The lowdown: Berkeley council on bike sharing, PRC protest report, homeless services, housing

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
Old City Hall. Photo: Melati Citrawireja

It may be another late night for the Berkeley City Council, which has two meetings Tuesday night set to include more than 60 agenda items. At 5:30 p.m., there’s a special session on the city’s economic profile, as well as updates from state Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. For the regular 7:30 p.m. meeting, there are 19 items on the action calendar alone. There’s a public hearing on a new bike sharing program the city hopes to launch, council consideration of the Police Review Commission’s look into last year’s protests, a proposal to add homeless services to what the city already offers, and several council proposals related to living wages and housing. The latest five-year paving plan is also on the agenda, along with a resolution from the Peace and Justice Commission to end drone warfare.

The action calendar

BERKELEY PROTEST REPORT The Police Review Commission has completed its assessment of the Berkeley Police Department’s analysis of its response to Black Lives Matter protests last December where officers used tear gas and other types of force to break up crowds on Telegraph Avenue. The PRC report “presents the PRC’s findings of what occurred on the streets of Berkeley that night, analyzes those events and makes recommendations for improving BPD’s readiness and appropriateness of its response to future such protests.” (See Item 40.)

Berkeley protests, Dec. 8, 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley protests, Dec. 8, 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso

In a response to the PRC from Police Chief Michael Meehan, he asks the city manager to direct the department to work with the PRC “to further develop mutually agreed upon revisions to the Berkeley Police Department’s policies and procedures regarding response to protest activity and to report back to the Council within 180 days for an update.” He notes as well that six of the PRC recommendations concur with those outlined by BPD, and says there is “substantial agreement” with many others. BPD put forward 32 recommendations related to everything from communications, tactical command, situational awareness and dispersal orders to the use of force and accountability. Read complete coverage of the protests.

Berkeley Copwatch has completed its own investigation into the police response to the Berkeley protests that took place Dec. 6, 2014. In a prepared statement released last week, Copwatch said it “has gathered primary documents, videos, pictures and accounts of what happened on that night. We have made these available as part of the investigative timeline and we encourage people to examine them and to draw their own conclusions.” See that report.


A fence erected by the city after a homeless camp in front of Old City Hall packed up Dec. 4, 2015. Photo: Jay Rooney
A fence erected by the city after a homeless camp in front of Old City Hall packed up Dec. 4. Photo: Jay Rooney

HOMELESS SERVICES Councilman Jesse Arreguín is asking the city to put more resources into efforts to address homelessness, including “expanding the city’s Homeless Outreach Team and Mobile Crisis Team, increasing funding for the [police department’s] Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), increasing the number of public restrooms, and providing additional storage spaces and warming centers for the homeless population.” The recommendations came out of a Homeless Task Force community process organized by Arreguín in 2013. According to the report, the city currently has just one full-time position allocated for its Homeless Outreach Team, “which is too low to adequately handle the workload needed.” The city’s Mobile Crisis Team only operates from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and should be  expanded, he says. Read the proposal. In June, council members said they supported many of the ideas butwere not sure how the city would be able to afford them. This item has been postponed repeatedly during prior meetings (Item 42).

[Update, 3:45 p.m. We’re told Councilman Kriss Worthington plans to submit an amendment to the item above that would "declare a homeless shelter crisis” in Berkeley. Worthington writes that other cities have taken this approach to help address the issue. The resolution can have numerous ramifications. For one, it could "allow persons unable to obtain housing to occupy designated public facilities (including facilities leased by the city) during the duration of the crisis.” Writes Worthington, "Multiple major cities that lack sufficient shelter beds for their homeless populations have declared states of emergency. These cities include San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Portland, as well as the State of Hawaii.” See the amendment, which is not yet part of the official agenda.]

BIKE SHARING IN BERKELEY In 2016, the city plans to participate in a regional bike sharing program also set to launch in Emeryville, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. Council is set to vote on the agreement that will allow the program to move forward (Item 38).

HOUSING-RELATED PROPOSALS Council members Laurie Capitelli, Darryl Moore and Kriss Worthington are asking the city to require developers to share information about construction pay as part of the city approval process (Item 41). Worthington has also suggested the creation of an “Affordable Housing Action Plan” that would have the city’s Housing Advisory Commission and Rent Stabilization Board consider 27 housing proposals he hopes will help create more affordable housing in Berkeley (Item 45). Arreguín is also suggesting that the city change its approach to residential demolitions (Item 51), and establish a “small sites program” to encourage community agencies to purchase small buildings for affordable housing (Item 54).

ORDINANCE PREVENTING EVICTIONS Council members Worthington, Arreguín and Max Anderson say Berkeley needs stronger protections in place to prevent evictions “for minor offenses.” According to their item, San Francisco has recently put more protections in place for tenants, and Berkeley should consider taking a similar approach (Item 44).

OTHER AGENDA ITEMS There’s a proposal on the table to restrict parking in the hills due to fire danger (Item 47), and a resolution from the Peace and Justice Commission to show support for “ending drone warfare” (Item 47). Two items (43 and 46) relate to the creation of a pathway to a living wage for city employees. And don’t miss Item 50, the latest five-year paving plan. Those interested in street improvements can read more in recent, related Berkeleyside coverage.

See the full Dec. 15 agenda. The next council meeting is Jan. 19, following the winter recess that begins Dec. 16.

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 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, and tag your tweets with #berkmtg to join in.The Berkeley City Council generally 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.

Related:
Berkeley council on affordable housing, protest report, homeless services, protest march (12.01.15)
Berkeley council on granny flats, Climate Action Plan goals, homeless services (11.03.15)

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