Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council

Council: No drones for Berkeley police for 1 year

A drone spotted in Berkeley last October. Photo: William Newton
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The Berkeley City Council voted last week to enact a one-year moratorium on the use or acquisition of drones by the Berkeley Police Department.

The Feb. 24 vote came despite the fact that the department had no plans to get or use a drone.

“We don’t own a drone. We have no budget for drones. We have no plan to buy a drone,” said Police Chief Michael Meehan on Friday. “It’s not on our radar.”

Read more about drones in Berkeley.

Council voted Tuesday to allow the Berkeley Fire Department to use drones in disaster response efforts. But officials, for the most part, said they are not comfortable with police using drones for law enforcement purposes until the city hashes out a policy on the subject. As part of last week’s vote, they pledged to work on that policy at some point in the future.

The vote Tuesday does not affect privately-owned drones in Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council refers community policing package to city manager

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to ask the city manager to assess a long list of issues related to community-police relations and bring back a report on potential associated costs and related efforts that are already underway.

The broad package includes everything from changes in the way police handle the handcuffing and searches of people they stop to more training for police in racial sensitivity.

No action will be taken until the city manager’s office brings back the report, which is expected to take a significant amount of time.

“This is an enormous to-do list for the staff,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli. “This is not weeks and weeks of work. This is months and months and months of work.” … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on protests, drones, more

Council listened to hours of testimony about the Berkeley protests Tuesday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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At tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting, officials are set to discuss how to proceed in terms of issues that arose during December’s protests in Berkeley; consider the approval of a two-year moratorium on drones; and adopt a new building energy-saving ordinance.

At 5:30 p.m., a council worksession will include a projection on the city’s future financial liabilities, as well as an overview of the 2015 mid-year budget report. From that report: “General Fund revenues are now projected to be up by $4.2 million.”

According to the budget report, several city departments spent less than expected in 2014, but “these savings will be absorbed by the Police Department which is projected to exceed its budget by $1.2 million.” Most of that money “is due to overtime expenditures exceeding the budget amount due to overtime and non-personnel costs related to the demonstrations that took place in December 2014.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley City Council limits police tear gas use, for now

Moni Law (right) speaks with Cal student Thanh Bercher during Tuesday's council meeting. Both have said they were injured by police Dec. 6 during a protest in Berkeley. Behind them, the line of people waiting to speak to ask council to take action about police discrimination. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to temporarily suspend tear gas use by police as a way to control non-violent crowds.

The vote also suspended the use of other chemical agents, rubber bullets and other projectiles, and over-the-shoulder baton strikes as crowd control methods used by Berkeley officers during non-violent protests. The temporary policy will remain in place until an investigation by the city’s Police Review Commission into protests in Berkeley last December is complete.

Read more Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

The item, put forward by Councilman Jesse Arreguín, was part of package of protest-related decisions council made Tuesday night. Council also voted to support the Police Review Commission’s investigation, as well as demands by the national group “Ferguson Action” regarding efforts to curtail unfair treatment by police of people of color.

Dozens of people, including many local students, marched through the city before the council meeting, and flooded into council chambers to testify about the need for police accountability, and about why they felt action is needed. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley students march to push for police reforms

A lit up "Black Lives Matter" sign was set up on the steps of Old City Hall on Tuesday night. Photo: Ted Friedman
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About 150 students from UC Berkeley, Berkeley City College and Berkeley High, along with a few community members, marched from the university to the city council meeting Tuesday night to insist that “Black Lives Matter.”

Read complete Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

The march was timed to put pressure on the city council to consider a series of actions in response to the Berkeley Police Department use of tear gas during a Dec. 6 protest. (The council voted to require the police department to refrain from using tear gas during peaceful protests until after the Police Review Commission completes its investigation into the matter. We will have a complete report later today.) … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on protests, police body cameras, gender-neutral restrooms, more

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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At tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting, city officials have pledged to address several items related to protests in Berkeley in December, and have said those items will be heard early enough in the agenda to ensure accessibility for all who wish to weigh in. Leading up to the meeting, UC Berkeley students have organized a march and rally set for 5:30 p.m. at Oxford and Center streets downtown. Participants will march to Old City Hall and plan to testify before council.

There are also two special meetings, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. One will focus on the city’s commercial waste collection services, and whether the city should change providers next year. At the other, at 6:30 p.m., council will consider whether to allow a Southside neighborhood residential project — which has been contested by neighbors and rejected by the zoning board — to move forward. Council discussed the project, which spans two lots on Blake Street and Dwight Way, at length in January, and scheduled a decision for tonight, Feb. 10. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council adopts new building sustainability law; small properties exempt for now

Berkeley is not moving fast enough toward its Climate Action Plan goals, says city staff. Image: City of Berkeley
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The Berkeley City Council unanimously adopted a new law Tuesday night aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making local buildings more sustainable, but included carve-outs — at least initially — for properties with up to four units.

Many Berkeley homeowners had expressed concern in recent months about the new law, which would have required energy audits by homeowners every 10 years, as well as the payment of new fees to the city.

The city has described the new energy law as a critical part of Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan, which the voters approved in 2006. The plan calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2000 levels by 2050, and set a 33% reduction goal by 2020. … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on energy ordinance, protests, police cameras, goBerkeley, more

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting turns again to several items related to local policing, with three items on the agenda (continued from last week) from Councilman Jesse Arreguín regarding local protests in December, and an item from council members Darryl Moore, Arreguín and Linda Maio about body-worn and vehicle dashboard cameras for police, which could be in place in six months if the proposal is approved by council.

There’s a special session at 5:30 p.m. about the city’s goBerkeley pilot parking program. With the program set to end later this year, council will hear about program highlights, as well as possibilities for next steps. Drivers polled by the city said the program made it easier to park around town. Read the staff report for more details, and don’t miss past Berkeleyside coverage. Action will not be taken tonight.

The action calendar

Tuesday night’s action calendar includes the potential adoption of a new energy-saving ordinance in Berkeley that will affect building owners by requiring energy audits and new fees. The city says the plan will update outdated laws related to building sustainability, and will be important as Berkeley works to meet its Climate Action Plan goals. See Berkeleyside’s explanation of that ordinance, as well as the reports under Item C of the “continued business” action calendar. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley town hall examines race, police relations

About 200 people attended a special Berkeley City Council meeting on Jan. 17, 2015 to talk about police and community issues. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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More than five weeks after Berkeley police used tear gas, smoke bombs, and over the shoulder baton strikes to control a crowd protesting the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the City Council held a meeting Saturday to examine community relations with police.

More than 200 people gathered in the atrium of the Ed Roberts campus for a five-hour town hall meeting, some holding up signs with “Black Lives Matter,” and “Stop racial profiling! BPD come clean.” While some of the public testimony concerned police actions Dec. 6, the first night of a weeklong series of demonstrations in Berkeley, much of the talk touched on the broader societal ills that have affected African-Americans.

From a panel of experts that included professors from UC Berkeley to Sheila Quintana, the principal of Berkeley Technical Academy, to a host of politicians including Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, to long-time residents of Berkeley, those in attendance focused on issues of race, jobs, affordable housing, and equitable education as pressing issues that must be addressed immediately.

“Police brutality and the killing of black bodies is horrific, however it is only a part of the problem that affects the relationship between the police and the black community,” Barbara White, a member of the Berkeley chapter of the NAACP testified in front of the council. “Structural and institutionalized racism and white privilege is at the root of the dehumanization of black people.” … Continue reading »

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Drivers say goBerkeley program made it easier to park

New parking meters with credit card payment options are part of the goBerkeley program. Photo: Steer Davies Gleave/goBerkeley
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Community members will have the chance next week to weigh in about changes to paid parking in three of Berkeley’s busiest commercial districts. The changes began in 2013, and have reportedly made it easier for drivers to find spots, according to data collected by the city.

The city of Berkeley’s goBerkeley parking pilot program, which adjusted meter and parking garage rates to try to increase turnover and make it easier for visitors to park near their destinations, is set to end later this year. The Berkeley City Council will consider later this month, in a special work session, how to proceed as the 18-month program winds down.

Read more about parking issues in Berkeley.

The city has posted a survey online to give community members an easy way to offer input virtually, and will also hold two workshops next week, on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22, for those who prefer to offer views in person, and want to learn more.

Next week’s workshops are scheduled to take place Wednesday, Jan. 21, from 4-6 p.m. in the central branch of the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., in the third floor community room; and Thursday, Jan. 22, from 6-8 p.m. at the library’s Claremont branch, 2940 Benvenue Ave., in the children’s section. … Continue reading »

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The lowdown: Council on Berkeley protests and police relations, zoning board appeals

Protesters against police brutality march down Center Street, toward the police station in Berkeley, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Tuesday was the fourth night in a row that demonstrators took to the streets in Berkeley to protest the recent decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City to not indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men. Photo: David Yee
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The Berkeley City Council will meet twice this week, once Tuesday for a special meeting on several zoning board appeals, and also Saturday for a special meeting to discuss community relations with police after protests that wracked the city in December. There are a number of additional community events and council decisions coming later this month related to the protests. Scroll down for details.

Berkeley meeting: Jan. 13

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. and has just three action items, as well as a consent calendar item related to council seating arrangements. The action items relate to zoning board appeals about 2401 Warring St., and companion projects at 2201-2205 Blake St. and 2204 Dwight Way. Staff recommends the issuance of a use permit in the first case, and denials of permits in the other cases. (All three decisions would uphold prior zoning board votes.) Most of the letters submitted to council (online here and here) relate to the companion projects — which their critics describe as a mini-dorm — and are in opposition. A representative for project owner Nathan George has asked council to overturn the zoning board decisions, describes the companion projects as sensitive to the neighborhood, and disputes their characterization as problem properties (page 3).

The meeting is set to adjourn in memory of philanthropist Alba Witkin, who died in December, and former Cheese Board member Frieda Dilloo, who died in November. A memorial for Dilloo is scheduled for Jan. 18 at The Crowden School.

Berkeley protests meeting: Jan. 17

Berkeley continues to deal with the aftermath of protests in December related to the non-indictments of police officers involved with the fatalities of men in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. The city’s Peace & Justice Commission met Monday for an open forum about race issues and policing. This Saturday, council will meet to discuss next steps. Monday, Covenant Worship Center is holding a “Black Lives Matter” discussion. And, on Jan. 20, Councilman Jesse Arreguín has placed three items related to Ferguson and local police conduct on council’s agenda. That same night, Councilman Darryl Moore has an item on the agenda asking the city manager to look deeper at whether Berkeley police should be required to use vehicle dashboard and body cameras. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley seeks experts for ‘soda tax’ advisory panel

Vicki Alexander, co-chair of the Yes on D campaign, spoke at a pro-soda tax demo outside Old City Hall in July. Photo: Berkeley vs Big Soda
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The city of Berkeley has put out a call for experts interested in joining a new advisory panel to set spending priorities for “soda tax” dollars approved by voters in November.

Four Berkeley City Council members who make up a subcommittee focused on Measure D, the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, released the application to the community in late December. The deadline is Jan. 17.

The 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages has been conservatively estimated to bring perhaps $200,000 into city coffers each year, according to Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. But that number is very much hypothetical, due to the numerous variables — such as local consumption figures, how the city collects the money and whether UC Berkeley will also collect the tax — that will impact the final tally.

Read complete Berkeleyside soda tax coverage, and see the text of the measure.

Berkeley Councilman Laurie Capitelli said previously that, though the tax went into effect Jan. 1, the city will wait to spend any of the money until all legal questions about the tax have been resolved. Officials had earlier expressed some concern that an opponent of the tax might file a lawsuit to challenge it. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said, as of Monday, no legal action has been filed. … Continue reading »

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Determined crowd demands fast action from Berkeley council; officials set meeting on protests for January

The crowd at Tuesday night's Berkeley council meeting listened closely to public testimony. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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An emotional crowd nearly shut down the Berkeley City Council multiple times Tuesday night during a public comment period that lasted the better part of four hours.

About 50 people spoke to council — and many more were in attendance — to share concerns about racial profiling as well as the actions of police on Saturday, Dec. 6, when officers used tear gas, projectiles and baton hits to control and clear a crowd that refused to disperse from Telegraph Avenue after several hours of demonstrations around the city.

Council members considered but rejected the possibility of scheduling a special meeting this month to discuss the events of Dec. 6, and how police should interact with protesters going forward.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced that council will hold a special meeting Jan. 17 that’s set to include a panel of experts as well as workshops for more interactive discussion of critical issues. … Continue reading »

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