Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council
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:
The lowdown: Berkeley council on racial discrimination, Parker Place, curbside EV charging grant, more
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 »
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 »
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.
“[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 »
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 »
The special session
Berkeleyside covered the basics of the mid-year crime report from the Berkeley Police Department last week for our readers. Indicators were good, with police reporting a 44% reduction in violent crime over the first six months of 2014, as compared to the same period the prior year. Police officials, including Chief Michael Meehan, will walk council through the report, and answer questions on the numbers. See the agenda item here.
The action calendar
The action calendar is quite short Tuesday night, with only two items: a proposal about rental subsidies for homeless transition-age youth; and an item from Councilman Kriss Worthington about rental relief for merchants at the Telegraph Channing Mall. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to study whether permit parking might be needed in more residential neighborhoods throughout the city, and whether the cost to buy those permits should increase.
To be included, residents would have to opt in to the program by garnering the support of at least 51% of homes per block face. In addition, a parking survey would need to show that at least 75% of available street parking is occupied at mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Council will set the boundaries but it is residents themselves who will determine which blocks will participate.
Parking in West Berkeley, particularly around Fourth Street and the city Corporation Yard on Allston Way, has been an area of concern for officials, as are blocks near Sacramento Street where many city staff reportedly park.
The city hopes to learn — via a new environmental study — where it might make the most sense to expand the permit parking program. Berkeley currently has 14 permit (RPP) zones in central Berkeley, most of which are near commercial areas. Via the staff report, “The existing RPP zones are bounded roughly on the north by Rose, Hopkins and Eunice Streets; on the east by UC Berkeley; on the south by Woolsey and part of 62nd Street; and on the west by Sacramento and Chestnut Streets.”
A Berkeley councilman has asked the city to require ride-sharing companies to have business licenses and safety standards, and wants protection for disabled access to be part of those new rules.
Similar discussions about regulating the ride-sharing industry — which was popularized by companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar — are going on around the country in San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Chicago, among other cities. The California legislature has also taken the matter into its own hands, and a bill that passed both the Assembly and Senate is, as of late last month, waiting for the governor’s approval.
In the meantime, Berkeley Councilman Kriss Worthington has asked the city manager to look into the regulation of ride-sharing businesses within the city. Currently, he said, no local rules exist. Worthington originally brought his proposal to the Berkeley City Council in July, but it was held over. Tuesday night, council agreed to have the city keep an eye on the state legislation and bring back the matter at the end of the month. … Continue reading »
I am supporting Measure R 2014 Green Downtown Initiative for the following reasons:
In 2010, Berkeley voters overwhelmingly approved Measure R, but our City Council has not delivered on its promises. Here is how the measure read:
“Shall the City of Berkeley adopt policies to revitalize the downtown and help make Berkeley one of the greenest cities in the United States by meeting our climate action goals; concentrating housing, jobs and cultural destinations near transit, shops and amenities; preserving … Continue reading »
The lowdown: Berkeley council on civic center overlay, cell phone safety stickers, e-cigarettes, parking, more
The Berkeley City Council is hitting the ground running Tuesday night, Sept. 9, with its first meeting since a summer recess that began in early July. There are 49 items on the consent calendar, and another 14 on the action calendar, not to mention eight information reports. On the action calendar, council is set to tackle the regulation of electronic smoking devices, the Civic Center historic district overlay, the idea of safety stickers on cell phones, the possible expansion of its residential parking permit program and much more. … Continue reading »
Fewer robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults led to a 44% drop in violent crime reports for serious offenses in Berkeley over the first half of the year, according to new data released by the Berkeley Police Department.
The mid-year crime report for January through June 2014 — scheduled to be presented to the Berkeley City Council later this month — shows decreases since last year in many of the crimes that tend to cause the most alarm.
It’s the first time the overall violent crime numbers have dropped since 2011. Robberies, especially, showed a steep decline. Property crimes, too, also fell, other than a 4% increase in vehicle thefts, according to the report. … Continue reading »
An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled this week on what to change, and what to retain, in the ballot materials for a sugar-sweetened beverage tax set to come before Berkeley voters in November.
After hearing arguments Friday, Judge Evelio Grillo ruled Tuesday that some of the language in the ballot materials adopted by the Berkeley City Council earlier this year violated state election laws, was partial and should be changed, but also said language about who will pay the tax — it is to be levied on distributors — can be left as-is.
The sugar-sweetened beverage tax, Measure D, would levy a 1 cent-per-fluid-ounce general tax on distributors of soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, and sweetened teas, and the bulk syrup used to sweeten them. If successful, Berkeley could be the first city in the nation to pass such a tax, though San Francisco has also taken up the fight.
Supporters for the tax include a long list of community organizations, city and school district officials and other individuals. The campaign has called itself “Berkeley vs. Big Soda,” the Healthy Child Initiative and, now, Yes on Measure D. (The group is kicking off a lecture series this week regarding “the impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages.”) According to campaign filings from August, the group had about $21,000 on hand.
The opposition campaign, No on D — which previously was called No Berkeley Beverage Tax — has described itself as “a coalition of citizens, local businesses, and community organizations” but has published no list of supporters. According to its website, however, it has received “major funding” totaling $300,000 from the American Beverage Association. … Continue reading »