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From the Office of Berkeley City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, District 5
May 2009




In this issue:

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli
Climate Action Plan
Open Town Hall: The Downtown
Update: Refuse Rate Increase
Update: Berkeley Pools
Update: Swine Flu
King Park Open House
Community Meeting on the Budget
Chocolate and Chalk Arts Festival
Open Opera: Concert in the Park
North Berkeley Arts and Events Guide 


A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

During our spring recess, the City Manager warned us that the next few months would be hectic. Reviewing and adopting the budget is a major undertaking, especially during these questionable economic times. But a significant number of initiatives are coming back to the Council for review, public comment and action:

Later this month we will take up again the Climate Action Plan, making important revisions before sending it off for environmental review. The Pools Task Force has submitted a plan, and it too needs review and environmental review before we can consider a bond measure next year. On May 19 the Council will entertain the report from the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Commission and the Planning Commission and look to adopting the zoning changes it proposes. And finally City staff is proposing a rate increase for the collection of garbage, green waste and recycling.

In addition to our work and despite our economic and climate troubles, it is spring, and a wonderful time to be out in the community. I've listed a short selection of free District 5 events and activities below, including the launch of a community effort to fully realize the King Park play area. Take some time to play, make art, sing and enjoy the community and cultural life that makes Berkeley so special.

Regards,


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5
510-981-7150

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Climate Action Plan

Tuesday, April 21 the Climate Action Plan came before the City Council. Alerted by an inflammatory if not misleading article in the SF Chronicle about the extensive cost of home energy audits and retrofits, many constituents either contacted my office or attended the meeting to bring their voices to the table. Most of you are already deeply committed to conservation, recycling and transit alternatives where possible. But the consensus was that there should be no mandated programs that required out of pocket expenditures by property owners.

I heartily agree, as does the entire City Council. Ultimately we did not have time to vote on the plan, but the Council did unanimously support my motion to include the following introduction to the plan:

The implementation and success of the Climate Action Plan (CAP) will require the individual and collective efforts of all the citizens of Berkeley. It will require the development of detailed well-researched recommendations to enable all citizens to make informed decisions in an effort to meet the goals established in the CAP.

Nothing in this plan shall be interpreted as a mandate requiring energy audits and property retrofits. If any such requirements are suggested in the future they must be specifically approved by the Berkeley City Council after complete and thorough review by commissions and community members.

As I expressed to those of you who contacted the office directly, I support the Climate Action Plan as a guide to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. But I believe that Berkeley's actions alone will not be the answer to global warming, but the innovative policies and collaborative community action can and should be a role model for the rest of the country. The situation is urgent and our collective and collaborative will is necessary to effectively face it. There is no doubt in my mind that given information, guidelines and incentives - as we were with emergency preparedness and earthquake retrofit - we as a community can do just that.

The City Council will again consider the Climate Action Plan at its Tuesday 5/5/09 meeting. To see the current draft of the plan, go to Climate Action Plan.

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Open Town Hall: The Downtown

Our venture into the Open Town Hall on-line public forum — "envisioning the Downtown" — was a great success. Over 70 people responded with thoughtful and creative responses: articulate descriptions of a European-style downtown with broad sidewalks, lively activities, clean streets, cultural amenities, beautiful landscaping and either adequate, inexpensive parking or easy ways to get downtown without a car.

I thank all of you who took the time to share your thoughts. Your comments resonated with many residents I met during the recent campaign, who were yearning for an attractive and vibrant center to our city.

Not surprisingly parking was by far the biggest issue. Berkeley has been caught between the green ideology of "if you don't build it they will come by bus or on foot," and the hard economic realities of limited transit to residential neighborhoods and a dwindling number of viable shopping opportunities in the downtown. We need to provide both: adequate parking and easy alternatives to driving.

As I mentioned before, I am optimistic. There are many things on the horizon to give us optimism.

  • The David Brower Center will open in the next few weeks alongside the already fully occupied Oxford Plaza housing. Our new 100-car garage is now open for business below.
  • The Hotel Shattuck Plaza ($30 million!) is nearing completion and should come on line this summer.
  • Final plans for the new University Art Museum are in the works and fund raising is moving along.
  • And the new Arpeggio residential condominium building is 'out of the ground'.
  • Also 'out of the ground' is the Trader Joe's building with its apartments above.
  • We also have the new 'Berkeley Hosts' on the streets in the downtown and along Telegraph. These folks will be more eyes on the streets helping visitors and assisting those in need of social services.

So there is a lot happening right now with other proposals floating around for the future. I have an ongoing commitment to the downtown and your collective visions will guide me in my decision making. I believe the downtown will indeed come back and be a viable neighborhood for the new residents who will live there and a place for the rest of Berkeley to eat, play, and shop.

Comments are available to read by going to Open Town Hall. If you care to contribute, you must register with OTH. (You may post comments anonymously. Registration is to prevent multiple comments form a single source.)

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Update: Refuse Rate Increase

If you are a Berkeley property owner, you will soon be receiving a notice regarding a rate increase for refuse and recycling. I believe it is necessary at this moment to balance the program's budget and improve services that will eventually eliminate/divert the waste that ends up in landfills.

As part of our Zero waste goal, Berkeley has expanded service to include green can pick ups every week and will by the end of the year roll out covered, split carts for recycling. The program is experiencing increased operating expenses while losing income due to the low price for recyclables and a consumer shift to smaller garbage cans.

The monthly rate for a 32-gallon garbage can will be $27.10, an increase of about $4.20 per month. The rate will put Berkeley in the area mean as compared to our neighboring jurisdictions.

The process, as outlined and required by Proposition 218, will be a "majority protest" vote: If more than 50 percent of property owners protest in writing by the end of the Public Hearing on July 7, 2009, the Council may not adopt the rate increase.

For a more detailed explanation of the City's Zero Waste Program, the proposed rate increase, and details of the public process, go to Zero Waste, the Cost of Collections and Frequently Asked Questions

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Update: Berkeley Pools

The Pools Task Force presented the final draft Berkeley Citywide Pools Master Plan to the City Council on Tuesday April 21. The most comprehensive version of the plan includes renovations at the neighborhood pools, a competition-size pool at King and a warm water pool at West Campus. The City Council will continue the discussion later in June when they will adopt a preferred plan and alternatives for the purpose of environmental review (CEQA). In January of 2010, both the City Council and the School Board will be asked to approve the environmental documentation. They will then consider adopting a final plan and putting a bond measure before the voters for the June 2010 general election.

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Update: H1N1 (Swine) Flu

The City Manager's Office has issued a press release on the Swine Flu epidemic. As of May 3, 2009, the City's Health Department has ordered Malcolm X Elementary School closed due to a suspected case in a school parent and probably infection of their children. Classes will be dismissed through May 10 at which time the situation will be reassessed.

Our Public Health Department reminds us that the best prevention of infection is to "Whack" the Flu:

  • W: Wash your hands often
  • H: Home is where you stay when you are sick
  • A: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • C: Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • K: Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing

For more information including the answers to frequently asked questions, go to the City's Public Health Department Website.

For up to date information from Alameda County Department of Public Health, dial 2-1-1.

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King Park Open House

What: Friends of King Park
When: Saturday, May 16th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: King Park, intersection of Hopkins and Colusa

Please join the Friends of King Park for an open house and community meeting. Spend some time to visualize and prioritize proposed enhancements to the park that include installation of a water feature in the tot play area, additional play concepts in the "big" kids area, landscaping, seating, and art. The open house will include a nature play activity center. Bring your family and plan to meet, chat, and play with neighbors and community members who also enjoy King Park.

For more information visit this page on the District 5 website.

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Community Meeting on the Budget

What: North Berkeley Community Meeting on the Budget
When: Monday, June 1, 2009
Where: Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda

City Manager Phil Kamlarz and Budget Director Tracy Vesley will provide an overview of the 2010-2011 City of Berkeley Budget. Councilmembers Capitelli and Wengraf will facilitate questions and answers.

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Eat Chocolate and Make Art in The Gourmet Ghetto

What: 13th Annual Chocolate and Chalk Arts Festival
When: Saturday, May 30, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: The Sidewalks of North Shattuck Avenue

Join artists young and old for a day of colorful creativity and chocolate tasting. Drawing on the sidewalk is free, but registration is required (and chalk is available for purchase). Drawings are judged and prizes awarded the next day.

Chocolate lovers can purchase tickets for tasting at various shops and vendors along North Shattuck.

For more information, go to Chocolate and Chalk Festival.

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Summer Singing Under the Trees

What: Open Opera: Concert in the Park
When: Saturday, May 30, 3:00 pm
Where: Live Oak Park

Open Opera returns to North Berkeley with another production of free opera in the park. Expect a concert performance of favorites by Vivaldi, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Bizet and Strauss.

For more information and announcements of their upcoming opera at John Hinkel Park July 25 & 26, go to: Open Opera.

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North Berkeley Arts and Events Guide

For more information on activities in north Berkeley, check out the North Shattuck Association Arts and Events Guide.

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