The lowdown: Berkeley council on street behavior, Campanile view, budget, Berkeley Barb, more

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
A rally by advocates for the homeless is planned at 6 p.m. before council’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. Photo: Melati Citrawireja

Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m., June 30, with a closed session on labor negotiations related to the Police Department, and the appointment of a new city manager later this year. Also at 6 p.m., advocates for the homeless are set to rally outside Old City Hall against a proposal related to street behavior coming up later in the night. At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council is set to consider new rates for its sewer service, an appeal related to the view of San Francisco Bay from Campanile Way, the adoption of the biennial budget, and a set of new laws its advocates say could curb problematic street behavior.

The action calendar

STREET BEHAVIOR The biggest item on the agenda is likely to come last, but council members have pledged to stay until a decision is made, we hear from a source at city hall. Council is slated to vote on proposed laws that would make it illegal to solicit anyone at a parking meter, lie in or on top of a city-owned planter, spread out bedding on the sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and urinate or defecate in a public place. Its supporters say the changes are needed to improve the environment downtown for residents, businesses and visitors. Detractors say the new regulations will serve to criminalize the homeless. Read the Berkeleyside story about what is proposed. See the council report itself.

CAMPANILE WAY A group of Berkeley residents who lost a petition to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect the view of the bay from Campanile Way is now appealing that decision. The group, led by former LPC Commissioner Steven Finacom, is concerned that a development at 2211 Harold Way would mar what they argue is a historic view. Read the Berkeleyside story on the appeal. See the related documents under Item 26 of the agenda.

SEWER FEE INCREASE The city is poised to increase sewer rates to close a projected gap in the cost to run its sanitary sewer management system and comply with new federal requirements that set out strict improvements to the system in coming years. One thousand gallons of water currently costs about $4 to use in Berkeley for the average single family home. Beginning July 1, that same amount of water would cost about $6, an increase of 46%. By 2020, 1,000 gallons of water would cost $9.55, a 130% increase over the current rate. Tonight’s council meeting includes a public hearing on the subject. See the Berkeleyside story for more detail.


THE CITY BUDGET Council is set to adopt the biennial budget — for FY 2016 and FY 2017 — tonight. City staff describe it as a “stability budget” — meaning revenues and expenditures are in line with each other. In recent years, to keep the budget balanced during difficult times, the city has deferred maintenance on much of its capital infrastructure, from its parks to its facilities. The city also cut back staffing, eliminating 184 full-time positions in the past five years. No planned permanent staff reductions are expected in the next two years, according to the report, “However, we need to continue to be mindful of the need to address deferred maintenance, as well as remain prepared to address the impacts of future cost increases in areas such as health and pension benefits.” See past Berkeleyside city budget coverage. See the staff report and other related documents under Item 27 on the agenda. (Council is also set to adopt its FY 2016 appropriations ordinance in the amount of $394,508,479.)

The final council meeting of the season is scheduled for July 14. Council then goes on summer recess. See the 6 p.m. special session agenda on the city website.

Other items on the agenda

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS One way the city saves money is through “voluntary time off,” meaning that it closes every second Friday, along with some other days in December. See the information report that proposes the schedule for fiscal year 2015-16. In the current fiscal year, which ends soon, the program is projected to save $364,613.

MONEY FOR COOKING & GARDENING PROGRAM Council is likely to “forward” $250,000 to the Berkeley Unified School District to increase school site programming through the Cooking and Gardening Program in 2015-16. Read past Berkeleyside coverage of the program, and see the staff report.

POST OFFICE PLANS? Council members Linda Maio, Jesse Arreguín and Susan Wengraf have a brief proposal on the consent calendar to “initiate a dialogue with the U.S. Postal Service now that the City is no longer engaged in a legal case regarding the building. It puts our best foot forward to preserve the building and encourage diversifying uses within the building that would also bring in additional revenue to the postal service. The resolution itself delineates the topic items that would be discussed but not at all limiting the discussion to these.” See the resolution, and see past Berkeleyside coverage related to the Berkeley Post Office.

CELEBRATING THE BERKELEY BARB Councilman Kriss Worthington hopes the city will designate Aug. 13 as “Berkeley Barb Celebration Day … to celebrate the revolutionary publication that represented the City’s diverse and progressive community.” The legendary weekly was first published Aug. 13, 1965, by Max Scherr. Read more about the publication’s history in the proposed proclamation.

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. See council coverage on Twitter marked with #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)
Lori Droste @loridroste (District 8)

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

Related:
Council on short-term rentals, ‘granny flats,’ homelessness, community benefits (06.23.15)
Council on short-term rentals, the budget, money for art, library renaming, mental health (06.09.15)
Council on the city budget, nicotine sales restrictions, sewage fee increase, more (05.12.15)
Council on density bonus, housing plans, public budgeting, solar taskforce, water cutbacks (04.28.15)
Council on community benefits, sewer fee increase, vaccines, parking permit expansion (04.07.15)
Council on accessory units, parks budget, limits on frats and mini-dorms, more (03.23.15)

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