The Berkeley City Council is packing up and moving its meetings.
Tonight will be one of the last times that council convenes at Old City Hall, at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way – at least for a few months.
Starting March 15, council will meet in the Berkeley Unified School District boardroom at 1231 Addison St. behind its HQ at 2020 Bonar St. It is part of a two-and-a-half-month pilot program through May 31 to see if the school headquarters is an appropriate place to convene.
The City Council has been looking for a new meeting space since 2011 because its current space, in the Maudelle Shirek Building, is dilapidated, too small for large crowds, and not seismically safe. In addition, there aren’t many toilets and the elevator doesn’t always work, restricting access to the second-floor chambers.
In recent months, when council has been considering items that are controversial and expected to draw a large crowd, the meetings have been held in the auditorium at Longfellow Middle School. But the auditorium does not have a dais or built-in audio and visual systems, which means members of staff have to set up chairs, tables and a podium before each meeting and take the items down afterwards. The acoustics are not good, either.
The BUSD building can hold around 240 people, twice what the current meeting room holds. It also has large parking lot, is not far from North Berkeley BART and is close to University Avenue, which is well served by transit.
To get to the board room from University Avenue, enter at 1222 University Ave. and come through the courtyard to the meeting room, according to a city press release. From the parking lot on Browning Street, enter the board room at 1231 Addison St.
The Zoning Adjustments Board will continue to meet in Old City Hall.
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