Overdue

Opponents of the Downtown Area Plan must realize the plan has run its natural course. It's time for them to let go.

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Like a leech that simply refuses to die, the debate surrounding the Downtown Area Plan has haunted the city for over four years-and now implementation of the plan faces yet another roadblock. Although the City Council approved the plan in July, the Alliance for a Green and Livable Downtown is collecting signatures for a referendum petition that could suspend the plan by putting it before voters in 2010. The city would then be forced to waste its funds on a measure that would effectively repeat the past. The petition is no more than a desperate act to stop a plan that has spent too long in limbo. Years of being passed through committees and commissions have not managed to stop it-as the petitioners hope may still happen-but have needlessly wasted time, money and effort.

Certainly, the plan has seen more than its fair share of inefficient management. The Downtown Area Planning Advisory Committee spent over a year between 2005-06 seeking public input for the plan's mission statement and wound up with hardly anything of substance. When the committee needed to present a proposal to the City Council, there was significant doubt as to whether it could finish by its Nov. 30, 2007 deadline-over two years after the committee's creation. Progress at a snail's pace, then, is nothing new, but the city would benefit from accepting the end of the process.

It's time to move past the endless squabbling that has plagued the plan and city for four years. For that to happen, the petitioners must realize that their stubborn fight is a drain on the city and a roadblock to its future. Berkeley as a whole will suffer accordingly with the amount of time spent further debating, gathering input, reforming the plan and generally wasting time and citizens' tax dollars. If the plan's opponents truly want what's best for the city, they should realize that prolonging deliberations over the plan by putting it before voters will ultimately harm Berkeley more than help it.






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