Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council

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
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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 »

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Crime

First 6 months of year see crime drop in Berkeley

2016 mid-year crime report. Source: BPD
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Crime is down in Berkeley this year, after it spiked in 2015 with the highest serious felony statistics since 2009.

In the six-month crime report, set to go before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday, Berkeley police authorities say overall Uniform Crime Report numbers were down 8.3% from January through June as compared to the same period in 2015. The federal designation tracks reports of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson.

The department does not analyze the crime rate or look at how crime statistics relate to changes in the city’s population.

Despite promises to council in March to launch a robust social media program this year, the effort has yet to take off. According to the Sept. 20 report, “The department is … working with the City PIO to develop and implement a social media strategy using Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor and GovDelivery.”

The city as a whole has been slow to embrace social media, and follows a policy created by city spokesman Matthai Chakko that requires departments interested in social media to create a six-month content plan in advance and commit to a rigid posting schedule.

On the bright side, pedestrian robberies decreased nearly 20% from 2015, and overall robberies were down about 10%. There were no homicides in the first six months of the year. … Continue reading »

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Housing views show split in South, West Berkeley races

Berkeley City Council Districts 2 & 3 forum, League of Women Voters Berkeley Albany Emeryville, Berkeley Community Media, Sept. 12, 2016. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley City Council candidates for South and West Berkeley took the stage Monday night to share their views on housing, diversity, homelessness, the economy and public safety, among other topics.

The forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters Berkeley Albany Emeryville, was the first to bring together the candidates for District 2 (West Berkeley) and District 3 (South Berkeley) to help get their views out to voters in a group setting.

See more local election events coming up.

Three people are vying for District 2: Cheryl Davila, Nanci Armstrong-Temple and incumbent Darryl Moore.

Beside them on the podium were the four District 3 candidates: Mark CoplanAl G. MurrayDeborah Matthews and Ben Bartlett. That race will have an open seat, with Councilman Max Anderson on the road to retirement. Anderson has held the seat for 12 years. … Continue reading »

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Forum alert: Get to know your 2016 Berkeley candidates

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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All eyes may be on the U.S. presidential race, but Berkeley’s 2016 election season is also shaping up to be a big one, with electoral battles happening all over the city.

More than 20 people pulled papers to run for five Berkeley City Council seats, including the mayoral spot, held since 2002 by Tom Bates, who will vacate the seat. Voters can expect to see about dozen ballot measures, too.

And that’s not all. Six people filed papers for four Rent Stabilization Board seats, while three others are competing for two School Board positions.

Have an idea for election coverage? Let us know.

Berkeleyside is planning a range of robust election coverage in the coming months, ramping up the work our team has already been doing. At the bottom of this story, learn how to register to vote, and how to find out which council district is yours.

Here’s what you need to know right now: A number of candidate forums have been scheduled, and they’re starting Monday night. (Yes, already!) Scroll down to get up to speed on how you can learn what your candidates are all about. More detailed reporting about all the races is forthcoming. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley library board to hire new director from San Jose

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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 »

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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
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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 »

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Courts weigh in on two of Berkeley’s ballot measures

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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 »

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Council passes minimum wage law for $15 in 2018

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

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Council plans special meeting on minimum wage (again)

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

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Landlord group sues Berkeley over rental tax initiative

The owners of this rent-controlled apartment complex at 3100 College Ave. are renting out three of its apartments on Airbnb. Berkeley law does not allow rentals shorter than 14 days. Photo: Melati
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The Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition political action committee has filed a lawsuit and demanded that the city of Berkeley correct the official ballot language of a measure set to appear in the November election.

After officials canceled the special City Council meeting set for Aug. 11 due to lack of a quorum, the coalition filed suit Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court. Correcting the language for Measure U1, the business license tax, was one of two agenda items scheduled for deliberation that evening.

Backed by the Berkeley Property Owners Association, the litigation comes as the property owners’ group is pushing for its own competing tax initiative, Measure DD. … Continue reading »

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Council cancels special meeting on minimum wage

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update 6:15 p.m. Only three council members were present for the special meeting: Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Darryl Moore. After brief thanks from the officials to city staff for preparing the meeting, it was canceled for lack of a quorum.

Original story: Two votes scheduled for Thursday night’s special Berkeley City Council meeting, which was just announced Wednesday, may not actually take place due to “insufficient quorum,” according to various reports being circulated online.

The focus of the meeting was supposed to be a compromise related to two competing minimum wage proposals that are slated to be on the November ballot.

A spokesman for the city, Timothy Burroughs, said as of 5:16 p.m. that “There is still a Council meeting scheduled for 6pm.”

City Clerk Mark Numainville confirmed at 5:24 p.m.: “We will not know if the meeting is cancelled for lack of quorum until after the noticed start time.” … Continue reading »

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Special Berkeley council meeting announced to vote on compromise minimum wage

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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A special meeting of the City Council has been announced for Thursday night to vote on a compromise minimum wage proposal for Berkeley.

Up to this point, voters were set to consider two competing minimum wage proposals this fall, one sponsored by labor advocates, and another supported by a Berkeley City Council majority. Both were set to appear on the November ballot.

According to a statement released shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday, “Working collaboratively, an agreement that avoids dueling ballot measures on the minimum wage in Berkeley has been reached.”

Workers’ rights attorney and EBMUD Director Andy Katz, who sent out the statement and helped facilitate the compromise, said the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, and Berkeley Councilman Laurie Capitelli had reached that agreement together.

Read past Berkeleyside coverage of the minimum wage.

A vote on the new language is expected to come Thursday, Aug. 11, at a 6 p.m. meeting of the City Council. If all goes according to plan, that will mean Berkeley will have new minimum wage language on the books after the vote takes place. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley may soon have 6 cannabis dispensaries

Cannabis
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Two months later, the council is on the verge of approving another two new dispensaries, which means Berkeley may soon have six places to buy medical cannabis.

The rapid turnaround came in part because city council members were so impressed by the presentations made by the six finalists vying for the fourth spot, said City Councilman Kriss Worthington. He said the presentations were “compelling,” and the applications were very different from one another.

 “The council was reluctant until they saw the depth and breadth of the applications,” said Worthington.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.

Adding another two dispensaries will also add to the city’s coffers. In 2014, the existing three dispensaries contributed $638,938 in taxes, according to a staff report. Another three dispensaries would almost certainly generate several hundred thousand dollars in taxes annually. … Continue reading »

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