Tag Archives: Mayor Tom Bates

Berkeley City Council’s Nov. 19 meeting: The highlights

Opponents of a Starbucks planned for 3001 Ashby packed last night's City Council meeting. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Berkeley City Council last night unanimously voted to refer the appeal of a Zoning Adjustments Board decision on a Starbucks at 3001 Telegraph Ave. to a public meeting. But before that debate, there was plenty of other action in the council chambers. We’ve Storified what happened so you can follow the action. Read on. … Continue reading »

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Testy response to proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue

A rendering of the proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue. Drawing courtesy Charles Kahn Architect
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A proposed Walgreens on upper Solano Avenue is meeting feisty resistance from neighbors, even before the developer has started the city’s official permit process for the project.

About 50 people showed up Thursday, Oct. 24, at an informal public meeting on the plan held at La Farine Bakery, which is across the street from the proposed site at 1830 Solano, at the intersection with Colusa Avenue. The site is currently a 76 gas station.

And by Friday morning, inboxes filled with the gathering steam of an organized opposition to the concept. … Continue reading »

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Many Berkeley parking meters now accept most coins

Photo: Steer Davies Gleave
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In the wake of public frustration and confusion after Berkeley adjusted many of its parking meters to require a minimum cash payment of 30 or 35 cents, depending on the area, the city has rolled back the changes to allow meters city-wide to register any amount from a nickel on up.

According to a city staff report prepared for a September vote by the Berkeley City Council to fix the problem, the city began hearing criticism about the meter minimum earlier this year during its goBerkeley outreach campaign to change metered parking rates and time limits in three of the city’s business districts.

Members of the public said they were confused because meters were failing to register payment. Unbeknownst to some, it was because the 30- or 35-cent threshold had not been met. Putting in change that didn’t register left some wondering if the meters were broken. So they were unsure whether to keep trying, find a new space, or walk away and try their luck. … Continue reading »

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FCPC looks into alleged violations by Yes on S supporters

Members of the Fair Campaign Practices Commission review material before their Oct. 25 meeting. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Fair Campaign Practices Commission has decided to investigate whether any campaign laws were broken when the Yes on Measure S campaign paid people from $50 to $100 in cash to pass out campaign material on election day.

The commission also wants staff to look into whether the Yes on S campaign paid for an extra printing of endorsement fliers put out by the Berkeley Democratic Club without declaring its participation.

The decision to investigate came as the commission considered another complaint on Sept. 19 filed by Patricia Wall, executive director of the Homeless Action Center, and Bob Offer-Westort, the coordinator of the No on Measure S campaign. Measure S, which was defeated in November 2012, would have made it illegal to sit on sidewalks in commercial districts for much of the day. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Council highlights gangs, staffing during crime report

Pedestrian robberies in Berkeley from January to June 2013 mapped by location. Source: Berkeley Police Department
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The Berkeley Police Department’s mid-year crime report drew compliments from city officials regarding the city’s approach to crime fighting, as well as requests for more information in the future about case closure rates, crime concentrations and response times across a range of offenses.

Police Chief Michael Meehan presented the report along with two police captains, Erik Upson and Andy Greenwood, Tuesday night in a special session before the city council. They said serious crime reports for the first six months of the year remained nearly flat compared to the same period last year.

Berkeley did experience a 24% jump in robberies overall, which included a 35% increase in pedestrian robberies. But police said the region has seen a 26% percent in overall robberies, and that Berkeley is not immune to those trends. Police also noted a 49% increase in robbery-related arrests in 2013. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Telegraph Channing Mall merchants ask city for relief

Telegraph Channing Sather Gate mall merchants, Sept. 17, 2013, City Council. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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More than a dozen merchants from the city-owned Telegraph Channing Mall came before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night to ask for management improvements and financial help following a surprise property tax bill that was delivered to them last month.

The 14-shop mall sits at the base of the city-owned Telegraph Channing (formerly “Sather Gate”) Parking Garage just west of Telegraph Avenue between Durant Avenue and Channing Way. The 16,000-square-foot retail space netted about $200,000 for the city last year, despite two vacancies, and one unit that was rented to the library at a discounted rate, according to the staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting.

In July, the council requested a report on the mall’s finances and, more recently, the city has been investigating the possibility of hiring a private management firm to take over mall operations.

Merchants speaking before the council, along with several council members, said it would be better for the city to keep the management in-house and invest more to improve the mall, which one official described as a “dismal, dark, dingy plane” that “smells like urine a lot” and “smells like other things a lot.” Neighbors and merchants said the mall is neighborhood-serving, and offers a range of businesses that are hard to find nearby, such as shoe repair, picture framing, copies and mail services and more. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council may consider 2 campus district maps

Councilman Kriss Worthington’s office created an alternate vision of a student district that adds Foothill, Bowles, Stern, I-House and 11 co-ops.
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Following pleas to give students more time to get involved with Berkeley’s redistricting process, the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to delay its decision on proposed changes to the city’s council districts that are required to balance the population among them.

The council voted in July to select a preferred redistricting map, the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC) map, which creates a “campus district” made up largely of student-aged residents who live near UC Berkeley but is otherwise not a radical departure from many of the city’s existing council districts.

In June, Councilman Kriss Worthington‘s office created an alternative map — the United Student District Amendment (USDA) map — which includes 11 co-ops, three dorms and International House that aren’t part of the BSDC map. The USDA map would boost the population of student-aged residents from 86 (BSDC) to 90%. (Worthington said Thursday that currently his district is composed of about 70% student-aged residents.) … Continue reading »

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Berkeley considers ‘visionary’ homeless housing project

City officials are considering the possibility of turning this parking lot into a supportive homeless housing complex. Image: Google Maps
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Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council took its first steps at considering a “super-green affordable housing project” that would offer extensive services to the homeless on the site of what’s now a 112-spot parking lot at Berkeley Way and Henry Street.

The “innovative housing and services center with permanently supportive housing, along with emergency shelter and supportive services” would “meet a critical need, and help further the City’s goals to end homelessness,” according to a staff report from Tuesday’s meeting.

Members of the business community have expressed concerns about the loss of parking during construction, and said the parking supply would need to be doubled to ensure that visitors to downtown, who are expected to increase as the area is revitalized, will have access to readily available spots. They noted that decreased parking already in effect or planned, with the construction of the new Berkeley Art Museum and a proposal to demolish and rebuild the Center Street garage. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

Interview: UC Berkeley’s new Chancellor, Nicholas Dirks

Nicholas Dirks. Photo: UC Berkeley
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The second floor of California Hall is bright and airy, with a hushed air of importance. As Berkeleyside ascended the staircase last week, Dan Mogulof, UC Berkeley’s head of communications, alerted us to prepare for a shock: The new chancellor was wearing jeans.

When Nicholas Dirks greeted us in his office, he was indeed in jeans, with a pressed pale pink shirt (he made an unnecessary excuse for the jeans: “It’s the middle of August.”). The tall bookcases in the office were filled with scholarly texts, as well as popular fiction and nonfiction. For a man who oversees the well-being of 36,000 students, more than 1,500 faculty members, 8,477 staff, 130 academic departments, and a $2.2 billion budget, Dirks’ desk was remarkably clutter-free. A large Apple display was crowded with email messages. … Continue reading »

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Government

Feds agree to hear mayor’s plea to halt post office sale

Post-office-letter
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Update, Aug. 15: Berkeleyside received this note from a U.S. Postal Service rep: “I am sending you the following to clarify what may be confusing to your readers. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has docketed an appeal filed by Tom Bates, Mayor of Berkeley, concerning decisions related to the Berkeley Post Office.  The action in question is a relocation, not a discontinuance, and it is the Postal Service’s view that the PRC’s appeal authority does not extend to this context.  The Postal Service has filed a Motion to Dismiss the appeal and we expect the PRC to rule on this matter in the near term.”

Original story, Aug. 12: A federal commission that oversees the U.S. Postal Service has agreed to hear an appeal by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to halt the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office, at 2000 Allston Way.

The five-member Postal Regulatory Commission alerted Bates on Thursday that it would hear the appeal in the fall, the mayor’s office announced Monday. Bates has until Sept. 3 to submit a formal appeal brief, and the commission will have until Nov. 27 to make its final decision. The commission has authority over proposed major service changes related to any post office.

In March, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to oppose the sale of the post office, and asked for a one-year moratorium on any decision about its sale. In May, Bates, along with other local and state officials, sent an appeal letter to the postal service. According to Monday’s statement, Bates filed his appeal after a final determination letter dated July 18 from the postal service that stated its plan to forge ahead to relocate services from downtown Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Streamlined permitting aims to cut solar costs

Oakland mayor Jean Quan speaks in support of a new streamlined solar permitting process across nine cities of the Bay Area.
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On Tuesday, nine East Bay cities announced a new streamlined solar permitting process designed to save homeowners up to $3,500 per solar photovoltaic system.

Members of the East Bay Green Corridor, Sungevity, Inc., and the state Office of Economic Development met at Sungevity’s Oakland offices to announce a new set of permitting guidelines that will be used in all the cities in the corridor: Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, Emeryville, Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito, Hayward and San Leandro. The new streamlined permits, scheduled to take effect by Sept. 22, will also eliminate the need to hire an expensive structural engineer, which will save time, money and boost the solar industry, advocates said.

“What these guidelines do is allow homeowners to bypass the expensive structural engineering process,” said Carla Din, director of the East Bay Green Corridor. “When you put a system on your roof, there’s sometimes uncertainty about whether or not your rafters can support the modules, and so you bring in an outside structural solar engineer. What we did is come up with a prescriptive process that would apply to 80-95% of the homes in the Green Corridor and could save up to $3,500.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Council denies last-minute redistricting proposal

Council approved the "Berkeley Student District Campaign" map in December.
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A new City Council redistricting plan was presented Tuesday during the second public hearing for redistricting proposals, but council members voted against considering it because of its last-minute introduction.

Despite the submittal of the new proposal, the council voted to make the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC) map the preferred plan for council redistricting. The preferred map creates a student-majority district around the UC Berkeley campus and is scheduled to be adopted Sept. 10. The redistricting will correct for population changes recorded in the 2010 census, and will be the first since the passage of Measure R last November, which removes the severe geographic constraints mandated in Berkeley since 1986.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley fights feds’ attempts to close cannabis business

bpg
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The city of Berkeley filed a claim Wednesday to stop the federal government’s attempts to shut down Berkeley Patients Group, the city’s largest medical cannabis dispensary.

The suit claims that the closure of BPG will materially harm the city because it will mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue. In addition, shuttering BPG, which serves 10,000 patients, will result in the proliferation of unpermitted dispensaries and more illegal street sales of marijuana in Berkeley, according to the claim, which was filed in U.S. District Court. … Continue reading »

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