Tag Archives: Jesse Arreguin

Berkeley council votes to curb impacts of homelessness

Shattuck Avenue is one area of Berkeley where the homeless most commonly congregate (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to direct staff to flesh out and clarify laws designed to clean up downtown by addressing problematic behavior linked to the city’s homeless population.

The 6-3 vote to approve a proposal by Councilwoman Linda Maio followed more than an hour of public testimony mostly dominated by detractors who said the new laws will only serve to criminalize the homeless, while failing to address the root causes of the issue.

A handful of local business representatives and members of the real estate community pleaded with council to approve Maio’s proposal, saying the situation downtown has become dire. Real estate reps said businesses do not want to locate downtown due to the sometimes violent and rowdy street scene. Members of the business community said customers and clients have experienced fear and intimidation as a result of homeless groups who congregate on Berkeley streets, particularly on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley. Many said the situation has declined in recent years and that something needed to be done to make downtown safe and comfortable for everyone.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

Dozens of advocates, homeless individuals and academics who study laws affecting the poor told council that the proposal was misguided, would lead to selective enforcement, and would make it harder for people who are homeless to access needed services and programs that might help them get off the streets. Nearly 80 people addressed council Tuesday night, and most said they were against the recommendation. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to grapple again with homeless on sidewalks

On most days, homeless youths line up on Shattuck Avenue in front of the Shattuck Cinemas. The City Council will consider a new set of laws affecting the homeless on Tuesday night. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A proposal coming before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday to examine new laws for the homeless is being called Measure S 2.0, and it is shaping up politically to be a repeat of the bruising sit-lie ordinance that was on the 2012 ballot.

Council members Linda Maio and Jesse Arreguín want to ask the city manager to examine a raft of laws that might ameliorate the behavior of the growing groups of homeless youth that frequent Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley. Only Arreguín has now withdrawn his support for the measure.

Read Berkeleyside’s March 18 update about the outcome of the vote.

“I definitely recognize there are some challenges on our streets in downtown Berkeley and Telegraph Avenue,” said Arreguín. “I originally thought that adopting laws and increasing enforcement was going to be the best approach, but in thinking more about it I really think without talking about [adding] services and the outreach … we are not going to make a meaningful difference.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley City Council limits police tear gas use, for now

Moni Law (right) speaks with Cal student Thanh Bercher during Tuesday's council meeting. Both have said they were injured by police Dec. 6 during a protest in Berkeley. Behind them, the line of people waiting to speak to ask council to take action about police discrimination. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to temporarily suspend tear gas use by police as a way to control non-violent crowds.

The vote also suspended the use of other chemical agents, rubber bullets and other projectiles, and over-the-shoulder baton strikes as crowd control methods used by Berkeley officers during non-violent protests. The temporary policy will remain in place until an investigation by the city’s Police Review Commission into protests in Berkeley last December is complete.

Read more Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

The item, put forward by Councilman Jesse Arreguín, was part of package of protest-related decisions council made Tuesday night. Council also voted to support the Police Review Commission’s investigation, as well as demands by the national group “Ferguson Action” regarding efforts to curtail unfair treatment by police of people of color.

Dozens of people, including many local students, marched through the city before the council meeting, and flooded into council chambers to testify about the need for police accountability, and about why they felt action is needed. … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on protests, police body cameras, gender-neutral restrooms, more

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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At tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting, city officials have pledged to address several items related to protests in Berkeley in December, and have said those items will be heard early enough in the agenda to ensure accessibility for all who wish to weigh in. Leading up to the meeting, UC Berkeley students have organized a march and rally set for 5:30 p.m. at Oxford and Center streets downtown. Participants will march to Old City Hall and plan to testify before council.

There are also two special meetings, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. One will focus on the city’s commercial waste collection services, and whether the city should change providers next year. At the other, at 6:30 p.m., council will consider whether to allow a Southside neighborhood residential project — which has been contested by neighbors and rejected by the zoning board — to move forward. Council discussed the project, which spans two lots on Blake Street and Dwight Way, at length in January, and scheduled a decision for tonight, Feb. 10. … Continue reading »

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Around $3.4m spent on Berkeley soda tax campaign

The No on Measure D campaign covered the Ashby BART station with signs - on the floor, on the walls, and next to the ticket machines. BART made the campaign takes some of the signs down on Oc. 8. Photo: Marian Mabel
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The tally is in: the campaign surrounding Measure D, the one cent per ounce tax on sugary beverages, cost $3,374,155, according to recently filed campaign statements.

The soda industry spent $2,445,107 to unsuccessfully battle Measure D in the November election, with most of the funds going to campaign consultants and media companies, according to the campaign statements.Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on energy ordinance, protests, police cameras, goBerkeley, more

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting turns again to several items related to local policing, with three items on the agenda (continued from last week) from Councilman Jesse Arreguín regarding local protests in December, and an item from council members Darryl Moore, Arreguín and Linda Maio about body-worn and vehicle dashboard cameras for police, which could be in place in six months if the proposal is approved by council.

There’s a special session at 5:30 p.m. about the city’s goBerkeley pilot parking program. With the program set to end later this year, council will hear about program highlights, as well as possibilities for next steps. Drivers polled by the city said the program made it easier to park around town. Read the staff report for more details, and don’t miss past Berkeleyside coverage. Action will not be taken tonight.

The action calendar

Tuesday night’s action calendar includes the potential adoption of a new energy-saving ordinance in Berkeley that will affect building owners by requiring energy audits and new fees. The city says the plan will update outdated laws related to building sustainability, and will be important as Berkeley works to meet its Climate Action Plan goals. See Berkeleyside’s explanation of that ordinance, as well as the reports under Item C of the “continued business” action calendar. … Continue reading »

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Residents air concerns about police staging to Police Review Commission

During the Dec. 6 protests, Berkeley police commandeered McKinley St. to set up a staging area for mutual aid from other departments. This is a photo of a Hayward Police Department van parked on the street. Photo by
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Members of the Police Review Commission expressed concern Wednesday night over policy complaints filed by two residents of the 2100 block of McKinley Avenue describing how their street was blocked off, taken over, and used as a police staging area for five days in early December during demonstrations in Berkeley.

The controversial take-over prompted Police Chief Michael Meehan to attend the PRC meeting and pledge that his department would develop a policy to ensure that a similar situation doesn’t happen again.

Read complete Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

“We’ve been looking at a lot of different strategies on how we can make sure this does not happen again in the future,” said Meehan. … Continue reading »

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The lowdown: Council on Berkeley protests and police relations, zoning board appeals

Protesters against police brutality march down Center Street, toward the police station in Berkeley, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Tuesday was the fourth night in a row that demonstrators took to the streets in Berkeley to protest the recent decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City to not indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men. Photo: David Yee
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The Berkeley City Council will meet twice this week, once Tuesday for a special meeting on several zoning board appeals, and also Saturday for a special meeting to discuss community relations with police after protests that wracked the city in December. There are a number of additional community events and council decisions coming later this month related to the protests. Scroll down for details.

Berkeley meeting: Jan. 13

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. and has just three action items, as well as a consent calendar item related to council seating arrangements. The action items relate to zoning board appeals about 2401 Warring St., and companion projects at 2201-2205 Blake St. and 2204 Dwight Way. Staff recommends the issuance of a use permit in the first case, and denials of permits in the other cases. (All three decisions would uphold prior zoning board votes.) Most of the letters submitted to council (online here and here) relate to the companion projects — which their critics describe as a mini-dorm — and are in opposition. A representative for project owner Nathan George has asked council to overturn the zoning board decisions, describes the companion projects as sensitive to the neighborhood, and disputes their characterization as problem properties (page 3).

The meeting is set to adjourn in memory of philanthropist Alba Witkin, who died in December, and former Cheese Board member Frieda Dilloo, who died in November. A memorial for Dilloo is scheduled for Jan. 18 at The Crowden School.

Berkeley protests meeting: Jan. 17

Berkeley continues to deal with the aftermath of protests in December related to the non-indictments of police officers involved with the fatalities of men in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. The city’s Peace & Justice Commission met Monday for an open forum about race issues and policing. This Saturday, council will meet to discuss next steps. Monday, Covenant Worship Center is holding a “Black Lives Matter” discussion. And, on Jan. 20, Councilman Jesse Arreguín has placed three items related to Ferguson and local police conduct on council’s agenda. That same night, Councilman Darryl Moore has an item on the agenda asking the city manager to look deeper at whether Berkeley police should be required to use vehicle dashboard and body cameras. … Continue reading »

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Determined crowd demands fast action from Berkeley council; officials set meeting on protests for January

The crowd at Tuesday night's Berkeley council meeting listened closely to public testimony. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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An emotional crowd nearly shut down the Berkeley City Council multiple times Tuesday night during a public comment period that lasted the better part of four hours.

About 50 people spoke to council — and many more were in attendance — to share concerns about racial profiling as well as the actions of police on Saturday, Dec. 6, when officers used tear gas, projectiles and baton hits to control and clear a crowd that refused to disperse from Telegraph Avenue after several hours of demonstrations around the city.

Council members considered but rejected the possibility of scheduling a special meeting this month to discuss the events of Dec. 6, and how police should interact with protesters going forward.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced that council will hold a special meeting Jan. 17 that’s set to include a panel of experts as well as workshops for more interactive discussion of critical issues. … Continue reading »

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Police warn South Berkeley to prepare for protests

Tonight's Berkeley council meeting is set to take place at Longfellow Middle School. Image: Google maps
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The Berkeley Police Department has released a warning to South Berkeley neighbors to help them prepare for expected crowds attending the Berkeley City Council meeting at Longfellow Middle School on Tuesday night.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Officials canceled last week’s council meeting, citing a lack of space for the anticipated turnout, and rescheduled it for tonight, Dec. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at the Longfellow auditorium at 1500 Derby St. near Sacramento Street. (There is a lift for ADA access at the northeast end of the building.) That will be followed by the regularly scheduled council meeting at 7 p.m.

Berkeleyside plans to live tweet the council meeting, as well as highlights from both protests that have been called tonight. Follow along on Twitter (no account needed). See the meeting agendas here. … Continue reading »

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Police Review Commission asks for suspension of tear gas

A line of police officers marched down Telegraph Avenue during the Dec. 6th protests. Photo: Pete Rosos
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After hearing the testimony of about 10 people who said they were treated unnecessarily roughly during a Dec. 6 protest, the Police Review Commission voted Wednesday to ask Berkeley city officials to restrict the use of tear gas, over-the-shoulder baton hits and firing projectiles as a form of crowd control.

The PRC, which put the issue on its agenda as an emergency measure, is hoping the Berkeley City Council will do the same at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Read more coverage of the recent protests in Berkeley.

“Our proposal was for a cooling-off period,” said Alison Bernstein, vice chair of the PRC. “[Using tear gas] is a crowd control technique. We’re not saying it’s right. We’re not saying it’s wrong. But we are hearing serious concerns from the community.” … Continue reading »

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2 officials demand investigation into police tear gas use in Berkeley protest Saturday

City Council members Jesse Arreguín and Kriss Worthington told a crowd of protesters yesterday that they want an investigation into the use of tear gas by police. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Hours after Berkeley’s police chief defended his department’s decision to use tear gas on protesters on Telegraph Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 6, two Berkeley City Council members called for an investigation into what they said were police excesses.

Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín made that call on the steps of Old City Hall shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. Normally, the two would have been inside the building for the regular council meeting, but Mayor Tom Bates had canceled the meeting earlier in the day, expressing concern that it would be swamped with hundreds or thousands of protesters. Bates said he plans to reschedule the meeting soon.

Speaking through a megaphone to a crowd of more than 200 people that had gathered as part of the fourth night of protest against police killings of and violence against black men, Worthington said Berkeley police had used their batons Saturday to hit students, members of the clergy, journalists and others.

“I am embarrassed that Berkeley police would attack our constituents,” he said. “We will demand an investigation. … We will demand reforms of the way the police operate in the entire city of Berkeley.” … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley calls invite-only press conference just for TV news

From left: Berkeley Police Chief Mike Meehan, Mayor Tom Bates, Councilman Max Anderson, and Fire Chief Gil Dong. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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By Emilie Raguso and Frances Dinkelspiel

The city of Berkeley has called a press conference for media Tuesday afternoon, but only invited reporters from television stations to attend it, sources tell Berkeleyside.

The city manager and her spokesman have been unavailable Tuesday to respond to questions about the event. Police have been unable to respond since Sunday to a series of questions Berkeleyside has submitted about the use of force Saturday night.

Charles Burress, spokesman for Mayor Tom Bates, said Tuesday afternoon that there had been “no intent of secrecy” when the meeting was planned. It is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, at City Hall. … Continue reading »

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