All aren't welcome in Danville

Michael Arata's March 17 three-column opinion piece attacked the Association of Bay Area Governments for requiring Danville to comply with California state mandates to construct affordable housing.

Arata railed against environmentalists, socialists and even compensation paid to ABAG executives. He also trotted out the old canards that such housing increases traffic, strains public services and increases crime, without citing any studies to support his claim.

One can't help but wonder if Arata's real worry is that "those people" who would occupy affordable housing just don't belong in his neighborhood. "Those people" might include the mechanics that service our cars, the waitresses who serve our tables and the teachers who teach our children. In the view of Arata and his ilk, it is OK for those people to work in Danville -- just not live in Danville.

The Times columnist Tom Barnidge hit the nail squarely on the head when he called Arata's fellow protesters "elitists."

Keep up the good reporting, Barnidge.

Thomas Day

Danville

Pope is a breath of fresh air


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At the onset of his election, Pope Francis took the name of St. Francis of Assisi, known for his humility and dedication to the poor.

We read that in Argentina his humility was evident: He did his own cooking and rode public transportation instead of a limousine.

In addition, he is not a member of the Curia, the political European bureaucracy in Vatican City.

Pope Francis, who is a breath of fresh air, is welcomed in Rome and around the world.

Mary McMahon

Livermore

Bigotry harmful to communities

I'm a 33-year-old, white, gay male. A recent incident made me realize I've become accustomed to bigotry.

I'm originally from the Midwest but have lived in the Bay Area for more than 12 years. I used to speak up about bigotry but have learned to keep quiet.

I was recently cursed out by someone for "staring at him." I decided I should try and work it out because I'm at this locale often; then he threatened me.

After I left, I realized I've seen many incidents of bigotry. I've heard complaints about "curries" moving here. I've met gay men who tell people their boyfriend is their brother, or they can't be seen with "feminine" guys because they'll be "outed."

I've heard slurs about Asians and African Americans. I've heard people complain that they "hate" certain people because they lack "family values." Most people say, "Move to the city." My answer is, "Let's fix this!"

It's time to speak up and end bigotry. This is my home and there are some amazing people here. Let's start trying to build up our whole community instead of tearing others down.

Matthew Verdun

El Sobrante

Share space with off-road vehicles

We are very fortunate to live in the Bay Area and, specifically, in the East Bay.

We already have an almost embarrassing wealth of open space, park lands, heritage sites and nature preserves. We can never hope to enjoy every trail in every park that is currently available.

As your recent front-page article, "State parks: Battleground," illustrates, this is clearly not the case for the Bay Area's off-road vehicle enthusiasts.

I have enjoyed taking our two sons to ride many times at Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area. The proposed expansion would be a welcome addition. As your article states, this land was purchased 15 years ago with this intent by the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund by off-road enthusiasts themselves through our off-road vehicle registration fees -- not by taxpayers or John Garamendi's Friends of Tesla Park.

Off-road vehicles are a popular, inexpensive, family oriented recreational activity that I feel deserves a small fraction of the public space currently available to hikers, bikers, horseback riders and cows.

Brian Grigsby

Pleasanton

Is Obama tilting at windmills?

The massive March 5 headline in the Times, "Obama targets climate change," caused me to immediately think of Don Quixote.

Wasn't the good Don also involved with windmills?

Robert Zembsch

Berkeley