Tag Archives: Kriss Worthington
Prompted by concern that too many units are being taken off Berkeley’s long-term housing market for short-term uses such as Airbnb, the City Council voted Thursday to penalize landlords who rent out multiple properties for less than two weeks.
In a unanimous vote, following a motion by Councilman Kriss Worthington, officials asked staff to initiate an enforcement process after the city gets at least three verified complaints about property owners, individuals or companies that rent out multiple units on a short-term basis. It’s the first time council has given direction to staff to enforce the rules about short-term rentals that are already on the books, according to the city attorney.
Short-term rentals — those less than 14 consecutive days — have always been illegal in Berkeley. Council has been working since 2014 to come up with rules to regulate them as the practice has become increasingly popular through sites such as Airbnb, VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and HomeAway. … Continue reading »
After a heated debate, the Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday night to place a measure on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage to $15 in 2019. A citizens’ ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage to $15 next year will also be on the ballot.
“What we’re proposing is a progressive and aggressive approach to getting to $15,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli. “It gets us to $15 four years ahead of the SEIU state proposal.”
Councilman Jesse Arreguín scoffed at Capitelli’s description of the measure as “progressive,” saying that Berkeley had lagged behind neighboring cities on the minimum wage. That’s what had driven citizen groups to launch their initiative, he said.
“They didn’t have faith in this council majority to do the right thing,” Arreguín said. “The fact that we’ve got to the point of two competing measures on the ballot is a real failure of leadership by this council.”
The citizen initiative raises the minimum wage to $15 next year, and then increases it annually by CPI plus 3% until it reaches $16.37 in 2016 dollars (after that, increases are by CPI). It also mandates a minimum 72 hours of paid sick leave each year. It was organized by a coalition of unions, politicians and community activists, under the banner Berkeley for Working Families. The council measure is more gradual in its increases and mandates 48 hours of paid sick leave. … Continue reading »
In what was to many a surprise move, council also voted to have city staff and the Berkeley Planning Commission look at changing the law to increase the number of dispensaries in Berkeley from four to six. Officials said there were so many qualified applicants, which evidenced such a strong need, that an increase would make sense.
iCANN, which is focused on providing medical cannabis to seniors, was among six dispensaries to present applications to the city Tuesday. Their supporters also had a chance to lobby council during public comment.
Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.
Several council members expressed strong support — if the law is changed to allow for more dispensaries — for an application from Amoeba Music’s owners to open the Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective on Telegraph Avenue next to the iconic record store.
The voters of Berkeley approved the idea of a fourth dispensary with Measure T in 2010.
(In the video below, iCANN supporters, including proprietor Sue Taylor on the right, react to the unanimous vote. Taylor, a Berkeley resident, sits on the board of the Alameda County Advisory Commission on Aging.) … Continue reading »
A Berkeley City Council majority voted Tuesday night to put an alternative minimum wage proposal on the November 2016 ballot they say will be more moderate than a community measure announced last week.
Councilman Laurie Capitelli — mayoral hopeful — put forward the alternative proposal and asked city staff to come back with a resolution city officials could put on the ballot. Council had been slated to vote to revise the city’s minimum wage ordinance Tuesday night, but instead voted in favor of the substitute motion from Capitelli.
Read more on the minimum wage from Berkeleyside.
The Capitelli proposal would take the minimum wage for all businesses in Berkeley to $15 an hour by October 2019. It is already slated to increase to $12.53 in October of this year. Under the proposed resolution put forward Tuesday night, this would be followed by annual increases each October to $13.25 in 2017 and $14.05 in 2018.
The initiative put forward last week would raise Berkeley’s minimum wage to $15 by October 2017.
Unlike many prior Berkeley council meetings focused on the minimum wage, the turnout Tuesday night was sparse. A handful of speakers asked council to move faster to help workers, while others asked for more time for small businesses to weigh in and adjust. … Continue reading »
A Berkeley community group focused on crime prevention pledged to up its game Monday night, and representatives from the Police Department said they plan to ramp up their own collaboration with neighbors.
Those efforts may be particularly important given the double-digit increase in crime Berkeley saw in 2015. Berkeley police officials reported in March that overall Part 1 crime — a federal designation for the most serious incidents — was up 16% in 2015 compared to the prior year. Violent crime increased 20%, especially in the area of robberies, while property crime was up 16%. There was a 28% increase in vehicle thefts as compared to the prior year.
The group that met Monday, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee (BSNC), has worked for some time to provide a city-wide scope to, and coordination about, block-level crime concerns. It meets monthly with police and sometimes takes positions on public safety problems, primarily through letters to council and other city leaders. But active participation in the organization has languished, and its board is working to re-energize the group, which has more than 100 people on its email list.
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One way the BSNC hopes to revive itself is through Facebook: The group has launched a new Facebook page to help neighbors connect. Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who helps oversee the BSNC, announced the Facebook page Monday night. Dean said the board is committed to a “coordinated approach” that involves all the city’s Neighborhood Watch and disaster preparedness groups that want to join forces. … Continue reading »
Update, April 2: This was indeed an April Fools’ Day story. We hope you enjoyed!
Original post, April 1: In an early morning press conference hosted jointly by the Berkeley and Albany city councils, it was announced Friday the city of Albany is on track to become Berkeley’s ninth council district.
“Albany has always been thought of as the northern suburb of Berkeley,” explained Albany Rotary Chamber Chair and U.C. Professor of Geosociology Aileen Wright. “The two cities have common historical roots: If not for a misunderstanding about garbage disposal in 1909, Albany would never have been incorporated as a separate town. In fact, Albany’s original name was Ocean View, same as the Ocean View that became part of Berkeley. Culturally, the two cities have become more-or-less indistinguishable.”
“I’m tired of having to explain to people from all over the U.S. that I have nothing to do with that city in upstate New York,” complained Mayor Pete Maass of Albany. “From now on, I’ll be a Berkeley politico, and everyone the world over knows exactly what that means.” … Continue reading »
Neighbors had put together a petition late last year to ask the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect the building, at 2777 Shattuck Ave. The LPC voted in December to designate the building a “structure of merit.”
See complete Berkeley Honda coverage on Berkeleyside.
Property owner Glenn Yasuda had appealed that decision. He has been trying to work out a deal with Berkeley Honda to let the company move in. The business had to leave its old location due to construction. Many Berkeley Honda employees attended last week’s meeting to ask council to overturn the LPC vote.
Many neighborhood residents also came to the March 15 council meeting to urge officials to uphold the LPC decision. Many said they don’t mind if Berkeley Honda moves in and didn’t think the LPC designation should stop Honda from forging ahead. They also criticized the company for trying to pit local residents against the workers. … Continue reading »
Berkeley homeless activist Frances Townes celebrates her 100th birthday and a day named in her honor
At age 70, most people are looking forward to retiring, traveling, or enjoying a slower pace of life. When Frances Townes reached that milestone, she founded the Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplaincy to the Homeless and opened a new chapter in what continues to be a life of activism and advocacy for people who are homeless in Berkeley.
Thirty years later, dozens of people packed into the First Congregational Church in Berkeley on Feb. 13 to celebrate Towne’s 100th birthday, as well as the first-ever official Frances Townes Day in the City of Berkeley. Friends, family, and community members shared memories from different chapters of Townes’ life of social justice work, as Townes laughed and listened alongside on stage. And, fittingly for a life of 10 decades devoted to helping people, her 100th birthday party doubled as fundraiser and silent auction for Youth Spirit Artworks, an arts and job training program for homeless and low-income youth.
“With more activists like Frances, we’d have a stronger, more stable Berkeley,” said Angel Peréz, a senior artist and print-tech at Youth Spirit Artworks, adding that he was inspired by Towne’s determination in her activism throughout her life — even at difficult times. … Continue reading »
Transferring development rights to allow for taller buildings. Increasing the amount of affordable housing required for large developments. Offering developers a discount if they pay into the Housing Trust Fund at the beginning of the development process rather than the end.
These were some of the ideas tossed around Tuesday night at a special city council meeting held to discuss affordable housing. While nothing was decided, the meeting brought together a broad array of people involved in housing, from economists at the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), to UC Berkeley professors specializing in housing and gentrification, to developers, consultants, affordable housing developers, Berkeley planning staff, and people involved with government subsidized housing. … Continue reading »
It’s going to cost so much to repair Berkeley’s historic fishing pier that the city can’t even afford to study the issue until mid-2017 at the soonest.
That’s according to a brief report released last week by Dee Williams-Ridley, Berkeley’s interim city manager.
Williams-Ridley told the Berkeley City Council in the Feb. 9 memo that the city had hoped to have a consultant “investigate possible methods to repair portions of the pier and the potential costs, but the needed scope and cost associated with the work has escalated beyond the limits” of the approved budget.
Williams told council the analysis itself is likely to cost between $150,000 and $200,000, and said that allocation won’t be considered until the budget cycles for 2017-18 and the following year.
Scroll to the bottom of this story for a brief update from the city.
“The pier is a beloved asset to the entire region, and staff will continue to research grant opportunities with the hope of finding funding to repair the pier,” she wrote. … Continue reading »
Citing a riot on Halloween and three alcohol-related deaths near the UC Berkeley campus in recent years, Berkeley officials approved new rules Tuesday night to address rowdy parties and other problems associated with group housing widely used by students.
About 15 Cal students, including representatives from governance group the Associated Students of the University of California, asked the Berkeley City Council to amend or vote down the proposal. They said it unfairly targets students, could lead to more evictions, and was unnecessary because they can regulate themselves.
Read past Berkeleyside coverage about drinking at Cal.
Miranda Hernandez, director of Greek affairs for an ASUC senator, told council the new rules would inappropriately micromanage students in their bedrooms, and would put students “at greater risk” because they would no longer want to call police and fire services for help, for “fear that they will be labeled a public nuisance.” She said there could be fewer reports and more deaths “because we will be afraid to call.”
About as many older Southside neighbors — some of whom described themselves as “year-round residents” — pleaded with council to adopt the new rules, citing frequent issues with noise, trash, loud music and the heavy use of the city’s first responders who are called to address those problems.
“Our community pays the price night after night, week after week, endangering our citizens and using precious public safety resources,” longtime resident Phil Bokovoy told council. “There is no will for the university to solve the problem.” … Continue reading »
Al Lasher’s Electronics may be on the brink of closing after 56 years at 1734 University Ave.
The city of Berkeley deemed the building, near McGee Avenue, seismically unsafe in 1991, requiring the owners to retrofit the property by 1997. Lasher’s was one of 587 buildings to receive this mandate under the city’s seismic hazard mitigation program for unreinforced masonry buildings. Twenty-five years later, it is one of eight that remain on the list.
The city issued the owners, siblings Bob and Ellen Lasher, numerous notices and citations over the years. A final 2015 notice, which the Lashers appealed, warned the shop owners of the city’s intent to put a lien of $3,125 — the amount of recent outstanding citations — on the property. At its Dec. 15 meeting, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to halt fees and defer filing the lien, giving the owners 90 days to apply for a building permit for the retrofit and one year to pull the permit.
The Lashers say they are unsure they can afford to retrofit and stay open. They have received bids to do the retrofitting work ranging from $150,000-$300,000, Bob Lasher said. The retrofit would also require Lasher’s to close for at least two months, which would be a blow to business, he added. … Continue reading »
Tuesday night’s council meeting ended abruptly with a split vote to adopt new laws proponents say will help clean up Berkeley streets and provide storage and improved restroom facilities for the homeless.
Opponents of the laws say they will criminalize the homeless and have been protesting their adoption after a preliminary vote in November. About 30 people marched from Old City Hall to Tuesday’s council meeting at Longfellow Middle School to oppose the laws. They first rallied at Liberty City, an encampment that has drawn dozens to Old City Hall in recent weeks to protest the new measures.
Three council members did not respond when asked to vote, in an apparent act of protest, amidst disruptions from the crowd and several attempts by two officials to change the order of the meeting agenda as the night wore on.
Vice Mayor Linda Maio ran the meeting because Mayor Tom Bates could only attend by telephone due to a recent injury. Maio said the new laws will increase access to public restrooms and create new secured storage facilities for the homeless. She said warnings will be issued prior to any tickets, and that none of the rules related to the storage of personal items in public space will go into effect until the city has storage units to offer.
“They can still sit and they can still sleep,” she said. About the new rules, she added, “There has been so much misinformation about what they are.” … Continue reading »