Category Archives: Government
The Low Down: Berkeley council hears crime report, Aquatic Park plans, appeal of new Comal project, more
Tonight, March 25, at the Berkeley City Council: a neighborhood appeal of a proposed new restaurant in the Elmwood by Comal owners, and public hearings on two new projects planned for Aquatic Park. There’s also a thorough look from the city auditor at the big business of business permits, and items from council members that include a referral to investigate whether Berkeley Police officers should wear video cameras and a resolution to oppose plans to transport crude oil through Berkeley. Don’t forget about the special session at 5:30 p.m. on the annual crime report from the Berkeley Police Department.
A push to clean up and improve Sacramento Street, driven by Berkeley city staff as well as local residents and merchants, continues to gain momentum.
Last week, staff from the city’s Office of Economic Development met with community members to provide an update about public safety, commercial growth and beautification efforts that are part of the city’s plan to address some of the neighborhood’s chronic problems. … Continue reading »
New metered parking rates and time limits, in effect in Berkeley since last fall in three of the city’s busiest commercial areas, have made it easier for many visitors to find daytime parking, according to new data released by city staff this week. But more changes are needed to meet the city’s goal of freeing up 1-2 spaces per block.
Proposed changes include slightly higher hourly rates in some areas, and a new pilot program to extend metered hours until 8 p.m. The Berkeley City Council would have to sign off on any new changes at a meeting currently scheduled for late April. … Continue reading »
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 »
Drivers will be asked to slow down near 13 Berkeley schools after the adoption by the City Council of a 15 mph speed zone around them, despite a police officer’s analysis of injury collisions near schools that showed speed was not a factor in those accidents, and another officer’s assertion that enforcement would be “difficult, at best.”
According to an analysis completed by a city traffic analyst of 327 documented injury collisions in Berkeley from August 2010 to July 2013, 23 took place near school zones. None of those accidents were caused by unsafe speeds, he said.
Most of the accidents — 73% — resulted from drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Another 23% were due to pedestrians who failed to yield to drivers in the roadway, police wrote.
Thirteen of the collisions near schools took place during the school day, and four involved juvenile pedestrians. The juveniles were found to be at fault in all four of the cases. … Continue reading »
Berkeley to consider restricting large drugstores, future of proposed Solano Ave. Walgreens store in the balance
Berkeley is set to consider whether to limit the number of larger drugstores in the city, at least in certain neighborhoods, which may put a halt to disputed plans by Walgreens to open a new store on upper Solano Avenue.
The issue will be discussed at the city’s Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, March 19.
If the commission, a citizen’s group that advises the Berkeley City Council, approves drugstore zoning recommendations proposed by city staff, it will move Berkeley closer to legally prohibiting the proposed new Walgreens — a project that set in motion the city’s renewed examination of chain drugstore locations. … Continue reading »
Berkeleyans seem eager to enact a new tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, but less likely to support other potential ballot measures being considered by the City Council.
A community survey of just over 500 voters taken last week showed healthy majorities for the so-called soda tax, whether it was for a new general tax or a special tax. In contrast, measures to increase the business license tax for landlords, establish a commercial vacancy tax, increase the parks parcel tax, and issue a pools bond failed to reach majorities or just crossed 50% support. City Council members said that support for measures often declines from levels indicated in community surveys. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday night to let the voters decide which map of council districts will best represent the community’s interests moving forward.
In recent years, the city has struggled to come up with new district lines that would balance the city’s population across its eight existing council districts, which is required by law.
Last year, after a lengthy public process, council voted in December to approve the map it saw as the best option. But some community members — including council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Max Anderson — have challenged that decision, which led to a successful referendum effort in January. That process forced the council either to rescind its December vote and adopt a new map, or put the issue to the voters. Tuesday night, they voted to take the latter approach. … Continue reading »
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 »
UPDATE, March 27: The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the move by the Youth Musical Theater Company to two buildings at West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park. Jennifer Boesing, the company’s artistic director, said she was ”brimming with excitement.” Writing to the company’s community via email she said: “With the generous sponsorship of Berkeley-based Sogno Design Group and the Parks and Recreation Department, we will be renovating our new home over the spring and summer, with our 2014-2015 season programming and rehearsals beginning there in the fall. The result will be the creation of an exciting and vital artistic hub that serves YTMC and the larger Berkeley community.”
ORIGINAL STORY: 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. … 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 »