Tag Archives: Mayor Tom Bates

Op-ed: Why 10 current and former Berkeley elected officials endorse Laurie Capitelli

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We are former and current Berkeley elected officials who are united in our support for Laurie Capitelli as our next mayor. With our direct firsthand experience, we all deeply appreciate Laurie’s love for Berkeley, his trustworthiness, good humor, compassion, decency and intelligence. We urge you to vote for Laurie as your first choice.

Laurie is a team builder. A leader in the campaign to tax the soda industry, Laurie built the broad coalition and served on the steering committee that beat Big Soda. Laurie has the collaborative skills and leadership that are needed to continue the fight for public health and ensure that Alta Bates continues to serve our community.

Laurie is a mediator and consensus builder. Laurie negotiated the groundbreaking $15 minimum wage, bringing together labor, businesses and nonprofits in a historic agreement. Prior to this achievement, Laurie co-authored and led the passage of two $15 minimum wage measures in 2015 and 2016, which were among the most progressive wage measures in the nation, reaching $15 several years faster than the state of California.

Laurie believes in the transformative power of education and has raised millions of dollars for our public schools. As a former school teacher, Laurie is committed to closing Berkeley’s achievement gap by establishing universal preschool. It’s no surprise that every endorsing School Board member supports Laurie. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley needs a mayor who shows true leadership

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Berkeley voters face a choice in the upcoming Mayoral race, but not the choice we’ve been led to believe. Contrary to much of the campaign rhetoric so far, this election is not a question of who is the most or least “progressive.” People elsewhere in the country or even the Bay Area would struggle to discern the policy differences that bring Berkeleyans to the barricades. All of the major candidates in the Mayoral race are progressive—indeed, they are very progressive. What this election is truly about is choosing the candidate who has the temperament, the relationships, and the leadership to successfully govern—and that candidate is Councilmember Laurie Capitelli.

The starkest differences between the mayoral frontrunners lie not in their agendas, but in their fundamental approaches to governance and policymaking. Laurie Capitelli has built his record of public service on collaboration, pragmatism, and an abiding determination to do what’s best for Berkeley. Arreguin and Worthington, on the other hand, have governed in manner that is ideological, obstructionist, and prioritizes their own political careers over the good of the city.

Together, Arreguin and Worthington represent a dismaying brand of performance politics. On truly important issues, ranging from housing to the City budget, both Arreguin and Worthington have a history of floating unworkable, pandering proposals. Whether it’s purely symbolic shifting of funds (something City staff stressed was unnecessary), or regulations that would actually kill new housing, Arreguin and Worthington ostentatiously take credit for the outlandish legislation they knew would never pass—let alone actually work. When other Councilmembers judiciously reject these schemes, Worthington and Arreguin attack them as insufficiently “progressive.” This is not leadership, it’s political theater. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why is the Berkeley City Council so right-wing?

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You would think in a left-leaning city like Berkeley – a bastion of free speech and the home of one of the soda tax – that the City Council would be a pretty liberal group. So, it came as a surprise to me to learn that this liberal town has a right-wing City Council.

We’re used to thinking of right-wing politics in terms of social issues – anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-gun, pro-fossil fuels, etc. But this misses the point. The right wing is the business party. In right-wing politics, big business seeks to influence government decisions by backing candidates who will tilt the regulatory and taxation playing field their way. Some of our local council members are pretty clear about this. For example, Susan Wengraf (District 6) said, in effect, at a candidates’ forum that “what’s good for business is good for Berkeley.” A more effective approach, taken by Laurie Capitelli, is to find a wedge issue to distract ordinary voters from the favors that are being granted to big campaign contributors. … Continue reading »

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Council passes minimum wage law for $15 in 2018

A Friday morning special council meeting with low attendance. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a new law Friday that will see the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 in 2018.

The vote came during an unusual Friday morning special session of the council, after weeks of negotiation to resolve a battle between two competing minimum wage ballot measures. One of those, the council-approved Measure BB, would reach $15 by 2019; the other, labor-supported Measure CC, would reach $15 in 2017.

Read more about the minimum wage on Berkeleyside.

“This is a consensus document,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who said it involved 40 or 50 hours of meetings over the last few weeks. “I don’t consider it a compromise document.”

The new law will make Berkeley one of the first jurisdictions in the country to reach a $15 an hour minimum wage. San Francisco will reach the $15 mark on July 1, 2018. Berkeley’s $15 wage starts on October 1, 2018. … Continue reading »

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Nurses, officials voice concerns about Alta Bates changes

Nurses are leading the charge to "Save Alta Bates." They rallied at Old City Hall on Tuesday night. Photo: Andy Katz
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“We have a real problem and it’s a regional problem,” said Mayor Tom Bates on Tuesday night amid a brief discussion by the Berkeley City Council related to plans by Sutter Health to move inpatient services to Oakland, leaving Berkeley services focused on outpatient care.

Council voted unanimously in support of a resolution to oppose “plans to cease operations at Alta Bates.” Berkeleyside first reported on the potential closure of Alta Bates in April 2015.

Sutter Health said in a July 12 memo to the city that state seismic laws “require us to reevaluate the inpatient, acute care services at Berkeley’s Alta Bates campus before 2030.” According to the memo, “rebuilding on the current site is not feasible.”

Sutter Health says it remains “committed to a strong medical presence” in Berkeley as the “center for outpatient care in the East Bay.”  … Continue reading »

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DOJ threatens lawsuit over Berkeley post office

Post Office Inspectors cleared protesters from the steps after nearly 17 months. Photo: Lance Knobel
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In a strongly worded letter, the U.S. Department of Justice has warned the city of Berkeley that a lawsuit could be coming over the city’s “interference” with USPS plans to sell its downtown post office on Allston Way.

The DOJ’s Civil Division sent the letter — stamped April 28 — to Mayor Tom Bates, and asked for a response by May 20 if the city hopes to resolve the issue without litigation.

Read more about the fight surrounding the downtown Berkeley post office.

According to the letter, from Director Joseph Hunt of the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, the city’s downtown historic overlay is the issue. The overlay restricts a nine-parcel section of the downtown to civic, non-profit uses. The main Berkeley post office, at 2000 Allston Way, falls within those boundaries.

“In purporting to restrict the Berkeley Post Office parcel… to such civic or nonprofit uses, the Ordinance prohibits any commercially viable uses for the Property,” Hunt writes. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council votes to increase inclusionary housing

Many community members attended Tuesday night's council meeting, which was slated to focus on housing. Photo: Ben Gould
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Despite an ambitious agenda, the Berkeley City Council managed Tuesday night to vote on just one policy shift related to affordable housing after attendees became outraged at proposed agenda changes put forward early in the evening by Mayor Tom Bates.

Council voted 8-1 on the Bates proposal to increase the percentage of affordable units required in new projects from 10% to 20%, and to increase the mitigation fee developers can pay if they don’t want to build those units on site. Councilman Max Anderson was the lone “no” vote.

The fee per unit — for all units in a project — is set to increase from $28,000 to $34,000, payable when the certificate of occupancy is issued. There’s a temporary discount, to $30,000, for those who pay early, when the building permit is issued. The discount is slated to sunset after 18 months. Those who choose to build below-market-rate units on site can get out of the fee or pay less, depending how many units they build.

Council asked the city manager to come back with revisions to the existing affordable housing mitigation fee ordinance, which would also “expand the level of affordability” for the below-market-rate units. Currently, units must be affordable for households earning up to 50% of the area median income; the new proposal would add a second tier of units affordable to households earning up to 80%.

The idea behind the mitigation fee is to bolster the city’s Housing Trust Fund to help Berkeley build greater numbers of affordable units around town. To some degree, there is an ideological divide between those who believe developers should include affordable units on site, and those who want to boost the city’s own fund. Proponents of the fund say it can be used to go after grants and leverage the money to get more units in town than building on site — mixed in with private developments — would allow. … Continue reading »

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Chaos ensues after changes at Berkeley City Council

Many supporters of Youth Spirit Artworks came out to Tuesday night's Berkeley City Council meeting. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council had more than a dozen items regarding housing on Tuesday’s agenda. In what he described as an attempt to streamline discussion, Mayor Tom Bates suggested reorganizing the order of the items. The process quickly descended into chaos. See how the night panned out with our Storify overview, and also how the community responded to Berkeleyside senior reporter Emilie Raguso’s live updates of the meeting on Twitter. … Continue reading »

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City Council to focus on creation of more housing

For Rent signs on Spruce Street. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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In the past five years, the population of Berkeley has grown 5.5%, but its housing supply has only increased 1.2%.

That discrepancy, coupled with an economic boom that has pushed highly paid tech workers out of San Francisco and into the East Bay, has sent housing prices higher than ever before. Berkeley’s median rent grew $400, or 12%, to $3,584 in 2015, according to a February 2016 Berkeley city staff report. That means a person must earn $143,360 to afford a median rent apartment, according to Mayor Tom Bates. The median price of a house to buy grew even more – up 15% – to $974,000, according to staff reports.

This housing crisis is prompting the Berkeley City Council to consider about a dozen separate housing-related items on Tuesday’s agenda, including one far-reaching item put forward by Bates that includes 13 separate sections.

“Our ethnic and cultural diversity is being eroded as low- to moderate-income households are displaced or priced out,” Bates wrote in his proposal. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley launches first ‘Resilience Strategy’ in Bay Area

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Never one to shirk a challenge, the city of Berkeley has come up with an ambitious plan designed to take on everything from racial and social inequity to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

And, no, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.

Friday, the city released its “Resilience Strategy,” a 56-page document that attempts to look at “some of Berkeley’s most pressing physical, social and economic challenges, including earthquakes, wildfire, the impacts of climate change and racial inequity.”

The effort is the culmination to date of work Berkeley is doing as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities network,” or 100RC for short. The city was among the first 33 places in the world — along with San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda — chosen to participate in the network back in 2013. (Alameda later lost the grant.) More than 1,000 cities have applied to take part.

Leading the charge in Berkeley is Chief Resilience Officer Timothy Burroughs, who was already working for the city with its Climate Action Plan efforts when he was selected for the gig.

A community event led by Mayor Tom Bates, along with Burroughs, is scheduled to take place Friday from 3-5 p.m. to celebrate the launch. (Scroll to the bottom of this story for details.) … Continue reading »

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Albany to become Berkeley’s 9th council district

Berkeley's new council district map
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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 »

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Council overturns landmark designation where Berkeley Honda hopes to open

Berkeley Honda is hoping to take over 2777 Shattuck Ave., the former Any Mountain location. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Berkeley Honda can now push forward with its plans to open in the former Any Mountain location on Shattuck Avenue after a City Council vote last week.

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 »

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Op-ed: An omnibus housing plan to address a critical shortage

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We all agree on the urgent need to address our critical shortage of housing, especially affordable housing.

But how?

In Berkeley, as in other Bay Area population centers, the housing supply has not kept pace with population. Berkeley’s population grew 5.5% from 2010-2015, while the housing supply increased by only 1.2%.

The worsening shortage has fed steep increases in rents and home prices far beyond the pace of inflation. Berkeley’s median monthly rent jumped by nearly $400, or 12%, in … Continue reading »

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