Category Archives: Politics
A Berkeley City Council majority voted Tuesday night to put an alternative minimum wage proposal on the November 2016 ballot they say will be more moderate than a community measure announced last week.
Councilman Laurie Capitelli — mayoral hopeful — put forward the alternative proposal and asked city staff to come back with a resolution city officials could put on the ballot. Council had been slated to vote to revise the city’s minimum wage ordinance Tuesday night, but instead voted in favor of the substitute motion from Capitelli.
Read more on the minimum wage from Berkeleyside.
The Capitelli proposal would take the minimum wage for all businesses in Berkeley to $15 an hour by October 2019. It is already slated to increase to $12.53 in October of this year. Under the proposed resolution put forward Tuesday night, this would be followed by annual increases each October to $13.25 in 2017 and $14.05 in 2018.
The initiative put forward last week would raise Berkeley’s minimum wage to $15 by October 2017.
Unlike many prior Berkeley council meetings focused on the minimum wage, the turnout Tuesday night was sparse. A handful of speakers asked council to move faster to help workers, while others asked for more time for small businesses to weigh in and adjust. … Continue reading »
A coalition of unions, politicians and community activists, fed up with what they perceive to be the slow pace of change coming from the City Council, appears to have collected enough signatures to place a measure on the November ballot raising the minimum wage to $15.
The group, which calls itself “Berkeley for Working Families,” turned in around 4,400 signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Monday, well above the 2,638 required.
If adopted by voters, the measure would raise Berkeley’s minimum wage to $15 by Oct. 2017. Then the wage would be raised each year by 3% + inflation until it hits $16.37, which is considered Berkeley’s official “livable” wage. The measure would also require employers to provide sick leave – up to nine days a year for large employers, and six days a year for companies with fewer than 10 employees.
“People are working and working and working but they can’t keep their heads above water because the cost of living is higher than in the rest of the state,” said Steve Gilbert, a retired mechanic with SEIU Local 1021. … Continue reading »
Affordable housing and homelessness topped the list on a survey of concerns voiced by Berkeley voters polled last week.
Most respondents, 64%, said the city is heading in the right direction, with 62% describing city services as good or excellent, and another 30% as “fair.”
The polling firm was hired by the city to survey 500 voters by phone to test the waters for possible November 2016 ballot measures. The city posted a quick summary of those results this week, and plans to look more closely at them during the April 5 Berkeley City Council meeting.
The Berkeley-based firm Lake Research Partners called registered voters from March 13-17 and questioned those who said they were likely to vote in November.
Top priorities of respondents included affordable housing (22%), homelessness (17%), improving education and schools (14%), and reducing crime (11%). … Continue reading »
Berkeley mayoral candidate Mike Lee is part of a local effort to explore tiny houses as part of a solution to homelessness. Misconceptions about tiny houses seem to surround such efforts and are difficult to swat. And I think I know why.
I know what tiny houses do: they hit you square in the cute. In the nebulous background of tiny house presentations is something which seems to make even the most intelligent go weak in the knees because they … Continue reading »
Election season is already heating up, with a special session tonight, before the regular Berkeley City Council meeting, on possible ballot measures for November. Then, at the regular Feb. 9 meeting: the latest minimum wage proposal; a zoning permit appeal for a project approved on Blake Street; the paving plan update; a proposal to restrict parking in the Berkeley Hills; several items related to homelessness and housing; and a living wage for city employees. Could be a long night, with 16 items on the action calendar alone. Scroll down to see how to follow live meeting coverage and participate from afar. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley political jostling has begun, even though elections will, of course, only be held in November.
Capitelli, who has been endorsed by a majority of the city council, raised $6,380 in the six months leading up to Dec. 31, 2105, according to campaign finance statements.
There is a $250 limit for individual contributions in Berkeley candidate elections. Businesses cannot contribute.
Some of those who contributed $250 to Capitelli’s campaign are those involved with Berkeley’s current construction boom. They include Denise Pinkston, a developer and vice-chair of the Zoning Adjustments Board; David Trachtenberg, an architect who has designed a number of the multi-family apartment buildings now rising in Berkeley; Richard Millikan, who helped develop the Fourth Street shopping district; Aileen Dolby, a commercial realtor for Colliers International; and Patrick Leaper, a colleague of Capitelli’s at Red Oak Realty. Capitelli told Berkeleyside that he just started his fundraising the last two weeks of December, a holiday period, and he is “confident” he will eventually have the funds to get his message out to voters. … Continue reading »
Officials voted Tuesday night to step up the fight against sugary drinks in Berkeley by boosting public health staffing, helping pay for school nutrition programs and funding grants to help limit the impacts of, and access to, sugar-sweetened beverages.
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to allocate $1.5 million from the general fund in the coming fiscal year to those efforts. The vote was in response to a request from a citizen board, the “Sugar Sweetened Beverage Products Panel of Experts,” which has been working since last May to come up with recommendations to guide the city following the successful passage of Measure D, a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on drinks with added sweeteners such as sodas, and energy and coffee drinks.
Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the soda tax.
Since tax collection began last May, the city has brought more than $1.2 million into the general fund, staff said Tuesday night. Council members said they want to do their best to align any spending plans with tax revenues, though all the money is technically part of the general fund. … Continue reading »
Anderson’s exit from the race for District 3 in South Berkeley has already attracted two strong candidates and more are certain to file their election papers in the next few months. John Selawsky, who served on the Berkeley Unified School District School Board for 12 years and who currently sits on the Rent Stabilization Board, is running. So is Deborah Matthews, a Realtor who has served on numerous city boards, including the Planning and Housing commissions and the Zoning Adjustments Board.
Ben Bartlett, who currently sits on the Planning Commission and is a former member of the Police Review Commission, has also said he will run for the District 3 seat, although he has not yet filed papers. The last date to file papers for a Berkeley council seat is July 18. … Continue reading »
City councilman Laurie Capitelli took out papers this week to set up a campaign to run for mayor of Berkeley.
“My plans are to run for mayor,” he confirmed to Berkeleyside Tuesday evening during a break in the city council meeting.
Capitelli said he will make a formal announcement in early December.
Capitelli is the second councilman to seek the mayor’s office. City Councilman Jesse Arreguín declared his candidacy in October.
Tom Bates, the current mayor, said during his last campaign that he did not intend to seek re-election.
Capitelli represents District 5, which embraces a large swath of North Berkeley, starting north of Cedar Street and taking in a significant stretch of Solano Avenue and the Thousand Oaks neighborhood.
Capitelli moved to Berkeley to attend Cal in 1964 and graduated in 1967 with a degree in political science. After teaching high-school history for a few years, he joined Red Oak Realty in 1978, according to a biography on the real estate agent’s website. He was elected to the Berkeley City Council in 2004. He is a board member of the Elmwood Theatre Foundation and the Berkeley Public Education Foundation, and has served on the Berkeley Planning Commission and the Zoning Adjustments Board. … Continue reading »
City Councilman Jesse Arreguín formally announced Thursday that he is running for Berkeley mayor by sending out an email statement declaring his candidacy. He will follow that up with a kick-off rally Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. in a location that will be announced later.
Arreguín said Berkeley needs to be a city “that works for everyone” and pledged in the statement to unify the city and produce results. He said the No. 1 challenge facing Berkeley is affordability.
“We must ensure Berkeley remains a diverse and vibrant city,” said Arreguín. “That means protecting and expanding affordable housing and fighting displacement. It also means tackling health, economic and educational disparities, so everyone in Berkeley has the opportunity to succeed.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguín may have inadvertently announced his candidacy for mayor Monday when he changed the name of his Facebook page from “Jesse Arreguín for City Council,” to “Jesse Arreguín for Mayor.”
The change triggered an automatic notice to all of his followers, including Berkeleyside, which then sent out the following tweet at 3:48 p.m.:
— Berkeleyside (@berkeleyside) October 19, 2015
The president of the Berkeley Property Owners Alliance has dropped a libel lawsuit against Igor Tregub, a former candidate for the Rent Stabilization Board and a current Zoning Adjustments Board commissioner, ending three years of controversy.
Sid Lakireddy and Tregub resolved the lawsuit after Tregub agreed to apologize for sending out an inflammatory email during the 2012 election linking Lakireddy to crimes committed by his uncle, Lakireddy Bali Reddy.
Tregub recently emailed the apology to his mailing list — to the same people who received the controversial email during the election.
“On October 18, 2012, I made a fateful mistake,” Tregub wrote. “The intent of this email is to apologize to a valued member of the Berkeley community who was rightly upset by my printed words.
“In the midst of a heated campaign for reelection, I mistakenly made inaccurate accusations about the President of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, Sid Lakireddy. I wrongly connected him to crimes committed in the 1990’s by one of his uncles, Lakireddy Balireddy, that had absolutely nothing to do with Sid.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s soda tax has generated $116,000 in revenue in the first month of its operation, according to Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who announced the figure at a press conference May 18 in front of Old City Hall.
The money was sourced from 36 different sugar-sweetened beverage distributors, and is on target to raise $1.2 million in its first year, according to Capitelli.
Proceeds from the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which was passed overwhelmingly by Berkeley voters with 75% approval in November, go into Berkeley’s General Fund. They will be allocated by a newly appointed panel of experts, operating with input from the community. The panel will hold its first meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 19, at 6 p.m.
“We’re well on our way to a smooth implementation,” Capitelli said at the press conference. “We wanted to get it right.” … Continue reading »