At tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting, city officials have pledged to address several items related to protests in Berkeley in December, and have said those items will be heard early enough in the agenda to ensure accessibility for all who wish to weigh in. Leading up to the meeting, UC Berkeley students have organized a march and rally set for 5:30 p.m. at Oxford and Center streets downtown. Participants will march to Old City Hall and plan to testify before council.
There are also two special meetings, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. One will focus on the city’s commercial waste collection services, and whether the city should change providers next year. At the other, at 6:30 p.m., council will consider whether to allow a Southside neighborhood residential project — which has been contested by neighbors and rejected by the zoning board — to move forward. Council discussed the project, which spans two lots on Blake Street and Dwight Way, at length in January, and scheduled a decision for tonight, Feb. 10.
What’s on the action calendar?
After being continued several times, council will kick off the action calendar with a discussion about police body cameras and the Berkeley protests.
Several council members have asked the city to implement a new policy that would see police officers wearing video cameras, and mounting them in patrol cars. Darryl Moore, Jesse Arreguín and Linda Maio have asked for a report from the city manager within three months, and would like officers to be using the cameras within six months. According to a report from Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, it would cost $90,000 to $135,000 to outfit officers with cameras, as well as an estimated $45,000 in annual storage fees related to the footage. (Additional potential costs for replacement equipment and staffing were noted but not tabulated.) The chief said that, all told, the time spent by officers dealing with the footage would amount to about five full-time positions over the course of a year. See the Police Review Commission’s report and recommendation.
As previously reported on Berkeleyside, Councilman Jesse Arreguín has placed three items on the agenda related to policing. (These items were carried over from January.)
- The first item is a proposed motion for council to support national demands from the group “Ferguson Action”; push for changes in the Alameda County district attorney’s office related to the investigations of in-custody deaths; and to “Issue a statement of concern and support for people of color and their families who have been affected by injury or death by law enforcement agencies.”
- The second item suggests changes to the Berkeley Police Department’s General Orders related to crowd control, mutual aid and use of force.
- In the third, Arreguín calls for an independent investigation into the police response Dec. 6, when crowds were teargassed by officers, struck with police batons and hit by “less-lethal” police projectiles on Telegraph Avenue. Arreguín and Councilman Kriss Worthington previously called publicly for an investigation to be launched, but this is the first time council will consider that option.
(The police department is working on its own post-incident report about the protests, which it expects to complete within the next few months. Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the protests.)
Also on the agenda, council is set to “discuss and prioritize” ideas officials reflected on during a worksession in January on the Berkeley protests. That session was largely a debrief from a lengthy “town hall” meeting council organized Jan. 17. Body cameras, more police involvement in the community, an additional resource officer at B-Tech, and support for recommendations from the city’s Peace & Justice Commission were among 28 ideas council is set to consider.
As for the rest of the agenda, council will consider whether to ban the planting of certain trees in the city; the possible creation of a Disaster Council (Item 17) to help deal with emergencies; and whether to increase requirements related to sustainable food utensils at local businesses (Item 18).
On the consent calendar and otherwise
Council is scheduled to approve on its consent calendar the creation of gender-neutral restrooms to limit discrimination against transgender community members; support for the development of financial services by the U.S. Postal Service; and the naming of the South Berkeley Library for Tarea Hall Pitman, a community leader in Berkeley for many years.
The meeting will adjourn in honor of Rita Bowes Perry and Dan Wall, who died in January.
Has something else on the agenda caught your interest? Let us know in the comments.
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)
Lori Droste @loridroste (District 8)
Learn more about the Berkeley City Council and how to connect with local representatives via the city website.
The lowdown: Council on energy ordinance, protests, police cameras, goBerkeley, more (01.27.15)
The lowdown: Council on Berkeley protests and police relations, zoning board appeals (01.13.15)
‘Double header’ Berkeley council meetings set for Tuesday, 2 protests also planned (12.15.14)
Do you rely on Berkeleyside for your local news? You can support independent local journalism bybecoming a Berkeleyside member. You can choose either a monthly payment or a one-time donation.