Tag Archives: Berkeley politics

Landlord group sues Berkeley over rental tax initiative

The owners of this rent-controlled apartment complex at 3100 College Ave. are renting out three of its apartments on Airbnb. Berkeley law does not allow rentals shorter than 14 days. Photo: Melati
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The Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition political action committee has filed a lawsuit and demanded that the city of Berkeley correct the official ballot language of a measure set to appear in the November election.

After officials canceled the special City Council meeting set for Aug. 11 due to lack of a quorum, the coalition filed suit Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court. Correcting the language for Measure U1, the business license tax, was one of two agenda items scheduled for deliberation that evening.

Backed by the Berkeley Property Owners Association, the litigation comes as the property owners’ group is pushing for its own competing tax initiative, Measure DD. … Continue reading »

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Council cancels special meeting on minimum wage

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update 6:15 p.m. Only three council members were present for the special meeting: Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Darryl Moore. After brief thanks from the officials to city staff for preparing the meeting, it was canceled for lack of a quorum.

Original story: Two votes scheduled for Thursday night’s special Berkeley City Council meeting, which was just announced Wednesday, may not actually take place due to “insufficient quorum,” according to various reports being circulated online.

The focus of the meeting was supposed to be a compromise related to two competing minimum wage proposals that are slated to be on the November ballot.

A spokesman for the city, Timothy Burroughs, said as of 5:16 p.m. that “There is still a Council meeting scheduled for 6pm.”

City Clerk Mark Numainville confirmed at 5:24 p.m.: “We will not know if the meeting is cancelled for lack of quorum until after the noticed start time.” … Continue reading »

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Special Berkeley council meeting announced to vote on compromise minimum wage

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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A special meeting of the City Council has been announced for Thursday night to vote on a compromise minimum wage proposal for Berkeley.

Up to this point, voters were set to consider two competing minimum wage proposals this fall, one sponsored by labor advocates, and another supported by a Berkeley City Council majority. Both were set to appear on the November ballot.

According to a statement released shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday, “Working collaboratively, an agreement that avoids dueling ballot measures on the minimum wage in Berkeley has been reached.”

Workers’ rights attorney and EBMUD Director Andy Katz, who sent out the statement and helped facilitate the compromise, said the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, and Berkeley Councilman Laurie Capitelli had reached that agreement together.

Read past Berkeleyside coverage of the minimum wage.

A vote on the new language is expected to come Thursday, Aug. 11, at a 6 p.m. meeting of the City Council. If all goes according to plan, that will mean Berkeley will have new minimum wage language on the books after the vote takes place. … Continue reading »

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2 open Berkeley City Council races draw significant cash

The retirement of Max Anderson and Laurie Capitelli's decision to run for mayor rather than for re-election in District 5 has created two open council seats. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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With the retirement of councilman Max Anderson, and fellow councilman Laurie Capitelli’s decision to run for mayor, there are two open seats on the Berkeley City Council this fall, which may explain the heavy fundraising going on.

Read more on the Berkeley 2016 election.

Below, a round-up of how the different candidates are doing in terms of raising those campaign funds.

District 5: Sophie Hahn / Stephen Murphy

Sophie Hahn, a lawyer, who has twice run unsuccessfully against Laurie Capitelli for the District 5 seat, and who has high name recognition because of those races and her position on the Zoning Adjustments Board, raised the most among her fellow District 5 candidates in the first six months of 2016. Hahn is seen as a progressive who would be closely aligned with City Councilmen Jesse Arreguín and Kriss Worthington, and many of her donors are also their supporters.

Hahn raised $45,244 in this last campaign cycle, spent $6,437, and has $49,427 cash on hand — an amount significant enough for her to to do a number of district-wide mailings. … Continue reading »

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The mayor’s race is off and running: Where do campaign coffers stand?

Laurie Capitelli talks to prospective voters at a house party in July. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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In the last six months, mayoral candidate Laurie Capitelli has raised $67,135 in donations, according to recently filed campaign finance statements. That’s almost 35% more than one of his strongest rivals and fellow city council member, Jesse Arreguín, who raised $24,858 in that same period for a total raised of $47,326. (Prior to Jan. 1, Arreguín had raised $25,007.)

Many of Capitelli’s donations have come from his fellow real estate agents, architects, developers, and engineers. He has gotten $250 donations from Mayor Tom Bates, and City Council members Linda Maio, Lori Droste, Susan Wengraf, and Darryl Moore. Some of his other contributors include Patrick Kennedy, whose development company Panoramic Interests was once busy in Berkeley but is now focused on San Francisco; William Shrader, Jr., head of The Austin Group, which just constructed Varsity Berkeley; Jim Novosel, an architect for L’Argent, a 12-story apartment complex planned for Shattuck Avenue and Berkeley Way, and Melinda Haag, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, among others. Capitelli has spent $14,132 and has $59,157 on hand. … Continue reading »

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Kriss Worthington to run for mayor of Berkeley

Berkeley councilmember Kriss Worthington
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City Councilman Kriss Worthington has decided to run for mayor, a move intended to use try to use the ranked-choice voting system to install a progressive as mayor.

Worthington said he decided to run after long discussions with City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, one of the council’s three progressive members (along with Worthington and Max Anderson) who declared his candidacy for mayor in October. Worthington and Arreguín intend to ask their supporters to vote for both of them – which they hope will deny City Councilman Laurie Capitelli a majority of the votes.

“Numerous people have been asking me to run for many, many months,” said Worthington. “I have wanted to defer to Councilman Arreguín, who has been actively campaigning. He recognized that my being a candidate would be a positive thing.”

Ranked choice voting has an immediate run-off system to ensure that a candidate will be selected in that electoral cycle. If no-one gets a 50% + 1 majority, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated. The #2 and #3 votes from that candidate are re-tabulated. The process continues until a winner emerges. … Continue reading »

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Would a homeless mayor in Berkeley make a difference for the homeless?

Mike Lee, who is running for mayor, at his "office" at Au Coquelet on June 22, 2016. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Guy “Mike” Lee sat at a wooden table in the back of Au Coquelet restaurant on University Avenue. His laptop computer was open in front of him, its cord stretching behind to an electrical outlet on the wall. Lee’s cell phone was also charging.

This spot serves as an office of sorts for Lee, 60, who is running for mayor of Berkeley. Lee is homeless, so every morning he travels from where he sleeps (which he won’t reveal – for safety reasons, he says) to coffee shops and quick-serve restaurants in the downtown, meeting people along the way.

“People come looking for me,” said Lee, who has a broad forehead, deep brown eyes and a long, wiry salt and pepper beard. “They check in at Starbucks depending what time it is. Generally Monday through Friday it’s Starbucks or McDonald’s. If they don’t see me, they’ll come down here.”

Lee only arrived in Berkeley on this go-around about a year ago, but in that short time he has emerged as a voice for the homeless, as well as a leader. He was part of the “Post Office Defenders,” the group that occupied a space next to the Main Post Office on Allston Way until it was shut down in April. He participated in Liberty City, the encampment outside Old City Hall last winter. Lee is active on Facebook and keeps up a steady stream of posts on his page, The Bum As Mayor?  He is also in regular communication with city officials and politicians. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley mayoral hopefuls weigh in on homelessness

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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With longtime Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates completing what he says will be his last term, six people have expressed interest in running for his seat come November 2016. Berkeleyside asked each of them to share their views, in 200 words, about what they see as potential solutions to ending homelessness. Read their ideas below.

See full coverage on Berkeleyside of the Berkeley Homeless Project.

Click the candidate’s name or photograph to reach the campaign website to learn more. Berkeleyside will provide in-depth coverage about the election later in the year. Responses appear below in the order they were received. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Council approves alternative minimum wage measure for ballot

Many Berkeley business owners say they are still concerned about whether they would be able to survive a new minimum wage plan under consideration by the city. Photo: Postcard PR
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After a heated debate, the Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday night to place a measure on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage to $15 in 2019. A citizens’ ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage to $15 next year will also be on the ballot.

“What we’re proposing is a progressive and aggressive approach to getting to $15,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli. “It gets us to $15 four years ahead of the SEIU state proposal.”

Councilman Jesse Arreguín scoffed at Capitelli’s description of the measure as “progressive,” saying that Berkeley had lagged behind neighboring cities on the minimum wage. That’s what had driven citizen groups to launch their initiative, he said.

“They didn’t have faith in this council majority to do the right thing,” Arreguín said. “The fact that we’ve got to the point of two competing measures on the ballot is a real failure of leadership by this council.”

The citizen initiative raises the minimum wage to $15 next year, and then increases it annually by CPI plus 3% until it reaches $16.37 in 2016 dollars (after that, increases are by CPI). It also mandates a minimum 72 hours of paid sick leave each year. It was organized by a coalition of unions, politicians and community activists, under the banner Berkeley for Working Families. The council measure is more gradual in its increases and mandates 48 hours of paid sick leave.  … Continue reading »

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24/7 ballot drop box now available in downtown Berkeley

ballot box
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A new ballot drop-off box has been installed in downtown for the first time. The initiative was spearheaded by the Alameda County registrar of voters, which has put similar boxes in other cities.

The secure box is for “those who want to save a stamp on their absentee ballot, hand it in themselves, or wait until election day to finish it,” according to the city of Berkeley.

All Alameda County voters can use the box to deliver their votes. No postage is necessary for ballots placed in the drop box.

The ballot box in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Building at 2180 Milvia St., a block away from BART, and is available 24 hours a day. The city said it will be in service for every election, including the June 7 presidential primary.

The Alameda County registrar of voters will retrieve vote-by-mail ballots daily, ending with a final collection at 8 p.m. on election night Nov. 8.

The vote by mail period opened May 9 and closes at 8 p.m. June 7. The registrar has an online map of other drop-off boxes elsewhere in the county.

Previously, the only way to hand in a ballot in Berkeley was during office hours. Berkeley City Clerk Mark Numainville said voting by mail is steadily increasing locally, which would explain why the registrar is rolling out more drop boxes. … Continue reading »

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Politics

Op-ed: Why I support Isabelle Gaston for City Council

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A few months ago, I joined the North East Berkeley Association (NEBA) Board of Directors at the request of President Isabelle Gaston. My limited time with the board has made me simultaneously distraught, and cautiously optimistic, about the future of Berkeley.

It has made me distraught because this group of folks has an incredible grasp of the economic dysfunction of our city, and what they know and share with the group about both the present and historical state of our … Continue reading »

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Berkeley preview sheds new light on Gilman roundabouts

Members of the public got a look Wednesday night at plans to build two roundabouts at Gilman and Interstate 80. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Early plans to build two large roundabouts at Interstate 80 and Gilman Street in Berkeley were on display for the public Wednesday night at the North Berkeley Senior Center.

The project — with an estimated $24 million construction cost — is slated to be complete in 2022, a representative told the dozens of attendees who perused information stations set up around the room.

“This is an area that has a lot of concerns with it,” David Early, principal at Berkeley-based community planning firm Placeworks, told the crowd. “It’s quite a ‘wild west’ kind of scene.”

Scroll down to see a simulation of the proposed circulation.

By the numbers, the problem is stark. Crash data presented Wednesday, from 2011-2013, showed significantly higher than average numbers of injury or fatal collisions, particularly on the north side of Gilman. On the west side off-ramp, those numbers were 80% higher than the state average. On the east side on-ramp, they were a whopping 177% above the state average.

South of the freeway, they were about 30% above the state average at both the on- and off-ramps.

The project involves the two roundabouts on either side of I-80, new sidewalks under the freeway, and a pedestrian and bike bridge similar to the one at Aquatic Park. Perhaps the most controversial elements of the project — in addition to the roundabouts themselves — are the location of the bike bridge, which makes a fairly large detour south before bringing users back up to Gilman, as well as plans to cut off access from Gilman to the frontage road on the east side of the freeway.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council votes to put minimum wage on ballot

The turnout was sparse for Tuesday night's council meeting, which included a vote on the minimum wage. Photo: Mark Coplan
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A Berkeley City Council majority voted Tuesday night to put an alternative minimum wage proposal on the November 2016 ballot they say will be more moderate than a community measure announced last week.

Councilman Laurie Capitelli — mayoral hopeful — put forward the alternative proposal and asked city staff to come back with a resolution city officials could put on the ballot. Council had been slated to vote to revise the city’s minimum wage ordinance Tuesday night, but instead voted in favor of the substitute motion from Capitelli.

Read more on the minimum wage from Berkeleyside.

The Capitelli proposal would take the minimum wage for all businesses in Berkeley to $15 an hour by October 2019. It is already slated to increase to $12.53 in October of this year. Under the proposed resolution put forward Tuesday night, this would be followed by annual increases each October to $13.25 in 2017 and $14.05 in 2018.

The initiative put forward last week would raise Berkeley’s minimum wage to $15 by October 2017.

Unlike many prior Berkeley council meetings focused on the minimum wage, the turnout Tuesday night was sparse. A handful of speakers asked council to move faster to help workers, while others asked for more time for small businesses to weigh in and adjust. … Continue reading »

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