City

The lowdown: Berkeley council on homelessness, sewer fee hike, limiting vaccine exemptions, crude oil, more

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council will consider a new set of laws designed to clean up the downtown by putting stricter controls on the behavior of the homeless, the possibility of doubling city sewer fees by 2020, a percent-for-art program for private development and more. Read on to find out what’s on the agenda.

The worksession

SEWER FEE INCREASE The city is looking at increasing sewer rates to close a projected gap in the cost to run its sanitary sewer management system and comply with new federal requirements that set out strict improvements to the system in coming years. At 5:30 p.m., city Public Works director Andrew Clough will present several options for how the city might increase rates to cover the program’s costs going forward. The city commissioned a study to analyze how that might work, and has put forward three options for consideration. All three would require what amounts to an approximate doubling of fees, spread over the next five years.

Read the sanitary sewer rate study. Image: City of Berkeley
Read the sanitary sewer rate study. Image: City of Berkeley

The action calendar

LAWS FOR THE HOMELESS A proposal coming before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday to examine new laws for the homeless is being called “Measure S 2.0,” and is shaping up politically to be a repeat of the bruising sit-lie ordinance that was on the 2012 ballot. Read Berkeleyside’s overview of the proposal, and the proposal itself. Originally, council members Linda Maio and Jesse Arreguín submitted the item together, but Arreguín has since withdrawn his support. He said he will submit a 16-point amendment to the proposal Tuesday night. (See it here first.)

PUBLIC ART UPDATES Council has two items on the agenda related to public art. The first — on the consent calendar — would update the municipal definition of public art to reflect modern standards. The second, put forward by Mayor Tom Bates, is a proposal to require the developers of private projects to spend 1% of the construction costs on art, either on site or as a fee to the city. As per the report on the item, “Since 1999, the City of Berkeley has required all public improvements and bond measures to budget 1.5% of the total expenses for public art. Berkeley currently has no such requirement on private development.” As proposed, the new law would apply to new multifamily residential buildings of five or more units, commercial buildings and industrial buildings. [UPDATE: Mayor Bates passed out an updated item on the dais. See it here.]


ENERGY REBATES EN ROUTE As part of an effort to increase sustainability and energy efficiency in Berkeley, the city is one of 50 semifinalists vying for a $5 million prize from Georgetown University. (Read the staff report or Berkeleyside’s January story for more information on the contest, which ends in December 2017.) In the near-term, as a reward for being a semifinalist, PG&E is slated to give the city of Berkeley $20,000 to help with public outreach and encourage sustainability efforts. Of that, the city is considering putting $15,000 toward rebates of $100-$200 per household to help pay for energy efficiency assessments. The other $5,000 would go toward energy efficiency education and training for students in the Berkeley community. Read the staff report.

NEW DONATION BOXES FOR THE HOMELESS Maio and Arreguín have teamed up to promote the “Positive Change” pilot program to install up to 10 donation boxes downtown — a collaboration between the Berkeley Food & Housing Project and the Downtown Berkeley Association — to collect money to pay for services for homeless people in the neighborhood. The money could help fund rental help, job counseling, transportation assistance and reunification with loved ones. The first five boxes are proposed in various locations along Shattuck Avenue. According to the report, the approach has worked well in other cities. Read more.

On the consent calendar and more

CLOSING THE “VACCINE EXEMPTION LOOPHOLE” Council is set to approve on the consent calendar a vote of support for state legislation, Senate Bill 277, to end the “personal beliefs” exemption to vaccination in California. Senate Bill 277 would require that children be immunized for various diseases, including measles and whooping cough, before being admitted to school, according to the proposal. The bill would also require that parents be notified of immunization rates at their child’s school. The new bill would leave medical exemptions as the only legal reason not to vaccinate. Read the proposal.

TAP WATER CAMPAIGN Councilman Laurie Capitelli and Councilwoman Linda Maio have a proposal on the consent calendar to direct staff in the Public Health Department “to devote time and resources towards developing a City-wide tap water campaign promoting the excellent quality of our local water and encouraging residents to consume it.” They explain in the proposal that the campaign would go hand-in-hand with the city’s new tax on sugary drinks, and is designed to promote water as a better alternative for all residents, particularly youth and people of color, who are more at risk for obesity and, later in life, diabetes. Read the proposal.

BERKELEY HONDA UPDATE As Berkeleyside reported last month, Berkeley Honda is working to move into the Any Mountain space on Shattuck Avenue. (Any Mountain has nine Bay Area locations and is currently having a large sale at its Berkeley outpost as a result of the impending closure.) Council previously agreed to waive certain building permit fees for Honda — which initially planned to move to West Berkeley — because of the high sales tax revenue the city gets from the business. Tuesday night’s vote would apply that waiver to the Shattuck Avenue location. Read the proposal.


OIL-BY-RAIL: MOVIE SCREENING Councilwoman Maio has been working to raise awareness about plans to move crude oil by rail through California, including through Berkeley, on Amtrak train tracks. Maio has asked for council to watch a 9-minute video Tuesday night that was produced by the Weather Channel to “create a broader awareness of what our communities are facing from shipping this material through our towns and cities.” The video — entitled “Boom: North America’s Explosive Oil-By-Rail Problem” — also appears above, and on Vimeo. Maio says the time is now to get informed because “comments are due on the San Luis Obispo permit in this time period, and comments are also due on the new rulemaking that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Foxx is proposing.” Read her proposal, and learn more about how to give feedback.

CÉSAR CHÁVEZ PARK: UPDATES ON VANDALISM, WILDLIFE Council is set to receive two information reports about goings-on at César Chávez Park in West Berkeley. Staff reports that, since an outreach effort in December, there have been no new instances of vandalism to the park’s solar calendar installation, which was repeatedly damaged last year. (See Berkeleyside’s coverage in August of the vandalism, and our October update when the city put out a reward for help to solve the mystery.) Staff also reports that efforts to discourage the feeding of wildlife at the park are going well. The wildlife issue became particularly important last June when concerns arose about erosion of the landfill cap resulting, said the city, from ballooning squirrel and gopher populations there that were driven by overfeeding. Read the report.

The shelter's new digs provide a safer, calmer atmosphere for animals, supporters say. Photo: Nancy Rubin
The shelter’s new digs provide a safer, calmer atmosphere for animals, supporters say. Photo: Nancy Rubin

ANIMAL SHELTER DONATION The city is set to accept a $10,000 donation to its Dona Spring Municipal Animal Shelter to help with the care of stray and abandoned animals. The city already puts $10,000 aside each year “to assist low income residents with the cost of spaying or neutering their pet. The volunteer program uses donation money to provide leashes, collars, treats, beds, toys, volunteer appreciation events and anything else needed.” This new donation, from the Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation, as designated by Barbara Suzanne Farley, will help with those efforts. Read the report.

Has something else on the agenda caught your interest? Let us know in the comments.

Meeting details

Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.
Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.

The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday nights at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Special sessions generally take place at 5:30 p.m. and regular meetings begin at 7 p.m. Council agendas are available online here. Watch the meetings online here.


Berkeleyside often covers council meetings live on Twitter. Others sometimes do the same and the discussion can get spirited. Follow council coverage on Twitter via hashtag #berkmtg. Follow along in real-time here, and tag your tweets with #berkmtg to join in.

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Council-related Twitter handles:
@MayorTomBates
@LindaMaio (District 1)
Darryl Moore @BerkCouncil (District 2)
@JesseArreguin (District 4)
Laurie Capitelli @berkcap (District 5)
Kriss Worthington @k__worthington (District 7)
Lori Droste @loridroste (District 8)

Learn more about the Berkeley City Council and how to connect with local representatives via the city website.

Related:
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The lowdown: Berkeley council on protests, drones, more (02.24.15)
The lowdown: Council on protests, police body cameras, gender-neutral restrooms, more (02.10.15)
The lowdown: Council on energy ordinance, protests, police cameras, goBerkeley, more (01.27.15)
The lowdown: Council on Berkeley protests and police relations, zoning board appeals (01.13.15)
‘Double header’ Berkeley council meetings set for Tuesday, 2 protests also planned (12.15.14)

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