Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council

Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on street behavior, Campanile view, budget, Berkeley Barb, more

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m., June 30, with a closed session on labor negotiations related to the Police Department, and the appointment of a new city manager later this year. Also at 6 p.m., advocates for the homeless are set to rally outside Old City Hall against a proposal related to street behavior coming up later in the night. At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council is set to consider new rates for its sewer service, an appeal related to the view of San Francisco Bay from Campanile Way, the adoption of the biennial budget, and a set of new laws its advocates say could curb problematic street behavior. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council to hear Campanile Way landmark appeal

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The group of Berkeley residents that lost a petition to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the view from Campanile Way is now appealing that decision before the City Council tonight. The group, led by former LPC Commissioner Steven Finacom, is concerned that a development at 2211 Harold Way would mar what they argue is a historic view.

Read more about what’s coming up at tonight’s council meeting.

The LPC voted 5-3, with one abstention, against landmarking the path and its view, though nearly everyone at the meeting agreed that the view is fantastic. The commissioners were divided about how much the 18-story development would impact the view. Even if the petition had passed, some commissioners argued, UC Berkeley is not governed by local ordinances and would not be legally required to pay attention to the ruling. … Continue reading »

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City to consider ordinances restricting street behavior

Since Measure S failed in 2012, many say Berkeley's homeless population has only grown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council is slated to vote on proposed laws that would make it illegal to solicit anyone at a parking meter, lie in or on top of a city-owned planter, spread out bedding on the sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and urinate or defecate in a public place.

The proposed laws, depending on who is talking about them, will either address problematic street behavior downtown and make it a more pleasant place to visit, or further criminalize the homeless.

Read more about what’s coming up at tonight’s council meeting.

In March, council voted 6-3 to approve a proposal by Councilwoman Linda Maio to clarify laws related to street behavior often associated with the city’s homeless population. The four ordinances on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting are a result of that proposal.

“These ordinances are not about trying to solve homelessness,” Maio said. “They’re about basic, socially acceptable rules and behaviors.”

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Berkeley leaders approve community benefits package; ZAB votes to certify Harold Way EIR

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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Proponents of downtown development in Berkeley won two victories Thursday night after city leaders and commissioners approved a proposal for community benefits related to tall buildings and, in a separate meeting, certified the environmental impact analysis related to the first tall building in the pipeline, at 2211 Harold Way.

The Berkeley City Council held a special meeting at 5 p.m. at Longfellow Middle School to tackle the thorny subject of what significant community benefits should be required of developers who wish to construct tall buildings downtown. Seven tall buildings were approved when local residents voted in favor of the city’s Downtown Area Plan, but the type of significant community benefits required of those projects was left vague to allow flexibility during the entitlements process.

In recent years, city zoning board commissioners have expressed frustration about that ambiguity, and asked for more direction from council. Earlier this year, council launched a series of discussions aimed to clarify the requirements. Thursday night, city officials voted in favor of a compromise proposal from council members Lori Droste and Darryl Moore that will help guide the process going forward.

That proposal will now go to the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board for additional discussion. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: City manager’s departure is big blow to Berkeley

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The North East Berkeley Association (NEBA) recently convened a board meeting for the express purpose of discussing the sudden resignation of the City Manager Christine Daniel.

We believe the loss to the city of Ms. Daniel reflects a very serious and growing problem within our city government.

Although we did not always agree with Ms. Daniel on many policy decisions, we appreciated her clarity, brevity, breadth of knowledge, and amazing ability to stay on top of almost all city … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council approves short-term rental proposal

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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The Berkeley City Council took a step forward Tuesday night in its effort to regulate short-term rentals in the city, voting almost unanimously on a compromise proposal that will seek to legalize, with restrictions, the contentious issue.

The proposal, which now will be vetted and shaped by the Planning and Housing Advisory commissions before it returns to council, would legalize short-term rentals in Berkeley for up to 14 days, impose a tax on them and include regulations to minimize their impact on neighbors.

The new measure, which was put together by Mayor Tom Bates, Councilwoman Lori Droste and Councilman Jesse Arreguín, includes new clarifying language and host accountability provisions. The word “property” would be changed to “unit,” for example, to describe a hosting space, and hosting platforms could be required to list the business license of the host in online listings.

The measure also includes a  provision for a one-time notification from the host to neighbors who live near the unit to be rented, which could include “primary-contact information, secondary-contact information, and links to the Berkeley Community Noise and Smoke-Free Multi-unit Housing ordinances.”

“This is not something that’s perfect, but it’s our first effort,” Bates told the small crowd that held out until after 10 p.m. at the June 23 council meeting to discuss the issue. “This is the beginning of the process — it’s not the end.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council open to proposals to end homelessness, but questions how to pay for them

Since Measure S failed in 2012, many say Berkeley's homeless population has only grown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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At a special worksession Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council expressed interest in a raft of recommendations from an independent citizen panel related to how the city might change its approach to homelessness, but some officials said they remain unconvinced that the changes are something the city can afford.

The recommendations came from the Berkeley Homeless Task Force, which was initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín in 2013 after Measure S failed the prior November to win popular support, but sparked a broad community discussion about the city’s homeless. Since then, Arreguín said, the city’s homeless population appears to have grown, though official estimates won’t be available until fall.

“There is still clearly more we can do,” Arreguín said. “Berkeley can be a leader in ending homelessness.”

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

Tuesday night, Arreguín and Genevieve Wilson, one of the chairs of the panel, presented a series of recommendations for how the city might direct its funding in its efforts to end homelessness. They emphasized a “housing first” model, which they said has been endorsed by Alameda County and worked in other cities — ultimately leading to cost savings despite high initial start-up expenses. … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on short-term rentals, ‘granny flats,’ homelessness, community benefits

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with a worksession on new recommendations related to homelessness. At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council will consider the potential regulation of short-term rentals, like Airbnb units, in Berkeley; new laws to make it easier for people to build “granny flats”; the council response to the city budget; and more.

Coming up Thursday, there’s a special meeting on the community benefits required of the developers of tall buildings. Stay tuned to Berkeleyside for continuing coverage. … Continue reading »

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City considers new recommendations on homelessness

Shattuck Avenue is one area of Berkeley where the homeless most commonly congregate (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is set to consider new recommendations that would focus the city’s approach to homelessness on supportive services and, in particular, housing.

Council will consider a report from the Berkeley Homeless Task Force — initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín in 2013 — that proposes a series of immediate and longer term recommendations for the city in its efforts to end homelessness. The task force has been meeting under the leadership of Genevieve Wilson and David Stegman since August 2013.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

One of the task force’s priorities is to find ways to move from what it describes as the “criminalization” of the homeless to a more supportive approach.

“It is clear that providing services, rather than … criminalization, is both cost effective and ethical,” states the report. “It is up to Berkeley to provide adequate services now. Failure to do so will only further drain resources and funding without dealing with the root causes of homelessness, causing an endless spiral of homelessness and wasteful spending.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council meeting ends abruptly during testimony

City officials moved the city council meeting to the auditorium of Longfellow Middle School because they anticipated a crowd. The room was full for much of the night. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Berkeley City Council meeting ended abruptly Tuesday night after officials could not agree to extend deliberations until midnight.

The meeting at Longfellow Middle School shut down at 11:30 p.m. in the middle of a lengthy discussion about regulating short-term rentals. Many of the people standing in line to speak expressed incredulity that council could leave the issue hanging without explaining what was going on. Presumably, council will pick up the discussion at its next meeting on June 23.

The bizarre end was, in some ways, a reflection of a meeting that was ruled by incivility. Members of the audience repeatedly shouted out catcalls and slurs at council members, interrupted their discussions and expressed contempt. One speaker, Rozalina Gutman,  twice turned her back on the council to address the audience directly, saying she had no faith in Berkeley’s elected representatives. And, after Mayor Tom Bates told her twice that her time was up, she turned to him (though she had vowed never to talk directly to council again) and told him his time as mayor should have been over long ago. … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on short-term rentals, the budget, money for art, library renaming, mental health

2020 Vision Symposium, Oct. 11, Longfellow Middle School, Berkeley, CA. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A large crowd is expected at this week’s Berkeley City Council meeting, which will take place in the Longfellow Middle School auditorium, 1500 Derby St. (near California Street). The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with a worksession and update focused on Berkeley’s participation in the Resilient Cities program (see the staff report). At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council plans to look at the potential regulation of short-term rentals, like Airbnb units; budget recommendations for social service programs devoted to youth and homelessness; the city’s proposed percent-for-art ordinance; and more. (As usual, despite the location change, the meeting will be broadcast live on television and online, according to the city.) … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Developers should permanently share with the Berkeley community the wealth created by tall buildings

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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With respect for this community as a whole, I believe Berkeley City Council’s most fundamental objectives regarding downtown development have little if anything to do with funding housing for families with low and moderate incomes. Yes, better designs and development of such housing with everything needed to support it are critical to future life in the East Bay and Bay Area. But no, pressing needs for such housing are not even close to the most important goals our city council … Continue reading »

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Wireless carriers sue Berkeley over phone radiation law

Please destroy cell phones before entering: A front gate in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Fragmentary Evidence
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A wireless trade association filed suit against Berkeley on Monday, claiming that the city’s new law requiring notification of possible radiation from cellphones is a violation of the First Amendment.

CTIA The Wireless Association filed the federal suit in the Northern District of California court.

“Berkeley’s Ordinance violates the First Amendment because it will require CTIA’s members to convey a message to which they object, and which is factually inaccurate, misleading, and controversial,” the lawsuit contends, according to The Hill, a Washington D.C.-based website that covers Congress, politics, and political campaigns.

One of the attorneys representing the wireless trade group is Theodore B. Olsen, who successfully argued to overturn California’s Prop 8 that banned gay marriage. … Continue reading »

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