Re-examine other areas

A recent community brief announced a Dec. 15 meeting hosted by the City of El Cerrito to improve safety for residents, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists along Colusa Avenue between Fairmount Avenue and Terrace Drive and noted similar measures currently being implemented on Arlington Boulevard.

These traffic calming efforts are certainly commendable.

I invite the city to re-examine Richmond Street between Fairmount Avenue and Moeser Lane, a high-traffic corridor where traffic safety risk far surpasses that on Colusa Avenue.

Pedestrians, many of whom are students at numerous local schools, face significant risks crossing the street. Residents, including the elderly and disabled, are imperiled attempting to exit their driveways as speed limits are ignored in this residential neighborhood used by motorists as a "shortcut" to avoid San Pablo Avenue traffic lights.

Blind hillcrests on some stretches of Richmond Street are a particular concern. While this issue has been raised with the city on countless occasions, public safety risks remain unaddressed.

Gary Wolinsky

El Cerrito

Stricter gun laws necessary

I implore President Barack Obama and my Congress members to take action on gun restrictions.

The massacre in Newtown is beyond description. It is incomprehensible to even try to imagine what was taking place in the deranged mind of this young, near-child himself. His actions are nearly unspeakable.

But we must speak up about the insanity that is the weapons industry and the flood of small arms that have filled homes across the country.

We are a nation of some pretty tense people right now. We've come through a very divisive election that left some people feeling excluded, disappointed and angry. This is reflected in the halls of Congress with the level of goodwill and cooperation at an all-time low.

However, this is all the more reason to take "meaningful action," as stated by Obama. The president, at least for this brief moment, has the will of the American people behind him to put impetus behind sensible, logical and hugely needed gun control.

Our lawmakers must not let this opportunity slide by. Certainly there will be push back from the NRA and gun lobbies. They will quote Second Amendment rights and statements to the effect that guns don't kill people, people kill people. But they are wrong! Small pieces of metal, called bullets, shred through the bodies of 20 innocent children, leaving 40 parents and myriad relatives screaming in grief and facing possible lifelong depression. That is what guns do.

Please pass gun-control laws.

Paul Meyerhof

Albany

East Bay CCA can go forward

I'm referring to the Times article, "Berkeley advocates disappointed as EBMUD drowns community choice."

The East Bay's initiative to implement Community Choice Aggregation can still move forward. In fact, the president of the East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors recently sent a letter to the cities of Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, and Oakland on behalf of EBMUD to offer continued participation by the district staff members in a CCA partnership that can be led by cities.

The article reported that the board decided not to commit funding for further study. But, notably, there was no mention of the important straw poll which displayed the interest of a majority of board directors in EBMUD serving in an administrator role for a CCA formed by East Bay cities.

The mayors of Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, and Oakland have all expressed support for CCA, as well as additional staff and city council interest at other cities.

As a board director supporting stronger initiative from EBMUD, I see the crises of climate change and local jobs as worth the investment to take institutional leadership. A CCA could empower communities to choose a faster transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency, create more than 1,000 quality, union jobs, and attract clean technology businesses.

With more than 55 megawatts of renewable energy already developed, EBMUD is in a position to provide most of the technical services needed by a CCA that our cities do not have. EBMUD has offered to remain engaged in CCA partnership efforts, as cities determine how to proceed with implementation.

Andy Katz

Berkeley

Katz is the vice president of EBMUD Board of Directors.

Project's work is ongoing

I thank the Times for its recent article on the new state report on tobacco use.

While we have done a great deal of work in Contra Costa County to reduce the impact of tobacco, there is still much work to be done.

Our county has the sixth highest youth smoking rate in the state at 16.9 percent, compared with the statewide rate of 13.8 percent. And while the overall statewide illegal tobacco sales rate to youths is 8.7 percent, there are cities in Contra Costa with a youth sales rate of more than 20 percent.

The Tobacco Prevention Project provides information to community members who are concerned about tobacco use and secondhand smoke in the county, and works with cities to develop prevention policies to address tobacco influences.

Requiring local tobacco retailer licensing has dramatically reduced sales to minors across the state, and secondhand smoke protections have greatly reduced tobacco use in our county. The Board of Supervisors has adopted such policies for the unincorporated county.

We can be reached at 925-313-6214.

Denice Dennis

El Cerrito

Dennis is the manager of the Tobacco Prevention Project of Contra Costa Health Services in Martinez.

Alter Second Amendment

Destruction was brought upon vulnerable elementary school children in Newtown. Those children didn't bear arms and their parents now don't want to be anywhere near weapons.

Even though I live across the country, in Richmond, my parents still feel the impact of letting me go to school.

The Second Amendment, which states citizens have the right to bear arms, is no longer relevant in today's world.

Though we can't blame the Founding Fathers for not having foreseen such tragedies caused by weapons they could never have imagined, we should now alter this amendment and adjust it to ensure the security of our nation's citizens.

Lesly Sanchez

Richmond

Lesly is a student at Leadership Public School in Richmond.