Save the West Berkeley Shellmound!

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Please help to save the West Berkeley Shellmound by sending  hard copies of the letters, and emails to ShAllen@cityofberkeley.info or shallen@ci.berkeley.ca.us (best to cc both). Kindly consider personalizing your letter (while still reflecting the key points about opposing the EIR). The snail mail address is at the top of the template letter below. Comments must be received by January 12th. Thank you for your support!

Attn: Shannon Allen
City of Berkeley City Planning
1947 Center Street, 2nd Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704

Dear Ms. Allen and Berkeley City Planners:
I am writing to express my deep concerns about the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) regarding 1900 Fourth Street. The site was designated as a City of Berkeley Landmark # 227 by the Landmarks Commission. It was also listed in the California State Registry of Historic Places, as well as determined to be eligible for the National Registry of Historic places. The West Berkeley Shellmound site, completely encompassing the proposed 1900 Fourth Street site, is known to be the oldest bayside settlement in the San Francisco Bay Area, approximately 5700 years old. It is the true birthplace of Berkeley. It continues to be of utmost significance as a ceremonial center to the Ohlone people today.

The draft EIR is heavily disputed, as revealed by massive community opposition voiced at the Dec 1st meeting of the Berkeley Landmark Preservation Committee. There is significant controversy surrounding the methodology used to establish the archaeological reports and there has not been adequate peer review of the data in the draft EIR. Past excavations in and around the proposed site have uncovered human burials and undisturbed cultural remains. The report completely fails to address remains specifically documented in the EIR for the adjacent Grocery Outlet site that is part of the same Landmark Shellmound site. This constitutes a significant oversight and inaccuracy in the methodology of the 1900 Fourth Street EIR.

Furthermore, there has not been adequate tribal consultation in the EIR’s preparation. The primary consultant had multiple conflicts of interest, while a second Ohlone person repeatedly requesting inclusion was not consulted for the EIR. This manner of consultation with Ohlone people seems like a mere token gesture given the importance of this site to members of the Ohlone community.
Resolution No. 67,353-NS of the City of Berkeley “Honor Berkeley Shellmound Indigenous Sacred Site, UC Berkeley Return Ancestral Remains to Ohlone People” states in part: “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that free, prior, and informed consent of the Ohlone and other indigenous peoples of the region be integral to any alteration planning for the Berkeley Shellmound sacred site, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and calls upon all parties to follow the principles of the Declaration with respect to the West Berkeley Shellmound site.”

On page 67, the Draft Environmental Impact Report states, “Consultation with the Ohlone Indian Tribe, conducted pursuant to AB52, was completed for the Project and mitigation measures are recommended, as appropriate.” Unfortunately, this is only one tribal entity and the resolution very clearly states that it should also include other indigenous people of the region; the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, for example, should be given the same formal consultation process as Ohlone Tribe Inc. It is also unclear weather or not the City of Berkeley followed SB18 which states that when a city or county adopts or amends their general plan the Tribes from the area must be consulted, whether federally recognized or not. The City of Berkeley has amended their housing development plan numerous times since the law was put into affect in 2005, and there is no proof that Tribes were included in consultation prior to amending this part of the general plan.

At this point, the only official recognition of this sacred shellmound site is the series of murals and the small plaque in the parking lot under the freeway. Certainly the City of Berkeley would benefit from truly meaningful public acknowledgement of its Ohlone past, present, and future by working with local Ohlone people to develop a major memorial and educational site at 1900 4th Street.
This is a clear opportunity for the City of Berkeley to follow through on its resolutions to honor and protect sacred sites and the rights of Indigenous peoples. I implore Berkeley to take a stand against this construction that will benefit wealthy developers at the expense of the five thousand years of history. Reject the EIR and embrace the No Plan Alternative!

Sincerely,

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