Tag Archives: Shirley Dean

Op-ed: Request to Berkeley is abuse of Public Records Act

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One of the strongest safeguards of open government is the California Public Records Act, but like any powerful instrument, it can cause great damage when abused.

I was shocked on July 14 when I was informed that Shirley Dean, a former Mayor of Berkeley, has filed a Public Records Act request for hundreds of thousands of city records that will require several weeks of work by many City employees.

Her request – which the City is legally bound to fulfill – is for all records related to appointments for meetings involving the Mayor or any Councilmember for the past five and a half years. She seeks all calendars, memos and meeting notes from every appointment, as well as all emails and correspondence with other parties, “that are relative to appointments, including those seeking, confirming, mentioning and discussing appointments in any way.” … Continue reading »

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With Harold Way EIR approval on hold pending new design, Berkeley officials to consider community benefits

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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After two recent discussions regarding the environmental impact analysis for a tall building proposed at 2211 Harold Way, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board agreed Thursday to delay action pending new plans expected from developers.

City staff told the zoning board at its May 14 meeting that the developer is modifying plans in response to Design Review Committee feedback in April. Staff said that, rather than move ahead to certify the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR), it would be better to “take a step back” and wait to learn about the project’s most recent iteration. Staff will complete a report about the project revisions and environmental analysis, and the final EIR will not come back to the board until the staff report is complete.

City planner Shannon Allen said she hopes to bring back the EIR for consideration at the end of June, followed by the community benefits and project entitlements package for Harold Way at the end of July.

The Berkeley City Council, too, is in the process of considering new policies related to the community benefits required of large projects downtown — including 2211 Harold Way — under the city’s Downtown Area Plan. That topic is slated to be back before council next Tuesday, May 26.

Mayor Tom Bates and Councilman Laurie Capitelli have suggested several new guidelines, including a $100 fee per square foot for residential portions of buildings 76-120 feet tall; a $150-per-square-foot fee for that portion above 120 feet; the requirement of a project labor agreement; and voluntary on-site benefits related to arts and culture that must be approved by council. Under the proposal, the developer could get fee discounts related to the labor agreement and voluntary benefits, and “The remainder would be paid into a City fund to be used for affordable housing and arts and culture benefits.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley neighbors take on ‘noisy and drunken parties’

A student is taken care of by BFD. Image: ABC 7’s I-Team
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Dozens of concerned neighbors met Monday night at the Berkeley Police Department to strategize about how to cut down on “noisy and drunken disturbances,” particularly in Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood.

The city of Berkeley is working on an ordinance to try to curtail problematic behavior, which has at times taxed the city’s emergency services and overwhelmed its main emergency room. The ordinance has been scheduled twice to come before the Berkeley City Council in recent weeks, but has now been delayed for consideration until the fall to allow stakeholders in the university community to weigh in.

In the interim, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee — which hosted Monday night’s meeting — is bringing local residents into the discussion. At the end of the meeting, attendees agreed to form a working group to try to ensure that their views and input are part of the city process.

Jim Hynes, assistant to Berkeley’s city manager, told the group of about 30 that the city decided to consider expanding existing laws about mini-dorms to all group living accommodations following media attention to the issue, as well as concerns expressed by the Alta Bates emergency room.

“There were weekends where 50-75% of their emergency beds were filled with drunk students,” he said, forcing the hospital to divert other incoming patients to Highland and Summit hospitals in Oakland. “There were times when they couldn’t divert, and had to set up, essentially, disaster triage areas for drunk students.” … Continue reading »

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Mental health calls #1 drain on Berkeley police resources

Thirty-five percent of calls to the Berkeley Police Department are for people who are having a mental health crisis. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Responding to people with mental health issues is the number one drain on police resources in Berkeley, a police officer who specializes in the topic said this week.

Nationally, 10% of police calls are for people having a mental health crisis, according to Berkeley Police Officer Jeff Shannon. In Berkeley, that number is 35% or more. Over the past five years, police have seen a 43% increase in calls for “5150s,” or people who are a danger to themselves or others, he said.

“Not only in Berkeley, but across the nation, we are experiencing a mental health crisis,” Shannon told members of the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee on Monday. “We are seeing way more people who are sick, way more people who are in crisis, who need help, than we have capacity.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police captain to become Benicia chief

Capt. Erik Upson. Photo: Berkeley Police
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After 17 years with the Berkeley Police Department, Capt. Erik Upson has been selected to run police services in Benicia beginning later this month.

Upson announced the move internally Monday, and the city of Benicia followed up with an official statement Tuesday. He is set to begin his new job as Benicia’s police chief April 20.

“He is everybody’s ideal cop,” said former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who has worked closely with Upson on the Berkeley Safe Neighborhood Committee, a community umbrella group for neighborhood watch-type efforts.

Dean said she always knew Upson to be a good listener, who would take community concerns to heart, and had the persistency to move issues forward: “Benicia is lucky to have him,” Dean said.

Benicia City Manager Brad Kilger, in a prepared statement, described the search for his city’s new police chief as extensive: “Erik clearly rose to the top of the class. The City of Benicia is very fortunate to hire someone … who not only has exceptional technical skills and leadership qualities, but is also highly praised by all those who have worked for him and with him.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Zoning Board considers community benefits of proposed downtown high-rise

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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As Berkeley officials grappled with what the concept of “community benefits” actually means, the developer of the 18-story high rise at 2211 Harold Way announced at a Jan. 8 meeting of the Zoning Adjustments Board that he is willing to financially assist both the Habitot Children’s Museum and Boss, (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency) as well as other organizations who must  relocate when the building is constructed.

Joseph Penner, head of Hill Street Investments of Los Angeles, also announced that Landmark Theaters had redesigned its plans for new theaters in the complex. There will now be nine theaters instead of the six theaters previously announced. Landmark has decided it will no longer include stadium seating in the theaters, which frees up room for additional theaters. (There are currently 11 theaters in the Shattuck Cinema complex.) … Continue reading »

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Would new green initiative kill 2 downtown high rises?

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Update, June 14: The initiative has qualified for the November 2014 ballot.

Original story: As volunteers man the entrances to Berkeley Bowl, wander the farmers markets, and stop people on the street to collect signatures for what is called the “Green Downtown & Public Commons Initiative,” the various sides disagree on the impact the initiative may have on development in Berkeley.

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, who is a main backer of the drive, says the initiative is merely aimed at making major developers contribute more community benefits.

“This measure is not intended to stop development at all,” said Arreguín. “Its purpose is to codify some of the community benefits that were not only made in the Downtown Plan, but in Measure R.”

But many in the development community disagree. They believe the initiative, with its higher green standards and less flexible design guidelines, could stop two current projects — the proposed 180-foot hotel at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, and the 17-story residential apartment tower behind the Shattuck Cinemas building. At the very least, if the initiative passes, it will make it harder to build taller structures downtown. … 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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Board candidate accuses Capitelli aide of trespassing

Pamela Gray, an aide to Laurie Capitelli, took this photo of campaign signs she said she found in Alejandro Soto-Vigil's recycling bin on Monday.
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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 »

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A fancy hat is the star of the show at Fountain celebration

Former Mayor of Berkeley Shirley Dean wearing "the hat". Photos: Nancy Rubin
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Many people turned out on Sunday for the 100th anniversary celebration of the Fountain at the Circle in north Berkeley. But, despite the beloved landmark being the center of attention, it was a hat which threatened to steal the show.

Shirley Dean, the former Mayor of Berkeley, was wearing the broad-brimmed velvet hat which is decorated with clusters of appliquéd flowers and leaves. Dean also wore the hat to the 1996 ceremony held to mark the fountain’s restoration. And — most remarkably — her husband Dan Dean’s grandmother, Margaret, wore the very same hat to the inauguration of the original fountain in 1911.

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Berkeley History

One of Berkeley’s most beloved landmarks turns 100

Marin Circle Fountain
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By Linda Hemmila

What began as a conversation between neighbors about Christmas decorations has grown into a full-blown birthday celebration, to be held on October 16th, and the guest of honor is the 100-year-old Fountain at The Circle, one of Berkeley’s most endearing landmarks.

Built in 1911 at the Marin Circle, the fountain was designed to be an ornate entry to what many hoped would be the state’s capital. In the end, Sacramento got the nod, but the fountain with its distinctive bears has remained one of Berkeley’s most beloved icons.

The Circle and Fountain Walk were designed by architect John Galen Howard who devised the master plan for the UC Berkeley campus. It is a central design element that links The Circle to the surrounding streets in the Northbrae neighborhood. The Circle itself was originally designed for rail use, but, today, an astounding 30,000 cars make their way around it every day. … Continue reading »

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Notorious Berkeley drug house sold

Front door of 1610 Oregon Street
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For more than 20 years, the house at 1610 Oregon Street was an epicenter of Berkeley’s drug wars, a place where dealers dealt crack openly, people were shot, and crowds and cars congregated.

Now the shingled house, once owned by Lenora Moore, is shuttered behind a chain link fence. The glass in the front windows is broken and two “No Trespassing” signs and a red “Keep Out” sign are nailed by the front door.

For decades, Lenora Moore and her extended clan of Perrys and Robinsons lived in the modest, two-bedroom home near California Street. But they left in early 2010 after four court battles, a grand jury investigation, and finally, an injunction won by the city of Berkeley declaring the house a public nuisance.

Now the house has been sold to a new, unidentified buyer.  A offer was accepted on the property Oct 29, just 10 days after the house went on the market for the low price of  $199,000, according to a spokesman for Security Pacific realtors, which listed the property. The house had been in foreclosure.

For next-door neighbor Paul Rauber, who was the lead plaintiff in a 2005 suit brought by 14 neighbors against Lenora Moore, the exodus of the family has meant an end to gun battles, late-night partying, the discovery of used hypodermic needles and condoms on the street, and a fear of going outside.

“It’s been delightful,” said Rauber. “It’s been like a normal neighborhood. People aren’t afraid anymore to walk past our house in the evening with their kids. It is like night and day.”

The battle to force Lenora Moore and her extended clan to stop the blatant drug dealing went on for two decades, and exposed the political alliances and racial politics of Berkeley in a not always flattering light.

Lenora Moore, now 80, was a member of Berkeley’s African-American society, a woman who worked for Catholic Charities for years, was friendly with eight-term City Councilwoman Maudelle Shirek, and someone whom many respected.  When she claimed that she was unaware that some of her children, grandchildren and their friends were selling drugs 24/7 out of her home, many of her supporters believed her. She was never charged with involvement in drug dealing. Her supporters were outraged that a group of mostly white neighbors were trying to evict her from the house she had owned for decades and said racism and gentrification — not an attempt to close a drug house — was the motivation behind the various neighborhood lawsuits.

But a review of police and court records shows that 1610 Oregon Street was a place where, for decades, almost anyone could buy pot, heroin, or crack cocaine. A 1994 Berkeley Police Department log shows officers made hundreds of visits to the house in just that year. Lenora Moore’s grandson Mark A. Perry was killed nearby in April 1992 in a drug-related shooting. One of Moore’s sons, Frank Moore Jr., and a grandson, Ralph Perry Jr., were shot by rival drug dealers in October 1999 in the 1500 block of Oregon. Other members of her family, including her son Steve Moore, Jr., were arrested and convicted of drug-related offenses.

Yet for decades attempts to stop the rampant drug dealing failed. A group of 30 neighbors sued Moore in 1992 in small claims court and were awarded $155,000 for the pain and suffering brought on by the activity in the house. The decision was upheld on appeal, but Moore never paid the fine. Instead, she filed for bankruptcy and transferred title of the house to a son and daughter-in-law.

The drug activity at 1610 Oregon continued, although neighbors worked closely with police to tally and report any suspicious activity. In 2000, the city of Berkeley cited Moore for 22 code violations, forcing her to move out temporarily while repairs were made. But the city, despite support from then-Mayor Shirley Dean and other city council members, was not able to force Moore to stop the dealing on her property or leave her home.

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Comment: When Tom met Shirley in support of pools

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Robert Collier, co-chair of the Berkeley Pools Campaign, writes about this week’s press conference for Measure C, which is on the ballot in next Tuesday’s election.

At a press conference late Tuesday, Mayor Tom Bates and former Mayor Shirley Dean temporarily set aside their longtime rivalry to join forces in denouncing the anti-Measure C campaign.

“We’ve seen a sort of scurrilous campaign being run against Measure C, things that are just outright lies, deceptions and outright … Continue reading »

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