The Lowdown: Berkeley council on ballot measures, downtown post office, FY2015 budget

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Downtown Berkeley, May 2014, looking south over Hotel Shattuck Plaza. The council will consider an initiative to amend downtown zoning. Photo: Emilie Raguso

On June 24, the Berkeley City Council is considering a raft of November ballot measures, discussing a preservation covenant for the Main Berkeley Post Office, and voting on adoption of the fiscal year 2015 budget.

On the action calendar

The council has spent several meetings debating how to fund much-needed maintenance for Berkeley’s parks. Polling commissioned by the City Council indicated that the two-thirds vote required for bond measures would be a difficult hurdle for a parks proposal. But at the May 20 meeting, the council agreed to move forward with a 16% hike in the parks special tax and create a Mello-Roos district for continued funding of parks operations. The council is scheduled to vote to place both measures on the ballot at tonight’s meeting. There will be a public hearing on the Mello-Roos district. 

The long saga of Berkeley’s redistricting reaches an important staging post with tonight’s council’s vote to place the detailed redistricting ordinance on November’s ballot. The ordinance was adopted by the council last December, but faced challenges from a redistricting petition drive and a court case.

An initiative to amend downtown zoning and create a civic center historic district overlay zone will also be considered. The downtown initiative would, among other provisions, eliminate streamlined permit procedures, reduce heights, require higher LEED standards, and establish a zoning overlay around the Civic Center limiting both heights and allowable uses. The council is required by Article XIII of the City Charter to either adopt the provisions of the ballot measure without alteration or place it on the November ballot. Before that vote, the council will receive a so-called 9212 analysis of the downtown initiative (named after the relevant section of the California Elections Code) from city staff, looking at the impacts of the initiative.


Four other initiatives being considered for the November ballot are an advisory measure on a Constitutional amendment abolishing the legal concept that corporations are persons entitled to constitutional rights; an amendment to the City Charter on recall of elected officers; an amendment to the charter establishing a citizen’s redistricting commission; and an advisory measure urging adoption of local and federal laws allowing workers to request part-time employment.

Other than the ballot measures, the council will consider the United States Postal Service’s revised draft preservation covenant for Berkeley’s Main Post Office. The covenant is intended to preserve both external and internal features of the historic building, whatever its future use. And the council will vote to adopt the fiscal year 2015 budget, which was presented at the May 6 council meeting. The budget would see General Fund expenditures of $154.4 million and total city expenditures from all funds of $375.7 million.

Finally, the council will consider a Housing Advisory Commission proposal to impose fees when multifamily properties are destroyed due to the fault of the property owner.

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:
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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)

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