Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council

Local business

Neighbors stop a new Starbucks opening in Berkeley

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A mobilized, vocal group of South Berkeley neighbors, working in concert with local merchants, has prevented a Starbucks from opening in South Berkeley.

Berkeley’s City Council voted Tuesday, March 11, to deny Starbucks an administrative use permit for a 2,063-square-foot space at 3001 Telegraph Ave., at the southeast intersection with Ashby. Council members made the vote after hearing from dozens of local residents and business owners that such a high-customer-volume coffee shop would increase traffic congestion and exacerbate what they described as an already taxing parking situation. The denial came in spite of the fact that the original application from Starbucks was approved by city staff one year ago tomorrow.

Starbucks’ argument, that parking would not be unduly impacted — supported by two separate independent parking studies commissioned by the company — and its contention that many of its customers and employees would be arriving on foot, failed to win the upper hand after more than three hours of discussion. The coffee shop chain also came to the table with promises to move an AC Transit bus stop north across the intersection of Ashby and Telegraph to provide new parking opportunities, and lease three additional spaces in the Chevron gas station lot kitty-corner to the new store. But it was to no avail. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley redistricting maps to be on November ballot, judge to choose which lines to use

Council approved the "Berkeley Student District Campaign" map in December.
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The Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday night to let the voters decide which map of council districts will best represent the community’s interests moving forward.

In recent years, the city has struggled to come up with new district lines that would balance the city’s population across its eight existing council districts, which is required by law.

Last year, after a lengthy public process, council voted in December to approve the map it saw as the best option. But some community members — including council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Max Anderson — have challenged that decision, which led to a successful referendum effort in January. That process forced the council either to rescind its December vote and adopt a new map, or put the issue to the voters. Tuesday night, they voted to take the latter approach. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley city budget in good short-term shape, but problems loom with pension costs

Photo: Steer Davies Gleave
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When the Berkeley City Council held a worksession on the budget on Feb. 25, there was good news and bad news.

The good news is that Berkeley’s revenues are up and expenses are down in the current fiscal year. Using very conservative forecasts, Berkeley budget manager Teresa Berkeley-Simmons projected revenues in the 2014 fiscal year will be $800,000 ahead of the budget passed last June, and expenses over $2 million lower. As a result, so-called carryover expenditures — from revenues accumulated in previous years for as-yet uncompleted projects — will be reduced from $6.3 million to $3.3 million.  … Continue reading »

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The Low Down: Starbucks, redistricting, noise complaints… and global warming warning labels on gas pumps?

Neighbors turned out in droves before the zoning board to express their lack of support for a Starbucks at Ashby and Telegraph avenues in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Tonight, March 11, at the Berkeley City Council: a neighborhood appeal of a proposed Starbucks on Telegraph Avenue, potential redistricting decisions, possible changes to how the city handles after-hours noise complaints and a special closed session at 5:30 p.m. on litigation related to utilities. Read on for details in this week’s Low Down. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how to participate and weigh in about meeting coverage, even if you can’t attend in person.

What’s on the regular agenda?

Starbucks appeal A Starbucks that’s been hoping to open on Telegraph Avenue at Ashby has been stalled by neighborhood groups who are worried about community impacts. (See Item 15 on the agenda for relevant documents.) Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday night, and has been advised to issue the business its use permit and dismiss the neighborhood appeal. Read more about the Starbucks issue on Berkeleyside.Continue reading »

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Berkeley tackles kid-tempting tobacco products

A new study shows that of the Berkeley stores that sell the most popular brand of cigarillos, 90% sell them for under $1. Photo: Pierre Bernard
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The Berkeley City Council has taken steps to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of schools, including menthol cigarettes, popular as a sweet-smoke with a slight tingle; flavored roll-your-own tobacco, which comes in such tastes as mint, black cherry and vanilla; and cigars.

Berkeley’s menthol move came the week before the launch of major statewide public health campaign on the marketing and availability of tobacco products and junk food.

“The tobacco industry continues to find cheap, new ways to entice our youth. Flavored products that appeal to youth are often marketed just a few blocks from schools,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, director of Berkeley’s public health division.  … Continue reading »

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Council majority pushes redistricting decisions to March

Many of the speakers who came to Tuesday night's council meeting oppose a redistricting ordinance adopted in December. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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In a 6-3 vote, a Berkeley City Council majority ruled Tuesday night to wait until at least March 11 to make a decision on whether to repeal the city’s recently adopted redistricting ordinance or put the new district lines to the voters in November.

Council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Max Anderson pushed on Tuesday night for council to rescind the ordinance, which was approved in December, in favor of an alternative map. But others on the dais said they wanted more time before taking any additional steps.

Detractors of the new ordinance led a successful signature-gathering campaign in January to force council to repeal the ordinance and adopt a new map, or put it before the voters later this year. New district lines are required to balance the population as much as possible across the city’s eight council districts. The adopted map does that, but some say it unfairly cuts out many “progressive” voices from District 7, which is represented by Worthington.  … Continue reading »

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The Low Down: Berkeley council on redistricting, garbage fee hike, city budget, pensions, false alarms and more

Berkeley City Council, Oct. 16, 2012. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Tonight, Feb. 25, at the Berkeley City Council: a budget and pension update, redistricting decisions, more on proposed 2014 ballot measures and details about a 25% garbage fee hike for residents. Read on for details in this week’s Low Down. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how to participate and weigh in about meeting coverage, even if you don’t want to attend in person.

Special session on city budget, CalPERS

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., council will get an update on Berkeley’s city budget for fiscal year 2013-14, along with news about CalPERS, the state retirement system for public employees. In a nutshell, the city expects to use about $3.3 million from its reserves to make up a gap between projected revenues and expenses from the General Fund this year. [Update, 2:15 p.m. That reserve money had been approved for use in October, and involved "revenues accumulated in previous years for projects that had not yet been completed."] The city projects increases in secured property taxes, property transfer taxes, and the transient occupancy tax, but expects to see declines in parking fines, moving violations and interest income. Read more on Berkeleyside about the city budget.

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Berkeley to kill squirrels, gophers to protect bay

A ground squirrel at Cesar Chavez Park. Photo: Bill Williams/Creative Commons
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In Berkeley, squirrels are in the cross fire.

In an attempt to make sure no toxins leak out of the old landfill under Cesar Chavez Park and leach into San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is hiring a pest control company to trap and kill hundreds of squirrels and gophers that make their home there.

It seems that when the squirrels and gophers do what comes naturally—digging holes or tunneling in the ground—they are getting perilously close to the clay cap that covers the landfill. If the rodents penetrate that barrier, dangerous toxins like gasoline, lead, iron, herbicides and pesticides, could leach into the bay. So the city needs to reduce the animal population to lessen the risk, according to city spokesman Matthai Chakko. … Continue reading »

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Willard pool reopening on agenda for park bond measure

Colorful graphics welcomed swimmers to Willard Pool when it was open. Photo: Protographer 23
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After two failures to secure a pools bond measure, advocates for the reopening of Willard Pool turned out in force at Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting. Pool supporters called for including Willard in a likely parks bond measure on the November ballot.

“This is a winning coalition,” said Robert Collier, one of the leaders of the Berkeley Pools Campaign, at the council meeting. “This is our time to win not just for the pools, but for the parks as well.”  … Continue reading »

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Will Berkeley be first in nation to impose soda tax?

Photo: Vox Efx
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Berkeley has embarked on a path that could lead it to becoming the first city in the nation to tax sugar-sweetened beverages.

On Tuesday night the City Council agreed to put a sugar tax on a community poll assessing possible ballot measures for the November 2014 election (the poll will also test opinions on a commercial vacancies tax, a business license tax on rental housing, and a bond and tax measure for parks). A broad coalition of local groups, rallying under the banner of Berkeley vs Big Soda, turned out a crowd of vocal advocates for a one cent per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

“No city has been able to successfully pass a sugar-sweetened beverages tax. But it will happen here in Berkeley,” said Councilman Darryl Moore.  … Continue reading »

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The Low Down: Berkeley council on parks funding, 2014 elections, youth on drugs, rodent infestation

Councilmen Darryl Moore, Gordon Wozniak and Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeleyside is experimenting with a brief overview in advance of each Berkeley City Council meeting, time allowing, after taking inspiration from the East Bay Citizen, an independent local news site to the south. Click the links below for related materials and staff reports to learn more.

Special session on Berkeley parks funding, facilities

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council has scheduled a special session, beginning at 5:30 p.m., to take a closer look at funding and facilities related to Berkeley parks and recreation. There are three items on the agenda: a report on funding; a facilities assessment; and a discussion about possible ballot measures, as well as a community survey, expected to come later this year. Willard Pool supporters are expected in droves. Read more on Berkeleyside about prior parks funding discussions here.

What’s on the regular agenda?

During its regular session at 7 p.m., council is slated to take action on several items. Among them, a public hearing is scheduled about summer camp fees at Echo Lake Camp. There are also two charter amendments that are under consideration, as well as talks about potential upcoming ballot measures, all of which are related to the November 2014 election. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley redistricting referendum effort prevails

Xan Join collected a number of signatures in late December. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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An effort underway over the past month to force the Berkeley City Council to revoke a recently adopted redistricting map, or put the council district issue before the voters later this year, has officially collected enough signatures for the referendum to proceed, city staff said Monday evening.

The Berkeley Referendum Coalition turned in 7,867 signatures, which were filed with the Berkeley city clerk Jan. 21.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters examined a random sampling of 429 of those signatures, and found that the group would have more than enough valid names on the list, said city spokesman Matthai Chakko. To force a referendum, 5,275 of the signatures needed to be valid.

The successful signature drive means the redistricting ordinance adopted in December is now suspended. Council will consider whether to take back its vote and reconsider the topic, or put the issue before the voters.  … Continue reading »

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Long-time Berkeley progressives back referendum drive

City council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin and members the Berkeley Referendum Campaign turn in signatures to the city clerk’s office on Jan 21. Photo: Anthony Sanchez
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The group that collected 7,896 signatures to force a City Council redistricting plan onto the ballot spent more than $5,000 on paid signature gatherers in January, but only raised $2,790, according to a campaign disclosure report filed with the city.

The single largest contributor to the campaign was Michael O’Malley who co-owns The Daily Planet with his wife Becky. The O’Malleys are a politically progressive couple who are often critical of Mayor Tom Bates and his more moderate allies on the council. Michael O’Malley contributed $1,000 to the referendum effort. … Continue reading »

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