Fire Reduction? Humans At Risk!

Comments to FEMA from CUIDO on the East Bay Hills Hazardous Fire Risk Reduction Environmental Impact Statement, submitted on June 14, 2013

Eucalyptus Trees by Tom Brown Eucalyptus Trees by Tom Brown

We are a grassroots community organization of people with disabilities, many of whom became disabled as a result of exposure to pesticides.

The project for which the three applicants—UC Berkeley, East Bay Regional Park District, and the City of Oakland—seek FEMA funding is profoundly disturbing, and the draft EIS is inadequate and deeply flawed.

One of the criteria for funding is net benefit to the community. But the project calls for widespread and prolonged use of herbicides over a vast area of public lands, a plan which will inevitably have negative impacts on humans. The draft EIS fails to adequately assess these impacts.

Herbicides are especially damaging to vulnerable populations. While the report does recognize, in passing, the concerns of “sensitive” groups such as children, pregnant women and the elderly, however, people with chemical sensitivity, compromised immune systems and respiratory complications are not mentioned. Large numbers of people are experiencing adverse health effects from even very low levels of chemical exposure.¹ A substantial body of evidence now demonstrates that the standards currently in place for evaluating the risk to human health posed by pesticides are inadequate.² Furthermore, the draft EIS contains no evaluation of the impact on humans of so-called “inert” ingredients in the herbicides intended for use, despite the fact that many compounds which have been classified as “inert” have been shown to be as toxic as the “active” ingredients.

Chemical sensitivity is recognized as a disability in American jurisprudence. All of the acreage which is targeted under this plan is public land, intended for the enjoyment of all the people, not merely those with healthy respiratory systems. The widespread application of pesticides in these public spaces would erect a barrier to use of these spaces by people with disabilities, and would therefore constitute a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But we in CUIDO are concerned not merely with the well-being of humans, but with the entire multitude of creatures which dwell in the targeted habitats. Because they cannot speak for themselves and are thus powerless to restrain this juggernaut of development and greed, we feel obligated to speak for them by pointing out, as forcefully as possible, the fact that this plan will cause displacement, death, and disability to countless species of animals and plants. This is outrageous.

The justification for this massive destruction of an established ecosystem is “fire hazard mitigation.” However, the extent to which this dramatic change in landscape will actually reduce fire is in dispute. Instead of living eucalyptus with limited ground foliage, we will see vast expanses of dry grasslands, deep eucalyptus mulch, brush and dead or dying oak trees. We will have simply exchanged one type of fire hazard for another, in the process destroying a carefully- balanced ecosystem. The EIS dismisses, with very little consideration, alternative solutions to fire hazard mitigation.

We urge you to reject this funding proposal.

Communities United in Defense of Olmstead (CUIDO)
CUIDO is a Bay Area grassroots disability rights organization committed to defending the human and civil rights of people with disabilities. Olmstead is a 1999 Supreme Court ruling which declared that people with disabilities have a right to live in the community.

Contact information:
1927 Fairview St.
Berkeley, CA 94703

¹ “Chemical Intolerance in Primary Care Settings: Prevalence, Comorbidity, and Outcomes”; The Annals of Family Medicine; July/August 2012; vol. 10 no. 4, 357-365.

² To cite one example: “Pesticide Exposure in Children,” American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement; Pediatrics vol. 130 no. C, December 1, 2012

Picture by Tom Brown,

Gov. Brown – Shame On You!

This Banner Hung in the Room During Brown's Video Message

Although Governor Jerry Brown cancelled his appearance at the Berkeley Center for Independent Living’s 40′th birthday celebration, CUIDO brought our message about his policies to the party.

Inside, during Brown’s video message, four protesters hold up a modified California Flag with crutches. It read “Death by 1000 cuts”.

Outside, protesters greeted guests with signs and banners.

Banner Outside the Ed Roberts Center

If you are outraged by the cuts Governor Brown has proposed, copy this letter and send it to him:

Gov. Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Ste 1173
Sacramento, Ca. 95814

AN OPEN LETTER FROM CUIDO (Communities United in Defense of Olmstead) TO JERRY BROWN
Dear Governor Brown,

Almost two years ago we disabled folks, along with hundreds of other people from the Bay Area, sent you a letter protesting state budget cuts.

Your response was to give us two years of “cuts only” budgets. You proposed deep cuts to In-Home Supportive Services, the complete elimination of Adult Day Health Care, huge cuts to Developmental Services programs, reductions to SSI income, and a severe erosion of health care services for those who rely on Medi-Cal. The cumulative effect of these cuts has been misery and desperation. You’ve threatened not only our independence, but our very lives. WTF! What were you thinking??

In your first term as Governor, you appointed Ed Roberts to head the State Department of Rehabilitation and promised to support the rights of disabled people. You’ve broken that promise and lost your moral compass.

California has the highest concentration of millionaires of any state in the US: there are more than enough resources to provide for the basic human needs of the people. Our political system is deeply corrupted by the influence of money. Capitalism undermines democracy and causes widespread suffering. Your failure to rein in the corporate stranglehold on government has resulted in greater wealth concentration at the top, enhancing the economic interests of the 1% at the expense of us, the 99%. Your failure to achieve a just state budget only proves the point of the Occupy movement: that change within the present framework is impossible!

While we hope Proposition 30 will pass, in our view it’s “too little, too late and too temporary”. Furthermore, we strenuously oppose your disgusting tactic of holding us—people with disabilities, poor people, students, etc—hostage in order to force passage of your tax proposal. How dare you reduce our precious lives to bargaining chips in your political game!

Jerry Brown, you have betrayed people with disabilities. You have betrayed poor people. You have betrayed the 99%. Lose your phony baloney act and admit it: you are NOT our friend!

[Your Signature and Address Here]


Governor Jerry Brown


The CUIDO protest against Jerry Brown will continue as planned. His
cancelling his appearance at CIL is no indication that he is cancelling his
“Death by 1000 Cuts” policies, therefore we feel compelled to convey our
message with or without him.


Governor Brown has been invited by the Berkeley Center for Independent Living to speak at their 40th anniversary fundraising event on the evening of September 13, 2012. But many of us feel that he has not acted as our friend; in fact we feel betrayed and angry about budget cuts that bring us so much misery.

Join CUIDO (Communities United in Defense of Olmstead) to protest Governor Jerry Brown, and his policy of “Death by 1000 Cuts”. We will affirm our resistance to his budgetary priorities that favor the wealthy at the expense of our lives. He speaks of “belt tightening” and “sharing the burden equally” but, because of the political power of corporate wealth, all he has been willing to deliver are cuts.

How many rich people will end up on the streets, in emergency rooms, nursing homes, and morgues as a result of his budget cuts? His cuts will banish old people and formerly independent people with disabilities to nursing homes, in violation of the Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead decision. We will not go silently into these places to die!

The front of the Ed Robert's Building

Bring your signs, banners, hearts and beautiful bodies! We’re not rich, but we’ve got fight. This is a non-violent/ scent-free protest. For information, or to offer assistance, please contact CUIDO at:; 510-686-3139

Check out our Facebook page for the latest updates:

Disability Action Brigade Photos

Join us on Wednesday November 2, in solidarity with #OccupyOakland’s General Strike!


Calling all people with disabilities, deaf people, elders, and allies
Join us on Wednesday November 2, in solidarity with Occupy Oakland’s
General Strike, for a Teach-In and protest of impending State and Federal
budget cuts that impact our community.

We will convene near the right (north) side of City Hall at Oscar Grant
Plaza at 2pm. Look for our Disability Action Brigade signs. We will march a
short distance at a slow pace to a site where we will have a sit-in and
teach-in to alert the public about the potential impacts of the impending
trigger cuts on our community, and how we have borne the burden of
unabalanced budgets for decades.

At 5:30 pm, those of us who are able, will go the the Port of Oakland. Van
shuttles will provide wheelchair accessible transportation. We will do our
best to provide accessible transportation both to and from the Port. At the
Port we will join the larger group of Occupy Oakland to shut it down and
disrupt business as usual.We will determine a safe space to support the
shut-down together as a large presence of elders and people with
disabilities. Our intent is to create a safe space where people who are
more vulnerable can participate without threat to our safety, while
supporting those who choose different tactics.

This action is committed to non-violence while maintaining a militant
stand against the 1%. Please respect the principles of non-violence when
protesting with us.

We are working hard to secure ASL interpretation, but cannot guarantee it
will be present. We are looking into Spanish and Mandarin interpretation as

In order to provide a fully accessible action, please help us maintain a
smoke and scent free space.

If you have any other access needs or other questions, please contact us

Phone: 510-686-3139

Download the PDF

The Elimination of Adult Day Health Care!

Join the rally with your neighbors, seniors, people with disabilities, their families and supporters to tell Governor Brown to “STOP”!

When: Thursday October 20, 2011 @12:00 – 1:00

Where: San Francisco City Hall Polk Street Steps

In the early 70’s, forward thinking California policymakers established Adult Day Health Care as a cost-saving, community-based day program for seniors and younger people with disabilities.

Among its unique benefits, an Adult Day Health Care center provides a full range of medical, nursing, therapeutic, rehabilitative and social services enabling beneficiaries to remain living at home and avoid unnecessary emergency room visits, hospitalization and institutionalization.

Governor Jerry Brown sent California spiraling backwards in terms of human and financial costs when — with a stroke of his pen — completely eliminated funding for Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) services when he ended it as a Medi Cal benefit effective December 1st !

Statewide moral and economic deficit if 300 ADHC centers close:

• 35,000 – 55,000 fixed-income seniors & people with disabilities forced into costly institutional care, other state-funded means of care or stay at home until health deteriorates into emergency room visits or hospitalizations.

• Loss of more than 7,000 ADHC jobs and worker productivity due to caregivers having to quit their jobs or reduce their work hours to care for their family members.

• Lewin Group Study projects will cost the State $51 million more than it saves with elimination.

San Franciscans need to lead the way to morally and economically protect:

• 10 ADHC Centers from closing. As small businesses, represents an estimated $10 million.

• Thousands of current & future patients without a personal choice to safely keep living in their own homes and neighborhoods.

San Francisco ADHC centers include: Bayview Hunters Point, Circle of Friends, Golden State, Jewish Family & Children Services L’Chaim, SteppingStone Golden Gate, SteppingStone Mabini, SteppingStone Mission Creek, SteppingStone Presentation, St. Mary’s, Self-Help for the Elderly.

San Francisco Rally To Save Adult Day Health Care Services. For more information call:
James Chionsini at Planning for Elders 415-703-0188 ext 304
LaNay Eastman at SF Adult Day Health Network 415-808-7371

Download the PDF