at Peet's--how about you? If you are a Peet's fan, please write to the developer today, before it's too latte.

Write, fax, call, or send e-mail to

    Ron Holley
   American Stores
   34197 Pacific Coast Highway #102
   Dana Point CA 92629
   phone: 949-661-5747
   fax: 949-661-5997
   e-mail: ronlynneh@aol.com

Lori Dair
El Cerrito


Guest report: Is there a Peet's in our future?

It's nice to see how many El Cerritans share the preference for quality over quantity. What a drag to have to drive 4 miles for a good cup of coffee! My wife and I have been talking to the Peet folks since our move here from Berkeley - the original Walnut/Vine store had been our hang-out, and eldest daughter Moira used to converse in Dutch with "old" Mr. Peet which helped get her to Holland on a "Queen Wilhelmina" scholarship. (Cal language students have to take a less-spoken language in their chosen linguistic group.)

So here's the latest: Peet's management is fully aware of the wishes of our fellow residents, and these were also fairly represented by Ron Holley. (Only one person wanted Starbucks, all others Peets). Still, according to Peet's real estate manager they're doing as much expansion as they can handle right now, with three new stores. Also, shopping centers are not usually their favorite place. So he was not encouraging about coming here even with the Plaza owners bowing to our wishes and offering a real good deal. Peet's knows how many customers they have North of Solano Avenue, from the credit card slips.

We also talked about the possibility of other future sites, mid-town or at Del Norte, and were told that this would be of substantial interest to Peet's for a following expansion phase, soon. So it looks like there's a Peet's in our future, but not just yet, and maybe not at the Plaza. It of course does not hurt to keep up the letter writing. Meanwhile, Fat Apples has Peet's coffee, liquid and solid.

Peter Loubal, El Cerrito

archived feb2000
Run dates: 2000-01-01 - 2000-04-01

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