Tag Archives: Deborah Matthews

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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They’re off: Candidates file campaign finance statements

Election 2014
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The Berkeley political jostling has begun, even though elections will, of course, only be held in November.

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín has raised close to $25,000 for his race for mayor, almost four times as much as City Councilman Laurie Capitelli, his strongest opponent.

Capitelli, who has been endorsed by a majority of the city council, raised $6,380 in the six months leading up to Dec. 31, 2105, according to campaign finance statements.

Read more about the 2016 Berkeley election.

There is a $250 limit for individual contributions in Berkeley candidate elections. Businesses cannot contribute.

Some of those who contributed $250 to Capitelli’s campaign are those involved with Berkeley’s current construction boom. They include Denise Pinkston, a developer and vice-chair of the Zoning Adjustments Board; David Trachtenberg, an architect who has designed a number of the multi-family apartment buildings now rising in Berkeley; Richard Millikan, who helped develop the Fourth Street shopping district; Aileen Dolby, a commercial realtor for Colliers International; and Patrick Leaper, a colleague of Capitelli’s at Red Oak Realty. Capitelli told Berkeleyside that he just started his fundraising the last two weeks of December, a holiday period, and he is “confident” he will eventually have the funds to get his message out to voters. … Continue reading »

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With mayor and two councilmen stepping aside, Berkeley’s election is heating up

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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After serving 12 years on the Berkeley City Council — and another 12 on various city commissions — Max Anderson has decided not to run for another council term.

Anderson’s exit from the race for District 3 in South Berkeley has already attracted two strong candidates and more are certain to file their election papers in the next few months. John Selawsky, who served on the Berkeley Unified School District School Board for 12 years and who currently sits on the Rent Stabilization Board, is running. So is Deborah Matthews, a Realtor who has served on numerous city boards, including the Planning and Housing commissions and the Zoning Adjustments Board.

Ben Bartlett, who currently sits on the Planning Commission and is a former member of the Police Review Commission, has also said he will run for the District 3 seat, although he has not yet filed papers. The last date to file papers for a Berkeley council seat is July 18. … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside readers raise nearly $3,000 for food bank

Kelsey Itämeri  Spats Holiday Party 2015. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Thanks to the generosity of the Berkeleyside community, our Advertising Director Wendy Cohen delivered just short of $3,000 to the Alameda County Community Food Bank on Friday morning.

The funds were raised at the Berkeleyside holiday party at Spats on Thursday night, through the tips left for the “amateur-hour” Berkeleyside bartenders, aided by a wonderful team of guests, as well as the sale of raffle tickets. We are grateful for how accommodating patrons were as we all figured out how to pour the perfect G&T or, even, how to mix up a martini!

We are happy the Berkeleyside community could help the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which is a stellar organization: It distributes more than 2 million pounds of food each month and serves an astonishing one in five Alameda County residents — yes, you read that right: one in five. According to the food bank, one in three children in Alameda Count faces the threat of hunger.

Even though the holidays are when people tend to think about helping nonprofits like the food bank, it’s good to remember that it needs volunteers and donations throughout the year. … Continue reading »

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Zoning board denies Berkeley micro-unit proposal

Image: Lowney Architecture
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Berkeley zoning board members voted 6-3 last week to reject an application from a San Francisco-based development firm that hopes to build the city’s first micro-unit housing project.

In September, many zoning board commissioners told Axis Development Group that the proposal, at 2701 Shattuck Ave., was too large and too dense for the neighborhood. They asked Axis to consider a four-story alternative, and to make more room on the northeast corner of the site, which is close to an adjacent single-family home. City staff had earlier suggested the removal of up to 12 units from the project.

Thursday night, Axis presented its latest version of the five-story project, currently set to include 67 units that range in size from 269 to 344 square feet, as well as a roughly 2,000-square-foot full service restaurant with valet parking, and a small parking garage. (Read more about the latest plans here.) Following the September zoning board meeting, Axis removed three units from the project’s fifth story. Company representatives said they felt this change addressed the board’s concerns.

Commissioners who voted against the project Thursday criticized Axis for failing to take their feedback in September seriously.

“I’m astonished at how fully the applicant has ignored our very clear suggestions. Very clear,” Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said. “From staff, from us. I was at the last meeting, I know what was said. I can’t believe you would come up here with a straight face and say you were confused as to what we were asking for.” … Continue reading »

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‘Innovative’ housing with rooftop farms set for Southside

Garden Village, 2201 Dwight, Berkeley. Image: Nautilus Group
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City zoning board members approved a 77-unit mixed-use housing development near downtown Berkeley late last week, expressing excitement about a “unique” design set to include more than a dozen working rooftop farm plots and a novel approach to parking.

“Garden Village,” at 2201 Dwight Way at Fulton Street, brings with it a number of innovative features, from its composition — it’s made up of 18 distinct but connected “volumes,” or towers, that range in height from 3 to 5 stories and are connected by open-air walkways; its more than 12,000 square feet of rooftop farming plots; and its small garage, which offers just enough space for a fleet of shared vehicles that will be rentable by tenants.

Without the car-sharing idea, the project would have required room for 71 vehicles. Instead, Berkeley-based developer Nautilus Group decided it would purchase a fleet of four to 10 automobiles and contract with a car-sharing operator called Getaround to run the “car-share pod” operation. (The city required Nautilus to pay for a parking demand study to bolster the justification for that approach.)

Zoning board Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe described the concept as potentially “genius,” adding that the notion of projects that fold effective car-sharing programs into their plans “might be the magic solution” to the hairy issue of meeting parking demand efficiently in a densely-populated community. … Continue reading »

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Zoning board asks micro-unit developer to shrink proposal

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Berkeley zoning board members voted Thursday night to ask developers to reduce the size of a proposed micro-unit project on Shattuck Avenue by either taking units off the upper stories or removing the top story altogether.

The lengthy Zoning Adjustments Board meeting was the panel’s first chance to vote on the project. Throughout the night, the board seemed poised to approve the project as proposed, deny the project altogether or ask for significant changes before moving forward.

At the end of a nearly three-hour discussion, which included comments from more than 20 members of the public, the board voted to affirm the staff recommendation to ask San Francisco-based Axis Development Group to change its designs to make the building fit in better with the neighborhood. Staff had recommended some type of increased “setbacks” — such as a more gradual increase from story to story up to the building’s full height — on the five-story proposal’s upper floors to increase the space between the structure and a nearby single-family home to the east. The zoning board asked mixed-use developer Axis to consider either that approach or a possible reduction to four stories. … Continue reading »

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3 new AT&T cell antenna sites approved in Berkeley

This AT&T site at 2517 Sacramento St. was approved for the roof of a 40-unit below-market-rate senior housing property. Photo simulation: AT&T
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Three new AT&T wireless sites, made up of 36 antennas, were approved nearly unanimously Thursday night by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board.

An AT&T representative said all three sites are needed to fill coverage gaps around Berkeley, and that all three comply with the municipal code and federal guidelines. The Design Review Committee approved the sites last week.

A handful of residents spoke against the applications, primarily citing health concerns, while several other speakers asked the city to approve the applications to improve cell coverage in Berkeley for residents, businesses and the disabled community. (Municipal governments are not allowed to consider potential health concerns due to existing federal law, as long as companies follow radio frequency emission rules.) … Continue reading »

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Early high-rise plans lack inspiration, say commissioners

A rendering of The Residences at Berkeley Plaza as seen from Shattuck Avenue. Image: Courtesy of HSR Berkeley Investments
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City zoning commissioners asked for more excitement and creativity from developers after a preview last Thursday night of a 355-unit 17-story rental high-rise planned for downtown Berkeley.

The Residences at Berkeley Plaza, at 2211 Harold Way, have been described by developers as “an environmentally sustainable, transit-oriented mixed-use development that will bring new vitality to the core of downtown Berkeley consistent with all of the policy and zoning standards set forth in the new Downtown Area Plan.” (Read more about the project in past Berkeleyside coverage.)

Amenities presented to the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday, March 14, included landscaped roof-top open spaces with heated trellises, a wide range of sustainable building features and a public plaza that would connect all four sides of the block (Allston Way, Shattuck Avenue, Kittredge Street and Harold Way). … Continue reading »

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Berkeley zoning board approves 78-unit Durant

The Durant, as it would be viewed from Durant Avenue. (Click the image to see how it would look from Channing Way.) Image: The Austin Group
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The Zoning Adjustments Board approved a new 78-unit apartment building for downtown Berkeley in a 5-2-1 vote Thursday night.

But opponents of the plan, who have criticized the new building’s potential impacts on its neighbors, say they will definitely appeal the decision to the City Council.

The building, called “The Durant,” is set to have frontage on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way; it’s set mid-block between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street. The south side of the building is proposed to rise to four stories, and the north side to reach six. (The developer had originally proposed eight stories on the north side but recently reduced it to six after the City Council lowered fees relating to affordable housing requirements.)  … Continue reading »

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Measure T: Will it enhance or ruin West Berkeley?

A 5.5-acre section of West Berkeley along Fourth Street might be impacted with the passage of Measure T. Doug Herst, whose family once owned Peerless Lighting, a manufacturing company, wants te develop Peerless Greens, a mix of housing, artists studios, R&D and manufacturing. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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On a recent Wednesday morning, as the sun was trying to make its way out from behind rain clouds, two joggers ran down Fourth Street, passing the Takara Sake Factory, a tiny house hidden behind a woodworking shop, the new Sketch ice cream store, and the massive warehouse of Wine.com.

It may have been a routine run for the two men. But for many of the residents of West Berkeley, the runners’ path exemplifies what is special about the neighborhood: it’s an eclectic mix of housing, manufacturing, industrial production, and small businesses.

Despite this vibrancy, many consider West Berkeley underutilized. It is the only section of the city that is zoned for manufacturing and industrial uses. But over the last few decades, the number of these businesses has dwindled. In 1991, there were 153 manufacturers providing 5,024 jobs in the 94710 zip code. In 2008, that had dropped 38%, with 89 companies providing 3,636 manufacturing jobs, according to a report put together in 2009 by Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley home hotbed of crime and nuisance for decades

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Bebo Turman describes the household at 1722 Ninth Street in Berkeley as “the neighbors from hell.”

For more than 30 years the home, near Virginia Street in west Berkeley, has been a hotbed of criminal activity and civic non-compliance, according to testimony given by Berkeley police and staff at a hearing of the Zoning Adjustments Board last Thursday. There have been more than 40 criminal-related reports, including cases of illegal weapons possession, drug use, theft, using the house to trade in stolen goods, public drunkenness, and excessive noise, according to BPD officer Cesar Melero.

It is the “nexus for drug activity in the neighborhood,” said one police officer.

Fifteen people with Alameda County criminal records have used the house as their address of record, and some are associated with the city’s notorious Westside gang, said Sgt Peter Hong. … Continue reading »

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