January 17, 2007

Rescuing the Rescuers

One of my occasional wouldn't-that-be-nice daydreams involves buying a big 'ol shingled Craftsman bungalow and moving back to Berkeley. The dream usually hits the wall when I think about the bazillions of dollars we'd need to buy such a bungalow (or the hypnotism job I'd need to do on Shelby to get her to leave Southern California). But even if we were to make such a move, I think that the local culture would get to me after a while. The same mindset that can make Berkeley so great — that's produced endless protests, candlelight vigils, and letter-writing campaigns — can have a tendency to turn into the worst kind of caustic, unhinged and unforgiving NIMBYism as local "activists" turn inward and contemplate their own neighborhoods.

Witness the Milo Foundation, an animal-rescue group that runs a no-kill animal shelter in Mendocino County and runs regular adopt-an-animal events around the Bay Area. Eighteen months ago, the foundation bought a retail space (the former site of a pet store) on Solano Avenue in North Berkeley and opened the "Milo Foundation Pet Adoption Store". Since then, two thousand dogs and cats have been adopted through their storefront.

All that comes to a stop soon, as this week Milo announced that they're closing their Berkeley store in the face of unrelenting neighborhood hostility. While the Milo people aren't blameless — they say that they've made mistakes (and this blog entry would definitely lend credence to a they're-in-over-their-heads theory) — it seems like they've tried to work with the city and neighborhood associations to find compromises that would have allowed their operations to continue. But when you've got neighborhood residents writing insane screeds like this to the local media, making the Milo Foundation sound like a charnel house/bioweapons disposal facility that happens to do pet adoption on the side, would any compromise have ever been possible?

After reading the article in the Chron, we sent Milo a donation and a "don't let the bastards get you down!" note.

(The Bay Area hasn't been acquitting itself all too well this week — the Monday Chronicle also had a story about neighborhood opposition to a Habitat for Humanity building project in the city of Tiburon, a rich folks' enclave in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The four-home project, the first in Marin County, has neighbors all worked up about the twin specters of decreased property values and increased traffic. [From four single-family homes?] "We don't have anything against Habitat, but nobody wants the traffic here. It's going to kill us." I'm glad to see that all of The Stupid isn't down here in Orange County, writing letters to the editor.)

Posted by Kevin at January 17, 2007 11:36 AM
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