Tag Archives: Laurie Capitelli

Lawsuit filed over Berkeley ‘soda tax’ ballot

No city has yet been successful in passing a sugar-sweetened beverages tax. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Mike Mozart
Print Friendly

Two men have filed a lawsuit against the city of Berkeley and the Berkeley City Council asking for changes to adopted ballot language related to the so-called “soda tax” set to come before voters in November.

The sugar-sweetened beverage tax would levy a 1 cent-per-fluid-ounce general tax on distributors of “sugary drinks” and the bulk syrup used to sweeten them. If successful, Berkeley could be the first city in the nation to pass such a tax, though San Francisco has also taken up the fight.

Lawsuit proponents argue that the ballot language adopted by council in July, as well as the city attorney’s analysis of the issue, are “false, misleading, and illegally biased,” and have asked an Alameda County Superior Court judge to force the city to adjust them before they are sent to voters this fall.

Josh Daniels, Berkeley School Board president and co-chair of the Healthy Child Initiative — the community group lobbying in support of the new tax — described the lawsuit as a “bullying tactic.” He said it’s the latest move by the No Berkeley Beverage Tax team to try to sway voters, in addition to a push poll and focus group meetings that were held with local residents earlier this summer. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New paint on Berkeley Oaks Theatre: What does it mean?

The Oaks Theater has been painted recently. Photo: Mary Flaherty
Print Friendly

We’ve heard from some curious readers asking about the new paint job underway in North Berkeley on the façade of the Oaks Theatre, as well as the building it is part of, so Berkeleyside checked in with property owner John Gordon to find out what was happening.

Gordon said the building is being repainted to spruce it up, which could make it more attractive to potential tenants.

The pink and green striping on display earlier this week was simply primer — paint left over from other projects — which will be covered over as the job continues. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Berkeley councilman faces PR man in ‘soda tax’ debate

Councilman Laurie Capitelli speaks to the crowd at the debate at the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Monday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Though they were arguing about sugar, Councilman Laurie Capitelli and Los Angeles PR man Matt Rodriguez were anything but sweet to each other at a Monday debate about a ballot measure set to come before Berkeley voters in November.

The lunchtime discussion, hosted by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, was about the controversial Berkeley sugar-sweetened beverage tax set for the November 2014 ballot.

Capitelli, one of the initiative’s main proponents, argued for the tax on behalf of the grassroots group Berkeley vs. Big Soda, likening it to the 20th century movements to begin taxing tobacco products. Matt Rodriguez, of Los Angeles-based public relations firm Rodriguez Strategies, represented the “No Berkeley Beverage Tax” campaign and argued that the tax would be regressive and harmful to business and the broader community. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Berkeley parks advocates push back after council drops bond from November ballot

The Berkeley rose garden pergola needs major repairs and has been closed to park visitors since April. Photo: Daniel Parks
Print Friendly

The public dismay was palpable last month when the Berkeley City Council decided, in a surprise move, to put a parks tax before voters this fall without a related bond measure that would have infused parks and pools around the city with much-needed cash, reversing an earlier vote on the items.

The $1.7 million parks tax, if approved by voters, would essentially maintain the status quo for maintenance and staffing needs, and cost the owner of an average-size home an additional $43 a year. (That same homeowner already pays about $240 a year for the existing parks tax.)

Had it gone to voters, the proposed $20 million parks bond could have helped re-open Willard Pool, improve the King and West Campus pools, put millions toward Aquatic Park, James Kenney Park and the much-loved rose garden, and repair tennis courts and ballfields around the city, in addition to addressing other significant needs. (See a financial breakdown of several possible iterations of the bond and tax proposal.)

The city estimated that the joint bond and tax measure would have added just $15 more than the tax alone to the bill for owners of an average Berkeley home, defined by the city as 1,900 square feet. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Council weighs in on new downtown Berkeley plaza plans

For the first time last week, the Berkeley City Council weighed in on improvements planned for the downtown Berkeley plaza and BART station. (Click the image for details.) Image: BART
Print Friendly

Berkeley’s main downtown plaza is set for some major changes in the next few years, and the Berkeley City Council had a chance to share ideas about the project last week.

The project is driven in large part by BART, which intends to renovate its station entrances, improve travel through the plaza, at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, repave the area and make it easier to for visitors to navigate the area.

BART announced plans for the plaza late last year, and held public meetings in February and April to collect public feedback.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley sets new minimum wage; up to $12.53 by 2016

Labor advocates and other supporters of a $15 minimum wage attended Tuesday night's council meeting in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to officially adopt the city’s new minimum wage ordinance, setting hourly pay on a course to reach $12.53 by October 2016.

The city’s new law will raise Berkeley’s minimum wage to $10 per hour this October, then to $11 after one year. A statewide increase to $9 per hour takes effect July 1.

The journey to reach a consensus on the new law has been far from straightforward. After a lengthy review dating back to last summer by the city’s Labor Commission, council has struggled since April over how to structure its minimum wage plan.

Read previous coverage of the minimum wage debate in Berkeley.

Council initially pledged to adopt a more aggressive increase, but backed off from that proposal after members of the local business community said it moved too fast and might lead to layoffs or closures. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Berkeley’s first 2 parklets to open this fall

An artist's conception of the new parklet in front of Philz Coffee and Guerilla Cafe. Photo courtesy of the North Shattuck Association.
Print Friendly

Sometime in the early fall, coffee-sippers and pizza-eaters may find themselves sitting outside at one of Berkeley’s two new parklets.

If all things go to plan, the first one is set to open in front of the Cheese Board Collective at 1520 Shattuck Ave. in the city’s Gourmet Ghetto, according to the North Shattuck Association’s Executive Director Heather Hensley. A second parklet will open in front of Philz Coffee at 1600 Shattuck, and at Guerilla Café (1620 Shattuck) soon after. They will be maintained by the adjacent businesses but will be open to non-customers too.

No bigger than a few parking spaces, these miniature urban parks are extensions of the existing sidewalk and provide additional seating and green space for pedestrians. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley voters likely to see joint parks funding measure

More than 30 Berkeley residents came out Wednesday to express support to for the city to re-open Willard Pool. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Two Berkeley officials put forward a new proposal Tuesday night for a combined bond and tax measure that could go before voters in November.

The idea, presented by Berkeley City Council members Linda Maio and Laurie Capitelli, would cost property owners about $58 a year for an average Berkeley home, which is defined by the city as 1,900 square feet.

The combined bond and tax measure, which is called a Mello-Roos, could bring in $19 million to improve existing parks, re-open Willard Pool and create public gardens in a two-block section of the abandoned Santa Fe Right of Way in South Berkeley, among other projects. It would also include an annual $1.1 million operations tax to help pay for parks maintenance. (The bond would be paid off over 30 years.) … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Potential Walgreens lawsuit brews as Berkeley officials tackle new drugstore ordinance

A rendering of the proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue in Berkeley, a work in progress, and a project may be impacted by a proposed new zoning decision. Image: courtesy Agree Realty Corporation
Print Friendly

The city of Berkeley will have a new tool to halt the proliferation of large drugstores around town if a law to create buffer zones between them is approved by officials later this month.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council discussed the details of the new law, which would create a definition for drugstores and establish a 1,000-foot buffer zone between them.

The law, as proposed, would apply to drugstores larger than 5,000 square feet, and would be in effect in most “neighborhood commercial” zones in Berkeley except along Adeline Street and San Pablo Avenue. (Downtown, West Berkeley, part of Euclid Avenue, and University and Telegraph avenues would not be affected.)

Council consideration of the drugstore issue dates back to 2011, when officials asked the city Planning Commission to investigate how Berkeley might stop the spread of drugstores throughout town by creating buffer zones between them.

But it was a proposal last fall by Walgreens, which hopes to open in North Berkeley on Solano Avenue on the site of a 76 gas station at 1830 Solano, that brought the issue back into the public eye. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley officials hold off on minimum wage task force

Many Berkeley business owners say they are still concerned about whether they would be able to survive a new minimum wage plan under consideration by the city. Photo: Postcard PR
Print Friendly

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to postpone the creation of a task force to study changes to the city’s minimum wage ordinance until it actually passes its new law to raise wages, which was approved in concept last month.

That plan would raise Berkeley’s minimum wage to $12.53 by October 2016. The proposal must come back twice for council approval before it becomes law.

The proposed task force on the minimum wage could study how the city would proceed after 2016, and look at issues such as sick leave, potential exemptions for certain types of employers and other issues. The panel could also potentially investigate how a regional minimum wage might work and whether the new ordinance needs to be modified. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Berkeley council boosts minimum wage, approves task force to look deeper

Dozens of community members spoke out about an increased minimum wage Tuesday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to increase the city’s minimum wage to $10.75 by January 2016, and to appoint a task force to look at future increases for the city beyond that.

Council members listened to hours of public comment, including requests from numerous people for the council to stick with a plan described last week that would have seen an increase by 2020 to $15.25. But council members said they were concerned that local businesses had not had a chance to learn about that proposal or weigh in about alternatives.

Many Berkeley business owners — including a strong showing from some of the city’s most popular restaurants — said they feared they would not be able to handle the increases outlined in that earlier proposal, and that they had only recently learned of the city’s plans.

Workers who spoke passionately about the need for the increase Tuesday night said better wages are decades past due, and that many families are suffering as a result of unrealistic pay rates. Several suggested that the real problem is rising commercial rents, and asked what the city might do to address that. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Berkeley could OK raised minimum wage plan this month

Min wage rally
Print Friendly

Berkeley is a step closer to implementing a minimum wage raise it hopes will be adopted regionally after a new ordinance was introduced at a special City Council minimum wage meeting on Thursday May 1, International Worker’s Day.

At the conclusion of a long meeting in a hot auditorium at Longfellow Middle School, at which dozens of people gave public testimony, the City Council voted to consider at its meeting next week a new ordinance introduced by Councilman Laurie Capitelli, co-sponsored by Councilman Jesse Arreguín. If passed, the measure would eventually raise Berkeley’s minimum wage to the highest in the state.

The new ordinance, which came as a surprise to many who attended the meeting, was a modification of a draft submitted by the city’s Commission on Labor last month that had been more than a year in the making. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Drone technology in Berkeley may see further study

Advocates calling to make Berkeley a "no drone zone" set up in front of Tuesday night's council meeting to spread the word. Photo: mary mad
Print Friendly

Tuesday evening, the Berkeley City Council delved into the sticky issue of drone regulation, and plans to take an even deeper look at the related ramifications at some point in the future.

The council held a special work session — with no action planned, and none taken — to hear from three city panels that considered drone technology after local officials asked them to offer feedback on it in late 2012.

Two of those bodies came out in support of making Berkeley a “no drone zone,” while the third said drones should be available for the city to use in case of emergency with appropriate oversight. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,