Author Archives: Lance Knobel

Ben Gould enters campaign for District 4 council seat

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Gould
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Former mayoral candidate Ben Gould announced today that he will run for the District 4 City Council seat vacated by Mayor Jesse Arreguín. Public-sector consultant Kate Harrison announced last week that she would run for the seat. The election will be held on March 7.

Gould, a graduate student in public policy at UC Berkeley, finished fourth in the mayoral race, behind Arreguín, former Councilman Laurie Capitelli and Councilman Kriss Worthington. Gould has been endorsed by council members Lori Droste and Susan Wengraf. Harrison is endorsed by Arreguín and council members Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn.

“I am running to make Berkeley more affordable, inclusive, and sustainable,” Gould said in his announcement.

A native Berkeleyan and graduate of Berkeley High School, Gould chairs the Community Environmental Advisory Commission. He previously served on the Housing Advisory Commission and the Zoning Adjustments Board. He is also on the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund Advisory Board.  … Continue reading »

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Two Berkeley High students hospitalized after eating marijuana edibles

Berkeley High School. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Two Berkeley High School students were taken to the hospital yesterday after eating marijuana edibles on campus. Both are reported to be fine.

According to BHS principal Sam Pasarow, six students were found to have eaten the products. In a statement to the Berkeley High community, he wrote, “We take this incident and all incidents involving controlled substances on our campus seriously. This investigation is ongoing at this time and does involve cooperation with local law enforcement.”

Pasarow said parents should remind students to never accept food from other students without knowing their origin. “Edible products are particularly dangerous as they can include a range of substances and unclear dosages and drug potency,” he wrote. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates retires after 14 years: “I always felt I could do the right thing”

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates in November 2016. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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Think back to Berkeley in 2002. Home prices were less than half of today’s values. There were just over 100,000 people in the city, versus 120,000 today. About one in eight Berkeleyans were over 60-years-old, against nearly one in five today. The politically minded were wondering how to survive the presidency of George W. Bush and his “global war on terror.” And Tom Bates was the newly elected mayor of Berkeley.

Tonight’s City Council meeting marks Bates’ last time chairing a City Council meeting. After 14 years as mayor (and 20 years in the Assembly and four years on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors before that), the 78-year-old Bates is retiring. Jesse Arreguín, often a dissenter to the Bates majority on the Council, takes over the mayorship on Thursday.

“I’ve been so blessed to have had this opportunity to represent Berkeley,” Bates told Berkeleyside in an interview before Thanksgiving. “I’ve always felt like I could do what I thought was the right thing, and never really had to compromise.” … Continue reading »

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2 juveniles tied to North Berkeley vandalism spree

2 juveniles were arrested early on Wednesday morning for vandalizing windows on Solano Avenue. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Nearly 30 businesses on the north side of Solano Avenue were vandalized early Wednesday morning by two youths who scratched “Felipe” and some obscene words on their windows, authorities report.

According to Berkeley police, a witness phoned at 2:16 a.m. Wednesday to say they saw two males vandalizing windows on Solano near Ensenada Avenue.

Police chased the youths on foot for four blocks and apprehended one of them. The other was arrested at 4:35 a.m.

Both are juveniles, one from Albany and the other from El Cerrito. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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BERKELEY HALF MARATHON The Berkeley Half Marathon has rapidly established itself as a fixture in the city’s annual calendar. The organizers expect more than 9,000 runners on Sunday for the half marathon, 10K and 5K races. The feature event starts at 8 a.m. on Milvia Street next to Berkeley High, wends through the Southside neighborhood, heads north on Shattuck Avenue through the Gourmet Ghetto to the Marin Circle before heading west to Fourth Street and a waterfront loop before climbing east to the finish back on Milvia. Community members are encouraged to cheer on the runners, and to join them for the Finish Line Festival in Civic Center Park.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s own political earthquake: Arreguín becomes mayor, progressives seize council majority

Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Courtesy of Jesse Arreguin
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Jesse Arreguín, 32, decisively won the mayorship in yesterday’s election, becoming the first Latino Berkeley mayor.

To close observers of Berkeley’s local politics, the chattering started over the last several weeks of the election. First, Jesse Arreguín won the endorsement of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as the Sierra Club and the Alameda County Democratic Party. Then there was word of thousands of new voter registrations on the UC Berkeley campus.

Missed the election night action? Read our live blog.

After 14 years of Mayor Tom Bates and his secure City Council majority, could Councilman Arreguín best Bates’ hand-picked successor, Councilman Laurie Capitelli?

It didn’t take long for the results on Tuesday night to answer that question. When the Alameda County Registrar of Voters produced the first data shortly after 8 p.m., Arreguín already led Capitelli. As long-shot mayoral candidate Ben Gould explained to Berkeleyside, those results, largely from early, mail-in ballots, usually reflect more of the “hill” vote, which Capitelli supporters had hoped to win decisively.  … Continue reading »

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News analysis: Who will control Berkeley’s City Council post-election?

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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“Nobody knows anything,” said screenwriter William Goldman about Hollywood’s inability to figure out which movies would be hits and which would be flops. The same is true about Berkeley’s local elections. If Berkeleyside were so minded, we could do election punditry until the cows come home. But there’s zero data, or close to zero. There’s no possibility for a Berkeley 538 or Upshot, sifting lots of data sources to give some insight into the election.

If you haven’t voted yet, check out our Election Hub, and use the Voters Edge tool!

What we do know in 2016, however, is that there are an unusual number of open races: for mayor and for two City Council seats. Because of the power of incumbency in local races particularly, open races present a rare chance for the dynamic of city politics to change.

Berkeley’s City Council has had a clear majority supporting Mayor Tom Bates, generally with a 6-3 vote, for years. The three-vote minority, Jesse Arreguín, Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson, is frustrated more often than not.

Follow Berkeleyside’s live election blog, on the site starting around 8pm.

But Bates is retiring. If Councilman Laurie Capitelli, currently representing District 5, wins, the mayor’s vote will largely be a continuation of Bates’ positions. But if Arreguín wins (or, far less likely, Worthington), the mayor’s vote shifts from a Berkeley moderate position to a self-described progressive one. Similarly, if Capitelli’s current District 5 seat is won by Sophie Hahn, a moderate will be swapped for a progressive. If Stephen Murphy wins Capitelli’s seat, the current council majority will be shored up on most votes. Anderson is also retiring: on the stated positions of the four candidates running for the District 3 seat, it is harder to predict who will be a regular moderate or progressive vote. … Continue reading »

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Ballot stuffing in Berkeley, the legitimate way

Voters attempt to place their vote-by-mail ballots in a drop box at City Hall without success because the box was full, in Berkeley, on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. Photo: David Yee ©2016
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Vote-by-mail is increasing in popularity in California. One side effect: ballot drop boxes that are full to bursting. Some Berkeleyans were frustrated this morning when the official ballot drop box outside the Civic Center on Milvia Street was too full to accept their ballot.

Don’t miss our Election Night live blog, or our 2016 Election Hub.

Alameda County Registrar of Voters employees Mohammad Naweedyamin and Michelle Lin came by later in the morning to empty the … Continue reading »

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Homeless encampment moved from Civic Center steps to corner across from Berkeley High School

Mike Zint, of First They Came for the Homeless, sits in a tent on the lawn at City Hall after an encampment was removed from the steps, in Berkeley, on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. Photo: David Yee ©2016
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The homeless encampment that was removed early Friday morning from Adeline Street was moved again this morning. This time, the shift was from the steps of Berkeley’s Civic Center building on Milvia Street to the corner of Milvia and Allston Way, directly across from Berkeley High School.

At lunchtime on Monday, the homeless encampment consisted of eight tents and possessions on the small patch of grass on the northwest corner of Allston and Milvia.

The encampment on the Civic Center steps had lasted from Friday to early on Monday. Berkeley police removed the encampment at around 5 a.m.

“This is not an acceptable place to camp,” said City of Berkeley spokesperson Matthai Chakko. “We’re working with them to make sure they understand that. What we try to do with our services is get people into shelter.”  … Continue reading »

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Who are Berkeley’s two leading mayoral candidates?

Mayoral candidates Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín butted heads Tuesday night over the minimum wage proposal. Photos: Mark Coplan
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It’s been a long time since Berkeley had a competitive mayoral election. There’s no polling conducted in Berkeley, but with incumbent Tom Bates stepping down, there’s considerable uncertainty about the result of the 2016 race.

Unquestionably, the two most visible candidates – most active in campaigning, raising the most money, and spending the most on the race – are council members Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín. Berkeleyside has been covering the different approaches the two take to many of the issues that dominate debate in Berkeley, from housing to homelessness to downtown. But what do we know about Arreguín’s and Capitelli’s development as local political figures?

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel has been attending mayoral forums, interviewing the candidates, and tracking them down during public events like the recent Sunday Streets. The result is two portraits of very different figures, vying for the symbolic leadership of Berkeley.

See more mayoral race coverage on Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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BSEP renewal would fund small class sizes, libraries, music in Berkeley schools, but with big tax hike

Berkeley students carry Yes on E1 signs during the Solano Stroll. Photo: Yes on E1 campaign
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Since 1986, Berkeley public schools have benefited from smaller class sizes, libraries, music and arts instruction thanks to the infusion of funds from the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP). The parcel tax has been renewed with voter support in 1994, 2004 and 2006. If past elections are any guide, Measure E1 to renew BSEP should pass the two-thirds majority hurdle with ease at next Tuesday’s election.

E1 has no organized opposition, but a California appeals court ruling has forced a significant change in the design of the tax this time. Previous BSEP measures had higher tax rates for commercial property than for residential property. Differential tax rates on a parcel tax are no longer allowed, so Berkeley home owners will see a steep tax increase from the current 29 cents per square foot to 37 cents per square foot if E1 passes.

Check out Berkeleyside’s Election Hub and Voter’s Edge voting guide.

“The BSEP campaign is a once in a decade coming together of the community to say we know the state has been divesting in public education for years,” said Ty Alper, a Berkeley School Board member and one of the leaders of the campaign. “We’re going to come together to make sure that kids in the Berkeley schools have small classes, have support for struggling students, have music, even if the state doesn’t provide that. People understand the increase. They know that we didn’t have a choice in terms of the court ruling. This isn’t a money grab.”  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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WAKE THE DEAD Here’s a believable claim: Wake the Dead is the “World’s Only Celtic All-Star Grateful Dead Jam Band.” Has the world been thirsting for a Celtic Grateful Dead Jam Band? Well, Wake the Dead have been performing since 2000. Odds are that the Venn diagram of East Bay deadheads has a worthwhile intersection with Celtic music fans. You can find out if you’re alone on Saturday night at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. The Freight says Wake the Dead has been on “a 16-year romp that has seen the band’s fan base spread as far as Canada and Colorado and their repertoire blossom beyond the Dead canon to encompass a whole, delightfully Celtic Summer of Love.” Saturday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m., Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside’s Voter’s Edge guide helps you sort through the candidates, measures in the Nov. 8 election

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Confused about measures T1, U1 and V1? Want a quick rundown on the candidates for Berkeley mayor, or your local council seat? Berkeleyside would encourage you to check out our own voluminous coverage to really dig into the details. But this election we’ve also partnered with Maplight to give you a powerful tool to sort through candidates and measures up and down the ballot.

Voter’s Edge gives you a personalized ballot, with information on endorsements, positions, donors and more in one easy-to-use site.

See Berkeleyside’s 2016 Election Hub for all our coverage.

Depending on which council district you live in, your ballot probably has 12 or 13 different races (from president to mayor to school board to Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District director) and 32 — yes, 32 — different ballot measures.  … Continue reading »

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