Tag Archives: Sophie Hahn

‘Innovative’ housing with rooftop farms set for southside

Garden Village, 2201 Dwight, Berkeley. Image: Nautilus Group
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City zoning board members approved a 77-unit mixed-use housing development near downtown Berkeley late last week, expressing excitement about a “unique” design set to include more than a dozen working rooftop farm plots and a novel approach to parking.

“Garden Village,” at 2201 Dwight Way at Fulton Street, brings with it a number of innovative features, from its composition — it’s made up of 18 distinct but connected “volumes,” or towers, that range in height from 3 to 5 stories and are connected by open-air walkways; its more than 12,000 square feet of rooftop farming plots; and its small garage, which offers just enough space for a fleet of shared vehicles that will be rentable by tenants.

Without the car-sharing idea, the project would have required room for 71 vehicles. Instead, Berkeley-based developer Nautilus Group decided it would purchase a fleet of four to 10 automobiles and contract with a car-sharing operator called Getaround to run the “car-share pod” operation. (The city required Nautilus to pay for a parking demand study to bolster the justification for that approach.)

Zoning board Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe described the concept as potentially “genius,” adding that the notion of projects that fold effective car-sharing programs into their plans “might be the magic solution” to the hairy issue of meeting parking demand efficiently in a densely-populated community. … Continue reading »

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‘The Aquatic’ wins easy approval from Berkeley officials

The Aquatic mixed-use development at 800 University Ave. in Berkeley could open by summer 2015. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A proposal for a new University Avenue mixed-use development, set to include 58 units, sailed through Berkeley zoning board review Thursday night, winning acclaim from commissioners for what they said was its beautiful design and sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood.

The 45- to 55-foot-tall building will feature 1,175 square feet of office or retail space, and 60 parking spaces. Two structures currently on site — which have housed a construction company, a veterinary clinic (circa 1973) and, later, medical research labs — will be demolished to make way for the project, which is named “The Aquatic” and was designed by Berkeley-based Trachtenberg Architects. (See the project staff report here.)

The building project site, at 800 University Ave. on the south side of the street, straddles two different zoning designations; as a result, the north side of the property will reach five stories, and the southern portion will rise to just four. Parking will be provided in both a ground-floor garage and an open lot behind the building. Four units in the development will be available to very-low income residents, and the project will put $240,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. … Continue reading »

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Zoning board asks micro-unit developer to shrink proposal

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Berkeley zoning board members voted Thursday night to ask developers to reduce the size of a proposed micro-unit project on Shattuck Avenue by either taking units off the upper stories or removing the top story altogether.

The lengthy Zoning Adjustments Board meeting was the panel’s first chance to vote on the project. Throughout the night, the board seemed poised to approve the project as proposed, deny the project altogether or ask for significant changes before moving forward.

At the end of a nearly three-hour discussion, which included comments from more than 20 members of the public, the board voted to affirm the staff recommendation to ask San Francisco-based Axis Development Group to change its designs to make the building fit in better with the neighborhood. Staff had recommended some type of increased “setbacks” — such as a more gradual increase from story to story up to the building’s full height — on the five-story proposal’s upper floors to increase the space between the structure and a nearby single-family home to the east. The zoning board asked mixed-use developer Axis to consider either that approach or a possible reduction to four stories. … Continue reading »

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The most important stories in Berkeley in 2012

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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.

City Government

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 »

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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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Late money floods into Berkeley election campaigns

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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 »

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Capitelli, Hahn go head to head in Berkeley’s District 5

Laurie Capitelli and Sophie Hahn campaign signs, Oct. 10, 2012.
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Incumbent Laurie Capitelli and challenger Sophie Hahn will face off in November for the second time in a pitched battle for Berkeley’s District 5 City Council seat, in a race that has been tinged with allegations of distortion and ill will.

In 2008, Capitelli won District 5 re-election by defeating Hahn 4,299 to 3,898. But Hahn said Wednesday she believes her past four years of service and experience will help her come out on top in the polls on Nov. 6.

“I have a strong record of getting things done,” she said. “I do believe one person can make a difference. With hard work, collaboration, and really listening to and involving the community, you get good results for the community. And I think people recognize that. I think people have been waiting for a long time for change in Berkeley.”

So far, both candidates have raised about $30,000 for their campaigns. Each had $14,000 to $15,000 left in their coffers as of the most recent filing. The amount of money raised is second only to the mayor’s race on the ballot in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Allegations fly in District 5 council race

Hahn yard sign
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Update 8:20pm: Sophie Hahn read to Berkeleyside from her prepared remarks made to the John George Democratic Club. Here’s what she said:

“I am emphatically opposed to the death penalty. The incumbent did not support a resolution to end the death penalty in Alameda County. I am in favor of equal pay for equal work. The incumbent did not support a resolution in favor of Obama’s Lily Ledbetter Act.”

Hahn said she does not ascribe views to incumbent Laurie Capitelli. “He speaks through his record,” she said.

Original story: The race for the District 5 City Council seat has taken an ugly turn, with supporters of incumbent Laurie Capitelli claiming that challenger Sophie Hahn and her surrogates are mischaracterizing his record. … Continue reading »

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Three Berkeley edible gardens feature on urban farm tour

Tiny Berkeley Garden attracts bees, butterflys, and appreciative passersby. Photo: Kristin Stromberg
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True to its new name, Tiny Berkeley Garden, is a small edible landscape located in the heart of Central Berkeley. But don’t be deceived by its diminutive size. The lot may only amount to 3,500 square feet (with just 1,750 feet for farming) but it’s chock full of trees, plants, and herbs that supply Kristin Stromberg with much of her produce for her home kitchen — with plenty to share and swap with neighbors and a nearby school.

A year ago, with the help of East Bay-based  Planting Justice, Stromberg turned her concrete and weed-filled yard into a haven for apple, apricot, pear, plum, pluot, fig, lemon, and lime trees, raspberry and blackberry bushes, along with chard, kale, tree collards, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, zucchini, asparagus, and other edibles.

Then, with assistance from family and friends, she built a chicken coop (known as Chez Panisse), which houses Panisse, Coco, Cuckoo, Tikka Masala, and Kung Pao, who provide several eggs a day, and a few rabbits, whose poo, she discovered, makes excellent compost. A beehive is in the works. … Continue reading »

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News

Berkeleyans closer to being able to sell backyard produce

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In August 2010, Sophie Hahn told a reporter it was easier to have a pot collective in Berkeley than to have a vegetable collective. Last night Hahn’s desire to see the city allow residents to sell the food they grow in their backyards came one step closer to reality when the Planning Commission unanimously passed the Edible Garden Initiative.

Until now, Berkeley’s zoning codes have prohibited selling or otherwise conducting commerce outside a house in a residential neighborhood.

The legislation covers fruit, vegetables, nuts, honey, and shell eggs from fowl or poultry, provided they are all whole, intact, and organically grown. (Read the Sale of Non-Processed Edibles from Residential Lot memorandum.) … Continue reading »

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Sophie Hahn announces candidacy for City Council

Sophie Hahn
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Sophie Hahn, who grew up in Berkeley and sits on the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, has announced she is running for City Council District 5, which is currently the post held by Laurie Capitelli.

Hahn says she will provide a different brand of leadership, one that is community-oriented and transparent. “Berkeley is a fantastic place, but people don’t see progress here in basic areas like upkeep and services. We need to make decisions based on facts and data changes, not because of political ties and favoritism,” she says.

Hahn says she believes Berkeley residents are frustrated because they have not been properly informed about the city’s financial predicament. “We have $1 billion of unfunded infrastructure needs that we are committed to paying for and we have to make some hard choices,” she says. “But we have to show trust and transparency in our communication with people. We haven’t even shared a plan with the community for the city’s economic future.”

Hahn cites the decision to raise the compensation of former Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz shortly before he retired as an example of the way the current City Council displays a “disconnect with the realities people are facing.” … Continue reading »

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Urban homesteader challenges city on sale of edibles

Sophie Hahn, founder of Berkeley Edible Garden Initiative
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Should city dwellers be allowed to sell their backyard bounty?

Sophie Hahn thinks so. The North Berkeley resident wants to share the abundance from her residential produce plot and offset some costs she incurs maintaining her edible garden.

But Hahn ran into hiccups with the city last year trying to get her idea off the ground. “I had no idea it would be so complicated,” she says. “It’s actually easier in Berkeley to have a pot collective than to have a vegetable collective,” a frustrated Hahn told  a New York Times reporter in August.

Or pretty much any other home-based business. That’s because Berkeley’s zoning codes prohibit selling or otherwise conducting commerce outside a house in a residential neighborhood. Never mind that many residents (this writer included) toil from inside their homes. City codes allow for small, low-to-moderate impact home businesses, such as piano teachers, explains Dan Marks, director of planning and development for the city. … Continue reading »

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Urban farmer Willow Rosenthal plants seeds in Berkeley

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The aptly named Willow Rosenthal grew up around trees in Sonoma County in a community that farmed its own food. Raised by hippies who didn’t have a lot of money, she nonetheless ate well. She also learned how to grow her own food by working on an organic farm and for a local nursery.

She came to the Bay Area in 1997 knowing she wanted to do social-justice work; an internship with Food First and volunteering with the Organic Consumers Association followed.

When she moved to West Oakland, Rosenthal was immediately struck by the absence of greenery, how much vacant, unused land there was, and the lack of grocery stores. She had landed in a community bounded by three major freeways that is also home to a busy port and extensive industrial pollution. People in this predominantly low-income, African American and Latino neighborhood had nowhere close by to buy healthy, affordable food. The area had plenty of corner liquor stores and fast-food joints, but not a single full-service supermarket. … Continue reading »

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