Tag Archives: Jesse Arreguin

Local man pushes for better restrooms at Berkeley park

Berkeley resident Martin Nicolaus has been petitioning for cleaner, more permanent restrooms in Cesar Chavez Park since this March. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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For years, Berkeley resident Martin Nicolaus has been coming out to César Chávez Park to admire its natural beauty and take photographs — a collection of which he published in a book last December.

But over the past four months, Nicolaus, who is arguably the park’s number one fan, has been engaged in a more earnest mission: to persuade the city to install cleaner, permanent restrooms in Berkeley’s largest park.

A Berkeley resident since 1992, Nicolaus sets up his base-camp by the two portable bathrooms by the park’s entrance on Spinnaker Way to collect signatures and video-interview park users on their experiences using the toilets. He said over the past decade he has often seen the portable toilets in near-unusable condition, and has been frustrated by the lack of action to improve them. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley officials seek feedback on ‘community benefits’

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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The Berkeley City Council has launched a public discussion on what sort of benefits are required by developers who hope to construct tall buildings downtown, with two meetings focused on the topic in the next few weeks.

The conversation about “significant community benefits” generally comes up before the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, but that panel has struggled to determine whether tall building proposals it has reviewed meet current city guidelines. That’s because those guidelines, set out within Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan, are more of a menu of suggestions, rather than concrete items that can be checked off a list.

Crafters of that plan have said the city wanted to offer flexibility to developers to work with the community to come up with the right mix of benefits. But, so far, the lack of specificity has made it difficult for various stakeholders to agree on what developers should bring to the table.

Last week, council took public comment on the topic at its regular Tuesday night meeting, but did not itself much discuss the issue. Mayor Tom Bates — whose office is spearheading the new talks in collaboration with council members Jesse Arreguín, Laurie Capitelli and Darryl Moore — announced a special council meeting May 5 at 7 p.m. for that discussion to take place.

Separately, Councilman Arreguín also has scheduled a workshop on the subject, from 7-9 p.m. this Wednesday, April 15, in Live Oak Park’s Fireside Room. The workshop will focus on the general framework of community benefits, not specific projects, and attendees will be asked to rank the categories of benefits that matter most to them.  … Continue reading »

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Prayers, songs and lie-in during faith group protest against proposed Berkeley homeless laws

Protesters from various faith groups join hands at the start of the protest against proposed new laws on street behavior. Photo: Ted Friedman
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An estimated 60 members of faith groups gathered at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza Thursday night to protest proposed new laws that they claimed would “criminalize the homeless.” Prayers and speeches were followed by a small number of the protesters lying down to spend the night sleeping in the plaza.

“Jesus probably would be criminalized by these law if he lived in the City of Berkeley,” said Pastor Michael McBride, founder of The Way Christian Center, who gave the opening prayer at the protest. “The era of criminalizing people need to end. We’re still using old tactics to deal with modern problems.”  … Continue reading »

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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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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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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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