Photo by Melati Citrawireja
They’re back! City Council meetings return to Old City Hall tonight, after three months at the Berkeley Unified school board chamber. Photo by Melati Citrawireja

After three months at the Berkeley Unified school board chambers, Berkeley City Council is returning to the seismically unsafe, dilapidated (but externally photogenic) Old City Hall. Before the regular Berkeley City Council meeting at 7 p.m. tonight, there is a brief special meeting of the Joint Powers Financing Authority at 6:45 p.m. to approve the issuance of up to $40 million in parking revenue bonds to finance the new Center Street garage. Then, at the regular 7 p.m. meeting, items include two rival minimum wage/sick leave ballot measures, support for the Berkeley Housing Authority, a small business development package, and a ballot measure to allow 16-year-olds to vote in school board elections. Scroll down to see how to follow live meeting coverage and participate from afar. 

Action calendar

MINIMUM WAGE AND SICK LEAVE Dueling ballot measures are likely to be the main focus of the meeting. A citizens’ initiative has already qualified for the ballot, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour next year, followed by annual raises of CPI plus 3% until it reaches $16.37 per hour (in 2016 dollars). After that, the minimum wage would be increased by CPI each year. Additionally, the citizens’ initiative would require 72 hours of paid sick leave each year. A rival city measure would raise the minimum wage to $13.25 next year, taking it to $15 in 2019. After that, it would be increased by CPI each year. The city measure would mandate 48 hours of sick leave each year.

SUPPORT FOR BERKELEY HOUSING AUTHORITY The Housing Advisory Commission proposes a number of actions to encourage the use of more Section 8 housing vouchers in Berkeley, maintain diversity, and address rising rental costs. The ideas include using funds from the Security Deposit Loan Fund and Housing Trust Fund to support Project Move-Up, which helps previously homeless individuals living in single room occupancy units and family’s in the city’s Shelter Plus Care Program into private market housing, with a Section 8 voucher. The HAC also recommends a $50,000 grant to help owner retention in the Section 8 program, as well as actions to encourage more housing units for extremely low-income households, and a per voucher administration fee to support the Housing Authority. The City Manager has responded to the HAC’s recommendations arguing for a number of changes, as well as further study by city staff of both the financial implications and the overall strategy.

LPC APPEAL 2556 TELEGRAPH The City Council will consider whether to dismiss the appeal and uphold the decision of the Landmarks Preservation Commission denying landmark designation for The Village property at 2556 Telegraph Ave. Developers plan to replace the two-story commercial building with a seven-story mixed use project.

LIVING WAGE The City Council agreed last September that the City Manager should create a pathway for all city employees to earn a living wage within one year. When the item was passed, the living wage was defined as $16.37 an hour (including medical benefits). The City Manager has now completed its analysis of the eight unrepresented classifications currently below the living wage level. The Council will consider whether to develop the plan to raise those eight classifications to living wage.

SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Councilman Jesse Arreguín’s item proposes the creation of a Small Business Office charged with implementing a package of policies to support new and existing small businesses. They would include coordinating the intake of permitting documents to streamline the startup process and improve efficiency; providing business counseling; potentially developing a Small Business Week; and amendments to reduce cost permitting barriers for new businesses.

The consent calendar includes approving the $32 million construction contract for the new Center Street Garage, recommendations for programs funded by the city soda tax, investigating workforce housing for Berkeley teachers and school staff, and examining limited use of eminent domain on vacant and blighted properties.

Meeting details

Follow live tweets of the Berkeley 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. 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 (not at the school district headquarters). The special session starts at 6:45 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 agendas are available online. Watch the meetings online.

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.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...