Category Archives: Government

Real estate

Council asks DA to drop criminal charges tied to eviction

835 Page. Photo: Coalition to Defend Black Homes
Print Friendly

The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to ask for criminal charges to be dropped against a 28-year-old black woman who ran into trouble with the law earlier this year while protesting her eviction from the West Berkeley home that had been in her family since 1965.

Councilman Kriss Worthington put forward the item to ask the Alameda County district attorney’s office to drop charges of resisting arrest and failure to obey a court order that were brought against Berkeley native Ayohenia “Ayo” Chaney during the eviction in June.

Many community members and officials have expressed concern about how increasing property values have intensified gentrification and led to significant reductions in the city’s black population. Chaney has said she does not want her family to be another victim of the housing crisis. She thanked council Tuesday night for taking a stand.

“These are pretty ludicrous charges considering this was an illegal eviction,” she told city officials. “I just would like very much to bring the black and brown numbers in Berkeley back up.”

Chaney said, the day before her arrest, she had prequalified to purchase the family home, at 835 Page St., for $450,000. She said she grew up in Berkeley in a single-parent home but now works for a major tech company and would be considered middle-class.

Describing some of the challenges faced by those around her in the community, she noted that many of the friends she grew up with in Berkeley have been killed, and that one had just gotten the death penalty. Chaney has fought for affordable housing in Oakland and said she thinks it’s a critically important effort in Berkeley, too. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Berkeley council picks Amoeba, Apothecarium as new cannabis dispensaries

Supporters of The Cannabis Center line up for public comment at last night's city council meeting. Photo: Lance Knobel
Print Friendly

Berkeley City Council last night approved the city’s fifth and sixth cannabis dispensaries, four months after approving the fourth. A long night of public comment and testimony was followed by a relatively brief discussion by councilmembers before selecting Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective (BC3), 2465 Telegraph Ave. (led by the owners of Amoeba Music), and The Apothecarium, 2578 Shattuck Ave. (from an established San Francisco dispensary).

Proposals from Berkeley Innovative Health, 1229 San Pablo Ave., and The Cannabis Center, 1436 University Ave., failed in their bids, although each attracted some support from members of the council.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.

The council heard nearly three hours of testimony and public comment from the four applicants for the two dispensaries. All of the applicants promoted their professionalism and operational excellence, all had long lines of community members speaking in support. A relatively small number of community members raised concerns about location of any of the dispensaries. What differences could be gleaned from the public comment were largely of tone and nuance.

That was on top of a years-long process the applicants went through to select the city’s fourth dispensary, which concluded in May when the council approved the iCann Health Center on Sacramento Street. Because of the “compelling” quality of the applicants, according to Councilman Kriss Worthington, in July the council agreed to allow a fifth and sixth dispensary. The Medical Cannabis Commission had this year exhaustively evaluated the applicants as part of the lengthy decision on a fourth dispensary.

Adding two new dispensaries could add hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual tax revenues for the city.   … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

EBMUD delivers pipes to Panoramic Hill via helicopter

helicopter-image-1
Print Friendly

The East Bay Municipal Utility District has hired a helicopter to lift about 2,500 feet of pipe into the Panoramic Way neighborhood.

The red helicopter started lifting the pipe around 10 a.m. and will complete its task around 2 p.m., according to EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Pook.

The roads leading up Panoramic Hill are so windy that trucks could not carry the 40-foot-long lengths of pipe, she said. EBMUD has cut some of pipe in half, but even getting that length up the roads is a challenge, she said. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Draft Berkeley bike plan not good enough, says advocate

Bike Plan drafting. Photo: Courtesy Dave Campbell
Print Friendly

In an op-ed published today on Berkeleyside, Dave Campbell, advocacy director of Bike East Bay, writes that Berkeley’s draft bicycle plan, released Aug. 29, is a good improvement over its current plan. He also thinks it is better than most bicycle plans currently under development in other East Bay cities such as Concord, Pleasanton and Moraga. But, he argues, Bike East Bay members, and thousands of people who bicycle in Berkeley every day, have higher expectations for the number 2 city in the US for bike commuting.

Read more about cycling in Berkeley and the Bike Plan.

There is still time for the public to weigh in on the city’s new bike plan. In the op-ed, Campbell explains how and outlines how he believes we can meet Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates’ stated goal of having the “best bicycle plan in America.” … Continue reading »

Berkeley library board to hire new director from San Jose

dolamore featured
Print Friendly

The Board of Library Trustees is poised to hire Heidi Dolamore as the new director of the library at their Wednesday meeting, a move they hope will start to quell more than a year of turmoil.

Dolamore is currently the assistant director of the San Jose Library, a position she has held since January 2015. She has worked in libraries around the region for 15 years, including stints in the Solano County Library, the Contra Costa County Library, and the San Mateo County Library, according to her LinkedIn page. If BOLT confirms her appointment, Dolamore will be paid $180,000 annually.

Dolamore will take over the five-branch system by the end of September, 13 months after the previous director, Jeff Scott, resigned under pressure after the controversial book culling process he oversaw called his integrity into question. Since then, a former Berkeley interim deputy city manager who was not a trained librarian, Beth Pollard, and the library’s #2 person, Sarah Denton, have overseen the library.

The distrust between some members of the library community and BOLT, which supported Scott’s decision to streamline the book weeding process by selecting four administrators to oversee it rather than the 25 librarians who used to participate, seems to have spilled over into the library director selection process.

As word got out that BOLT had selected a new director, various stakeholders claimed that it had not been an open and transparent selection process, even as some admitted they were not fully aware of the details of the process. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Operating ‘the world’s largest video game’: Reba Siero retires from storied career at Berkeley Lab

Reba Siero at the 88-Inch Cyclotron. (Credit: Paul Mueller/Berkeley Lab)
Print Friendly

By Glenn Roberts Jr. / Berkeley Lab

Catherine “Reba” Siero’s comfort zone is here in the control room, surrounded by walls bristling with a busy mix of modern and time-tested knobs, dials, buttons, glowing lights, switches and screens.

For the past 23 years Siero, who is retiring next month, has served as an accelerator operator at the 88-Inch Cyclotron, a powerful particle-beam machine that started up 54 years ago at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), then managed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Her career at the lab stretches back about 37 years, first as a UC Berkeley student conducting biology research at Berkeley Lab. From 1981-93 she ran the control system for particle-beam-based medical treatments at the lab’s Bevatron accelerator, an early version of a machine called a synchrotron.

Siero moved to the 88-Inch Cyclotron when the Bevatron — responsible for pioneering cancer treatments, the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the antiproton, and the discovery of the antineutron  —was decommissioned in 1993.

“This is the world’s largest video game,” Siero says as she begins the methodical process of releasing a powerful beam accelerated by the cyclotron’s 300-ton copper and steel magnet toward a heavily shielded experimental chamber called a “cave.” … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Opponents reach compromise on Berkeley minimum wage ballot language

Mayoral candidates Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín butted heads Tuesday night over the minimum wage proposal. Photos: Mark Coplan
Print Friendly

The two sides that placed two different ballot measures regarding the minimum wage on the November ballot reached an agreement in court Thursday that will result in a strange-looking voter information pamphlet.

The supporters of Measure BB, which would have raised the minimum wage to $15 by 2019, and the supporters of Measure CC, which would have raised it to $15 by 2017, have agreed to eliminate their arguments in favor of their respective measures from the ballot. The “Argument in Favor of Measure BB” and the “Argument in Favor of Measure CC’ will now be blank. Both sides will also place identical rebuttals to the measures in the voter information pamphlet, according to City Councilman Laurie Capitelli.

The changes were requested – and accepted by a judge – because the City Council approved a compromise measure that went into effect Aug. 31, raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2018. The new law has made the competing ballot measures moot. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Courts weigh in on two of Berkeley’s ballot measures

Laurie capitelli
Print Friendly

City Councilman and mayoral candidate Laurie Capitelli has filed a lawsuit challenging wording in a ballot measure argument that links him to business interests.

In a lawsuit filed Monday against the Berkeley city clerk, Mark Numainville, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, and others, Capitelli is asking that parts of the ballot argument in favor of Measure CC, which would raise the minimum wage, be struck.

Measure CC is one of two ballot measures concerning the minimum wage now scheduled for the November ballot. Measure CC would raise the wage to $15 by October 2017 and was placed on the ballot by a coalition of citizen and labor groups and was supported by Thurmond, as well as Jesse Arreguín, Kriss Worthington, and Max Anderson of the Berkeley City Council. (Arreguín and Worthington are also running for mayor). Measure BB proposes to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2019.

The wording in the Measure CC argument states: “Measure BB was put on the ballot by Laurie Capitelli after intense lobbying by business groups.”

Capitelli contends that the language is “false and misleading,” because the council, not Capitelli himself, placed Measure BB on the ballot, according to the lawsuit. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Court considers challenge to Berkeley high-rise

James Hendry and Kelly Hammargren await the start of the court hearing on their challenge to the 2211 Harold Way project. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

Two opponents of the 18-story apartment complex planned for 2211 Harold Way in downtown Berkeley made a case in court Friday that the approval of the 302-unit building should be revisited.

Kelly Hammargren and James Hendry appeared before Judge Frank Roesch in Alameda County Superior Court to argue that the environmental impact report for the building was so deeply flawed that the project should be stopped.

              Read complete coverage of 2211 Harold Way on Berkeleyside.

The packed hearing, which brought out many of the long-time opponents of the project, lasted four hours. Neither Hammargren nor Hendry had legal representation, and clearly struggled with how to frame their legal arguments. Hammargren, for example, asked to introduce a map delineating the area west of the project. She wanted to show how close Berkeley High School is to 2211 Harold Way as part of her argument that Berkeley and the developer should have considered the impact of diesel particulates from fuel exhaust on the high school.

The judge denied her motion because the map was not part of the administrative record, which includes 15,000 pages of documents from Berkeley’s consideration of the project, as well as notes, videos, and tape recordings from many of the 37 public hearings. The CEQA hearing could only focus on what was already part of the record, not other evidence, he said.

Hammargren, who has devoted more than two years of her life to stopping the project, often tried to persuade the judge using an argument she might have made in front of the Berkeley City Council. The judge repeatedly told her to stick to legal issues and not make political speeches. He also reprimanded audience members when they burst into applause after Hammargren made a point.

“This is a court of law,” said Judge Roesch. “We don’t applaud anyone. We don’t think that political speeches are very helpful in solving the puzzle.”

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Council passes minimum wage law for $15 in 2018

A Friday morning special council meeting with low attendance. Photo: Lance Knobel
Print Friendly

Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a new law Friday that will see the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 in 2018.

The vote came during an unusual Friday morning special session of the council, after weeks of negotiation to resolve a battle between two competing minimum wage ballot measures. One of those, the council-approved Measure BB, would reach $15 by 2019; the other, labor-supported Measure CC, would reach $15 in 2017.

Read more about the minimum wage on Berkeleyside.

“This is a consensus document,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who said it involved 40 or 50 hours of meetings over the last few weeks. “I don’t consider it a compromise document.”

The new law will make Berkeley one of the first jurisdictions in the country to reach a $15 an hour minimum wage. San Francisco will reach the $15 mark on July 1, 2018. Berkeley’s $15 wage starts on October 1, 2018. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Council plans special meeting on minimum wage (again)

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

Remember the special Berkeley City Council meeting on the minimum wage that didn’t happen?

On Aug. 10, the City Council hurriedly announced a special meeting for the following day. The two often-divided wings of the council had seemingly agreed wording for a new, accelerated raise in the minimum wage that would remove the need for dueling ballot measures in November. But in the 24 hours between announcing and holding the meeting, the council failed to summon a quorum. Only council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Darryl Moore showed up.

The council is trying again, with a special meeting called for the unusual time of 11:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26, in the council chambers in Old City Hall. In this second effort, four council members — Laurie Capitelli, Lori Droste, Linda Maio and Susan Wengraf — have jointly submitted a new ordinance that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 on Oct. 1, 2018, one year earlier than the council-approved ballot measure and one year later than the union-supported measure.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,
Government

New deputy city manager has been hired for Berkeley

Jovan D. Grogan
Print Friendly

Come September, the city of Berkeley will finally be getting a new deputy city manager, officials announced Wednesday.

The position has been filled on an interim basis for more than a year, ever since the person who used to hold the role — Dee Williams-Ridley — took over for prior City Manager Christine Daniel when she left for Oakland in July 2015. It’s the second highest position in the city’s municipal leadership.

Jovan Grogan has now been appointed to the role. He is currently the deputy city manager of Concord, “where he has earned the respect of the City Council and staff for his work to improve city services and address budgetary challenges, as the City recovered from the recent recession,” according to a memo to the Berkeley City Council that Williams-Ridley sent out Tuesday.

Concord, which has a population of about 126,000 people, is the largest city in Contra Costa County.

Grogan is set to begin working for the city of Berkeley on Sept. 12. His annual salary will be $200,000.

Grogan has a background in municipal financial planning, along with “skills in labor relations, infrastructure management, performance measurement, and economic development,” wrote Williams-Ridley.

“Jovan is a gifted leader and we are eager to bring him to Berkeley. His strong background in finance and commitment to serving the community make him the perfect fit,” she said in a prepared statement.

Grogan said Wednesday he is excited about his new role.

“Berkeley is an amazing city,” he said. “As a native of the Bay Area, I cherish the opportunity to serve the citizens of Berkeley, and the partnership that I’ll have with the city manager and the council.”Continue reading »

Tagged

After Berkeley soda tax, sugary drinks less popular

Photo: Gael McKeon (file photo)
Print Friendly

By Yasmin Anwar / Berkeley News

In a sign that taxes can work in the fight against obesity, a new study from the UC Berkeley shows a 21% drop in the drinking of soda and other sugary beverages in Berkeley’s low-income neighborhoods after the city levied a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

While Berkeley, the first U.S. city to pass a “soda tax,” saw a substantial decline in the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in the months following implementation of the tax in March 2015, neighboring San Francisco, where a soda tax measure was defeated, and Oakland, saw a 4% increase, according to the study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Read more about the Berkeley soda tax.

“Low-income communities bear the brunt of the health consequences of obesity and diabetes, so this decline in soda and sugary beverage consumption is very encouraging,” said study senior author Kristine Madsen, an associate professor of public health at UC Berkeley. “We are looking for tools that support people in making healthy choices, and the soda tax appears to be an effective tool.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,