The lowdown: Berkeley council on Tasers, affordable housing, cellphone warning, Tuolumne Camp

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The Berkeley City Council meets tonight, Oct. 6, beginning with a special session at 5:30 p.m. focused on Tasers, which Berkeley police have been saying they should be able to carry. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m., with only 13 items on the agenda. On the action calendar: A package from Councilwoman Lori Droste related to making it easier to build affordable housing, and reduce parking requirements for those projects; a proposal from Councilman Kriss Worthington asking the city to prioritize a plan to overhaul the city’s transfer station into a “state of the art Zero Waste facility”; and the first of two votes to enact the city’s new cellphone warning ordinance.

Special session

TASER REPORT Council is set to discuss a report Tuesday evening focused on the use of Tasers by law enforcement officers, and whether that might one day be appropriate in Berkeley. Officials asked the city manager to look into the issue last year, which resulted in an agreement with the Stanford Criminal Justice Center to study it at no cost. Two Stanford authors began work in January, and completed their report in June. As for possible future action, there’s no specific recommendation in the report, which notes that council will determine what happens next. Read more on Berkeleyside.

Action calendar

GREEN AFFORDABLE HOUSING PACKAGE This proposal from Councilwoman Droste asks the city manager and the Planning Commission to consider two new policies “as ways to reduce barriers for the creation of affordable housing.” The first would “prioritize housing over parking” and is aimed at reducing parking requirements in new developments that are near transit, include car-share spots or meet other criteria. The second piece of the package would streamline the city’s review process for new developments, “particularly for permanently affordable housing and smaller residential housing proposals.” Read the proposal, and past Berkeleyside coverage related to affordable housing and development.

REDESIGN THE BERKELEY TRANSFER STATION Councilman Worthington says it’s time for the city to move ahead with plans to overhaul its transfer station — where waste and recycling are sorted — to create “a State of the Art Zero Waste Facility.” Worthington cites the city’s Climate Action Plan, approved in 2009, which lists the project to rebuild the facility as a goal that would “increase Berkeley’s capacity to retrieve a higher percentage of recyclable materials.” He describes the fiscal implications as “minimal.” Read the proposal, and read past Berkeleyside coverage related to recycling and trash services.


CELLPHONE WARNING Council is set to vote to adopt a slightly revised version of its cellphone warning law, after being ordered by a federal judge to remove a reference to child safety. Council voted in May to adopt the law, which was then challenged in court by CTIA – The Wireless Association. The ordinance requires cellphone vendors to hand out or display a warning notice to customers related to the safe distance between cellphones and the body. Read all about the background of the cellphone law on Berkeleyside, and see the Oct. 6 staff report.

RETAIL INCENTIVES: NOT NOW The city has been considering whether it needs to create a policy to reduce vacant storefronts around town. But, according to Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development, vacancy rates in at least two key commercial areas have declined since last year According to the staff report, “The vacancy rate in the Telegraph district fell from approximately 12.7% in fall of 2014 to approximately 9.5% in spring 2015. During the same period, the vacancy rate in the Downtown fell from approximately 11.2% to approximately 8.2%.” Due to what staff believes is a strengthening retail market, along with planned new development in both areas, staff says the city does not need to create retail incentives at this time to make Berkeley properties more attractive. Writes staff: “While such tools can assist retail attraction efforts during periods when the economy is weak, it is unlikely that they would have a significant effect at a time like today when the market is strong.” Read the staff report.

Consent calendar

TUOLUMNE CAMP Of interest on the consent calendar, council is set to authorize the filing of a permit with the U.S. Forest Service to allow Tuolumne Camp to operate in its current location for 30 years. The camp burnt down in the Rim Fire in 2013, and efforts are underway to rebuild it by 2018. Tonight’s vote also sets the groundwork to move ahead with a master plan development process related to the reconstruction of the much-loved, popular family camp. Read the staff report, as well as extensive Berkeleyside coverage related to the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp

See the full agenda. Council meets next Oct. 13. 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 here.

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.

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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.