Library's new hours really bad for many

I have been an avid library supporter for years and active in trying to keep the library alive and open.

That is why it distresses me beyond belief that the branch right down the street from me has become completely unusable for our family since the hours changed to 9 to 5 Monday through Friday.

I inquired why this branch would make itself unusable to working people and their children after receiving so much community support. I almost laughed out loud when I was told it was part of an initiative by library administration to increase library hours. Only in Oakland city government would an administrator think that being open 9 to 5 weekdays counts as an increase in accessibility for people in the community.

I work 10 hour days, and my school-age children, like most children, have after school activities most days. On the rare occasion they are home, they are doing homework until 8.

The librarian said I had to go to Rockridge if I wanted to use the library on the weekends. The beauty of the Piedmont Avenue branch is that we were all able to walk to it. Why would I get in my car to drive to the library -- in a neighborhood with no parking -- when there is a perfectly good branch down the street I have gone out of my way to support for years?

On any given Saturday before the schedule was changed, you would find parents and children out and about, visiting the library while running their other errands on foot. The weekends were by far the heaviest traffic days.

My children have been unable to visit the library since the scheduling change was made. Was this the library's intention?

I, like most other people in my neighborhood, pay large amounts of taxes to the City of Oakland. I can no longer go out of my way to support this system if my own community library makes itself inaccessible and continues to discriminate against working families.

How does the library expect to get their special bond measures passed after creating their own irrelevance by barring voters from their facilities?

I urge the Oakland library to please reconsider this untenable schedule for working families. The Piedmont Avenue community is a walking community that has been robbed of a crucial resource by an ill-considered decision.

Grace Schoeniger


Fire tax has enough support for next vote

Regarding the recent article about the special district tax for wildfire prevention in the Oakland hills. The article tells us that residents voted overwhelmingly for the tax -- 66.3 percent in favor -- so it was defeated only because of the Proposition 13 formula.

A previous letter writer's assertion that most hills residents must have opposed the tax because of the low election turnout is pure surmise. Anybody opposed could easily have returned a ballot. The fact is, minimally advertised special elections like this one usually have low turnout.

The tax is minimal and the benefits of prevention are great. We live near a brush-filled canyon, and we want the goats back. When the issue returns to next year's ballot -- I hope as part of a regularly scheduled election -- I expect there will be less complacency about the need to support this popular measure.

Mary Lou Carlson


Elect Ireland for Piedmont schools

As a local real estate agent, when I sell a home in Piedmont, I'm not just selling a house, I'm selling the community of Piedmont. Since so much of the value of our community comes from having an outstanding school system, it makes a difference to me who's on the school board. The board plays a vital role overseeing the leadership of the schools, allocating resources and determining the priorities for the district. With that in mind, my vote for school board in the Feb. 4 election will go to Doug Ireland.

There are few people I have ever met in my life with the passion of Doug Ireland. After working and coaching with Doug and serving with him on the Ed Foundation, I can comfortably say there aren't many people with more institutional knowledge of our current school situation and ideas to enhance our children's future. Doug has always displayed a passion for education and commitment to our district. I can't think of a better position for him than serving on the Piedmont school board.

I have no doubt he will bring his intensity and competence to help ensure our schools are well run and our students receive the best education possible. In so doing, our town will remain attractive to new families. Stable, high-performing schools give new buyers and current homeowners confidence their homes will retain their value.

That's something every Piedmont resident should vote for. Please join me in electing Doug Ireland to school board.

Matt Heafey