Category Archives: Government
When the Berkeley City Council held a worksession on the budget on Feb. 25, there was good news and bad news.
The good news is that Berkeley’s revenues are up and expenses are down in the current fiscal year. Using very conservative forecasts, Berkeley budget manager Teresa Berkeley-Simmons projected revenues in the 2014 fiscal year will be $800,000 ahead of the budget passed last June, and expenses over $2 million lower. As a result, so-called carryover expenditures — from revenues accumulated in previous years for as-yet uncompleted projects — will be reduced from $6.3 million to $3.3 million. … Continue reading »
The Low Down: Starbucks, redistricting, noise complaints… and global warming warning labels on gas pumps?
Tonight, March 11, at the Berkeley City Council: a neighborhood appeal of a proposed Starbucks on Telegraph Avenue, potential redistricting decisions, possible changes to how the city handles after-hours noise complaints and a special closed session at 5:30 p.m. on litigation related to utilities. Read on for details in this week’s Low Down. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how to participate and weigh in about meeting coverage, even if you can’t attend in person.
What’s on the regular agenda?
Starbucks appeal A Starbucks that’s been hoping to open on Telegraph Avenue at Ashby has been stalled by neighborhood groups who are worried about community impacts. (See Item 15 on the agenda for relevant documents.) Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday night, and has been advised to issue the business its use permit and dismiss the neighborhood appeal. Read more about the Starbucks issue on Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »
The San Jose-based construction company that employed a man killed during a work-related accident last August in Berkeley has been fined more than $20,000 for two related safety violations authorities said led to the man’s death.
The state Division of Occupational Safety & Health, OSHA, concluded its five-month investigation into the man’s death Jan. 30, Berkeleyside learned Wednesday.
OSHA issued two citations totaling $23,200 to the Robert A. Bothman Construction in connection with the alleged safety violations, which include not keeping under “positive control” the three-axle dump truck that crushed 62-year-old Oscar Marquez of Livermore on Aug. 27 while he was working on the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School track renovation project. … Continue reading »
A 10-year-old musical theater company serving local youth is one step closer to creating its first permanent home in West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park.
The Youth Musical Theater Company won preliminary approval Thursday night from Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board to create a new base for its operations on Bolivar Drive at the southern end of Aquatic Park.
City staff members have been working with the theater group to come up with a deal that would work for both parties. But, for the agreement to move forward, the Berkeley City Council will also have to approve the use permit and sign off on the lease. … Continue reading »
Faced with a projected shortfall of nearly $3 million for waste pick-up services, Berkeley officials voted unanimously late Tuesday night to increase residential pick-up fees by almost 25% beginning in July.
Customers will also see a new description on their tax bills, as “Zero Waste Services” will replace the category previously described as “Refuse.”
The city has not been charging enough to cover costs associated with recycling and organics pick-up, which has contributed to the problem, according to staff.
Tuesday night, council was advised either to increase fees by 24.7% come July, or phase in a 35.5% increase over three years. … Continue reading »
In a 6-3 vote, a Berkeley City Council majority ruled Tuesday night to wait until at least March 11 to make a decision on whether to repeal the city’s recently adopted redistricting ordinance or put the new district lines to the voters in November.
Council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Max Anderson pushed on Tuesday night for council to rescind the ordinance, which was approved in December, in favor of an alternative map. But others on the dais said they wanted more time before taking any additional steps.
Detractors of the new ordinance led a successful signature-gathering campaign in January to force council to repeal the ordinance and adopt a new map, or put it before the voters later this year. New district lines are required to balance the population as much as possible across the city’s eight council districts. The adopted map does that, but some say it unfairly cuts out many “progressive” voices from District 7, which is represented by Worthington. … Continue reading »
The Low Down: Berkeley council on redistricting, garbage fee hike, city budget, pensions, false alarms and more
Tonight, Feb. 25, at the Berkeley City Council: a budget and pension update, redistricting decisions, more on proposed 2014 ballot measures and details about a 25% garbage fee hike for residents. Read on for details in this week’s Low Down. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how to participate and weigh in about meeting coverage, even if you don’t want to attend in person.
Special session on city budget, CalPERS
Beginning at 5:30 p.m., council will get an update on Berkeley’s city budget for fiscal year 2013-14, along with news about CalPERS, the state retirement system for public employees. In a nutshell, the city expects to use about $3.3 million from its reserves to make up a gap between projected revenues and expenses from the General Fund this year. [Update, 2:15 p.m. That reserve money had been approved for use in October, and involved "revenues accumulated in previous years for projects that had not yet been completed."] The city projects increases in secured property taxes, property transfer taxes, and the transient occupancy tax, but expects to see declines in parking fines, moving violations and interest income. Read more on Berkeleyside about the city budget.
So which streets will be paved? Berkeleyside has created an interactive map — scroll down to view it — to show which streets are on the list for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Streets marked in blue are set to be repaved in 2014 by June, while those in red are slated to be fixed in fiscal year 2014-15. … Continue reading »
In Berkeley, squirrels are in the cross fire.
In an attempt to make sure no toxins leak out of the old landfill under Cesar Chavez Park and leach into San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is hiring a pest control company to trap and kill hundreds of squirrels and gophers that make their home there.
It seems that when the squirrels and gophers do what comes naturally—digging holes or tunneling in the ground—they are getting perilously close to the clay cap that covers the landfill. If the rodents penetrate that barrier, dangerous toxins like gasoline, lead, iron, herbicides and pesticides, could leach into the bay. So the city needs to reduce the animal population to lessen the risk, according to city spokesman Matthai Chakko. … Continue reading »
Neighbors to a proposed new UC Berkeley building say its modern design, and the need to remove several trees in the area in order to build it, are threats to the aesthetic and value of the historic Northside neighborhood. And the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) agrees.
The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, a new College of Engineering design facility, is set to replace the volleyball court at Le Roy Avenue and Ridge Road. The 20,000 gross sq ft building, funded by a $20 million gift from the Paul and Stacey Jacobs Foundation, will have three stories, with the first story being partially underground.
BAHA sent a letter to UC Berkeley in October objecting to the proposed building’s “alienating institutional look,” and suggested the planners consider a design that bears more “relation to the surrounding historic resources.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley police used excessive force when attempting to arrest Kayla Moore and declined to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when she stopped breathing because they considered her transgender status as something objectionable, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday.
At least one Berkeley Police officer who responded to reports of a disturbance at Moore’s apartment at the Gaia Building on Allston Way on Feb. 13, 2013, referred to Moore as “it,” according to the lawsuit. … Continue reading »
Berkeley residents may soon see the fruits of a legal settlement between the city and a group that sued over plans to tear down and rebuild two branch libraries.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Wednesday that it will award $87,000 in grant money to historic places in South and West Berkeley. The money can be used for maintenance, physical improvements, and preservation of historic properties.
The Trust is encouraging “properties with a clear public benefit that are open to the public on at least a part-time basis,” to apply online by May 15 for grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. … Continue reading »