Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council
The Berkeley City Council has taken steps to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of schools, including menthol cigarettes, popular as a sweet-smoke with a slight tingle; flavored roll-your-own tobacco, which comes in such tastes as mint, black cherry and vanilla; and cigars.
Berkeley’s menthol move came the week before the launch of major statewide public health campaign on the marketing and availability of tobacco products and junk food.
“The tobacco industry continues to find cheap, new ways to entice our youth. Flavored products that appeal to youth are often marketed just a few blocks from schools,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, director of Berkeley’s public health division. … Continue reading »
The Low Down: Berkeley council on redistricting, garbage fee hike, city budget, pensions, false alarms and more
Tonight, Feb. 25, at the Berkeley City Council: a budget and pension update, redistricting decisions, more on proposed 2014 ballot measures and details about a 25% garbage fee hike for residents. Read on for details in this week’s Low Down. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how to participate and weigh in about meeting coverage, even if you don’t want to attend in person.
Special session on city budget, CalPERS
Beginning at 5:30 p.m., council will get an update on Berkeley’s city budget for fiscal year 2013-14, along with news about CalPERS, the state retirement system for public employees. In a nutshell, the city expects to use about $3.3 million from its reserves to make up a gap between projected revenues and expenses from the General Fund this year. [Update, 2:15 p.m. That reserve money had been approved for use in October, and involved "revenues accumulated in previous years for projects that had not yet been completed."] The city projects increases in secured property taxes, property transfer taxes, and the transient occupancy tax, but expects to see declines in parking fines, moving violations and interest income. Read more on Berkeleyside about the city budget.
In Berkeley, squirrels are in the cross fire.
In an attempt to make sure no toxins leak out of the old landfill under Cesar Chavez Park and leach into San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is hiring a pest control company to trap and kill hundreds of squirrels and gophers that make their home there.
It seems that when the squirrels and gophers do what comes naturally—digging holes or tunneling in the ground—they are getting perilously close to the clay cap that covers the landfill. If the rodents penetrate that barrier, dangerous toxins like gasoline, lead, iron, herbicides and pesticides, could leach into the bay. So the city needs to reduce the animal population to lessen the risk, according to city spokesman Matthai Chakko. … Continue reading »
After two failures to secure a pools bond measure, advocates for the reopening of Willard Pool turned out in force at Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting. Pool supporters called for including Willard in a likely parks bond measure on the November ballot.
“This is a winning coalition,” said Robert Collier, one of the leaders of the Berkeley Pools Campaign, at the council meeting. “This is our time to win not just for the pools, but for the parks as well.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley has embarked on a path that could lead it to becoming the first city in the nation to tax sugar-sweetened beverages.
On Tuesday night the City Council agreed to put a sugar tax on a community poll assessing possible ballot measures for the November 2014 election (the poll will also test opinions on a commercial vacancies tax, a business license tax on rental housing, and a bond and tax measure for parks). A broad coalition of local groups, rallying under the banner of Berkeley vs Big Soda, turned out a crowd of vocal advocates for a one cent per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
“No city has been able to successfully pass a sugar-sweetened beverages tax. But it will happen here in Berkeley,” said Councilman Darryl Moore. … Continue reading »
Berkeleyside is experimenting with a brief overview in advance of each Berkeley City Council meeting, time allowing, after taking inspiration from the East Bay Citizen, an independent local news site to the south. Click the links below for related materials and staff reports to learn more.
Special session on Berkeley parks funding, facilities
Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council has scheduled a special session, beginning at 5:30 p.m., to take a closer look at funding and facilities related to Berkeley parks and recreation. There are three items on the agenda: a report on funding; a facilities assessment; and a discussion about possible ballot measures, as well as a community survey, expected to come later this year. Willard Pool supporters are expected in droves. Read more on Berkeleyside about prior parks funding discussions here.
What’s on the regular agenda?
During its regular session at 7 p.m., council is slated to take action on several items. Among them, a public hearing is scheduled about summer camp fees at Echo Lake Camp. There are also two charter amendments that are under consideration, as well as talks about potential upcoming ballot measures, all of which are related to the November 2014 election. … Continue reading »
An effort underway over the past month to force the Berkeley City Council to revoke a recently adopted redistricting map, or put the council district issue before the voters later this year, has officially collected enough signatures for the referendum to proceed, city staff said Monday evening.
The Berkeley Referendum Coalition turned in 7,867 signatures, which were filed with the Berkeley city clerk Jan. 21.
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters examined a random sampling of 429 of those signatures, and found that the group would have more than enough valid names on the list, said city spokesman Matthai Chakko. To force a referendum, 5,275 of the signatures needed to be valid.
The successful signature drive means the redistricting ordinance adopted in December is now suspended. Council will consider whether to take back its vote and reconsider the topic, or put the issue before the voters. … Continue reading »
The group that collected 7,896 signatures to force a City Council redistricting plan onto the ballot spent more than $5,000 on paid signature gatherers in January, but only raised $2,790, according to a campaign disclosure report filed with the city.
The single largest contributor to the campaign was Michael O’Malley who co-owns The Daily Planet with his wife Becky. The O’Malleys are a politically progressive couple who are often critical of Mayor Tom Bates and his more moderate allies on the council. Michael O’Malley contributed $1,000 to the referendum effort. … Continue reading »
A citywide initiative proponents hope will close the achievement gap in Berkeley public schools appears to be working, though significant disparities remain, according to data presented Tuesday night in a special session before the Berkeley City Council and School Board.
The 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth — called “2020 Vision” for short — is a broad collaboration dating back, in its earliest form, to 2008, and is designed to chip away at the achievement gap among racial groups in Berkeley schools by the year 2020.
According to organizers, African-American and Hispanic students consistently perform “significantly below their peers on state and district standardized tests and other measures that predict academic success, such as chronic absence, truancy, suspension, and dropout rates. By some measures, the disparity in the academic performance of Berkeley students along race lines, commonly known as the ‘achievement gap,’ is one of the widest reported in California.” … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council roundly rebuffed a proposed settlement Tuesday night aimed to address problems at a “loud, unruly” party house south of the Cal campus that’s been described in testimony by neighbors as a “mini-dorm.”
Neighbors described issues with noise, drunken partiers, nudity and trash. Problems with the property, at 2133 Parker St., have been ongoing for years. In January 2012, the Berkeley City Council deemed the house a public nuisance, saying it was breaking zoning rules as a “group living accommodation” in an area that does not allow that type of housing. According to Tuesday night’s staff report, the property has 17 bedrooms across three units.
In 2012, council members told the property owner, Ali Eslami, he had to remove 10 bedrooms from the home to fix the problem. In response, Eslami sued the city the following May. Last fall, Eslami and the city attorney’s office reached a proposed settlement they hoped would put an end to the legal battle, allow Eslami to keep the existing bedrooms on site, and result in an improved environment for neighbors due to a range of guidelines Eslami agreed to follow. … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley has, in recent years, been working to make the community a better place for technological innovation via efforts to fight “brain drain,” make it easier to find office space, and create connections among its more than 300 startups to strengthen the “fabric of the innovation ecosystem,” city staff told council members during a special session last week.
The city is among the top technological and intellectual centers in the country, due to its proximity to institutions such as the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. But it has struggled to keep creatives based within the city limits due to the pull of Silicon Valley, limited room for businesses to grow, an antiquated business permitting process and a lack of connections among startups, said city staff last Tuesday night. Some have even described the atmosphere, previously, as “toxic.” … Continue reading »
With the Berkeley City Council beginning its 2014 season this month, Berkeleyside is trying out a new short overview in advance of each meeting, time allowing, after taking inspiration from the East Bay Citizen, an independent local news site to the south.
Special session on violence prevention
Tuesday night, Jan. 28, council will hold a special session at 5 p.m. on violence prevention (Item 1), along with a status report on its 2020 Vision initiative (Item 2). The violence prevention session came out of a referral from Councilwoman Linda Maio following several homicides in 2013 that took place in her district. It resulted in a 7-page report from Deputy City Manager William Rogers that takes a look at youth violence prevention efforts underway by the city and the Berkeley Unified School District. The 2020 Vision report will include updates from City Manager Christine Daniel and school Superintendent Donald Evans. The session is a joint meeting between the council and the Berkeley School Board. (Read more on Berkeleyside about 2020 Vision here.) … Continue reading »
Longtime merchants in the city-owned Telegraph Channing parking garage mall have been locked in a dispute with the city for several months over what the merchants say are unfair rents and poor conditions exacerbated by years of neglect.
The merchants have been asking for rent reductions, and have told the city they do not believe a private management company should be hired to oversee mall operations. (The city began the process to investigate whether to hire a private manager last summer.)
In a report written by city staff in December, the city shifts the burden back onto merchants, noting the “declining market” for several businesses in the mall. While the report indicates a willingness to work with merchants who want to help themselves, there is also resistance to the need for broad changes for all: “There would be little value for the Telegraph area market or the City to renegotiate rents with businesses that are likely to fail because the market for their product is declining and they have no plan to reverse their situation.” … Continue reading »