The lowdown: Berkeley council on new group living rules, medical cannabis, burying utility wires, more

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
Council meets, for the time being at least, at Old City Hall. Photo: Melati Citrawireja

Get ready: The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday nights for the next three weeks running. Tonight, Sept. 29, begins with a special session at 5:30 p.m. focused on new regulations for mini-dorms and other group living accommodations. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. Included on the action calendar: a proposal to make a plan to put Berkeley’s utility wires underground; an update on the city’s selection process for its fourth medical cannabis dispensary; and an amendment to the city’s accessory dwelling unit law to remove parking requirements near some transit lines.

The special session

REGULATIONS FOR GROUP LIVING At 5:30 p.m., council will look at an updated proposal related to the regulation of mini-dorms and group living accommodations that could reduce noise complaints and friction among neighbors. City staff has been meeting with various stakeholders since March to flesh out and revise the proposal. Community members reviewed a previous iteration of the plan in May in an effort to weigh in on plans they believe will limit “noisy and drunken parties.” The proposal has since been updated. Council will review the update tonight and give feedback to staff.

The action calendar

BURYING UTILITY WIRES Council will consider a proposal to develop a plan to put utility wires in Berkeley underground, as well as an alternate proposal to ask the city manager to come back later this fall with more detailed financial information about what that would cost. See Item 28 for details.

MEDICAL CANNABIS Council will review the selection process to date related to Berkeley’s fourth medical cannabis dispensary, and may adopt a resolution to change the process to consider additional applications already deemed by the city to be incomplete. See the staff report, as well as Berkeleyside’s extensive coverage of the medical cannabis issue.


ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS Council voted in March in favor of relaxing the rules for accessory units, also known as “granny flats,” to allow for increased density in Berkeley. Tuesday night, council is set to adopt slightly revised rules that “improve readability and correct a technical error.” Three council members — Lori Droste, Darryl Moore and Kriss Worthington — have also put forward a separate proposal to remove the parking requirement for properties within one-quarter mile of a rapid bus transit stop, or two transit lines. The ordinance does not currently require a parking spot for properties within a quarter-mile of a BART station.

Other issues

MENTAL ILLNESS Council will also consider, on the action calendar, whether to sign on in support of the county’s approach to “addressing the needs of persons with serious mental illness not currently engaged in mental health treatment.” See Item 27 for more detail. A local umbrella group for crime-prevention efforts, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee (BSNC), has written a letter to council urging it not to support the county effort, other than to promote better data-sharing. BSNC notes that council voted previously to encourage Alameda County to move ahead with AB 1421, also known as Laura’s Law, adding, “We urge you not to back away from that approach with alternatives that seem to simply offer only keeping the status quo.” Read a Berkeleyside report about the some of the impacts of mental illness in Berkeley.

$1M LOAN TO HOUSING TRUST FUND Council members Worthington and Max Anderson have asked the city to loan $1 million to its Housing Trust Fund to build more affordable housing in Berkeley. They made a similar request in April, but it did not pan out. The item is on the action calendar.

ANIMAL-FRIENDLY MENU AT ANIMAL SHELTER EVENTS? Worthington has asked the city manager to “examine the feasibility of creating an animal friendly menu policy for the Berkeley Animal Care Shelter at … sponsored events.” According to the item, two petitions have been created in favor of the proposal. Read more.

INFORMATION CALENDAR Those still wanting to know more about city services and efforts can read the items in the information reports section. These include a look at the city’s public health priorities, as well as proposed improvements on University Avenue. Council will not vote on either item Tuesday night, but is set to receive the reports for potential future consideration.

See the full agenda. Council meets next Oct. 6. See the full 2015 meeting schedule. Be sure to check the agenda page to find out if a special worksession will precede the regular meeting. Communications related to council meetings can be found through the city’s Records Online portal.  

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.

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.The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday nights at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The special session starts at 5:30 p.m. and the regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. Council agendas are available online here. Watch the meetings online.


You do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Just click here.

Council-related Twitter handles:
@MayorTomBates (Mayor)
@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 minimum wage, crime report, tobacco sales limits, more (09.15.15)
Council on building safety, community benefits, Dana Street conversion, more (07.14.15)
Berkeley council on street behavior, Campanile view, budget, Berkeley Barb, more (06.30.15)
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)

If you like the variety of news on Berkeleyside, you will like the variety of voices we present at Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas. Tickets are on sale for the festival in downtown Berkeley on Oct. 16-17. Click here to see the list of speakers.