Tag Archives: Berkeley City Council
With the Berkeley City Council beginning its 2014 season this month, Berkeleyside is trying out a new short overview in advance of each meeting, time allowing, after taking inspiration from the East Bay Citizen, an independent local news site to the south.
Special session on violence prevention
Tuesday night, Jan. 28, council will hold a special session at 5 p.m. on violence prevention (Item 1), along with a status report on its 2020 Vision initiative (Item 2). The violence prevention session came out of a referral from Councilwoman Linda Maio following several homicides in 2013 that took place in her district. It resulted in a 7-page report from Deputy City Manager William Rogers that takes a look at youth violence prevention efforts underway by the city and the Berkeley Unified School District. The 2020 Vision report will include updates from City Manager Christine Daniel and school Superintendent Donald Evans. The session is a joint meeting between the council and the Berkeley School Board. (Read more on Berkeleyside about 2020 Vision here.) … Continue reading »
Longtime merchants in the city-owned Telegraph Channing parking garage mall have been locked in a dispute with the city for several months over what the merchants say are unfair rents and poor conditions exacerbated by years of neglect.
The merchants have been asking for rent reductions, and have told the city they do not believe a private management company should be hired to oversee mall operations. (The city began the process to investigate whether to hire a private manager last summer.)
In a report written by city staff in December, the city shifts the burden back onto merchants, noting the “declining market” for several businesses in the mall. While the report indicates a willingness to work with merchants who want to help themselves, there is also resistance to the need for broad changes for all: “There would be little value for the Telegraph area market or the City to renegotiate rents with businesses that are likely to fail because the market for their product is declining and they have no plan to reverse their situation.” … Continue reading »
What some described as a historic move by the Berkeley City Council to approve a new student-majority district centered around Telegraph Avenue was decried by others Tuesday night as political “gerrymandering” aimed at splitting the city’s progressive voice and excluding some of the most active students from the mix.
The fate of Worthington’s district, District 7, has been the focus of most of the outcry about the city’s new redistricting map. Much of the discussion since July has revolved around whether the city would adopt a map that’s been part of the public dialogue since April, or one submitted in July after the submission process had officially ended. The newer map was created by Stefan Elgstrand, an intern in Worthington’s office.
The earlier map, via the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC), has District 7 concentrated mostly on the south side of campus, while Elgstrand’s map, the United Student District Amendment (USDA), includes parts of northside, with fewer blocks included south of campus.
“We have no choice but to go forward with a referendum,” Elgstrand told the council during public comment Tuesday night. He said the BSDC map excludes too many students, many of whom live in Cal co-op houses, several dorms and International House. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council is set to consider a potential $20 million parks bond in conjunction with a 10% increase to the existing parks tax after a unanimous vote Wednesday night by the city’s parks commission.
Over the past six months, the commission has held a series of public meetings to find a way to raise money for Berkeley parks, spurred in part by alarm at a projected lack of money in the city budget for both existing maintenance demands and new projects.
The combined bond and tax measures could cost approximately $45 extra per year on average for each Berkeley property.
“It doesn’t fix everything,” said Commission chairman Jim McGrath. “It’s not a bad start though.”
According to a draft report prepared for Wednesday’s meeting, the city is in desperate need of more money for Berkeley parks. … Continue reading »
Parking in downtown Berkeley may get harder before it gets easier as a new project ramps up to demolish and rebuild the Center Street garage to add hundreds of spaces, improve seismic security and incorporate “green building” standards.
The project is expected to strain parking demand downtown, where availability is often scarce already. City staff have been working to improve the parking situation via its goBerkeley campaign, which has been underway this year. Merchants have been keeping a close eye on the Center Street project and say they hope the city will be thoughtful as it moves ahead.
The five-story Center Street parking garage — which has entrances on both Addison and Center streets — has 420 spaces, ground floor retail and was built in the 1950s, according to the staff report prepared for last week’s Berkeley City Council meeting. Tuesday night, as part of the consent calendar, the Council approved paying up to $1 million to a consultant who will plan and manage the project. … Continue reading »
Smoking cigarettes will no longer be allowed inside the units of multi-family housing developments in Berkeley, effective May 2014, after a unanimous vote by the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night.
The council decision, once it’s adopted on second reading, would prohibit tobacco smoke inside all residential buildings that have more than one unit, and in all common areas of those buildings as well.
After considering the issue twice earlier this year, the council voted, on first reading, to approve the new ordinance, which puts forward enforcement guidelines that officials hope will protect the rights of both non-smoking neighbors as well as residents who receive complaints. … Continue reading »
Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council approved a new redistricting map to redraw council boundaries to reflect the city’s population changes over the past decade and increase the number of student-aged voters in District 7.
Proponents of the new map say District 7 will become the first student district in the country. Cal students have helped spearhead the campaign to build support for the map, which they said has broad support on campus and in the neighborhoods nearby.
But detractors of the new map say it is a watered down district that will dilute progressive student power, and pushed for a different proposal. The vote split the council, with council members Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín voting against it, and Councilman Max Anderson abstaining.
Berkeley City Council last night unanimously voted to refer the appeal of a Zoning Adjustments Board decision on a Starbucks at 3001 Telegraph Ave. to a public meeting. But before that debate, there was plenty of other action in the council chambers. We’ve Storified what happened so you can follow the action. Read on. … Continue reading »
A three-story, six-unit apartment building destroyed by fire early last year will remain rent-controlled, and former residents should have the right to return to the property, city staff said Tuesday night.
The Berkeley City Council heard an appeal Tuesday, filed by former tenants, of a June 2013 Zoning Adjustments Board decision regarding the property. Appellants alleged that property owner Lakireddy Bali Reddy was negligent in his approach to building maintenance, and that his negligence contributed to an unsafe situation that led to last year’s devastating fire at 2227 Dwight Way.
In addition to criticizing the city process related to rebuilding after the fire, appellants also said Reddy, of Everest Properties, should have to pay into the city’s affordable housing fund. City staff explained that the municipal code does not require that, since what is slated to be rebuilt is no different from what was on site before. … Continue reading »
Berkeley nights could have a slightly different hue next year if the city is successful in its plans to replace all 8,000 of its streetlights with LED fixtures.
The project would save money, improve lighting quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the city.
LEDs are already being used in Albany, El Cerrito, Hayward, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Los Angeles and other cities around the state. Oakland is in the process of converting all its fixtures to LEDs, the city reported. … Continue reading »
Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council voted to change parking rates in three city-owned garages, downtown and near the Cal campus, as part of its goBerkeley effort to change driver behavior and make it easier for visitors to find street parking.
The multi-pronged campaign has been underway since earlier this year, and has included the promotion of alternative modes of transportation — via the distribution of car-sharing memberships and free transit passes — as well as adjustments to parking meter rates and time limits downtown, south of the UC Berkeley campus and in the Elmwood.
The pilot program aims to reduce pollution, congestion and drivers circling for a spot by using what’s known as demand-responsive pricing, which sets parking rates based on a supply-and-demand philosophy. The most convenient spots tend to be the most expensive and are available for shorter amounts of time, while spots further away, which are in less demand, are cheaper and can be used for longer periods. … Continue reading »
In the wake of public frustration and confusion after Berkeley adjusted many of its parking meters to require a minimum cash payment of 30 or 35 cents, depending on the area, the city has rolled back the changes to allow meters city-wide to register any amount from a nickel on up.
According to a city staff report prepared for a September vote by the Berkeley City Council to fix the problem, the city began hearing criticism about the meter minimum earlier this year during its goBerkeley outreach campaign to change metered parking rates and time limits in three of the city’s business districts.
Members of the public said they were confused because meters were failing to register payment. Unbeknownst to some, it was because the 30- or 35-cent threshold had not been met. Putting in change that didn’t register left some wondering if the meters were broken. So they were unsure whether to keep trying, find a new space, or walk away and try their luck. … Continue reading »
After briefly considering the closure of Berkeley’s Domestic Partnership Registry prior to this week’s City Council meeting, officials decided instead to simply celebrate its 22nd anniversary.
Councilman Darryl Moore had originally submitted an item for council review that would have closed down the registry following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year in favor of marriage equality in California.
Said one member of the public, Leland Traiman, who spoke about the item, “It’s really window dressing at this point. It doesn’t mean anything.” Traiman is a gay rights activist who helped craft Berkeley’s domestic partnership policies. Those policies, adopted in 1984, were “the first time in world history same sex couples were granted any of the Rights of Marriage,” according to the city staff report prepared for the week’s council meeting.
Tuesday night, after some pushback from the public about his resolution, Moore submitted a revised item asking just that the council recognize the registry’s 22nd anniversary, and declare Oct. 11 “Marriage Equality Day” in Berkeley. … Continue reading »