The lowdown: Berkeley council on street paving, gas pump labels, cellphone warnings, Measure D panel, more

The Adeline Street planning project is picking up steam. Image: Google maps
Despite the postponement of a meeting about it earlier this month, the Adeline Street planning project is picking up steam. Image: Google maps

Street paving plans, permit parking expansion, climate change labels on gas pumps and health warnings from cellphone vendors: It’s all scheduled to come up on the action calendar Tuesday night before the Berkeley City Council. The consent calendar also includes many highlights, from plans to create the Measure D panel of experts to the selection of a consultant to oversee the Adeline corridor planning grant, money for security cameras by Strawberry Creek Park, plans by the Berkeley Police Department to secure a bulletproof van, and more. Scroll down to learn about the highlights of this week’s council agenda. Not all items are included, so be sure to check the full agenda if you want to learn more.

The action calendar

STREET PAVING, GREEN ELEMENTS Council has two related action items (under Item 39) related to street paving: the adoption of the latest five-year street paving plan, and a recommendation from the Community Environmental Advisory Commission to require “one or more green infrastructure elements in every block of street that receives a paving or reconstruction treatment” beginning in 2016. See the latest paving plan schedule, hot off the presses. According to the staff report, “17.6 miles of streets will be improved in FY 2016, which is about 4 times the historical level. In addition, there are now 3 projects of green infrastructure included in the FY 2016 plan.” Two of those proposed projects in 2015-16 include permeable pavers at the northwest bus stop at Shattuck and University avenues, and permeable pavers on Hopkins Street uphill from Rose Street, as well as bio-swales where concrete traffic dividers are located in that area.

NEW PERMIT PARKING STREETS Council is set to consider whether to add small stretches of four streets to its residential permit parking program. Those include the north side of Rose Street between Bonita Avenue and Milvia Street; the east side of College Avenue between Webster and Prince streets; Claremont Avenue between Eton Avenue and the Oakland city limit; and Alcatraz Avenue between College and Claremont. From the staff report: The expansion would cost just $3,341, a majority of residents on the affected sides of those blocks signed an opt-in petition, and at least 75% of available curb spaces were found to be occupied during peak times. Staff wrote that adding these streets to the existing program won’t have a major impact on resources, but will likely “result in slightly diminished enforcement for all existing permit areas.” Read the staff report. You can also read more about the city’s broader plan to consider an increase in permit parking in past Berkeleyside coverage.

CLIMATE CHANGE LABELS ON GAS PUMPS The city is looking at drafting a new law to require climate change labels on gas pumps. Council will consider two related reports from the Berkeley Energy and Community Environmental Advisory commissions. Both groups have recommended that the city draft the new law. According to a report by city staffer Neal De Snoo, secretary to the former advisory body, the program is estimated to cost “less than $20,000 in the first year and considerably less thereafter and would be limited to staff time to develop the ordinance, procure and distribute the labels, monitor compliance, and enforce the ordinance, as well as the non-personnel costs for the design, production and mailing of the labels.” However, according to his report, the Western States Petroleum Association has threatened to file a lawsuit challenging the ordinance, which would lead to more costs in existing staff time or due to the hiring of outside attorneys to handle the case.


CELLPHONE WARNING MATERIALS Two council members — Max Anderson and Kriss Worthington — would like the city manager to require cellphone vendors to hand out “a factual, informational handout” to customers to warn them about potential health impacts related to cellphone RF emissions. According to their report on the request, Lawrence Lessig — attorney, Harvard Law professor and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics — has offered to provide legal advice to the city and defend the proposed ordinance for free.

CENTRALIZED TRANSITION-AGE YOUTH HOMELESS SERVICES Council will consider whether the city should centralize its services for transition-age youth (18-25) who are homeless. The Homeless Commission has asked council to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for that effort in December. Transitional housing is not included in the recommendation. According to the commission, a centralized approach would be more efficient for the city. The panel says the city could reallocate its existing budget — about $300,000, excluding housing — for the program, rather than add new funds. It has recommended that a “highly skilled” mental health counselor, as well as a similarly experienced “job developer,” would be key salaried positions to fund. Read more in the report. The city is already working on something similar for adult homeless services; read about that “Housing Crisis Resolution Center” in past Berkeleyside coverage. In a related staff report, Jane Micallef, director of the city’s Health, Housing & Community Services Department, has asked that the centralized approach to transition-age youth services be incorporated into the proposed Housing Crisis Resolution Center. From her report: Based on the most available data, youth ages 18 to 24 comprise about 10% of the homeless population in Alameda County; as of 2009, about 5% of the homeless population in Berkeley fell into that age bracket.

Consent calendar, information reports, special session

BUILDING ENERGY SAVING ORDINANCE Happening at 6 p.m., there’s a special session (no action planned) for council members and members of the public who want to learn about a new Berkeley law, a key part of the city’s Climate Action Plan, aimed to increase sustainability for local buildings. (Council is set to consider the law during its regular meeting: Item 38 on the action calendar.) According to the staff report from planning director Eric Angstadt, the goal of the law is to motivate property owners to use energy-efficiency technologies, increase their awareness about financial incentives, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new law — set to go into effect for large buildings beginning in 2016 — will replace two existing conservation ordinances, which are out of date. Read more.

MEASURE D (“SODA TAX”) PANEL From council members Laurie Capitelli and Linda Maio, council is set to discuss the “panel of experts” promised to voters who approved a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages. Under their proposal, a three-person council subcommittee would create the application for those who wish to serve on the panel and set the deadline for the application process.

SECURITY CAMERAS AT BYA? Councilman Darryl Moore has a proposal to refer $3,000 to the 2015-16 budget process to pay for six security cameras outside Berkeley Youth Alternatives, next to Strawberry Creek Park in West Berkeley. From his report: “BYA has had a history of dealing with graffiti and other public safety concerns in the immediate vicinity of their site. Installing security cameras around their property would help to discourage graffiti and other illicit activity … and would help to catch people perpetrating crimes.” Moore told Berkeleyside earlier this year that the city should consider surveillance cameras outside BYA after a spate of violence and recurrent graffiti in the area.

BULLETPROOF VAN FOR BERKELEY POLICE The Berkeley Police Department is seeking approval to get a bulletproof van for its tactical unit to use when getting to and from potentially dangerous calls. From Chief Michael Meehan’s report: “Despite its lack of ballistic protection, the existing van is used to respond to search warrant services involving potentially armed subjects, arrest warrants of homicide and other potentially violent crime suspects and as an available resource when responding to barricaded subjects armed with firearms.” BPD would like to apply for a grant to cover the cost of the van, but needs council permission. Also from the report, the goal is not to weaponize the van: “The proposed van is not equipped with a gun turret or any gun-mounting equipment.”

BIG DONATION TO SENIOR CENTER Two sisters who attended the South Berkeley Senior Center for years have made a large posthumous donation to the center to provide for recreational trips for elders. The city is set to receive a donation of more than $30,000 from a trust fund belonging to Leona Brown and Muriel Minnis, both now deceased. Minnis, who died at age 98 in May, was the beneficiary of a trust set up by Brown before her death. According to the city, the center hosts dozens of trips each year that are attended by hundreds of seniors. The program focuses on events that are free or affordable, and the donation will fund it for “multiple years,” according to the city.


CONTRACT FOR ADELINE PLANNING PROJECT The city is set to move forward, with council approval, with the $750,000 Adeline planning grant it was awarded earlier this year. The city has selected a Berkeley-based firm called MIG to oversee that process from January 2015 through June 2017. According to a staff report, the city chose MIG because of its “extensive experience with PDA [Priority Development Areas] and transit-oriented planning processes in the Bay Area and nationally. The consultant team brings experience designing livable streets, community and stakeholder engagement, and specific plan preparation.” The city received six proposals and interviewed four applicants. As part of its receipt of the grant — from the ABAG/MTC — the city must pony up about $100,000, which can be used to cover staff costs. According to a second staff report, the city plans to assign a planner to the effort for three years to fulfill its obligation. Read more about the Adeline corridor in past Berkeleyside coverage.

RETAIL FACELIFT AT OAKS THEATRE PROPERTY The Landmarks Preservation Commission has given the green light to The Bay Architects for a restoration planned on Solano Avenue for five retail storefronts around the Oaks Theatre.

CITY BUDGET UPDATES Those interested in city finance have two reports to check out this week, including the 2014 year-end review, which also looks at the first quarter of 2015. The city spent a couple million dollars more than planned, but also earned about $4.4 million more than it had projected for the calendar year. Most of that surplus was due to property transfer taxes: The city initially budgeted $10 million, but brought in $14 million. The city is projecting an $800,000 increase to its already steep CalPERS payouts in the coming fiscal year. Staff plans to return to council on Feb. 24, 2015, with the mid-year budget update. Still want more? There’s an amendment to the current year’s budget to increase its appropriations.

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

Meeting info

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.

Related:
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Council on homelessness, ride-sharing, minimum wage, solar bins, more (09.29.14)
Council on crime, homeless youth, Telegraph Channing merchants, more (09.15.14)
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Council on South Berkeley pizza plans, e-cigarettes, water shortage, more (07.08.14)
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Council on ballot measures, downtown post office, FY2015 budget (06.24.14)

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