Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council
It’s no secret that the city has been struggling to come up with solutions to Berkeley’s housing crunch, and that issue will be front and center at the Oct. 27 council meeting tonight. There are a total of 11 housing-related items on the consent and action calendars. Our guide to the items is below. There’s also a special session before the regular meeting that is focused on street repaving and watershed improvements funded by Measure M. … Continue reading »
City Councilman Jesse Arreguín formally announced Thursday that he is running for Berkeley mayor by sending out an email statement declaring his candidacy. He will follow that up with a kick-off rally Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. in a location that will be announced later.
Arreguín said Berkeley needs to be a city “that works for everyone” and pledged in the statement to unify the city and produce results. He said the No. 1 challenge facing Berkeley is affordability.
“We must ensure Berkeley remains a diverse and vibrant city,” said Arreguín. “That means protecting and expanding affordable housing and fighting displacement. It also means tackling health, economic and educational disparities, so everyone in Berkeley has the opportunity to succeed.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguín may have inadvertently announced his candidacy for mayor Monday when he changed the name of his Facebook page from “Jesse Arreguín for City Council,” to “Jesse Arreguín for Mayor.”
The change triggered an automatic notice to all of his followers, including Berkeleyside, which then sent out the following tweet at 3:48 p.m.:
— Berkeleyside (@berkeleyside) October 19, 2015
The Berkeley City Council meets tonight, Oct. 13, beginning with a special session at 6:30 p.m. to look at a new crowd-sourcing app from Berkeley Community Media called “Mediaphile.” The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m., with only 13 items on the agenda. On the action calendar: Acme Bar & Company has appealed a rejection of its request to expand alcohol service onto its back patio; an enforcement program proposal related to lead paint; and a proposed prevention program related to hate crimes. … Continue reading »
Representatives of Berkeley Honda told the Berkeley City Council earlier this week that its future in the city may be in jeopardy, particularly in light of a new petition filed last week to landmark the building Honda hopes to one day occupy.
Last November, Berkeley Honda left its longtime location at 2627 Shattuck Ave. to make way for a large mixed-use development called Parker Place set to be built in the neighborhood. After struggling since 2008 to find an appropriate new location, it came to an agreement with the property owner of 2777 Shattuck, two blocks away, after Any Mountain requested an early termination of its lease there.
It has been difficult to find a site due to state laws that prohibit dealerships from operating within 10 miles of existing similar-brand dealers. According to Matt Beinke, who owns Berkeley Honda with his brother Tim and other family members, the company was unable to secure sites in northwest or southwest Berkeley due to the proximity of competitors in El Cerrito and Oakland. This left them with just a 1-mile radius around their former South Berkeley location to explore, Beinke said.
Any Mountain closed in May. Since June, Berkeley Honda says it has been paying “tens of thousands of dollars” in rent each month at 2777 Shattuck, but has not yet moved into the space, pending city approval. It has instead been operating out of two temporary locations, at 2627 Shattuck and 1500 San Pablo Ave. Initially, Berkeley Honda hoped to move to 1500 San Pablo but “lost that site to a multi-national developer,” according to project documents.
Berkeley Honda representatives told council Tuesday night during the public comment period for items not on the agenda that the company has spent more than $700,000 since April on architectural and engineering work, as well as fees to the city and consultants. … Continue reading »
Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan told the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night he believes his officers should be granted the option to carry Tasers, which are not currently allowed under city policy.
It was the first time Meehan has taken a stand on the issue in a high-profile public forum, though he said he had made similar comments in the past in smaller community meetings.
More than a dozen community members told council that Tasers should not be used in Berkeley, and shared stories from around the country about what they believed were inappropriate uses of the tool by law enforcement officers in other jurisdictions.
Tuesday evening, council received a report from researchers at the Stanford Criminal Justice Center who spent six months earlier this year looking into the issue on a pro bono basis. The researchers said, after reviewing more than 100 studies, that there are still too many unanswered questions about how Tasers are used, and that Berkeley should be cautious when considering whether to equip the local police force with them.
Berkeley is among about 2,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, out of an estimated 18,000, that do not carry the tool.
Meehan told council that he knows the issue is a controversial one, but made his position on Tasers, also known as electronic control weapons or ECWs, clear.
Read past Berkeleyside coverage related to Tasers.
“The combined body of evidence and decades-long experience leads me to believe that the availability of ECWs is in the best interests of our employees, and our community,” he said. “I would not say this if I did not think it was in the best interests of both.” … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council meets tonight, Oct. 6, beginning with a special session at 5:30 p.m. focused on Tasers, which Berkeley police have been saying they should be able to carry. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m., with only 13 items on the agenda. On the action calendar: A package from Councilwoman Lori Droste related to making it easier to build affordable housing, and reduce parking requirements for those projects; a proposal from Councilman Kriss Worthington asking the city to prioritize a plan to overhaul the city’s transfer station into a “state of the art Zero Waste facility”; and the first of two votes to enact the city’s new cell phone warning ordinance. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council is set to discuss a report Tuesday evening focused on the use of Tasers by law enforcement officers, and whether that might one day be appropriate in Berkeley.
Council asked the city manager to look into the issue last year, which resulted in a pro bono agreement with the Stanford Criminal Justice Center to study it. Two Stanford authors began work on their analysis in January, and completed their report in June.
According to the staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting, council asked for more information about “the history, potential benefits, impacts, and possible unintended consequences of allowing Berkeley police to carry and use Tasers, and to include in the report information regarding other jurisdictions ‘best practices’ and protocols, an analysis of changes in technologies, and the feasibility of doing a pilot program.” Council also asked to hear from the Police Review and Community Health commissions.
As far as possible future action, there’s no specific recommendation in the staff report, which notes that council will determine what happens next. … Continue reading »
Maybe the headline should be “man bites dog” but there’s a bit of good news on council’s Tuesday agenda: a vast improvement in timely approval of contracts. Our performance audit “Most Contracts Executed Timely but Contract Project Managers Could Use Better Tools and Guidance” tells the story.
The bigger story here, to me, is the many more substantial improvements I’ve seen in nearly 21 years of auditing city programs and performance. Whether I look at our 2004 audit of contracts, … Continue reading »
Berkeley councilman Laurie Capitelli profited from $500,000 housing loan given to police chief, paper says
Update, Oct. 5: Councilman Laurie Capitelli issued a statement Monday to clarify his role in the purchase of a home by Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan in 2010 following a City Council vote the prior year to loan the chief money toward the purchase. Capitelli told Berkeleyside he never served as the real estate agent for the home purchase and did not split a $30,000 commission for the deal, contrary to what was reported Friday by the Bay Area News Group. Capitelli told Berkeleyside he received an unsolicited payment after providing another agent advice about sewer lines and creeks, which he says he now plans to donate to charity. He initially kept the money because he said he was advised by Berkeley’s city attorney that there was no ethical conflict related to the vote and his role in the later transaction.
Original story, Oct. 3: Seven months after City Councilman Laurie Capitelli voted in November 2009 to loan incoming Police Chief Michael Meehan $500,000 in public funds to buy a house, he helped sell Meehan a home and garnered a $15,000 commission, according to a report by Thomas Peele for the Bay Area News Group.
Capitelli had not been hired as Meehan’s real estate agent when he voted with the rest of the City Council to provide the housing loan. Consequently, he does not feel he broke any ethical boundaries, he told the newspaper. … Continue reading »
A plea by the chair of the Medical Cannabis Commission to reinstate his application for Berkeley’s fourth medical cannabis dispensary was ignored by the City Council Tuesday night, but council members did vote to slightly jigger the selection process.
The City Council voted 6-1-1, with Mayor Tom Bates voting no and City Councilwoman Lori Droste abstaining, to expand the fourth round of the selection process to include six dispensary applicants rather than five. (Councilman Max Anderson was absent.) The applicants will now hold public hearings to communicate with the various neighbors who might be affected by their plans.
The vote came after an unexpected motion by Mayor Bates to stop the selection process altogether, and to wait until 2017, after the 2016 election, when many believe there will be a ballot measure to legalize marijuana throughout the state.
“I don’t see why we need a fourth dispensary,” Bates told the council. “It’s likely it will be on the ballot in 2016. My strong advice would be to postpone this decision until after the November 2016 election and see where we are. If it fails we can revive it. If it passes, the issue is moot.” … Continue reading »
The lowdown: Berkeley council on new group living rules, medical cannabis, burying utility wires, more
Get ready: The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday nights for the next three weeks running. Tonight, Sept. 29, begins with a special session at 5:30 p.m. focused on new regulations for mini-dorms and other group living accommodations. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. Included on the action calendar: a proposal to make a plan to put Berkeley’s utility wires underground; an update on the city’s selection process for its fourth medical cannabis dispensary; and an amendment to the city’s accessory dwelling unit law to remove parking requirements near some transit lines. … Continue reading »
The city process for the project at 2211 Harold Way is closing in on three years. In December 2012 the first application was submitted and the project is currently scheduled for another Zoning Board hearing on September 30, 2015.
I love Berkeley. I love its quirky charms and I love the passion that older generations have for their community. But enough is enough. The endless delays are amounting to a housing status quo that not only affects the ability of Berkeley to grow with the extant flood of talent and innovation, but is also a de facto barrier to cultural and economic diversity. I find it jarring that a community so proud of its history of fighting for rights of all people would then continue to obstruct the very instrument that will allow for population growth, new economic opportunities and increased community diversity.
During this three-year period the project has had in excess of 30 meetings, including many design review committee hearings where the project design was changed in order to accommodate requests and concerns of the City and the public. This includes the addition of new theaters, which was not a part of the original design. The fact remains that the reason theaters were not included in the original design is because the revenue received from the theaters does not compensate for the construction costs. The theaters will never be able to compensate the owner at a market rate. This point is even clearer when you consider the letter dated April 15, 2013 from Landmark Theaters that clearly states that the current theaters’ model is not financially viable. … Continue reading »