Tag Archives: Christine Daniel
Isabelle Gaston, president of the North East Berkeley Association, recently did an email interview with Christine Daniel, Berkeley’s City Manager, about the financial health of Berkeley for NEBA’s newsletter. Gaston provided the interview for reprinting on Berkeleyside. It has been edited to conform to Berkeleyside style:
Gaston: How would you characterize the overall financial health of the city?
Daniel: The City of Berkeley weathered the financial downturn better than many jurisdictions. While reductions in staffing were felt throughout the city organization and resources for a variety of programs were reduced or eliminated due to decreased funding from sources such as the state and federal governments, Berkeley property values remained relatively stable compared to values in the region, and sales taxes, while suffering a decline in FY 2010, have recovered. However, property transfer taxes suffered a significant decline which affected the city’s ability to invest in infrastructure maintenance. Those revenues are now beginning to recover, but are not yet at pre-recession levels. … 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 »
Last week the Berkeley Police Assocation put out a public demand for Tasers for local officers, and Berkeleyside followed up with several questions to city leaders about the issue.
Several leaders declined to comment. Others didn’t respond at all. Most of those who did reply said more research would be needed, and an in-depth conversation would need to take place before any action could be considered.
The association said Berkeley is one of just three Bay Area law enforcement agencies — out of 113 — that isn’t already armed with Tasers or considering their use.
The group said a recent suicide attempt could have been avoided if Berkeley police had Tasers, and also cited a recent officer injury that may well have been avoided too. Not having the tool decreases officer and public safety, said the association, and ends up costing the city money in worker’s comp claims and associated costs. … Continue reading »
More than a dozen merchants from the city-owned Telegraph Channing Mall came before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night to ask for management improvements and financial help following a surprise property tax bill that was delivered to them last month.
The 14-shop mall sits at the base of the city-owned Telegraph Channing (formerly “Sather Gate”) Parking Garage just west of Telegraph Avenue between Durant Avenue and Channing Way. The 16,000-square-foot retail space netted about $200,000 for the city last year, despite two vacancies, and one unit that was rented to the library at a discounted rate, according to the staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting.
In July, the council requested a report on the mall’s finances and, more recently, the city has been investigating the possibility of hiring a private management firm to take over mall operations.
Merchants speaking before the council, along with several council members, said it would be better for the city to keep the management in-house and invest more to improve the mall, which one official described as a “dismal, dark, dingy plane” that “smells like urine a lot” and “smells like other things a lot.” Neighbors and merchants said the mall is neighborhood-serving, and offers a range of businesses that are hard to find nearby, such as shoe repair, picture framing, copies and mail services and more. … Continue reading »
Two months after city employees and the NAACP raised issues about job discrimination, unfair housing practices, declining health services and racial profiling of African Americans in Berkeley, city officials are taking steps to investigate those concerns.
Berkeley has been in a dialogue with the NAACP since December 2012 regarding complaints from the community about city employment practices. On Sept. 6, City Manager Christine Daniel announced in a memo that the city is preparing to retain Mason-Tillman and Associates to investigate the complaints. It has taken some time to work out major kinks on how to protect the confidentiality of those who participate in the investigation, according to the memo. The firm now has the contract, but no date has been set yet for when the investigation will begin, said Matthai Chakko, the assistant to the city manager. … Continue reading »
The protesters at the downtown Berkeley Post Office who had been camping on site to fight the proposed sale of the building have left the area, but the official account from police has been disputed by some involved activists.
A statement posted on the Berkeley Post Office Defense website said its encampment was “raided” at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday “by a combination of Postal Police and Berkeley PD (directly subverting the will of the citizens of Berkeley).” According to the statement, a rally was planned for the morning, and a general assembly meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.
A sign has been installed on a median next to the University Avenue overpass the day after a 46-year old man, identified Wednesday as John Patrick Miller, was killed there in a suspected hit-and-run incident. The sign prohibits pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorbikes from using the bridge, and directs walkers to use the pedestrian bridge (although without providing directions to it).
When the fatal accident occurred, no signs were present on the east end of the overpass, which connects University Avenue to the I-80 ramps and the Berkeley Marina. The incident raised concerns about pedestrian safety in the area. Several Berkeleyside readers suggested walkers should be informed that a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the highway is located just a few blocks to the
north south, near the intersection of Addison Street and Bolivar Drive. … Continue reading »
In a presentation before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night, city staff presented their suggestions for upcoming metered parking changes designed to make some parking spots available on every commercial block in three of the city’s business districts.
Downtown, Telegraph and the Elmwood neighborhoods are slated to see changes to metered parking starting in September as part of the goBerkeley pilot campaign underway by the city to cut down on carbon emissions and encourage alternative transportation. The changes would be in place for at least one year, with minor adjustments possible along the way. … Continue reading »
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday allowing same sex marriages in California, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner got a text from her 31-year old daughter in New York. Sirona Skinner-Nixon and her girlfriend, Sinead O’Rourke, 34, had been glued to the news.
“Mom, we can get married at home,” Skinner-Nixon texted. “Happy tears when I read the headline.”
Tears almost rolled down Skinner’s cheeks as she read the message to a crowd that gathered Wednesday evening in front of Old City Hall to celebrate the Supreme Court’s two historic decisions impacting same-sex marriage. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council has delayed discussion on opening a fourth medical cannabis dispensary since the current federal attitude toward dispensaries has made it all but impossible to site them in Berkeley.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Councilman Darryl Moore made a motion to table consideration of a measure to establish rules for opening a new dispensary. Mayor Tom Bates seconded the motion and suggested the item return at an October meeting. The delay means that Berkeley could lose from $51,000 to $860,000 in anticipated taxes.
But in the current climate, there is no way a fourth dispensary could open, Bates said in an interview on Thursday. While Berkeley laws prohibit dispensaries opening within 600 feet of any K-12 school, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has indicated preschools should be included in that prohibition, said Bates. Haag recently filed a lawsuit against the landlord of Berkeley Patients Group, indicating that the dispensary’s new location at 2366 San Pablo Ave. was too close to two preschools. … Continue reading »
Telegraph Avenue could use more large clothing retailers and a grocery store, along with more options for nightlife and buying household goods, if it hopes to grow financially moving forward, city staff said Tuesday as part of a special work session on the avenue.
Some officials said the city needs to take a proactive approach to marketing properties that become available, and perhaps adjust the city’s permitting process to make it easier to attract larger businesses. Others said landlords might take it upon themselves to lower rents for new businesses, so the burden isn’t only on the city.
“I think we have to go out on dates,” said Councilwoman Linda Maio. “I think we have to identify retailers that we want, that we have a space for. I think we have to introduce them to the mayor. I think we have to wine and dine them and bring them into town. I think we have to show them the campus and the enormous potential here. I don’t think it’s going to serve us well to sit back and wait for somebody to come our way.” … Continue reading »
After a heated public comment period Tuesday night before the Berkeley City Council — which led police officers to drag a man from the room and caused Mayor Tom Bates to shout for order after CopWatch supporters refused to cede the floor — participants in the fight for “justice for Kayla Moore” may be one step closer to discovering what happened the February night Moore died in police custody. (See Berkeleyside’s videos of the incidents below.)
Family members of the deceased Moore told the council they have received no information or communication from police or the city since the death, which took place Feb. 12. The Berkeley Police Department released a preliminary statement on the incident in February, but has otherwise declined to comment while the Alameda County coroner’s office completes its report on the death investigation. … Continue reading »
Following this week’s disclosure by Berkeley city staff that roughly 11,000 municipal employee social security numbers had been erroneously divulged to a local media outlet in March, the media outlet’s managing editor said Tuesday that he doubted the data could have been compromised, though it had been “passed around” by employees over email.
Bert Robinson, managing editor for the Bay Area News Group, said the news outlet collects public employee salary and benefit information each year for an online database that is “very popular” on the company’s website. Reporters send 900 requests each year to public agencies to collect data for the project. Robinson said this was the first year “usable information” had been received from Berkeley. … Continue reading »