Tag Archives: Laurie Capitelli
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 »
Berkeley expects to get $12.7 million in grant funding for changes to BART Plaza, Shattuck Avenue and Hearst Street that should make life easier for people using the Downtown BART station and buses, biking to campus and even just driving through the center of town.
On Thursday, May 23, the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) voted unanimously on an initial approval of the city’s grant proposals for the three transit projects. Construction could begin in 2015, said Matt Nichols, principal transportation planner for the city. … Continue reading »
Discussion about potential rival ice cream stores on Telegraph Ave. consumed nearly two hours of the Berkeley City Council meeting on Tuesday night, with supporters of the two retailers crowding the chamber. For the first public hearing on the city’s budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, and comments on the citywide work plan for FY2014? Less than an hour in a council chamber emptied of the public, but with every city department head in attendance.
But despite the apparent lack of public interest, a lively debate sprung up among council members about how the city should be using technology.
“We’ve cut our employees and we’ve cut our days of work and we’ve been able to maintain core services very well,” said Councilmember Susan Wengraf. “But as we continue to cut and try to be more effective we have to pay more attention to our technology department. This is basically the circulation system of the entire city. The key to becoming more effective in the future is to implement better use of the Internet and to get more efficient programs for whatever the city has to do.” … Continue reading »
The public works capital improvement program was the focus of the budget worksession that preceded Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Public Works Director Andrew Clough and his colleagues presented an ambitious roster of projects for the next five years, but cautioned that the plans do not keep up with the city’s needs.
“The city’s public infrastructure is indeed suffering,” Clough said. “But all is not grim. We’re here not only to tell you what we don’t have, but also what we have done and what we plan to do.” … Continue reading »
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 »
Berkeley officials voted Tuesday night to reduce, temporarily, a fee required of developers in hopes of both replenishing a city fund for affordable housing and curtailing building heights in projects planned to buffer downtown.
The Berkeley City Council has, for quite some time, grappled with how to build up its affordable housing stock. Developers in Berkeley are required to provide a certain amount of affordable housing, either by paying into a city fund that’s used to build this housing elsewhere, or by including below-market-rate units in their projects.
If they elect to pay rather than build, the money goes into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. The fund was established in 1990 to pool available federal, state and local money for these projects. Some officials have said the city might be able to build more units, as compared to what private developers would produce, if developers pay into the public fund. … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s General Fund projections include a deficit of more than $5 million over the next two years, requiring city leaders to take a tough look at its more cash-strapped departments to reign in costs.
To close the gap, the city’s budget manager has recommended recurring 2% General Fund reductions across the board for city departments. Departments will present their recommendations to the city manager and City Council in the coming months.
In a work session last Tuesday night, the city’s budget manager gave Berkeley City Council members a forecast for the next two years, and pointed to areas that may pose challenges going forward. (See a PDF of her presentation.)
Three more work sessions have been planned to allow council members, city staff and members of the public to learn more about, and weigh in on, city finances. Scroll to the bottom of this story to see the dates for upcoming public meetings on the budget.
Last October, Berkeley held a Sunday Streets event for the first time, and an estimated 40,000 people flocked to Shattuck Avenue to stroll, bike and skate the length of 17 blocks enjoying the car-free environment, al fresco eating, music, yoga and chess playing. By most accounts, the event was a success, but to make it happen again this year and going forward, the organizers are asking officials to stump up the funds to cover city costs.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, officials expressed their support for the event, but were hesitant, given Berkeley’s tight budget, to commit to the full amount needed to cover city costs for a 2013 repeat performance, as well as funds for future years. They also said they were uncomfortable making financial decisions separate from the context of the rest of Berkeley’s events. … Continue reading »
Berkeley in 2012 was filled with drama — a contested election, a failed nomination for a new school superintendent, a few missteps by the Chief of Police, and major changes at the University of California, among other events. Here’s a recap of the issues that had the deepest impact on Berkeley, plus a few fun ones thrown in.
The year got off to a tragic start with the untimely death of 37-year-old City Clerk Deanna Despain. She fell down the stairs of her Oakland home on Jan. 8. Her husband discovered her body when he returned from a late-night meeting. Their daughter was soundly asleep upstairs. Since then, Mark Numainville has been filling in as acting city clerk. In May, after serving as interim city manager for six months, the City Council appointed Christine Daniel permanently to the job. She replaced Phil Kamlarz, who had held the city’s top job for eight years. … Continue reading »
The November 2012 election has come and gone, but Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission will address some alleged violations of campaign law on Thursday night.
The commission is scheduled to take a look at donations made to a Slate Mailer Organization (SMO) that spent more than $43,000 to send out five campaign mailers in support of the TUFF Rent Board slate, which included incumbent Nicole Drake, (who was defeated) Judy Hunt, (who was elected), Jay James, and Kiran Shenoy.
Patti Dacey, a Berkeley Planning Commissioner, filed a complaint with the FCPC on October 25 alleging that real estate businesses improperly donated to the TUFF SMO in order to circumvent Berkeley election laws, which prohibit businesses from contributing to candidates and limits individual donations to candidates (but not ballot measures) to $250. … Continue reading »
A candidate for the Berkeley Rent Board, who is also an aide to City Councilman Kriss Worthington, filed a police complaint Monday charging that the aide to City Councilman Laurie Capitelli trespassed on his property.
Alejandro Soto-Vigil said that his wife saw Capitelli’s aide and campaign manager, Pamela Gray, walk onto his property on Berkeley Way around 3:20 p.m. to look at a recycling bin that was stuffed with campaign signs.
“Pam apparently had gone onto our doorstep and porch looking at things and then she went to the recycling area and pulled out some signs and started taking photos,” said Soto-Vigil.
Capitelli told Berkeleyside that he and Gray were delivering campaign material to Soto-Vigil’s neighbor when they saw that the recycling bin contained campaign signs. Since so many of Capitelli’s signs have been torn up or taken during the election, he wanted to see if any of them were in there. They were not. … Continue reading »
Laurie Capitelli showed up at Peet’s Coffee on Solano Avenue at 7:30 a.m. on Friday to wait for some trees – 37 of them in fact.
After two years of bureaucratic wrangling involving numerous agencies, including the city of Berkeley Forestry and Public Works departments, Caltrans, Alameda County Transportation Department, the Solano Avenue Business Improvement District, and some utility companies, Councilman Capitelli was itching to see a set of red maple trees be planted along Solano Avenue. His hopes were realized around 9:30 a.m. when a city of Berkeley truck drove up with a set of trees ready to go into the ground.
When the 37 trees are planted, they will join four others on a stretch from The Alameda to Ensenada, eventually forming a 30-40 foot high string of green along the street.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Robin Dalrymple, the owner of iScream ice cream parlor on Solano. “It will add some ambiance to the street, especially as they grow. They will make the street more pedestrian oriented. The street is moving along.” … Continue reading »
Money continues to pour into a few Berkeley campaigns, including some significant independent expenditures filed after the recent Oct. 20 reporting date.
The East Bay Rental Housing PAC contributed $31,000 to support slate mailer organization Berkeley Tenants United for Fairness (TUFF), which promotes both a four-person slate for the rent board and opposes the so-called Sunshine Ordinance, Measure U.
The California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee channelled $19,750 to support incumbent Laurie Capitelli in District 5, and $18,350 to support incumbent Darryl Moore in District 2. And Berkeley Firefighters Association Local 1227 PAC gave $7,212 to support District 5 challenger Sophie Hahn.
The amounts raised for TUFF are particularly striking compared to previous races. Four years ago, candidates for the rent board all filed short form expenditure statements, certifying that they had raised under $1,000 and would spend under $1,000. This year, TUFF had raised $32,920 by Oct. 20, including $19,000 from East Bay Rental Housing PAC. It filed a further $12,000 from East Bay Rental Housing PAC on Oct. 25, bringing the TUFF total to at least $45,000. … Continue reading »