Tag Archives: Gordon Wozniak
Berkeley City Council agreed on Tuesday night to raise the cost for the annual residential parking permit from $34.50 to $45, a 30% increase. The increase was a compromise following a recommendation from city staff that a 60% increase was necessary to cover the full costs of the Residential Preferential Parking program (RPP).
The RPP is projected to have revenues of nearly $1.6 million for the city in the 2013 fiscal year. But that barely covers the cost of parking enforcement, while the $311,000 cost of permit issuance and $105,000 cost for the transportation to administer the program results in overall losses. When the city council considered overall budget shortfalls in January, it instructed city staff to find ways to cover the RPP program losses. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley Police Officers Association has sent out a survey to 19,000 Berkeley residents asking them their opinion on police use of Tasers.
The BPA posed seven questions in a March 27 email survey to see whether the community considers Tasers as way to assist police and protect suspects, or the opposite.
“This is a very initial step to find out what the community sense is … and go from there,” said Sgt. Chris Stines, the president of the BPA, which represents more than 150 rank-and-file officers. … Continue reading »
A 205-unit apartment complex planned for downtown Berkeley is going back to the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board after an appeal before the City Council on Tuesday night.
Acheson Commons, at 2133 University Ave., was approved by the zoning board in December, but appellants questioned numerous aspects of the project and the council voted unanimously to ask the board to take another look. (See project materials on the city website. The complete administrative record is available here.)
According to the staff report prepared for Tuesday’s special session, the project is set to increase annual tax revenue by $57,000 and bring in $360,000 to support the city’s Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan. (Update, 1 p.m.: A representative for the developer, Mark Rhoades, said the per-year tax basis increase is closer to $600,000. Scroll down to see a chart of the five-year financial projections he provided.) … Continue reading »
The public works capital improvement program was the focus of the budget worksession that preceded Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Public Works Director Andrew Clough and his colleagues presented an ambitious roster of projects for the next five years, but cautioned that the plans do not keep up with the city’s needs.
“The city’s public infrastructure is indeed suffering,” Clough said. “But all is not grim. We’re here not only to tell you what we don’t have, but also what we have done and what we plan to do.” … Continue reading »
Wozniak told the council: “There should be something like a bit tax. I mean a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollars a year… And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email,” perhaps one-hundredth of a cent. He said this would discourage spam and not have much impact on the typical Internet user. Wozniak went on to suggest a sales tax on internet transactions that could help, in part, fund “vital functions that the post office serves.”
One Berkeleyside Twitter follower called the idea “unworkable insanity.” Wrote another: “This is just insane. Does the esteemed councilman have the first clue how the Internet works?”
But there’s a history to this idea, however outlandish as it might sound to some. … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s General Fund projections include a deficit of more than $5 million over the next two years, requiring city leaders to take a tough look at its more cash-strapped departments to reign in costs.
To close the gap, the city’s budget manager has recommended recurring 2% General Fund reductions across the board for city departments. Departments will present their recommendations to the city manager and City Council in the coming months.
In a work session last Tuesday night, the city’s budget manager gave Berkeley City Council members a forecast for the next two years, and pointed to areas that may pose challenges going forward. (See a PDF of her presentation.)
Three more work sessions have been planned to allow council members, city staff and members of the public to learn more about, and weigh in on, city finances. Scroll to the bottom of this story to see the dates for upcoming public meetings on the budget.
Last October, Berkeley held a Sunday Streets event for the first time, and an estimated 40,000 people flocked to Shattuck Avenue to stroll, bike and skate the length of 17 blocks enjoying the car-free environment, al fresco eating, music, yoga and chess playing. By most accounts, the event was a success, but to make it happen again this year and going forward, the organizers are asking officials to stump up the funds to cover city costs.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, officials expressed their support for the event, but were hesitant, given Berkeley’s tight budget, to commit to the full amount needed to cover city costs for a 2013 repeat performance, as well as funds for future years. They also said they were uncomfortable making financial decisions separate from the context of the rest of Berkeley’s events. … Continue reading »
Despite pleas that Perfect Plants Patients group was a good neighbor, the Berkeley City Council Tuesday night voted that the cannabis collective was in violation of the city’s zoning laws.
The determination at the end of a public hearing paves the way for the council to vote on a resolution Nov. 27 to order the closure of the collective, located at 2840-B Sacramento Street.
The news came as a relief – if overdue – to neighbors of 3PGs, who have been pressing Berkeley for more than a year to shut down the business. Since 3PGs opened in September 2011, neighbors report they have seen increased hand-to-hand drug sales along Sacramento Street, spotted people smoking pot in their cars, and noticed more drug paraphernalia on the streets. … Continue reading »
The interior of Jacquelyn McCormick’s Berkeley hills home looks like it could be in the glossy pages of a lifestyle magazine.
An enormous mirror reflects the image of visitors who walk into the entry hall of the house, the remnant of the four-acre Henry Taylor estate that once sprawled across the ridge. To the right is a spacious living room (a former ballroom in the estate’s heyday), with a large fireplace, a comfortable seating arrangement, a grand piano, and art work done by McCormick’s stepdaughter, Alexandra Salkin.
The fact that the interior of McCormick’s home is arresting isn’t so surprising, given that she became an interior designer in 2002 after a long career managing commercial real estate for banks. What’s surprising is that McCormick, 58, has done much of the work on the house herself.
When she and her husband, Michael Salkin, a former UC Berkeley economist turned portfolio manager for Morgan Stanley, bought the house on The Uplands in 2004, it was a mess. The house hadn’t been touched since the 1930s and there was six inches of standing water in the basement. McCormick got busy. She painted the living room walls and fireplace with a lime wash, which produced a pleasing variegated effect. She found a bathroom console at Omega Salvage and put the legs on herself. She added molding to the kitchen and installed a slate mosaic around the stove. … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s city commissions are overwhelmingly white and do not reflect the city’s ethnic makeup, a new study by a group of UC Berkeley students has determined.
While 55% of Berkeley’s 112,000 residents are Caucasian, whites make up 59% of the appointees to the city’s 35+ commissions, according to the study, which will be released at a press conference today.
Asian and Pacific Islanders make up 19% of the city’s population, yet that group only holds 7% of the commission seats. African-Americans, who make up 10% of Berkeley, hold 7% of the seats. Latinos, who make up 11% of the city, hold just 4% of the commission seats. Students, who make up about 20%-25% of Berkeley, are also under-represented, holding 11% of the spots, according to the study. … Continue reading »
Workers’ compensation costs the City of Berkeley between $5 and $6 million each year, according to a report presented at last night’s City Council meeting. The figures, although not new, seemed to startle councilmembers who said they were determined to bring the cost down.
“There needs to be a cultural change at the actual work level,” said Councilmember Linda Maio. “I was floored when I saw we are paying out $5 million a year in claims. We can’t do that.”
Other councilmembers pointed out the concentration of claims in a few departments. The most claims come from the fire department, where last year 28 of the 118 sworn employees filed indemnity claims. The police department accounts for the second highest number, with 24 of 157 sworn employees filing claims last year. … Continue reading »
The decades-old retail and food quotas in Berkeley’s Elmwood commercial district face a potentially dramatic overhaul with Councilmember Gordon Wozniak set to propose a review of the quotas to the Planning Commission at tonight’s City Council meeting. If it’s adopted, Wozniak’s scheme would eliminate retail quotas and collapse the current three-tier food quota into a single quota.
“I want to make it easier for startups, but still maintain the special character of the Elmwood,” Wozniak, who represents most of the Elmwood business district, said. The area is centered on the intersection of Ashby and College Avenues in south Berkeley. “There’s a need to keep the balance between food and retail, but having three distinct categories for food is very destructive and consumes an inordinate amount of staff time.”
Under the current quotas (see table below), there are six distinct retail categories and three food categories — carry out, quick service and full service. Wozniak said that the system can be a “real disincentive for a new business”, because of the cost and time needed for permitting.
UPDATE 4:07 pm: Genie Stowers, the professor who sent out the original email issued an apology this afternoon by email. Here it is:
Last week, I sent out an email to family and close friends and colleagues about recent earthquakes.
My intent was to pass on a message that they should take the occurrence of these recent earthquakes as an opportunity to make sure their earthquake kits and other emergency measures were up to date.
It is unfortunate that this email instead went viral and has caused great concern among many in the Berkeley area.
My message was not intended to be a commentary on earthquake science, on City of Berkeley preparedness, or on anything else except that folks should get ready. The message was intended to be, preparedness is good.
I apologize for what has happened and the concerns this caused. It was a mistake and I regret that it happened. … Continue reading »