Tag Archives: Mayor Tom Bates
Berkeley cycling aficionados have two big events coming up in the next week: the city’s third annual Bikes in Berkeley Festival on Sunday, followed by an open house Monday focused on a major update to the city’s Bicycle Plan.
The Bikes in Berkeley Festival is scheduled to take place Sunday at Malcolm X Elementary School, 1731 Prince St. (between Ellis and King streets), from noon to 4 p.m. It is set to kick off with a family cycling workshop (more information and a pre-registration form is here), followed by a youth bike swap (details here) and the festival itself.
The festival, called Fiesta de la Tierra — a nod in part to this week’s Earth Day (on Wednesday) — will have a bike and helmet decoration station, a “bike rodeo” to practice rules of the road, helmet fittings, bike-blended smoothies, bicycle-inspired entertainment, a cargo bike demo station, “and a whole lot more to inspire, educate and encourage bicycle riding,” according to organizers. … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley is crafting a new law to require private developers of many buildings to spend 1% of their construction costs on public art.
Under a recommendation put forth by Mayor Tom Bates and approved in concept by the Berkeley City Council at its March 17 meeting, the “private percent for public art” legislation would apply to all new commercial and industrial buildings, and residential buildings with at least five units, except for projects in downtown Berkeley. The one-time fee would pay for publicly accessible art on-site, or the developer could instead pay into a new city pot for public art.
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 »
The department is responsible for more than 50 buildings, many of which need significant improvements, according to information presented in late March at a council worksession.
The department currently has an annual capital budget of $900,000, and has been putting off maintenance needs because there hasn’t been a plan in place about how to proceed, or money to do the repairs.
Of the current budget, $500,000 goes toward urgent building needs, $100,000 to ADA upgrades and $300,000 to deferred maintenance projects. And chipping away at the $16.4 million maintenance backlog $300,000 at a time has not been working, staff said.
On March 24, council received a proposed five-year plan from the department about how to get going on the work. Under the proposal, the department’s annual budget would increase to $2 million. That money would come, if approved by council in the next few months, from projected increases in real estate transfer taxes the city expects to collect this year, officials said.
“During the past 25 years, the City has deferred maintenance on many City facilities, decreasing the value of these assets, and diminishing the utility of the buildings for City programs,” according to the staff report. … Continue reading »
The view from the UC Berkeley Campanile looking west toward San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge is iconic, but it should not be landmarked, the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided Thursday, April 2.
The 5-3 vote, with one abstention, came after almost four hours of testimony from residents who are concerned that a proposed 18-story building at 2211 Harold Way will partially block the view from campus. Those in favor of landmarking urged the LPC to preserve the view for future generations by making sure developers could not impinge on the vista.
“Campanile Way is a terribly important part of the history of the campus and the Berkeley community,” said John English, who has lived in Berkeley for more than 55 years. “It is totally obvious it deserves landmarking. Let’s recognize its importance and celebrate its 100th anniversary by landmarking Campanile Way.” … Continue reading »
April may be the biggest month in quite some time for those interested in the fate of the popular Berkeley Tuolumne Camp.
A public process focused on how Berkeley may one day rebuild its Tuolumne Family Camp is expected to kick off in the next few weeks, according to city staff. There’s also a special event about the camp set for April 14 at the Freight & Salvage. (Scroll to the bottom of this story for details.)
Ever since the Rim Fire devastated the camp in 2013, the city has worked to come to an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service about what could eventually be rebuilt on the property.
Now, the city and forest service have finally reached that agreement, Berkeley parks director Scott Ferris told the Berkeley City Council at a worksession in late March. Officials have said previously the earliest a rebuild might happen is 2018.
Ferris said a community process is slated to begin at the end of April, and likely to last 4-5 months. The city will collect feedback from camp supporters, including the board of the Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, as well as Berkeley city staff and the community of Groveland, where the camp had operated since 1922. … Continue reading »
Berkeley officials voted unanimously Tuesday night to streamline the process for homeowners who want to add secondary units — sometimes called in-law units or granny flats — to their properties.
Supporters of the draft plan say it is a sustainable approach to increasing density and will allow more local residents to age in place by cutting down on the bureaucratic hurdles tied to the construction of additions, while also making those projects cheaper.
The proposal, from Mayor Tom Bates, would allow homeowners who follow certain standards to build the units “by right,” meaning they would not need to apply for an administrative use permit prior to construction. Those permits can be costly and take a long time to make their way through the approval process. Building plans would still require review by city staff, but public hearings and neighborhood feedback would be off the table. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to ask the city manager to assess a long list of issues related to community-police relations and bring back a report on potential associated costs and related efforts that are already underway.
No action will be taken until the city manager’s office brings back the report, which is expected to take a significant amount of time.
UC Berkeley and property owner Ken Sarachan are close to a joint-venture development deal for the long-empty lot at the north-east corner of Haste and Telegraph, which means that new student housing might be in place there by August 2017.
“We are in negotiations, deep negotiations,” said Robert Lalanne, UC’s Vice-Chancellor for Real Estate. Lalanne said he would like to think they are getting very close to a deal.
The university would take over Sarachan’s entitlement of the proposed development for the site: a six-story Moorish, palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns, Tibetan forts and the rock-cut architecture of Petra in Jordan. The university would then turn over the project to a developer, who would build the structure. Lalanne declined to name the developer as a contract had not been signed. … Continue reading »
Mayor Tom Bates last night delivered a picaresque tour of developments in Berkeley in his State of the City address at the Shotgun Theatre’s Ashby Stage.
Bates lauded projects and improvements in each of the city’s main areas, singled out efforts to address street repairs with revenues from Measures M and BB, talked about the need for affordable housing, the police department and the December protests, and touched briefly on challenges the city faces with unfunded pension liabilities and an aging infrastructure.
“That’s a general rosy picture of how we’re doing,” Bates said at the conclusion of his main tour of what’s happening in the city. … Continue reading »
An estimated 120 people showed up to the South Berkeley Senior Center on a recent weekend to learn about a new planning process underway by the city to consider what could be big changes along the Adeline corridor.
The Jan. 31 meeting was primarily an information session to let people know how they can participate in the process, set to last 24-30 months, which will be overseen by Berkeley-based consultant MIG. Last year, the city of Berkeley won a $750,000 planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to fund the process, which is set to look at everything from community character and business activity to open space, jobs, housing, parking, sidewalks and lighting, historic preservation and transit.
Many in attendance were forceful in their insistence that the city must commit to keeping the neighborhood, and the process, inclusive and diverse.
Read more about Adeline Street in past Berkeleyside coverage.
“They were setting the anchor point for future negotiations,” said Berkeley native and Planning Commission member Ben Bartlett, of the crowd. He said some longtime residents told the city they were concerned the process would be a repeat of a previous plan to rezone the area, a plan he said neighbors managed to derail. “It was emotional, but I’m confident the issues will be worked out.” … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley received a $750,000 planning grant last year to look at transit improvements and other development issues along the Adeline corridor, and Saturday morning will be the public’s first chance to participate in that process since last year.
Read more about Adeline Street in past Berkeleyside coverage.
According to a notice posted by Mayor Tom Bates’ office, “The purpose is to provide information about City planning for the area, answer questions, gather community ideas on the effort and learn on how you might like to be involved.”
The meeting is slated to take place at the South Berkeley Senior Center, at 2929 Ellis St., at 10 a.m. Saturday. … Continue reading »
After hearing the testimony of about 10 people who said they were treated unnecessarily roughly during a Dec. 6 protest, the Police Review Commission voted Wednesday to ask Berkeley city officials to restrict the use of tear gas, over-the-shoulder baton hits and firing projectiles as a form of crowd control.
The PRC, which put the issue on its agenda as an emergency measure, is hoping the Berkeley City Council will do the same at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16.
Read more coverage of the recent protests in Berkeley.
“Our proposal was for a cooling-off period,” said Alison Bernstein, vice chair of the PRC. “[Using tear gas] is a crowd control technique. We’re not saying it’s right. We’re not saying it’s wrong. But we are hearing serious concerns from the community.” … Continue reading »