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Telegraph triangle loses status and bench
by Anonymous
Friday Sep 13th, 2019 9:27 AM
Berkeley city officials have taken away the special status of the Triangle on Telegraph Avenue. Once a tiny park for people to sit and congregate at Telegraph and Dwight, the city has downgraded the Triangle to being a road median. The bench at the Triangle was removed.
Without a formal council vote, or public discussion, city officials have removed the special status of a triangular piece of land at Dwight and Telegraph Avenue. Colloquially, it has been referred to as the Triangle, and has had a status as a small park. It was perhaps the smallest park in Berkeley, being even smaller than Bateman Park. On September 11 (2019), the Triangle lost it's status and became a traffic median.

A city worker removed the public bench that was on the Triangle. Berkeley police began warning residents that loitering on the Triangle is now illegal. The median is subject to the same rule regarding any traffic strip: that people may not linger longer than necessary to safely cross from one side of the road to the other. Violators are subject to a fine. None of this would have been done without the city manager's involvement.

Newer Berkeley residents and visitors might be surprised to know that Telegraph Avenue had various places to sit. There used to be public benches for people to relax, watch the Telegraph scene, talk to people, and smoke a little (or a lot of) weed. A bench in from of Pete's Coffee, a bench in front of Amoeba Records, by Cody's Books, and up Telegraph at other locations. Around 2011, benches on Telegraph began to be removed by request of the Telegraph Business Improvement District (the TBID). Over time, public seating on Telegraph vanished, with the bench at the Triangle being a remainder.

The history of the Triangle is tied to the history of of People's Park. In 1968, prior to People's Park, there was C. P. Herrick Peace & Freedom Park on Telegraph and Dwight. A vacant lot (formerly apartments that were demolished), was transformed into a 'people's park' named after Chuck Herrick, who passed away on May 2, 1968. Herrick was a founder of the Berkeley activist group Ecology Action. C. P. Herrick Peace & Freedom Park was scraped away by bulldozers shortly after being planted by activists.

The city of Berkeley however, did allow Ecology Action and Peace and Freedom Party activists to create a small park in the triangle island at Telegraph and Dwight. The concept was approved by the Civic Arts Commission and city planners. It was formalized as a park through the formal process of city bureaucracy.

There are currently some city officials and business leaders who are trying to bury certain aspects of Berkeley's history. There is a direct lineage from C. P. Herrick Peace & Freedom Park, to the Triangle, leading up to People's Park which was formed in 1969. There are city leaders and business leaders (like the TBID), who want People's Park gone. Removing the park status of the Triangle could be part of that agenda.

People can demand that the Triangle bench be replaced, and that the city honor it's historical agreement with Ecology Action. The Triangle is not a traffic median, it is a park with a historical legacy that should be preserved. People can send their complaints to the city manager: manager [at] cityofberkeley.info or email council: council [at] cityofberkeley.info People can also attend city council meetings to talk about this issue during public comment, or attend police review commission meetings to say police should not ticket people for using the Triangle as intended: as a park.

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