The Berkeley City Council is poised to set up new zoning standards in Civic Center. Image: City of Berkeley
The Berkeley City Council is poised to set up stricter zoning standards in Civic Center. (Click for the staff report.) Image: City of Berkeley

The Berkeley City Council is hitting the ground running Tuesday night, Sept. 9, with its first meeting since a summer recess that began in early July. There are 49 items on the consent calendar, and another 14 on the action calendar, not to mention eight information reports. On the action calendar, council is set to tackle the regulation of electronic smoking devices, the Civic Center historic district overlay, the idea of safety stickers on cellphones, the possible expansion of its residential parking permit program and much more.

The action calendar

E-CIGARETTE REGULATION The first new item on the action agenda is the preliminary reading of a law to regulate electronic smoking devices in Berkeley. The new law would prohibit the use of those devices everywhere smoking is currently prohibited in Berkeley, with some exceptions “for the electronic delivery of medical cannabis.” See the staff report (Item 59).

HISTORIC CIVIC CENTER OVERLAY Also on first reading, council is set to adopt new zoning rules, called an “overlay,” to protect “the physical characteristics of buildings and the civic nature of the Civic Center.” According to documents in the staff report, the overlay would limit “development capacity” on the parcels, and “seeks to preserve civic/public uses of historic buildings, such as the USPS Post Office building, Old City Hall, and open space in the Civic Center area.” It would limit new residential uses and the majority of private commercial uses. The overlay is also part of Measure R, which will come before voters in November, but council already had this ordinance in the works and appears to be moving forward with it. See the staff report (Item 60).

CELLPHONE SAFETY STICKERS Council members Jesse Arreguín Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson have put forward an item to ask the city to begin to investigate the creation of an ordinance to require cellphone vendors “to place a sticker on cellphone boxes … warning consumers of the risk of brain cancer when using cellphones.” They have asked the city manager to refer the item to the Community Health Commission. See the staff report (Item 57).

MORE PARKING PERMIT AREAS The city is looking at making parking permits the norm in more neighborhoods, including West Berkeley, to limit the impact visiting drivers have, especially around commercial areas near residential zones. The city currently has 14 permit zones, but staff report that residents in some areas want more. According to the staff report, the program already runs at a deficit — fees do not fully cover its costs — and any expansion of the program would exacerbate this problem and require additional resources. See the staff report (Item 50).

WORTHINGTON REFERRALS Councilman Kriss Worthington has a slew of other action items on the agenda as well, from the regulation of ride-sharing companies and the opposition to two international trade agreements to a proposal to protect community members from illegal construction and a referral (with Councilman Gordon Wozniak) asking the city to investigate a better community-wide, neighborhood-specific electronic notification system.

There are many other items on the Sept. 9 agenda. See them online. The next upcoming council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16, with a special session on the mid-year crime report at 5:30 p.m. followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m.

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. Follow council coverage on Twitter via hashtag #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:
@LindaMaio (District 1)
Darryl Moore @BerkCouncil (District 2)
@JesseArreguin (District 4)
Laurie Capitelli @berkcap (District 5)
Kriss Worthington @k__worthington (District 7)
Gordon Wozniak @Gordon_Wozniak (District 8)

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

Has something else on the agenda caught your interest? Let us know in the comments.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...