The Berkeley Wire: 05.20.15

Day 128: Red by Quinn Dombrowski. Photo taken May 8, 2015

Day 128: Red by Quinn Dombrowski. Photo taken May 8, 2015

Activists meet on West Berkeley development concerns (CoCo Times)
Eat your weeds (Express)
Community meeting set for housing proposal for Spenger’s lot (IBA)
Community members raise concern about 7-story Telegraph Ave building (Daily Cal)
Savoring the dry season: Tips from Berkeley chef Samin Nosrat (Express)
Berkeley grocery owner details the start of healthy foods revolution (CoCo Times)

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Berkeley’s new soda tax panel begins its work

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A new Berkeley “panel of experts” charged with allocating money collected from the city’s recently implemented soda tax convened for the first time Tuesday night, electing Jennifer Brown and Xavier Morales as chair and vice chair, respectively.

Brown, a parent and soda tax activist, and Morales, executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, will lead the nine-person panel, officially titled the “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts,” in bi-monthly or monthly meetings that will establish the direction of funding from Berkeley’s new sugar-sweetened beverage tax, which was approved by voters in November.

“This moment right now is probably the biggest moment we’ve ever been in,” panel member and health activist Joy Moore said to her peers.

A small group of community members were present at the meeting, at the North Berkeley Senior Center, including Berkeley City Council members Laurie Capitelli and Linda Maio, and Berkeley School Board Member Josh Daniels.

“We’re all in a fishbowl built out of a magnifying glass,” Capitelli told the panel of activists, health professionals and parents, referring to the national attention the soda tax has garnered and the strong community interest in the work about to be done. … Continue reading »

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Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Harold Way, admissions and enrollment, the budget

The Berkeley School Board. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. See the agenda packet here. (It’s a large file that may take time to load.)

On the agenda: 2211 Harold Way and its impacts on Berkeley High; the school budget and LCAP plans; a review of the district’s approach to enrollment and admissions; sexual harassment; a new facilities master plan, and many other items. Did you know school board members hold regular office hours? See page 6 of the agenda packet for details and contact information.

There’s also a group of parents planning to rally outside at 6:30 p.m. to call for better district efforts related to inclusive education. They write in a flier about the rally that, “for too long now, BUSD has ‘talked the talk’ on Inclusion, without walking the walk. Students are being denied help that they qualify for under the law, teachers are not being supported, and classrooms are stressed.” Another group of community members, concerned about the district’s approach to a federal complaint about sexual harassment at Berkeley High, is also planning to make its voices heard. (The board is planning to discuss that complaint during closed session.) … Continue reading »

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With Harold Way EIR approval on hold pending new design, Berkeley officials to consider community benefits

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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After two recent discussions regarding the environmental impact analysis for a tall building proposed at 2211 Harold Way, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board agreed Thursday to delay action pending new plans expected from developers.

City staff told the zoning board at its May 14 meeting that the developer is modifying plans in response to Design Review Committee feedback in April. Staff said that, rather than move ahead to certify the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR), it would be better to “take a step back” and wait to learn about the project’s most recent iteration. Staff will complete a report about the project revisions and environmental analysis, and the final EIR will not come back to the board until the staff report is complete.

City planner Shannon Allen said she hopes to bring back the EIR for consideration at the end of June, followed by the community benefits and project entitlements package for Harold Way at the end of July.

The Berkeley City Council, too, is in the process of considering new policies related to the community benefits required of large projects downtown — including 2211 Harold Way — under the city’s Downtown Area Plan. That topic is slated to be back before council next Tuesday, May 26.

Mayor Tom Bates and Councilman Laurie Capitelli have suggested several new guidelines, including a $100 fee per square foot for residential portions of buildings 76-120 feet tall; a $150-per-square-foot fee for that portion above 120 feet; the requirement of a project labor agreement; and voluntary on-site benefits related to arts and culture that must be approved by council. Under the proposal, the developer could get fee discounts related to the labor agreement and voluntary benefits, and “The remainder would be paid into a City fund to be used for affordable housing and arts and culture benefits.” … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?

WIB

Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments, below.

Photo: Robert Singer.

Send your submissions for “Where in Berkeley?” to tips@berkeleyside.com. The more obscure the better — just as long as the photos are taken in Berkeley. Thanks in advance.

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The Berkeley Wire: 05.19.15

Tamalpais Steps, Codornices Park by Carter Tomassi

Tamalpais Steps, Codornices Park by Carter Tomassi Nicholas Dirks on new “Autobiography of an Archive” (New Books Network)

Nicholas Dirks on new book, “Autobiography of an Archive” (New Books Network)
Birds & Bees: W. Kamau Bell, Kadijah Means on racism (This American Life)
East Bay lawyer makes domestic abusers pay (Express)
Readers rejoice: Bay Area Book Festival to open in Berkeley (UCB News)
Restaurant review: How does Tigerlily rate? (CoCo Times)

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Waterside Workshops is a community bicycle sop and youth education program  oeprating since 2007.  Photo: Waterside Workshop
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WATERSIDE WORKSHOPS The West Berkeley community bike store and education center is opening a new bike repair shop and has a newly renovated rental shop. It will hold a Grand Opening to showcase both on Saturday, May 30, 12-6 p.m. at 84 and 90 Bolivar Drive. The event will also serve as a bike drive: bring a bike to donate and receive a gift card from Waterside Workshops’ list of sponsors. Waterside Workshops began offering wooden boat building and bike mechanics classes for local youth in 2007, and expanded to include a bicycle store and rental facility in the following years.”The creation of Waterside Workshops served a two-fold purpose, addressing the need for vocational training as a part of a healthy community and revitalizing a highly under-used urban park,” the organization states on their webpage. The weekly Public Shop event where mechanics assist attendees in fixing their own bikes, will take place in the new building at 90 Bolivar Drive. Retail sales and bike rentals will continue to operate from the old site at 84 Bolivar Drive (between Addison and Bancroft). Visit the Waterside Workshops website and connect with them on Facebook.Continue reading »

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East Bay restaurants adapt to new minimum wage

Brunch at Camino in February 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On March 2, the city of Oakland raised its minimum wage by 36%. At $12.25 per hour, the new wage is  the highest in the country — for now. San Francisco matched this wage on May 1, and Emeryville will leapfrog both cities in July.

The wage increase was voted into law last November as a part of Measure FF. Over 80% of Oakland residents supported the measure. And while all Oakland businesses are now required to abide by the new wage, conversations about its benefits and repercussions and have been most active in the restaurant industry.

Restaurants have notoriously small operational budget margins, and are, according to Saru Jayaraman, the co-director of Restaurant Opportunity Centers United (ROC-United) and director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley, one of the largest employers of low-wage workers in the United States. Jayaraman reports that seven out of the ten lowest paying jobs in the country are restaurant jobs. … Continue reading »

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New book highlights drought-tolerant garden solutions

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Now that Governor Brown has issued the first-ever statewide mandates on water use, many of us are looking at our gardens through a new lens. How can we can reduce the amount of water they use? What are the most drought-tolerant plants? Should we ditch the lawn altogether?

Sunset’s brand new Western Garden Book of Easy-Care Plantings, subtitled “The Ultimate Guide to Low-Water Beds, Border, and Containers” has come along at just the right time to answer those questions and help arm us for the dry seasons ahead. The book is edited by Sunset Magazine’s Garden Editor, Kathy Norris Brenzel. We spoke with Brenzel to learn more.

The new book couldn’t be more timely given new state-mandated water restrictions being imposed because of the drought. How seriously do you think gardeners in the West take the need to conserve water?

Most homeowners are taking the drought very seriously. I see it every day: browning lawns, lawns being removed and replaced with mulch and low, widely spaced shrubs or unthirsty perennials. The local hardware store sold out of buckets of all sizes recently — people were using them to collect shower water. Landscape designers tell me that they’re getting lots of requests for unthirsty front-yard meadows, and for succulent gardens.  … Continue reading »

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Soda tax raises $116,000 of revenue in first month

Councilman Laurie Capitelli speaking at a press conference held in Berkeley Monday to report on how the soda tax was working. Photo: Melati Indah Citrawireja
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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.

Read more on Berkeley’s historic soda tax.

“We’re well on our way to a smooth implementation,” Capitelli said at the press conference. “We wanted to get it right.”  … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 05.18.15

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Sweetness and light: Diary from a hummingbird’s nest

April 3: Hummingbird chicks begging for food. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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Have you ever had one of those days in which everything sparkles?

For me, that day was March 1. It was my first day out on my own, following a painful injury. It was the day I picked up and freed a pigeon, trapped in the dark corner of a café where I like to write. It was also the day when my friend showed me something I will never forget: a hummingbird’s nest.

I drove home, retrieved my camera, then returned an hour later to take photos of the nest. In fact, I returned more than a dozen times in March and April. Below are my favorite photos from the experience. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley taxpayers pick up the tab to send police officers to out-of-state funerals

The Police Department’s Honor Guard was in attendance, in new uniforms recently purchased by the department. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley taxpayers picked up much of the bill for two police officers to fly to New York City in January to attend the funeral of an officer who had been killed in the line of duty, according to an investigation by the Oakland Tribune.

Berkeley paid $850.60 for lodging and meals for the trip, plus 40 hours of paid work time, according to the Tribune. JetBlue provided free plane tickets.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan justified the expense to the Tribune, saying it boosts morale for police officers from one jurisdiction to show their support for officers in other cities who have been killed.  … Continue reading »

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