Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council
Despite the recent federal crackdown on medical cannabis operations, the Berkeley City Council will discuss tonight expanding the number of dispensaries from three to four – and maybe to six – and refine the rules regarding collectives.
The suggestions reflect almost two years of work from the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission, which was created after Berkeley residents voted in 2010 to overhaul Berkeley’s medical marijuana laws. Voters agreed to permit large-scale growing areas and increase the number of dispensaries from three to four, but Berkeley has not done any of those things, in large part because U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has been clamping down on large medical cannabis operations, including Berkeley Patients Group.
In June, the City Council tabled discussion on the proposals. Mayor Tom Bates said then that the federal attitude made it all but impossible to site a new dispensary in the city. The delay in setting up a new dispensary meant Berkeley lost thousands of dollars of additional tax revenue. … Continue reading »
Police saw steep increases in burglaries and pedestrian robberies in the first half of 2013, according to the mid-year crime report produced by the Berkeley Police Department, though serious crime reports overall were essentially flat when compared to last year.
The mid-year crime report is scheduled to come before the Berkeley City Council in a special session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, in the council chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
Police said pedestrian robberies are up 35% over the same period last year. Burglaries are up 11%. But overall serious crimes — which include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson — increased just 0.4%, from 2,927 to 2,940. … Continue reading »
Following pleas to give students more time to get involved with Berkeley’s redistricting process, the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to delay its decision on proposed changes to the city’s council districts that are required to balance the population among them.
The council voted in July to select a preferred redistricting map, the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC) map, which creates a “campus district” made up largely of student-aged residents who live near UC Berkeley but is otherwise not a radical departure from many of the city’s existing council districts.
In June, Councilman Kriss Worthington‘s office created an alternative map — the United Student District Amendment (USDA) map — which includes 11 co-ops, three dorms and International House that aren’t part of the BSDC map. The USDA map would boost the population of student-aged residents from 86 (BSDC) to 90%. (Worthington said Thursday that currently his district is composed of about 70% student-aged residents.) … Continue reading »
Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council took its first steps at considering a “super-green affordable housing project” that would offer extensive services to the homeless on the site of what’s now a 112-spot parking lot at Berkeley Way and Henry Street.
The “innovative housing and services center with permanently supportive housing, along with emergency shelter and supportive services” would “meet a critical need, and help further the City’s goals to end homelessness,” according to a staff report from Tuesday’s meeting.
Members of the business community have expressed concerns about the loss of parking during construction, and said the parking supply would need to be doubled to ensure that visitors to downtown, who are expected to increase as the area is revitalized, will have access to readily available spots. They noted that decreased parking already in effect or planned, with the construction of the new Berkeley Art Museum and a proposal to demolish and rebuild the Center Street garage. … Continue reading »
While most new structures built using city bonds are decorated with public art, Berkeley’s new $12.4 million animal shelter is not. City staff skipped out on the municipally-mandated public art process during construction and the reasons why remain difficult to pin down.
Since the project’s inception in 2002, shelter plans ran into a range of obstacles, from difficulty finding an appropriate site to a series of cost overruns. As a result, said Deputy City Manager William Rogers, the city decided not to set aside $142,500 of its budget for public art, despite a Berkeley ordinance that requires municipal projects to do just that.
Others familiar with the project said the decision not to include public art in the shelter was due to a failure to put the proper language in the bond measure that funded construction. Whether that was an oversight or an intentional decision to ensure flexibility in the project budget is unclear. … Continue reading »
Update, Aug. 15: Berkeleyside received this note from a U.S. Postal Service rep: “I am sending you the following to clarify what may be confusing to your readers. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has docketed an appeal filed by Tom Bates, Mayor of Berkeley, concerning decisions related to the Berkeley Post Office. The action in question is a relocation, not a discontinuance, and it is the Postal Service’s view that the PRC’s appeal authority does not extend to this context. The Postal Service has filed a Motion to Dismiss the appeal and we expect the PRC to rule on this matter in the near term.”
Original story, Aug. 12: A federal commission that oversees the U.S. Postal Service has agreed to hear an appeal by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to halt the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office, at 2000 Allston Way.
The five-member Postal Regulatory Commission alerted Bates on Thursday that it would hear the appeal in the fall, the mayor’s office announced Monday. Bates has until Sept. 3 to submit a formal appeal brief, and the commission will have until Nov. 27 to make its final decision. The commission has authority over proposed major service changes related to any post office.
In March, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to oppose the sale of the post office, and asked for a one-year moratorium on any decision about its sale. In May, Bates, along with other local and state officials, sent an appeal letter to the postal service. According to Monday’s statement, Bates filed his appeal after a final determination letter dated July 18 from the postal service that stated its plan to forge ahead to relocate services from downtown Berkeley. … Continue reading »
For 20 years, Alta Bates has provided more than 7,000 square feet of space on its Herrick campus for LifeLong Berkeley Primary Care to help it provide high-quality health and social services to under-served people of all ages. Additionally, Alta Bates has contributed money to help LifeLong Medical Care rebuild its West Berkeley campus and funded a portion of Project Respect, a program designed to reduce the number of emergency room visits.
These efforts are all part of Alta Bates’ community benefits — a service Alta Bates must (and is proud to) do as a not-for-profit hospital. But some say Alta Bates is not doing enough, particularly in the area of “charity care,” or providing services to those who cannot pay for health care.
The California Nurses Association, which is locked in a labor dispute with the hospital, is questioning Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s generosity. As a result of the issues the CNA raised, the Berkeley City Council on July 16 adopted a resolution requiring Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC), a subsidiary of Sutter Health, to file an annual report that includes new information about its charity care. The council will also hold a work session in the fall to learn more about ABSMC’s tax exempt status. … Continue reading »
The final recommendations for a new program aimed to curb carbon emissions and improve the “parking experience” in three commercial districts around town were presented in several community meetings this month.
goBerkeley is a three-year pilot program designed to reduce emissions and parking congestion; as part of the program, the city will adjust its parking rates in three business districts — the downtown, the Telegraph area south of campus, and the Elmwood. The changes are slated to go into effect in October, and to last for at least a year.
“It’s truly a pilot,” Willa Ng, the city’s project manager for the goBerkeley campaign, told a small group that assembled Monday evening in Berkeley’s central library to hear about the plans. ”Let’s see what happens. And if it doesn’t work, it can go away.”
… Continue reading »
After at least eight meetings dating back to late 2011, the Berkeley City Council voted last week to begin to try to curb the proliferation of “mini-dorms” in residential areas around town.
Residents, particularly in the campus area, have been speaking out to the city about the problems that can be posed by these set-ups, which the city defines as group living households where renters have individual leases with landlords. Residents have said certain landlords pack as many people into these properties as possible, which leads to problems with noise, parking and traffic. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council voted last week to bring a new pilot “parklets” program one step closer to city streets. The program, which would create miniature public parks in unused bus stops, parking spaces, or other “dedicated public right-of-way” space, has been eagerly awaited by many merchants in Berkeley.
According to the staff report prepared for the meeting, “Parklets are publicly accessible space for the enjoyment and use of all citizens, and are privately constructed and maintained. It is envisioned that the Parklets will be located in areas with pedestrian activity, as additional seating areas for retail patrons, and in areas where there is a desire to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.”
The item was set for discussion Tuesday night but was instead moved to the consent calendar by Councilman Laurie Capitelli. Prior to the vote, Councilman Jesse Arreguín reinforced the idea that parklets are public space and can be used by anyone. They are, after all, extensions of the sidewalk, as pointed out by Eric Angstadt, the city’s planning director. Angstadt spoke briefly about the issue, noting that it is the responsibility of businesses that sponsor parklets to ensure the space remains open to the public. … Continue reading »
Rasputin Music on Telegraph Avenue won a permit to serve ice cream, but not out of a take-out window on Channing Way, the Berkeley City Council ruled Tuesday night.
Popular ice cream sandwich spot C.R.E.A.M., which stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me — in reference to the 1993 Wu-Tang Clan song “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” — had appealed the permit request by Rasputin owner Ken Sarachan, citing concerns about disabled access on the sidewalk and potential traffic violations at a red curb should the take-out window open. Cookies Rule is located across the street from the proposed window at Rasputin. … Continue reading »
As the school year winds down and the temperature rises, some members of the Berkeley City Council are setting up shop in popular spots around town to ensure they’re accessible to city residents.
Earlier this month, Councilman Jesse Arreguín hosted his first summer “office hours” at Berkeley’s North Shattuck farmers market, a public meeting he plans to continue to host monthly through the summer.
“Every time I have visited the farmers market in the past I run into many constituents. So I thought, rather than having people come to City Hall to meet me, it would be better to go to a place where people are,” said Arreguín. ”I really enjoy the farmers market office hours because I hear from people firsthand who otherwise do not have an opportunity to interact with their representatives.” … Continue reading »
Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council upheld a March decision by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board to allow developers to move ahead with plans to build a 78-unit rental apartment complex in downtown Berkeley.
The building, called “The Durant,” is set to have frontage on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way; it’s set mid-block between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street. The south side of the building is proposed to rise to four stories, and the north side to six. The architects are Johnson Lyman Architects of Walnut Creek.
The zoning board decision was appealed in April by Stephen Stine, who cited “severe detriments” related to noise, air quality and sunlight reductions that would affect residents, including his mother, who live in a senior housing complex — Stuart Pratt Manor at 2020 Durant — next door to the project site. Appellants also said the city hadn’t followed proper notification rules when zoning in the neighborhood was changed during the Downtown Area Plan process. … Continue reading »