Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council

Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on street paving, gas pump labels, cell phone warnings, Measure D panel, more

The Adeline Street planning project is picking up steam. Image: Google maps
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Street paving plans, permit parking expansion, climate change labels on gas pumps and health warnings from cell phone vendors: It’s all scheduled to come up on the action calendar Tuesday night before the Berkeley City Council. The consent calendar also includes many highlights, from plans to create the Measure D panel of experts to the selection of a consultant to oversee the Adeline corridor planning grant, money for security cameras by Strawberry Creek Park, plans by the Berkeley Police Department to secure a bulletproof van, and more. Scroll down to learn about the highlights of this week’s council agenda. Not all items are included, so be sure to check the full agenda if you want to learn more. … Continue reading »

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District 8 race a toss-up, Barry says he is still fighting for District 7, other council races settled

Sean Barry and Kriss Worthington campaigning at Cafe Med. Photo- Ted Friedman
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Nov. 9, 5:10 p.m. After several days in second place, Lori Droste has pulled into the lead in Berkeley’s Council District 8. She has 1,995 votes, compared to George Beier’s 1,983. Read more.

Original story, Nov. 5 While residents of District 8 may not know for days whether George Beier or Lori Droste will represent them on the Berkeley City Council, the results in two other districts are more clear-cut. But in District 7, where Councilman Kriss Worthington has the lead, his challenger Sean Barry is not willing to concede the race yet.

Jesse Arreguín won handily in District 4, as he ran unopposed.

See the latest figures in Berkeleyside’s election 2014 live blog.

Linda Maio won re-election in District 1, an area she has represented for 22 years. She garnered 55.35% of the vote (1,779 votes so far) while Alejandro Soto-Vigil got 39.98% of the vote (1,285 votes). A third candidate, Merrilie Mitchell, got 4.67% of the votes (about 150 votes).

Maio, who, before Soto-Vigil, had not faced a serious challenger since she first ran for office, said she spent a lot of time walking her district. When she spoke to people she emphasized Measure D, the proposed soda tax, and left literature behind that described her accomplishments, she said.

Soto-Vigil made the environment a centerpiece of his campaign, arguing that Maio had not done enough to address the issues surrounding air quality in the district’s asphalt plant, among other things. … Continue reading »

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Why Berkeley passed a soda tax while other cities failed

Berkeley vs Big soda rally outside City Hall in July
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The city of Berkeley was basking in glory Wednesday over its passage of the nation’s first soda tax, an accomplishment that the beverage industry dismissed as just a whacky — and inconsequential — victory.

Although the soda industry was quick to release a press statement Tuesday night after San Francisco’s defeat of a 2-cent-an-ounce tax on soda, it took them hours to respond to the win in Berkeley, where voters passed Measure D with 75% of the vote. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley councilman says city mishandled legal fees in Measure S redistricting lawsuit; city disagrees

The BSDC map approved by Judge Grillo will be used in November, unless an appeal overturns the decision.
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Less than a week before Berkeley voters will decide whether to adopt new council district boundaries, a local official has criticized the city for how it handled legal fees for a lawsuit over the proposed council lines that are on the Nov. 4 ballot with Measure S.

It’s the latest rebuke in a prolonged public battle over district lines that began in earnest last year. City officials and staff have countered that proper procedure was, in fact, followed, and that nothing inappropriate occurred.

At Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting, local resident Stefan Elgstrand told officials he had been dismayed to learn about the payment by staff of $140,000 — which he said council did not approve — to lawyers who represented the city in a lawsuit related to redistricting earlier this year. Elgstrand, who was previously an intern for Councilman Kriss Worthington, authored a map last year that was rejected by council and has been among those leading the charge to have the adopted map thrown out. He’s also a lead organizer in the opposition campaign against Measure S. Since Elgstrand’s public comment Tuesday, Councilman Jesse Arreguín and his aide Anthony Sanchez have added their voices to the criticism, and publicly excoriated the city for how it handled the payment of the legal fees.

City officials have been working to adopt new district lines for several years, but the process has been contentious. Council adopted a new map in December, and said the boundaries had garnered widespread community approval and complied with all legal requirements. Critics of that map — including Elgstrand, Arreguín, Worthington, Phoebe Sorgen and Council 1 challenger Alejandro Soto-Vigil — then led a referendum drive to force council to rescind that map in favor of a compromise, or put the issue to the voters.

The referendum drive was successful, which suspended the use of the map council had adopted. The city then took to the courts to determine which lines should be used leading up to the November election. A judge ultimately ruled that the map council adopted should determine the districts up through Nov. 4.  … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on police partnerships, release of balloons, cell phone safety law, more

Councilman Jesse Arreguín would like the release by adults of Mylar balloons to be a ticketable offense. Photo: Grace Blue/Flickr
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Police partnerships, good government policy recommendations, safety sheets from cell phone retailers, and environmental admonishments from balloon vendors: It’s all scheduled to come up Tuesday night before the Berkeley City Council. Scroll down to learn about the highlights of this week’s council agenda. Not all items are included, so be sure to check the full agenda to learn more.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley city attorney: Main post office may have sold

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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The Berkeley city attorney has informed the City Council he believes someone has purchased the downtown U.S. post office at 2000 Allston Way, and that it is time for Berkeley to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service to stop the sale.

A letter to that effect was leaked to the Berkeley Daily Planet, which published it on Thursday.

Zach Cowan, Berkeley’s city attorney, told Berkeleyside he could not share the letter he sent to council since it was privileged attorney-client communication. But Cowan said the version on the Planet website was accurate.

“It is my conclusion that at a minimum a buyer has been chosen, and that it is likely that there is at least a letter of understanding in place, if not a contract and perhaps an open escrow,” Cowan wrote to council, according to the Daily Planet.Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on disaster prep, longterm parking in South Berkeley, ambulance issues, more

Berkeley City Council, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Scroll down to learn about the highlights of this week’s Berkeley City Council agenda.

The special session: Disaster preparedness

At 5:30 p.m., Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong will give an overview to council about the city’s approach to disaster preparedness and emergency management. (It’s good timing, as the city just held its annual community-wide disaster preparedness training day Saturday.) The report from Dong also serves as training for council about the role it must play during a disaster. The packet includes a 30-page report called “Resilience in Berkeley: Highlights from 25 years of community support.” Read the report. … Continue reading »

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District 8 candidates share their vision for downtown

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The race for Berkeley’s District 8 seat, soon to be vacated by City Councilman Gordon Wozniak, is the most competitive of the 2014 election season. Four candidates are vying for the post: George Beier, Michael Alvarez Cohen, Lori Droste, and Jacquelyn McCormick.

The Downtown Berkeley Association recently sent a set of questions to the four candidates. They mostly focused on their vision of the downtown, although one asked about the city’s finances. We publish their responses below:

Read more about the Berkeley 2014 elections on BerkeleysideContinue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on racial discrimination, Parker Place, curbside EV charging grant, more

Parker Place permits: On council's action calendar for Tuesday night. Here, the view of what's proposed at 2600 Shattuck Ave. Image: LPAS Architecture + Design
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The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday, with a special session on race-related workforce issues at 5:30 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m.

The special session

Council will hear from a consultant hired last year to look at complaints regarding city practices related to race. A consultant who interviewed city employees about 20 complaints made recommendations for improvement earlier this year. Tuesday evening will be the first chance for council to have an in-depth public discussion about those findings. Council also will hear what the police department is doing to limit the possibility of racial profiling, and about additional resources the city has put into mental health outreach services. Read the report.

The action calendar

PARKER PLACE PLANS STALLED BY APPEAL The mixed-use housing and commercial complex planned for Shattuck Avenue and Parker Street — called Parker Place — is on council’s agenda Tuesday due to an appeal of a recent, unanimous zoning board decision to adjust the project’s permits. Staff says council should uphold the zoning board’s decision. Parker Place was first approved by council in January 2012, and sought to make some adjustments in August of this year after being acquired by Lennar Multifamily Communities and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management. Berkeleyside will have the full story later this week.Continue reading »

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Government

Streamlined housing crisis center slated for Berkeley

Homeless services in Berkeley. Image: City of Berkeley
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A new one-stop homelessness services shop is in the works in Berkeley.

Announced Tuesday night, the city is changing the way it funds programs offered in town, to prioritize the people with the highest needs, in line with a federal mandate to streamline services into a coordinated system.

The city is looking to create a central office where anyone seeking services will begin the process. Currently, there are too many entry points, as well as duplicative services and a mis-match between those who receive the highest level of assistance and those who needs it most, staff said Tuesday at a work session with the Berkeley City Council.

The city spends about $3 million a year on a range of programs. That is not set to change. But how the money is divvied up, and exactly which types of services receive money, will be different. Unlike the current system, programs will have to fit into set categories to qualify for city support. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s minimum wage is $10 starting today, Oct. 1

Minimum wage rally in May 2014 in Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Starting today, Oct. 1, a new minimum wage goes into effect in Berkeley with a citywide rate of $10 an hour. This is a dollar higher than the state’s minimum and puts Berkeley among the American cities that have a local minimum wage that exceeds state and federal minimums.

The move is the first step in a three-stage plan that sees today’s hike to $10, followed by increases annually for two years after that: on Oct. 1, 2015, to $11; and on Oct. 1, 2016, to $12.53. This last rate will match the amount expected in Oakland under a ballot measure in that city likely to pass in November. The Berkeley plan received final approval in an unanimous council vote June 24.

Read Berkeleyside’s coverage to date of what led to the minimum wage raise.

“[The] boost to $10 is an important milestone in our efforts to improve the conditions and rights of low-wage workers in Berkeley,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. … Continue reading »

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With Berkeley set to change civic center zoning, US Postal Service ponders lawsuit

The Berkeley City Council is poised to set up new zoning standards in Civic Center. Image: City of Berkeley
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The U.S. Postal Service is pushing back against a city proposal to limit development at its downtown Berkeley post office property, which has been up for sale since 2012.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is slated to approve that proposal, to establish more restrictive development standards in Berkeley’s civic center on nine parcels, including the post office property at Allston Way and Milvia Street.

An attorney for the post office, R. Clark Morrison, has sent five letters to the city since January in opposition to the plan, decrying it as spot zoning, and saying the city’s decision not to pursue a full environmental review in connection with the plan is at odds with its own code and the law. On Monday, Morrison declined to comment on the matter, but one city staffer familiar with the issue said the USPS is likely to sue the city if council approves the zoning changes.

Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz Jr. said via email Monday that “The Postal Service is evaluating all options with respect to the actions taken by the City of Berkeley, including evaluating the possibility of litigation.” … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on homelessness, ride-sharing, minimum wage, solar bins, more

A "family" of homeless youth in Berkeley. Photo: Keith Chastain
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The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday this week, with a special session on how the city is working to streamline its approach to homeless services at 5:30 p.m., and the regular meeting at 7 p.m.

The special session

Coming up first, an in-depth look at homelessness in Berkeley, including an update about an effort to improve the way people access services the city offers. Earlier this year, the city hired a consultant to look closely at the city’s process for providing services. The consultant highlighted several areas for improvement, noting that the city is providing overlapping and duplicative services to people; that those with the highest needs are not “effectively targeted” for help; that money is not focused enough on helping people get housing; and that the delayed process for data-entry is also leading to inefficiencies. Read the report. … Continue reading »

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