Election season is already heating up, with a special session tonight, before the regular Berkeley City Council meeting, on possible ballot measures for November. Then, at the regular Feb. 9 meeting: the latest minimum wage proposal; a zoning permit appeal for a project approved on Blake Street; the paving plan update; a proposal to restrict parking in the Berkeley Hills; several items related to homelessness and housing; and a living wage for city employees. Could be a long night, with 16 items on the action calendar alone. Scroll down to see how to follow live meeting coverage and participate from afar.
Election items at the special meeting and on the action calendar
The 2016 election season is picking up steam in Berkeley, and council is set to discuss possible ballot initiatives for November at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Officials are also planning for a community survey in March (cost: $29,000) to gauge public sentiment. A similar report appears on the action calendar, when council is set to vote to direct staff about how to proceed. According to the report, Berkeleyans pay higher taxes than Oaklanders, but lower taxes than Albany residents (see page 2).
Revenue items under consideration include funding for community centers for seismic upgrades and other work, and other needed Public Works improvements; a business license tax; and money for affordable housing. Berkeley voters are also set to consider a new school funding request from BUSD, and a $12-a-year wetland and levee measure from the San Francisco Bay Area Restoration Authority, the report notes. There’s also a fascinating overview of the existing bonds and parcel taxes in Berkeley.
MINIMUM WAGE Council is set to consider amendments from the city’s Labor Commission to the Berkeley minimum wage ordinance, such as “changes to the minimum wage schedule, including creating a two-tiered schedule for small and large businesses, establishing rules for the distribution of service charges, establishing an exemption for a Youth-in-Training program and removing the exemption for on-call workers.” According to the staff report, council could approve the amendments or send them back for further analysis. (Item 21, a living wage for city employees, may also be of interest to those following wage issues.) See past reporting from Berkeleyside on the minimum wage.
ZAB APPEAL ON BLAKE A proposal to build 82 units on Blake Street called The Roost was approved unanimously by the city’s zoning board in November but appealed by neighbors across the street. The staff recommendation to council is to reject the appeal and uphold the approval.
HOMELESS TASK FORCE Councilman Jesse Arreguín has been pushing for the city to expand homeless services. He’d like the city to add staff to the homeless outreach team, and ensure that mobile crisis team members are available 24/7. See the latest iteration of the proposal, and past Berkeleyside coverage related to homelessness.
OTHER HOUSING-RELATED ITEMS Arreguín has also asked the city to look at its rules regarding demolition (Item 28), and the possibility of directing extra property tax money — 25% of any money greater than $10.5 million — into the city’s Housing Trust Fund (Item 35). He and council members Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson are asking the city to change its rules related to evictions for what they call minor offenses (Item 30). Worthington is still asking the city to loan $1 million to the Housing Trust Fund (Item 32) and to prioritize a comprehensive approach to affordable housing (Item 31). A number of these items have been continued from earlier agendas.
CONTINUED FROM JANUARY Council is set to take up several issues originally scheduled for consideration in January: a proposal to restrict parking in the Berkeley Hills due to fire danger; a Peace & Justice Commission proposal to “end drone warfare“; and the latest five-year paving plan. Council members Linda Maio and Lori Droste have also brought forward what they say will be the final status update on West Berkeley air quality issues they have been looking into.
Berkeleyside often covers council meetings live on Twitter. Others sometimes do the same and the discussion can get spirited. Follow along in real-time, and tag tweets with #berkmtg to join in. The Berkeley City Council meets 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. 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)
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