Search Results for: jesse arreguin

Berkeley parks advocates push back after council drops bond from November ballot

The Berkeley rose garden pergola needs major repairs and has been closed to park visitors since April. Photo: Daniel Parks
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The public dismay was palpable last month when the Berkeley City Council decided, in a surprise move, to put a parks tax before voters this fall without a related bond measure that would have infused parks and pools around the city with much-needed cash, reversing an earlier vote on the items.

The $1.7 million parks tax, if approved by voters, would essentially maintain the status quo for maintenance and staffing needs, and cost the owner of an average-size home an additional $43 a year. (That same homeowner already pays about $240 a year for the existing parks tax.)

Had it gone to voters, the proposed $20 million parks bond could have helped re-open Willard Pool, improve the King and West Campus pools, put millions toward Aquatic Park, James Kenney Park and the much-loved rose garden, and repair tennis courts and ballfields around the city, in addition to addressing other significant needs. (See a financial breakdown of several possible iterations of the bond and tax proposal.)

The city estimated that the joint bond and tax measure would have added just $15 more than the tax alone to the bill for owners of an average Berkeley home, defined by the city as 1,900 square feet. … Continue reading »

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Downtown initiative on ballot; Berkeley city, schools may lose millions in fees

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The majority of the Berkeley City Council exerted its political muscle Tuesday night by voting for a ballot description for the downtown initiative drawn up by Mayor Tom Bates that is less flattering than the ones offered by the city attorney and Councilman Jesse Arreguín, the main proponent of the initiative.

Bates’ description of the initiative, which would require all buildings in the downtown area over 60 feet to meet high environmental standards that are now voluntary, uses terms like “impose significant new requirements,” and “restrict” and “reduce.” It also mentions a provision that would “reduce hours of operation for businesses selling or serving alcohol.” … Continue reading »

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2 citizen initiatives on course to make ballot in Berkeley

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín and his aide Anthony Sanchez turned in 3,900 signatures for Green Downtown and Public Commons. Photo: Tom Hunt
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At least two measures backed by Berkeley residents appear to have collected enough support to make them likely to be on the November 2014 ballot.

On Tuesday, a group backed by City Councilman Jesse Arreguín turned in more than 3,900 signatures to put a measure before voters that forces higher environmental standards on tall buildings in the downtown on the ballot. It would also create an overlay in the civic center district preventing certain buildings from being converted to commercial use. … Continue reading »

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Official pushes for independent redistricting panel

Councilman Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley Councilman Jesse Arreguín has launched a ballot initiative to change the city’s approach to redistricting, arguing that “partisan self interest” and a “broken” process have crippled recent efforts, as well as those during the last redistricting attempt more than a decade ago.

Arreguín wants the city to create an independent citizen redistricting commission “that will be insulated from political influence, represent the diversity of the community, and develop lines based on objective criteria that are also not bound by incumbency.”

Among the changes he would like to see is the removal of a current requirement that sitting council members must be included within any proposed district lines that are submitted.  … Continue reading »

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Local business

Neighbors stop a new Starbucks opening in Berkeley

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A mobilized, vocal group of South Berkeley neighbors, working in concert with local merchants, has prevented a Starbucks from opening in South Berkeley.

Berkeley’s City Council voted Tuesday, March 11, to deny Starbucks an administrative use permit for a 2,063-square-foot space at 3001 Telegraph Ave., at the southeast intersection with Ashby. Council members made the vote after hearing from dozens of local residents and business owners that such a high-customer-volume coffee shop would increase traffic congestion and exacerbate what they described as an already taxing parking situation. The denial came in spite of the fact that the original application from Starbucks was approved by city staff one year ago tomorrow.

Starbucks’ argument, that parking would not be unduly impacted — supported by two separate independent parking studies commissioned by the company — and its contention that many of its customers and employees would be arriving on foot, failed to win the upper hand after more than three hours of discussion. The coffee shop chain also came to the table with promises to move an AC Transit bus stop north across the intersection of Ashby and Telegraph to provide new parking opportunities, and lease three additional spaces in the Chevron gas station lot kitty-corner to the new store. But it was to no avail. … Continue reading »

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Long-time Berkeley progressives back referendum drive

City council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin and members the Berkeley Referendum Campaign turn in signatures to the city clerk’s office on Jan 21. Photo: Anthony Sanchez
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The group that collected 7,896 signatures to force a City Council redistricting plan onto the ballot spent more than $5,000 on paid signature gatherers in January, but only raised $2,790, according to a campaign disclosure report filed with the city.

The single largest contributor to the campaign was Michael O’Malley who co-owns The Daily Planet with his wife Becky. The O’Malleys are a politically progressive couple who are often critical of Mayor Tom Bates and his more moderate allies on the council. Michael O’Malley contributed $1,000 to the referendum effort. … Continue reading »

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Redistricting opponents secure signatures to force vote

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Opponents of a redistricting plan adopted by the City Council in December turned in 7,876 signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Tuesday that they hope will lead to a redrawing of District 7 boundaries.

Despite the fact that UC Berkeley students, who would be most affected by the changes, were on vacation during the 30 days opponents had to collect signatures, the Berkeley Referendum Campaign gathered more than the 5,275 necessary to reconsider the map, according to City Councilman Kriss Worthington. He led the drive along with City Councilman Jesse Arreguin. That response shows just how disenfranchised many Berkeley residents felt by the new redistricting lines, he said.

“Many progressives saw it (the redistricting plan adopted by the council) as classic gerrymandering for the advantage of a moderate candidate,” said Worthington. … Continue reading »

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FCPC looks into alleged violations by Yes on S supporters

Members of the Fair Campaign Practices Commission review material before their Oct. 25 meeting. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Fair Campaign Practices Commission has decided to investigate whether any campaign laws were broken when the Yes on Measure S campaign paid people from $50 to $100 in cash to pass out campaign material on election day.

The commission also wants staff to look into whether the Yes on S campaign paid for an extra printing of endorsement fliers put out by the Berkeley Democratic Club without declaring its participation.

The decision to investigate came as the commission considered another complaint on Sept. 19 filed by Patricia Wall, executive director of the Homeless Action Center, and Bob Offer-Westort, the coordinator of the No on Measure S campaign. Measure S, which was defeated in November 2012, would have made it illegal to sit on sidewalks in commercial districts for much of the day. … Continue reading »

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Dog license fees to rise, other Berkeley Council decisions

Animal services head Kate O'Connor in front of the new animal shelter. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Raised fees for a number of city services were agreed on Tuesday night by the City Council with relatively little debate and no public comments. Dog licenses will at least double: from $7.50 to $15 for a one-year altered dog licence and from $18 to $40 for a three-year altered dog license. Fees for animal adoptions from the city shelter are also going up.

Kate O’Connor, manager, Animal Care Services, said that her department estimated there were about 40,000 dogs in Berkeley. In FY12, 1,722 animal permits were issued (virtually all for dogs — she said only two cat licenses were issued). O’Connor’s estimate was that 20-25% of Berkeley’s dogs are licensed, which Councilmember Laurie Capitelli pointed out is probably an overestimate given the number of issued licenses.  … Continue reading »

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Landlord-backed group fined for campaign violations

The FCPC commissioners review their papers in a fall meeting. (Note: Some of these commissioners are no longer serving.)  Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Fair Campaign Practices Commission on Thursday levied its second heaviest fine in 20 years on a landlord-backed group that spent more than $42,500 during the 2012 election.

The FCPC approved a stipulation agreement worked out between city staff and the people behind a Slate Mailer Organization that sent out five campaign mailers in support of the TUFF (Tenants United for Fairness) Rent Board slate. … Continue reading »

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The most important stories in Berkeley in 2012

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Berkeley in 2012 was filled with drama — a contested election, a failed nomination for a new school superintendent, a few missteps by the Chief of Police, and major changes at the University of California, among other events. Here’s a recap of the issues that had the deepest impact on Berkeley, plus a few fun ones thrown in.

City Government

The year got off to a tragic start with the untimely death of 37-year-old City Clerk Deanna Despain. She fell down the stairs of her Oakland home on Jan. 8. Her husband discovered her body when he returned from a late-night meeting. Their daughter was soundly asleep upstairs. Since then, Mark Numainville has been filling in as acting city clerk. In May, after serving as interim city manager for six months, the City Council appointed Christine Daniel permanently to the job. She replaced Phil Kamlarz, who had held the city’s top job for eight years. … Continue reading »

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Measure T: Will it enhance or ruin West Berkeley?

A 5.5-acre section of West Berkeley along Fourth Street might be impacted with the passage of Measure T. Doug Herst, whose family once owned Peerless Lighting, a manufacturing company, wants te develop Peerless Greens, a mix of housing, artists studios, R&D and manufacturing. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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On a recent Wednesday morning, as the sun was trying to make its way out from behind rain clouds, two joggers ran down Fourth Street, passing the Takara Sake Factory, a tiny house hidden behind a woodworking shop, the new Sketch ice cream store, and the massive warehouse of Wine.com.

It may have been a routine run for the two men. But for many of the residents of West Berkeley, the runners’ path exemplifies what is special about the neighborhood: it’s an eclectic mix of housing, manufacturing, industrial production, and small businesses.

Despite this vibrancy, many consider West Berkeley underutilized. It is the only section of the city that is zoned for manufacturing and industrial uses. But over the last few decades, the number of these businesses has dwindled. In 1991, there were 153 manufacturers providing 5,024 jobs in the 94710 zip code. In 2008, that had dropped 38%, with 89 companies providing 3,636 manufacturing jobs, according to a report put together in 2009 by Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. … Continue reading »

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Council sets fee for affordable housing mitigation

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Developers of new residential rental properties in Berkeley can now choose to pay into a special city fund instead of including on-site affordable housing after an 8-1 vote Tuesday by the City Council. It’s the latest step by City Hall to create policies that will increase Berkeley’s affordable housing stock.

But whether developers will choose to pay the fee remains to be seen, and some members of the City Council caution that setting the fee too high could have unintended, unavoidable, consequences for future projects.

The city requires developers of new market-rate rental properties to make one of their units affordable — to households earning 50% or less of the region’s median family income — for every 10 market rate units. This means that the units would have to be affordable, for example, to a family of three in Berkeley making $42,100 or less. … Continue reading »

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