Tag Archives: Gordon Wozniak

Local business

Telegraph Channing Mall merchants ask city for relief

Telegraph Channing Sather Gate mall merchants, Sept. 17, 2013, City Council. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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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 »

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Berkeley council may consider 2 campus district maps

Councilman Kriss Worthington’s office created an alternate vision of a student district that adds Foothill, Bowles, Stern, I-House and 11 co-ops.
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Following pleas to give students more time to get involved with Berkeley’s redistricting process, the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to delay its decision on proposed changes to the city’s council districts that are required to balance the population among them.

The council voted in July to select a preferred redistricting map, the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC) map, which creates a “campus district” made up largely of student-aged residents who live near UC Berkeley but is otherwise not a radical departure from many of the city’s existing council districts.

In June, Councilman Kriss Worthington‘s office created an alternative map — the United Student District Amendment (USDA) map — which includes 11 co-ops, three dorms and International House that aren’t part of the BSDC map. The USDA map would boost the population of student-aged residents from 86 (BSDC) to 90%. (Worthington said Thursday that currently his district is composed of about 70% student-aged residents.) … Continue reading »

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Redistricting meeting sheds light on past process

Council approved the "Berkeley Student District Campaign" map in December.
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A small group of community members came together earlier this week at the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce to learn how the city’s redistricting process, underway for the past two years, will impact the city going forward.

Redistricting takes place in Berkeley every 10 years, when U.S. Census data are released, to ensure that districts have roughly equal populations.

Since at least 2000, students and others who live around the UC Berkeley campus have been trying to establish a student-majority district with the aim of giving students a larger voice and role in city decisions. In 2000, a proposal that essentially created a ring around campus was rejected by the city attorney because it didn’t comply with the city charter’s rules for redistricting. Last fall, Berkeley voters passed Measure R to change the way redistricting takes place. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Council denies last-minute redistricting proposal

Council approved the "Berkeley Student District Campaign" map in December.
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A new City Council redistricting plan was presented Tuesday during the second public hearing for redistricting proposals, but council members voted against considering it because of its last-minute introduction.

Despite the submittal of the new proposal, the council voted to make the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC) map the preferred plan for council redistricting. The preferred map creates a student-majority district around the UC Berkeley campus and is scheduled to be adopted Sept. 10. The redistricting will correct for population changes recorded in the 2010 census, and will be the first since the passage of Measure R last November, which removes the severe geographic constraints mandated in Berkeley since 1986.  … Continue reading »

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Council members meet community in range of ways

Councilman Jesse Arreguin talks with a local woman at North Berkeley Farmers Market. Photo: Anthony Sanchez.
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As the school year winds down and the temperature rises, some members of the Berkeley City Council are setting up shop in popular spots around town to ensure they’re accessible to city residents.

Earlier this month, Councilman Jesse Arreguín hosted his first summer “office hours” at Berkeley’s North Shattuck farmers market, a public meeting he plans to continue to host monthly through the summer.

“Every time I have visited the farmers market in the past I run into many constituents. So I thought, rather than having people come to City Hall to meet me, it would be better to go to a place where people are,” said Arreguín. “I really enjoy the farmers market office hours because I hear from people firsthand who otherwise do not have an opportunity to interact with their representatives.” … Continue reading »

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‘The Durant’ apartments win approval from City Council

The Durant. Image: Johnson Lyman Architects
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Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council upheld a March decision by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board to allow developers to move ahead with plans to build a 78-unit rental apartment complex in downtown Berkeley.

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 six. The architects are Johnson Lyman Architects of Walnut Creek.

The zoning board decision was appealed in April by Stephen Stine, who cited “severe detriments” related to noise, air quality and sunlight reductions that would affect residents, including his mother, who live in a senior housing complex — Stuart Pratt Manor at 2020 Durant — next door to the project site. Appellants also said the city hadn’t followed proper notification rules when zoning in the neighborhood was changed during the Downtown Area Plan process. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council weighs in on parking pilot program

Parking changes to begin in September are slated for three of Berkeley's business districts. Image: goBerkeley
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The Berkeley City Council held a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss proposed changes to parking pricing in three of the city’s business districts.

The temporary changes are part of a new pilot program, called goBerkeley, designed to link metered parking pricing to supply and demand, and free up spaces for customers downtown, on Telegraph Avenue and in the Elmwood District.

The council has yet to vote on proposed changes, which would use a range of approaches to free up one to two spaces per block in the affected areas. Strategies include a “progressive” rate, to make parking more expensive the longer a driver parks; a “peak period” approach, which would result in more expensive rates when demand is highest; and “premium vs. value” areas, which would offer higher rates in more convenient spots and lower rates in areas, such as parking garages, that are further away. … Continue reading »

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News

Berkeley Council declares Greenleaf public nuisance

The building at 1515 Dwight Way where Greenleaf was operating a medical cannabis collective. Photo: Greenleaf
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Greenleaf Wellness Group, which had been operating a medical cannabis collective at 1515 Dwight Way since Jan. 2012, was declared a public nuisance and in violation of various city statutes by Berkeley City Council at its meeting last night.

Cannabis collectives are allowed in Berkeley in residential areas provided that the collective is incidental to residential use. At a public hearing in Dec. 2012, the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) determined in a unanimous vote that Greenleaf was operating in a commercial building and that the collective use was primary, not incidental. The council on Tuesday night concurred with the ZAB decision and approved a staff recommendation to enjoin and terminate Greenleaf’s use of the building. Councilmember Kriss Worthington was the only dissenting vote on the council.

“Not only is this not allowed to be a collective, because it’s not entirely in a residential zone, but even if it was in a residential zone, it’s not a residential use,” said Councilmember Jesse Arreguín. “That just right off the bat clearly prohibits it from being a collective.  … Continue reading »

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Urban planning

Berkeley to study impact of quotas on Telegraph Ave.

Waiting in line on Telegraph Avenue, May 2013. Photo: George Kelly
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The city of Berkeley is considering relaxing quotas on Telegraph Avenue for three years to let market forces play more of a role in what businesses open on the avenue.

Advocates for the change say it will breathe new life into the street, which has struggled in recent years. Opponents say the shift could threaten existing independent mom-and-pop businesses, many of which are minority-owned.

A Berkeley City Council majority voted Tuesday night to ask the city’s Planning Commission to take stock of the current situation on Telegraph and report back later this year.

(Councilman Max Anderson abstained from the vote, and council members Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín voted against the motion.)

A recent staff report noted the neighborhood’s 48% decline in retail sales since 1990, an “increasingly edgy street scene,” and a rapid decline in recent years in sales of books and music, which made up 43% of the district’s sales in 2007 and now make up just 21%.

There are currently both numerical and size limitations on the number of barber and beauty shops, food service establishments, and gift and novelty shops that can open in the Telegraph Avenue Commercial District. Businesses in the categories limited by quotas can still open if granted a special permit or through a public hearing; if quotas are relaxed, those steps would not be needed. … Continue reading »

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Cream vs. Dream: Telegraph Ave. ice cream face-off

Supporters of Cream line up to speak before the Berkeley City Council. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The owners of one of Telegraph Avenue’s most popular ice cream spots have asked Berkeley officials to revoke the permit for a new ice cream take-out window set to open right across the street, at Rasputin Music.

Tuesday night, Berkeley City Council members heard the appeal, by Cream ice cream parlor, 2399 Telegraph, against Rasputin’s Dream Ice Cream, which won approval in September from the city’s zoning board.

Problem was, a city staff member said the city failed to notify nearby businesses about the proposal. If Rasputin’s permit is ultimately approved, the two businesses would essentially stare each other down across Channing Way. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley resident parking fees set to rise 30%

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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 »

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Police union: Should Berkeley have Tasers?

The Berkeley Police Association, the union for the rank and file, has sent out a survey asking residents' opinion on tasers. Photo: Creative Commons
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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 »

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Acheson Commons sent back to Berkeley zoning board

Acheson Commons is a mixed-use development planned at University and Shattuck. Image: Rhoades Planning Group
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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 »

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