Tag Archives: City of Berkeley
Never one to shirk a challenge, the city of Berkeley has come up with an ambitious plan designed to take on everything from racial and social inequity to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
And, no, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.
Friday, the city released its “Resilience Strategy,” a 56-page document that attempts to look at “some of Berkeley’s most pressing physical, social and economic challenges, including earthquakes, wildfire, the impacts of climate change and racial inequity.”
The effort is the culmination to date of work Berkeley is doing as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities network,” or 100RC for short. The city was among the first 33 places in the world — along with San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda — chosen to participate in the network back in 2013. (Alameda later lost the grant.) More than 1,000 cities have applied to take part.
A community event led by Mayor Tom Bates, along with Burroughs, is scheduled to take place Friday from 3-5 p.m. to celebrate the launch. (Scroll to the bottom of this story for details.) … Continue reading »
Update, Feb. 26, 10:11 a.m. The city manager’s office sent the following notice to city officials at 10:05 a.m.
“It is with sadness that I inform you that Eric Angstadt has submitted his resignation as Planning Director effective March 25, 2016 to become the Chief Assistant County Administrator for Contra Costa County. Eric came to Berkeley in April 2012 as the Planning Director. Among the achievements during his tenure, he managed the expansion of Permit Service Center responsibilities and staff to address increasing demands for land use and building permit approvals for 2,500 units of housing, implemented a balcony inspection program, and adopted revisions to improve zoning and land use appeals. We will miss Eric and I wish him the best in his future role.
“I have asked Carol Johnson, the Land Use Planning Manager, to serve as Acting Planning Department Director effective March 25, 2016. Carol has over 25 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. She has been the Land Use Planning Manager for the City of Berkeley since May 2014. Prior to that she has served as the Planning Manager for the cities of Concord, CA and Phoenix, AZ. Accomplishments in those positions resulted in the Concord Downtown Plan, the Concord Safe Routes to Transit Plan, launching the Phoenix General Plan Update, and creating the Downtown Phoenix Code. Carol has also worked as a planner in various capacities for cities in the states of Connecticut and Washington, and as a consultant in the private sector. Please join me with congratulating Carol on her new assignment.”
Added Williams-Ridley in a statement to Berkeleyside: “The City of Berkeley is losing an exceptional leader and an exemplary professional. We wish him the best as he moves on.”
Original story, Feb. 25, 6:51 p.m. Berkeley planning director Eric Angstadt is leaving the city of Berkeley for a new job as a chief assistant county administrator with Contra Costa County. … Continue reading »
The brown lawns are the least of it. The effects of the current California-wide drought go deeper than the roots of the grass and will continue several years after lawns turn green again.
Many of the impacts are very evident in Berkeley and the surrounding area. Trees are dying at a higher rate. The creeks are low and might be dry if it weren’t for leaky pipes. And if this winter brings heavy rains, damage to the stressed trees and creek banks could be significant.
One of the most obvious signs of the drought is the early fall color on many trees around town. Tony Wolcott, a master arborist, recently retired as Albany’s Urban Forester, said that the early leaf drop in the fall is a normal reaction to drought.
“It doesn’t mean the tree is dying,” Wolcott said. “It’s not a great thing, but it is a way of surviving,” he said.
But not all the trees will rebound. Wolcott said he’s noticed flowering cherries and flowering plums showing a lot of stress. So are the camphors, which line many streets in Berkeley.
“A lot of the camphors in town are old, but are dying more quickly because of the drought,” he said. Even redwoods are looking stressed, dropping a lot of needles, he said. … 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’s Tilden Park reports that it reduced water usage in May — the most recent bill available — by 40% compared to the same period in 2013. The regional park in the Berkeley Hills has been watering its lawns less and less over the past several years, said Park Supervisor Sergio Huerta.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do, thanks to the creativity of staff,” said Huerta. Huerta was speaking for all of the park grounds except the golf course, which is on a separate water meter. The golf course reports that it has taken one-fifth of the greenways off irrigation — and it’s showing all along the edges.
Throughout the rest of Tilden Park, Huerta said, the lawns have been divided into four categories for watering: reduced, minimal, sporadic and zero. Lawns getting no water this year include the large picnic area called Padre on South Park Drive and the group campsites, Gillespie near the south end of the park, and Wildcat View near the north end. … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley has officially launched a new website featuring 17 data sets related to everything from municipal water usage and employee salaries to crime heat maps, energy consumption, restaurant inspections, registered business licenses and much more.
The city unveiled the website, which began on a pilot basis in December, on Thursday. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said the most exciting thing about the project is what the public might do with the information now that it’s available.
“What can be done with open data is limited only by the imagination,” said Dee Ridley-Williams, the city’s new interim city manager, in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to see how the Berkeley community will utilize this new tool.” … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley is set to repave 11 miles of about 40 streets this summer.
The extensive project is part of an uptick in roadwork that is moving at more than twice the normal rate, according to a statement released by the city last week. The work is funded in large part by Measure M.
The projects, which begin this month and are scheduled to be completed by October, focus on reducing flooding and stormwater runoff by using green building techniques. Pothole repairs and general street repairs were not included in Measure M and are not the focus of this summer’s paving projects, the city said. … Continue reading »
Berkeley is gearing up for a series of town hall meetings about the state of public health in the city to allow community members to share their thoughts and concerns regarding the improvement of city-wide health priorities.
The discussions are envisioned as a collaboration between Berkeley’s Public Health Division and the community in a “shared effort” to realign public health resources to communities with the greatest needs.
Berkeley released a Health Status Report in 2013 that outlined issues of health inequities between different socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups in the city, prompting a report to the Berkeley City Council recommending that the health division prioritize work to diminish these disparities. It was the city’s first health status update since 2007.
“One of the challenges that we give to ourselves is how can we be sure that even though we’re small, we’re doing the very best that we can to address the health issues in Berkeley that are of top concern to the community, and to us,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Berkeley’s director of public health. … Continue reading »
Don’t expect lush green parks in Berkeley this summer, unless the watering is a surprise from the skies.
Already slashing its water use 26% last year, the city is taking steps to cut even more, it announced last week. Many of the cutbacks are required by Berkeley’s water supplier, the East Bay Municipal Water District (EBMUD), and/or by the state. They include:
- No watering of street medians
- Minimizing vehicle watering
- Landscape watering, such as in parks and city grounds, twice a week before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. (already in effect last year)
“The City is also . . . exploring the use of reclaimed water for irrigation and street cleaning, and researching options for converting certain landscapes to more drought-tolerant ground cover,” the city said in a recent press release.
Worth noting: The city’s only water fountain at the Marin Circle uses recycled water, which means it can be kept on as it meets a new state requirement calling for a shutdown of all fresh water fountains. … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board voted unanimously Nov. 6 to declare the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers’ Collective a public nuisance – the latest step in Berkeley’s three-year odyssey to shut the place down.
ZAB officials listened to two and a half hours of testimony at the hearing, including impassioned pleas from neighbors who said the area near 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave., right above The Albatross pub, had become a no-go zone.
The smell of marijuana in the area is so strong that numerous families don’t let their children play outside, according to testimony of several neighbors. Cars routinely block driveways – and the drivers become aggressive when asked to move. Groups of people openly smoke cannabis on the sidewalks. Sometimes the partying goes on until the wee hours of the morning. Those that can’t make it home sometimes sleep in door-wells or on the sidewalk, according to neighbors. … Continue reading »
Last Thursday afternoon, 40-some kids sprinted around Willard Park, capturing flags and thwacking tether balls. That’s the typical scene at the park most summer afternoons, where the campers at Berkeley Day Camp’s extended care program keep busy until their parents come pick them up.
Recreation services like the popular day camp claimed a good chunk of the $12.2 million that the city spent on children last year, according to a brand new report that details — for the first time ever, according to the city — the funding spent on children’s programs and services in 2013. … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley on Thursday dismissed the official who was overseeing the nuisance abatement appeal by the Forty Acres medical cannabis collective after he made “insensitive” remarks concerning race during the hearing.
It is the fifth hearing officer to be assigned, and then withdrawn, from the case. Berkeley officials are now uncertain how to proceed. … Continue reading »