The Lowdown: Berkeley council on medical cannabis, rules to limit drugstores, elections, climate hurdles and more

A rendering of the proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue. Drawing courtesy Charles Kahn Architect
A rendering of the proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue. Drawing courtesy of Charles Kahn, Kahn Design Associates

On June 3, the Berkeley City Council is set to talk about new rules regarding drugstores, which has been a topic of concern in the past; set up a task force to tackle the city’s plans to raise the minimum wage; and possibly address what it might take for a fourth medical cannabis dispensary to open in the city. There’s also a 5:30 p.m. special session dealing with Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan, particularly with respect to how the city has been unable to keep up with ambitious goals it set for reductions, though progress has been made.

On the action calendar

The city is looking at new rules that would define what a drugstore is, and set out a minimum distance between drugstore locations. The issue has been a concern for many North Berkeley residents, many of whom oppose plans for a new Walgreens on Solano Avenue. The staff report is online here. [Held over to June 17]

Five days after the House of Representatives passed groundbreaking legislation calling on the federal government to stop targeting legitimate medical cannabis dispensaries, the Berkeley City Council is set to discuss whether to allow a fourth dispensary to open in the city (Item 29). Read more of the background on Berkeleyside. [Held over to June 17]

There are lots of election-related items on Tuesday night’s agenda. Topics include redistricting [Held over until June 24]; recall of elected officials [Held over until June 24]; the possibility of a citizens’ redistricting commission [Held over until June 10]; potential ballot measures from council (Items 24a and 24b) [Held over until June 10]; and the “Green Downtown” initiative (Items 33a and 33b). Catch up with Election 2014 related coverage on Berkeleyside.


The Berkeley city budget has been a hot topic recently, and council is set to talk about it again tonight. It’s the second public hearing on the budget, which will give community members a chance to weigh in. See the staff report here. Next week, council members are slated to offer their own feedback about funding priorities.

Council is set to approve a task force to look at the new minimum wage plan, which was discussed at length at its last meeting. At that time, council agreed on a proposal, and planned to vote to adopt the new ordinance later this month. Many business owners have said they are concerned about whether they will be able to survive the increase. Labor advocates say many families can’t afford the cost of living without it. Berkeleyside has covered the topic thoroughly. [Held over until June 17]

One special session

At 5:30 p.m., council will hold a special session about the city’s Climate Action Plan. The good news is that the city’s emissions are approximately 8% below 2000 baseline levels. However, the city is “not currently on a trend” to achieve target reductions by 2020 of 33% below 2000 levels. To say it a different way, current emissions levels are about 18% higher than the goal the city had set for itself. Read the full staff report here.

Other items of interest

For those interested in development, Item 23 is a report on mitigation fees the city receives as part of its regulations related to new buildings in Berkeley.

The five-year paving plan is up for approval, along with a report on Measure M progress related to streets and watersheds. Lots of background here on Berkeleyside.

Council is set to consider a new policy related to Fair and Impartial Policing, which sets out particular standards and training designed to help avoid racial profiling, and collect data to analyze a variety of police stops to understand the status quo better. [Held over to June 17]

Also related to law enforcement, council members Gordon Wozniak and Susan Wengraf are asking the city to look into the ramifications of setting up a database of private security cameras to help city police solve crimes. The proposal would allow residents to register private cameras so that the city can track them more easily.

Meeting details

Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.
Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.

The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday nights at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Special sessions generally take place at 5:30 p.m. and regular meetings begin at 7 p.m. Council agendas are available online here. Watch the meetings online here.

Berkeleyside often covers council meetings live on Twitter. Others sometimes do the same and the discussion can get spirited. Follow council coverage on Twitter via hashtag #berkmtg. Follow along in real-time here, and tag your tweets with #berkmtg to join in. You do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Just click here.

Council-related Twitter handles:
@MayorTomBates
@LindaMaio (District 1)
Darryl Moore @BerkCouncil (District 2)
@JesseArreguin (District 4)
Laurie Capitelli @berkcap (District 5)
Kriss Worthington @k__worthington (District 7)
Gordon Wozniak @Gordon_Wozniak (District 8)

Learn more about the Berkeley City Council and how to connect with local representatives via the city website.

Has something else on the agenda caught your interest? Let us know in the comments.

Related:
Berkeley council on budget, elections, minimum wage, new emergency response boat (05.20.14)
Berkeley council on minimum wage, Tasers, ballot measures, budget, pedestrian safety (05.06.14)
Berkeley council on redistricting, drones, affordable housing, mini-dorms, more (04.29.14)
Berkeley council on minimum wage increase, mini-dorms, ballot measures, more (04.01.14)
Berkeley council hears crime report, Aquatic Park plans, new Comal project appeal, more (03.25.14)
Berkeley council on Starbucks, redistricting… global warming warning labels? (03.11.14)
Berkeley council on redistricting, garbage fee hike, budget, pensions, false alarms, more (02.25.14)
Berkeley council on parks funding, 2014 elections, youth on drugs, rodent infestation (02.10.14)
Berkeley council on historic overlay, mini-dorms, violence prevention, 2020 Vision (02.28.14)

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