Tag Archives: Jesse Arreguin

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 officials crack down on ‘mini-dorms’

The city has, in the past, identified 2133 Parker street as a mini-dorm property south of the Cal campus. Image: Google Maps
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After at least eight meetings dating back to late 2011, the Berkeley City Council voted last week to begin to try to curb the proliferation of “mini-dorms” in residential areas around town.

Residents, particularly in the campus area, have been speaking out to the city about the problems that can be posed by these set-ups, which the city defines as group living households where renters have individual leases with landlords. Residents have said certain landlords pack as many people into these properties as possible, which leads to problems with noise, parking and traffic.  … Continue reading »

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News

Locals, city fight on to stop sale of Berkeley post office

Sculpture
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The local group protesting the sale of the downtown Berkeley post office building says it will continue its fight after United States Postal Service turned down its appeal that it not sell its Renaissance-style building at 2000 Allston Way. And a Berkeley councilman is trying to give USPS pause, if not prevent the sell-off, with a proposal that would limit the building’s use post-sale.

“We are poised and ready to file an injunction,” said Jacquelyn McCormick, Executive Director of the National Post Office Collaborative, who said USPS needs to post the property for sale before they can take that action. Meanwhile, McCormick says she fears developers and potential buyers are probably already in “behind-the-scene” negotiations to buy the building.

In a statement released on July 18, USPS Facilities Vice-President Tom Samra affirmed USPS’s decision to relocate the retail services located at Allston Way. USPS said “the concerns expressed by the community did not outweigh the dire financial circumstances” facing the postal service, and that there was “no basis to set aside the April 19, 2013 decision regarding relocation of the Berkeley post office.” The determination is final, it concluded. … 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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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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Fourth, Gilman zoning may shift from industry to retail

A map created by the city, and updated by Berkeleyside to reflect changes made Tuesday night, shows areas that could be affected by zoning decisions underway. Image: Google Maps
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Parts of Gilman Street and Fourth Street in West Berkeley may be re-zoned from light industrial to commercial uses after a majority vote by the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night.

The changes, depending on who you ask, will either serve simply to legitimize existing and planned commercial uses, or are an end-run around the failure of last November’s Measure T campaign that could put pressure on the neighborhood and threaten its character moving forward. (Measure T was focused on six specific sites, but opponents said it would open the floodgates to much broader development.) Proponents of the new zoning proposals say the changes would boost the city’s economy via increased revenue possibilities. … 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’s new hot sauce shop turns up the heat

Co-owners Dylan Keenen and Becky Gibbons have brought a kick to Berkeley with their passion for spice. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A local couple has added an ample splash of spice to Berkeley’s food scene with a new shop downtown devoted to hot sauce and all things chili.

There are Atomic Fireballs, spiced nuts and fiery chocolates; mango lollipops covered in chili powder; and small bags of dehydrated chilies from a family farm. There are “warming” fruity beverages spiced with capsaicin, the ingredient that makes peppers spicy. And there are crushed and powdered peppers in a range of varieties.

Then, of course, there’s the hot sauce: more than 200 varieties from producers around the country, and around the world, many of which are small businesses.

“The ones that are widely known tend not to be as good as the ones made in small batches by the people who are really passionate about it,” said Heat co-owner Dylan Keenen. Keenen, 23, has been in the process of opening Heat Hot Sauce Shop — at 1922B Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley — with girlfriend Becky Gibbons, 22, since early December. The Oakland-based couple will celebrate the shop’s grand opening Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a 10%-off sale. … 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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Government

Council asks for 1-year moratorium on post office sale

Main Post Office at Allston Way by DH Parks
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The Berkeley City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday night to ask the U.S. Postal Service to press the pause button on its plans to relocate its downtown services and sell the Allston Way facility — for at least one year.

Members of the public who hope to keep the post office open were more subdued than those who attended a meeting in late February, with just a handful of people speaking about the historic building’s importance and why it should maintain its postal services. But they cheered and clapped throughout the meeting as council members expressed unanimous support to fight to keep the building open.

The postal service has said, in a written statement, that the building will likely be sold because of a “26-percent drop in total mail volume over the past three years, brought about by the diversion to electronic communication and business transactions.” … Continue reading »

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