Tag Archives: Susan Wengraf

Real-estate interests spend $92K to help elect candidates

Mayoral candidates Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín butted heads Tuesday night over the minimum wage proposal. Photos: Mark Coplan
Print Friendly

The political action committee of the National Association of Realtors has poured $92,486 into the Berkeley election in recent weeks, with almost two-thirds of that going to support Laurie Capitelli in his race for mayor.

The realtors spent $60,382 to send out flyers in support of Capitelli, whose main challengers are fellow City Councilmen Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington. Those two are running in tandem and are encouraging voters to rank them first and second on Berkeley’s rank-choice ballot in a bid to defeat Capitelli.

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

(Berkeleyside reported on Oct. 12 that the realtors had spent $36,342 in support of Capitelli’s campaign, but the group has since filed additional documentation.)

The National Association of Realtors Fund is considered an independent expenditure, which means the organization does not coordinate with the candidates’ campaigns. These groups are not restrained by Berkeley’s $250 limit for individuals.

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Election 2016 Berkeley: Spotlight on District 5, District 6

Appearing in ballot order, top row from left, District 6 candidates: Susan Wengraf, Fred Dodsworth, Isabelle Gaston. Bottom row, District 5, from left: Sophie Hahn, Stephen Murphy. Photos: Courtesy
Print Friendly

Berkeleyside wants to help you get to know your 2016 candidates for Berkeley City Council, School Board and Rent Stabilization Board. This week, we plan to publish questionnaires with the candidates daily at 11 a.m.

In coming weeks, we’ll have stories on all the key Berkeley races and initiatives that will be on the ballot, and hope to help readers make informed decisions about the potential leaders and policies that could help shape Berkeley’s future.

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

Q&As with the District 5 (North Berkeley) and District 6 (Northeast Berkeley) City Council races follow. We asked candidates why they were running, what sets them apart, what the city’s biggest challenges are and how they hope to solve them. Learn what each candidate thinks is her or his most inspired idea, and how each candidate plans to be accountable and accessible to constituents. Each questionnaire includes complete campaign info, including social media pages, to help readers connect.

Each race also includes a PDF grid to help readers compare responses side by side. The deadline to register to vote in Alameda County for the Nov. 8 election is Monday, Oct. 24. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Election 2016: Who is Susan Wengraf?

Photo: Courtesy of Susan Wengraf
Print Friendly

Name: Susan Wengraf

Age: 71

Job: Berkeley City Council, District 6

What office are you are running for? Berkeley City Council, District 6

What is the main reason you are running? I want to continue to represent the needs and concerns of District 6 residents and to bring a rational and civil approach to our city’s governance. I really care about our community and I want District 6 to continue to have strong, progressive representation. The hills have very specific needs that must be … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley candidates outline their positions on the arts

Josh Kornbluth was the emcee for the evening. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

Five Berkeley mayoral candidates and a slew of contenders for City Council gathered Wednesday evening at the Freight & Salvage to discuss their commitment to funding the arts.

The Berkeley Cultural Trust, a consortium of individuals from various arts organizations in Berkeley, put on the candidates’ debate. Its setting could not have been more appropriate: the building, which once housed a garage, now serves as the Bay Area’s premiere venue for folk and bluegrass performances. The Freight & Salvage sits on Addison Street in the heart of Berkeley’s Arts District, right across the street from Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Aurora Theatre and the California Jazz Conservatory (which is expanding across the street).

Check out a round-up of more local election events coming up.

Years ago, this area was just another random block in downtown Berkeley, but it now serves as one of the most vibrant stretches in the city. When Mayor Tom Bates recently hosted a meeting of mayors from around the country, one of the most popular events of the conference was a tour of the downtown Arts District, according to Michael Caplan, the manager of Berkeley’s economic development department, who led the tours.

Berkeley has done a lot to ensure that dance, music, performance and the visual arts thrive. Earlier this year,  the City Council adopted a ‘1% for arts’ provision, which requires developers of new projects (except those in the downtown) to devote 1% of their construction costs to public art or pay an in-lieu fee. That’s on top of a similar 1.5% art requirement tied to public improvements and bond measures. In 2016, Berkeley will give out $389,00 in grants to various arts groups, a boost of $150,000 over recent years. Berkeley has also provided capital grants to places like the UC Theatre and the Kala Arts Institute.

Whether this is the beginning or the final shape of Berkeley’s commitment to the arts was a central question of the forum, which attracted around 250 people. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley candidates share their vision for downtown

Downtown Berkeley at dusk, aerial skyline. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

The race for several Berkeley City Council seats, as well as the top spot — the mayor’s seat — are up for grabs in November. With this in mind, the Downtown Berkeley Association sent a set of eight questions focused on the future of downtown to all candidates standing for office. It received responses from eight candidates: mayoral candidates Laurie Capitelli and Ben Gould; District 2 candidate Darryl Moore; District 3 candidate Deborah Matthews; District 5 candidates Sophie Hahn and Stephen Murphy; and District 6 candidates Isabelle Gaston and Susan Wengraf.

Read more about the Berkeley 2016 elections on Berkeleyside.

The DBA does not endorse candidates, but rather views the questions as an opportunity for the DBA to highlight its priorities and for the candidates to help inform the DBA, downtown stakeholders and the Berkeley electorate.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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
Print Friendly

“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 »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley city auditor calls for better rainy day fund policy

Ann-Marie Hogan, Berkeley city auditor
Print Friendly

In perhaps the first-ever folksy moment in a Berkeley audit report, the city auditor recalls Aesop’s 3,000-year-old tale of the “Grasshopper and the Ant.” The frivolous grasshopper plays through the summer months while the industrious ant toils to store food for the winter. When winter arrives, the grasshopper starves to death.

The moral for Berkeley, according to City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan? Seize hold of the current relatively healthy economic conditions and put in place a more prudent, detailed policy for the city’s general fund reserve, often called the rainy day fund.

“Nobody wants to put aside money for tomorrow when there are so many unmet needs starting them in the face today and the residents are all clamoring for their priorities,” Hogan said. “We’ve had a couple of years of really good revenue news. This would be the time to put in place the policy.”  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Op-ed: Let’s amend regulations to prohibit city employees serving on boards and commissions

Print Friendly

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Berkeley City Council will consider an amendment to the Municipal Code (item #29) that will prohibit city employees from being appointed to, or serving on, city boards and commissions.

This proposal is brought forward by the Council Ad Hoc Committee on a More Open Government (Jesse Arreguín, Laurie Capitelli, Lori Droste and Susan Wengraf) appointed a year ago to consider recommendations for more open government and report back to the council in less than … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Staff: Measure M has Berkeley streets in better shape

"Microsurfacing" on Durant Avenue in Berkeley has made for a smoother ride. Photo: City of Berkeley
Print Friendly

With the help of Measure M, the city of Berkeley is making strides to repair street conditions and add innovative “green infrastructure” projects around town that are helping improve stormwater quality, city staffers told the Berkeley City Council earlier this week.

Tuesday night, staff presented an update on Measure M to council. The measure was approved by voters in November 2012 to take a more aggressive approach to street paving, and also build capacity for watershed-related projects.

Officials said it was a report by City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan in 2011 that helped bring the sorry state of Berkeley’s streets to light. Hogan found that Berkeley’s streets had an average score of 58 on the Pavement Condition Index (PCI), in the “at risk” range but approaching “fair.”

By 2018, as a result of Measure M and other efforts by the city to address the problem, staff believes Berkeley will have boosted its score to 65, which is in the “fair” range of 60-69.

“It may not on its face seem like a significant increase, but it really is,” Sean Rose, manager of engineering, told council Tuesday night. Rose said the average score for the nine Bay Area counties is 66, and that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission would like cities to reach a score of 75, which is in the “good” range on the PCI. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Local business

Berkeley City Council to consider $19 minimum wage

The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce held a meeting for local businesses regarding the minimum wage increase proposal from the Labor Commission. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is set to consider a new proposal to increase the city’s minimum wage to $19 by 2020.

The proposal, from the city’s Labor Commission, would increase and extend the current ordinance, which is set to boost the minimum wage to $12.53 by October 2016.

The Labor Commission’s proposal suggests bumping up the 2016 increase to $13, followed by an increase to $14.50 in October 2017, $16 in 2018, $17.50 in 2019 and $19 in 2020.

In its report to council, the commission says the adjustments will ensure that the city’s minimum wage ordinance “is successful in promoting and protecting the rights and the individual self-reliance of working people in Berkeley by raising the minimum wage to a living wage, adding an annual cost of living adjustment, and granting adequate paid sick leave to all workers.”

Monday afternoon, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce held an information session for local businesses to learn about the proposal and discuss how to make sure their voices are heard. About 30 people attended the meeting downtown at the Chamber’s headquarters on University Avenue.

According to a chart passed out at Monday’s meeting, the proposed rate increase would put Berkeley far ahead of the pack in terms of other cities on track to increase the minimum wage over the next five years. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

City Council seeks to move meetings to West Berkeley

The BUSD Headquarters on Bonar Street. Photo: Kaia Diringer
Print Friendly

Update, Sept. 15 The neighborhood meeting has been moved to Sept. 24 because of a scheduling conflict, district spokesman Mark Coplan told Berkeleyside today. Coplan explained by email that “It is a neighborhood meeting like we conduct when there is going to be construction or something that will have an impact on the surrounding area. We are not posting it or encouraging a larger audience so that our neighbors have ample opportunity to discuss the impact.” The district will be posting fliers in the neighborhood, and inviting residents in Daryl Moore and Linda Maio’s districts around the West Campus “to come and share their questions, concerns and expectations with Daryl and Linda, facilitated by the superintendent and board president.” Added Coplan: “The impact of the city’s proposed pilot on our neighbors is the only issue that involves BUSD. Any town hall or larger discussion about the COB’s plans to move their meetings would be conducted by the city.” (See a meeting flier here.)

Original story, Sept. 2 The Berkeley City Council, set to resume its meetings later this month after summer recess, is exploring a potential move to West Berkeley to the Berkeley Unified School District’s meeting room on Bonar Street.

Last week, the School Board considered the request, and voted to hold a town hall meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15, to allow community members to give feedback about the proposal.

Council has been looking for a new meeting space since 2011. Its current meeting space at Old City Hall, the Maudelle Shirek Building at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, is lacking in a variety of ways.

According to a June 23 staff report, “The physical condition of the building is very dilapidated and poses significant dangers. The capacity of the hall is not adequate to accommodate the public on nights when there is significant interest in agenda items. In addition, the safety of the elevator is precarious, the toilet facilities are not adequate and the sound system makes hearing the meetings very challenging for both the council and the public.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley leaders approve community benefits package; ZAB votes to certify Harold Way EIR

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
Print Friendly

Proponents of downtown development in Berkeley won two victories Thursday night after city leaders and commissioners approved a proposal for community benefits related to tall buildings and, in a separate meeting, certified the environmental impact analysis related to the first tall building in the pipeline, at 2211 Harold Way.

The Berkeley City Council held a special meeting at 5 p.m. at Longfellow Middle School to tackle the thorny subject of what significant community benefits should be required of developers who wish to construct tall buildings downtown. Seven tall buildings were approved when local residents voted in favor of the city’s Downtown Area Plan, but the type of significant community benefits required of those projects was left vague to allow flexibility during the entitlements process.

In recent years, city zoning board commissioners have expressed frustration about that ambiguity, and asked for more direction from council. Earlier this year, council launched a series of discussions aimed to clarify the requirements. Thursday night, city officials voted in favor of a compromise proposal from council members Lori Droste and Darryl Moore that will help guide the process going forward.

That proposal will now go to the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board for additional discussion. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,