Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council

New mayor aims to overturn key part of homeless law

Homeless people make camp in Civic Center Park as the second Bay Area Book Festival takes place around them, in Berkeley, on Saturday, June 4, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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In one of his first acts as mayor, Jesse Arreguín is proposing to overhaul the way Berkeley addresses homelessness, including rescinding the law restricting people to only occupying two square feet of the sidewalk.

In a measure titled Emergency Measures to Address the Homeless Crisis, which the City Council will take up on Dec. 13, Arreguín suggests overturning the law passed by the former City Council. He also wants Berkeley to find public land on which people without housing can camp; he wants Berkeley to explore the creation of “pop-up” navigation centers that have fewer restrictions than traditional shelters; and he wants to refine the process in which the city tells people they will be removed from encampments, and how it takes care of their belongings.

And, although this is not on the Council agenda, Arreguín hopes the new City Council, which is more liberal than the last, will discuss whether Berkeley should stop rousting tent encampments until the city has alternative shelter in place. For the past few years, the city has routinely removed people who set up tents in public spaces. But, almost as soon as city workers tear down the tents, new encampments pop up nearby.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley, including our award-winning SF Homeless Project coverage.

“This is a top priority for my office,” said Arreguín, conveying the sense of urgency he feels to address the conditions of those without housing before winter settles in. “People throughout the city of Berkeley are very concerned about homelessness and want the city of Berkeley to address it. … We are dealing with an emergency situation right now. There is a crisis. We not only have people camping on the Adeline median we have lots of people sleeping on our streets. We need to do something now.” … Continue reading »

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Laurie Capitelli steps down after 12 years on City Council

Councilman Laurie Capitelli speaking at a press conference held in Berkeley  Monday to report on how the soda tax was working. Photo: Melati
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City Councilman Laurie Capitelli was born in Berkeley but moved away at a young age, only to return to attend UC Berkeley. He never left, raising his children here. He worked as a real-estate agent for Red Oak Realty for decades and got involved in the public sphere in 1996.

After running for mayor and filling out dozens of questionnaires, Capitelli declined Berkeleyside’s request to answer some written questions because he said he had ‘questionnaire fatigue.’ So Berkeleyside sat down with Capitelli on Monday to ask him for his parting thoughts as he leaves the City Council after serving 12 years. His Council seat representing District 5 was won by Sophie Hahn.

Capitelli seemed relaxed and at ease over coffee at Philz Coffee on Shattuck Avenue. Even though he had lost the mayor’s race (City Councilman Jesse Arreguín defeated him by a 47.4% to 33.6% vote), Capitelli said he was proud of his campaign and thankful for the endorsements he had received. “I don’t dwell on things,” he said. “I am a big believer in having no regrets.”

Capitelli said his loss was the result of “a perfect storm.” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Arreguín mattered more than Capitelli initially realized, he said, as it gave those disappointed at not being able to vote for Sanders for President a “proxy.” He also thought there was some fatigue among residents about the rate of development in Berkeley, but pointed out that Berkeley has not built much housing in the last 35 years and “we were just catching up.”

As for Arreguín’s win, “the general mood in the country was voting for change,” said Capitelli. “I think they are going to get it.” [Both in the U.S. and Berkeley.] He also said that Arreguín is a professional politician who has never held any other job and spent four years gearing up for the mayor’s race. “Jesse is a politician. I don’t mean that in a negative way. He worked the last four years on the coalition that elected him. That was not something I had a desire to do.”

Tonight will be Capitelli’s last City Council meeting and he doubts he will hold public office again. He started his political career as a member of the Planning Commission in 1996. He then went to the Zoning Adjustments Board in 2000 and was elected to City Council in 2004.

The following answers are curated from some notes Capitelli made and the Berkeleyside interview. … Continue reading »

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Darryl Moore steps down from City Council after 12 years

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Darryl Moore was born in California, graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1984, and later earned a masters degree in public policy from the University of Chicago. After working for the District of Columbia, he moved to Berkeley in 1996 where he worked as a legislative aide for City Councilman Kriss Worthington. Moore later worked as a senior management analyst for the Berkeley Department of Public Works. Moore now works at the Oakland Housing Authority.

Moore was first elected to public office in 2000 when he won a seat on the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees, becoming the first openly gay African American elected to office in the East Bay. He was elected to the Berkeley City Council in 2004, representing District 2, and has been an advocate for youth, recreation, public safety, and housing, among other issues. Tonight will be his last City Council meeting. His replacement on the Council is Cheryl Davila.

What are you most proud of accomplishing as a Berkeley City Councilman?

I am very proud of my accomplishments related to supporting our youth. For the last 12 years, I have provided backpacks and school supplies to incoming Rosa Parks Elementary School students, drastically expanded our YouthWorks program to provide jobs to all youth during the summer, and worked extensively on the 2020 Vision to eliminate the academic achievement gap by year 2020. … Continue reading »

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After 27 years of public service, Max Anderson retires from Berkeley City Council

The retirement of Max Anderson and Laurie Capitelli's decision to run for mayor rather than for re-election in District 5 has created two open council seats. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Max Anderson is stepping down as the representative of South Berkeley’s District 3 after Tuesday’s City Council meeting. It is the end of a 27-year-long career in public service for Anderson, a retired critical-care nurse, who moved to Berkeley in 1985 after serving in the Marine Corps in California and Hawaii and attending school in Philadelphia. Anderson joined the city’s Planning Commission in 1989, was elected to the Rent Stabilization Board in 1996, and was elected to the City Council in 2004.

Anderson is well-known on the City Council for his impassioned and eloquent speeches on topics about which he cares deeply, such as racial injustice, development and homelessness. Berkeleyside caught up with Anderson as he prepares to retire.

What are you most proud of accomplishing as a Berkeley City Councilman?

Despite being in a minority position for the 12 years I served, I was able to get through important legislation regarding public-health issues. One was the cellphone warning to consumers regarding the safe use of their devices. Another was the Breathmobile, whose services I secured to treat asthmatic children in our schools – to case-manage them, reduce hospital admissions and emergency-room visits, and improve their attendance at school; all these measures showed dramatic improvement.

Another accomplishment is the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, which I fully supported to reduce childhood diabetes among our youth. I take pride in the study that we initiated and supported to review the complaints of city workers regarding discrimination in hiring and promotions, although the City Council majority eventually refused to follow through. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Mayor-elect, council members reaffirm city’s sanctuary status

Arreguin press conference Nov. 22. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín held a press conference Tuesday to make clear that he and the City Council will ensure the city remains a sanctuary city, offering protection to immigrants and undocumented residents.

“There’s a great deal of fear in our community,”Arreguín said, standing on the steps of City Hall alongside many city council members, the president of the Berkeley Unified School Board, and Mary Nicely, representing Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. The Council will propose a resolution at its next meeting, councilwoman Lori Droste said, reaffirming Berkeley’s status as a city of refuge.

Tuesday’s statements were in response to threats made by President-elect Donald Trump to penalize, through the withdrawal of federal funds, cities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to officials.

A forum on immigration rights will be held tonight, Tuesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Berkeley — scroll down for details.

Berkeley is one of more than 300 self-described sanctuary cities around the country. The City Council declared Berkeley to be a City of Refuge in 1971 and has had occasion to re-affirm that status several times since, including in 2007 during local raids by the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and in 2015 when the city said it would welcome Syrian refugees.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s own political earthquake: Arreguín becomes mayor, progressives seize council majority

Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Courtesy of Jesse Arreguin
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Jesse Arreguín, 32, decisively won the mayorship in yesterday’s election, becoming the first Latino Berkeley mayor.

To close observers of Berkeley’s local politics, the chattering started over the last several weeks of the election. First, Jesse Arreguín won the endorsement of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as the Sierra Club and the Alameda County Democratic Party. Then there was word of thousands of new voter registrations on the UC Berkeley campus.

Missed the election night action? Read our live blog.

After 14 years of Mayor Tom Bates and his secure City Council majority, could Councilman Arreguín best Bates’ hand-picked successor, Councilman Laurie Capitelli?

It didn’t take long for the results on Tuesday night to answer that question. When the Alameda County Registrar of Voters produced the first data shortly after 8 p.m., Arreguín already led Capitelli. As long-shot mayoral candidate Ben Gould explained to Berkeleyside, those results, largely from early, mail-in ballots, usually reflect more of the “hill” vote, which Capitelli supporters had hoped to win decisively.  … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Open letter to Mayor, City Council about homelessness in Berkeley

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Dear Mayor Bates and Berkeley City Council members,

Once again, as winter approaches, Berkeley is confronted with the inadequacy of our efforts to address the issues confronting our homeless population. In the absence of significant progress, the city has once again turned to police action, confronting and dispersing homeless encampments that have often been established as vehicles of protest.

I have a few observations to make, none of which are in any way original, many of which have been made … Continue reading »

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Berkeley 2016 election hub: What you need to know

Alameda County registrar of voters. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update: Tune in to Berkeleyside’s 2016 live blog tonight, Nov. 8, and see our Election Day photo gallery. Share your election news, photos and videos with us. Details are here. Looking for an election night watch party in Berkeley? Look no further

Vote-by-mail ballots are here and the Nov. 8, 2016, election is right around the corner. Berkeleyside has been covering the issues for months, and we’ve collected much of our Berkeley election coverage into one place to help readers get informed before they cast their votes. This page will be updated regularly until Election Day, so bookmark it and keep coming back.

In addition to our news coverage, a lively debate has been going on in our opinion pages. Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles of 500-800 words. We ask for first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related and local authors are preferred. Please email submissions and questions to the editors.

Tune in Tuesday to the Berkeley elections live blog.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for local voter information, and visit Voter’s Edge to see your Berkeley ballot. If you think this resource is handy, please share it with your networks, through social media and email.

Candidate descriptions below, in italics, reflect the ballot order and ballot designation. All opinion pieces — regardless of author or subject — appear in a separate section near the bottom of this post. The links in the italics intros pull up past Berkeleyside coverage related to the candidates.

Click the following links to jump to the section of interest.

Now dive on in.Continue reading »

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Op-ed: We need Darryl Moore on Berkeley City Council

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It’s simple – we need Moore.  We are facing both good times and challenging times, and that is a moment when civic experience matters. We need to reelect Darryl Moore for Berkeley City Council, District 2. When divisive politics and meaningless soundbites rule the airwaves, turning people against one another, we need a leader who will focus on the core issues for our neighborhoods to create a stable, progressive, inclusive, and positive community that will grow and succeed in … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Don’t let developers buy Berkeley’s election

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In Berkeley, it’s sometimes easy to feel like our local politics are immune to the kind of cronyism and monied influence that afflicts most localities. After all, we like to think of ourselves as a well-informed, progressive city. We opposed Citizen’s United. We want money out of politics . . . Bernie Sanders did very well here in the primary…so we would never vote for people or ballot measures that have been bought by corporate, big monied special interests.

Or would we?

Sadly, Big Money has arrived in Berkeley – in the form of Big Development – and more than ever before, they are busy trying to buy this election. Berkeley voters deserve to know which candidates and campaigns are being influenced – bought – by huge infusions of cash from those whose only interest in Berkeley is to maximize their own profits. These folks do NOT have the community’s best interests at heart, or in mind, but they are pouring cash in right now: developers, landlords and the consultants who depend on them to make a living, as well as national, state and local political action committees (PACs). … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley must change the way it provides shelter to the homeless

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The people who run the center for providing Berkeley’s homeless services (the HUB) write on their website: “Since 1970, Berkeley Food and Housing Project has been a compassionate provider of homeless services.”

Forty-six years! The plight of Berkeley’s homeless is arguably the worse for all that time and effort. Isn’t it time to try a different approach?

Berkeley passed an emergency shelter ordinance almost a year ago, then sat on its collective bureaucratic fanny for the entire spring and summer. So here we are once more, with the homeless facing rain, wind, and cold with nowhere to go. Isn’t it time to try a different approach?

We know how to end homelessness – provide people with homes. We know what homeless people want – a roof over their heads; a secure room or two; no one kicking them out after a night or three. Or twenty. Just what anyone wants – a place to call their own. Isn’t it time to try it? … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: It takes a special person to lead Berkeley and it’s Laurie Capitelli

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I’ve been living in Berkeley since 1967, then as an entering freshman at the University of California. I attended Cal through the Oakland Induction Center protests, People’s Park, was tear gassed on my way to class, and was among the first graduating class of CNR (Conservation of Natural Resources). In 1976, I opened The Focal Point on Ashby, and have enjoyed living in this wonderfully diverse, and at times, “quite nuts” city. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

It takes a special person to lead Berkeley – it is unique. Most of us have a strong opinion or 10 to share, and therefore, building consensus is an art form. That’s why I strongly support the candidacy of Laurie Capitelli to be our next Mayor. I’ve known Laurie for more than 25 years. We have worked together on the renovation/operation of the Elmwood Theater, collaborating with the City of Berkeley and the community after a fire that caused great damage to the property. We worked with city staff, Mayor Loni Hancock and community leaders to save a city landmark, volunteering countless hours to save the theater, which today provides us with some of the finest films, many independently made. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why I’ve decided to vote for Laurie Capitelli

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Open letter to my neighbors whom were unable to meet Laurie Capitelli at a house event we hosted:

Until last night, I was undecided. I had known nothing substantial about our two candidates. (This is really a two-horse race.) Two weeks prior I went to a house party for Jesse Arreguin. Some of my neighbors, whom I respect, support Jesse, and I came away from that meeting with a somewhat positive feeling about him, although I felt he was also a bit slippery. My wife and I decided we should meet and question Laurie Capitelli. Last night, we hosted a house party where he came to answer questions.

My impressions

Laurie impressed me as wise, a realist, and an intellectual progressive. He is sincere in his positions. He has a record showing that he understands that advancement of a progressive agenda occurs with compromise. More than anything, I was impressed with how thoughtful, intelligent, and deep his knowledge on each of the issues was, and how well he understood the complexities of city policies and important issues. I also noticed how he listened to people. (I did not get the same feeling from Jesse.) … Continue reading »

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