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In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
The Downtown Area Plan
Getting on the Bus
Open Town Hall: Traffic Bumps
Come Together at the Stroll
It's Your Library: Rebuilding the North Branch
Save the Date: What's a Little Ivy Between Friends
Stimulate Energy Savings: It Starts at Home



A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

The most breathtaking show of the summer has been the Labor Day transition of the Bay Bridge. It was an almost seamless process, amazingly documented by Caltrans. While tracking the progress, I couldn't help but think back to that fateful day in 1989 when Loma Prieta rattled the Bay Area, shutting down the Bay Bridge for significantly longer than just a three day holiday weekend.

It's been twenty years. Even then the predictions of the next quake, anticipated to be most likely on the Hayward fault, were in the "next thirty years" range. Twenty years passing is sobering in context, and provides a significant anniversary to commemorate the event by preparing for the next one. And considering that September is Disaster Preparation Month, there is no time like the present to organize and prepare with your neighbors. If you are already organized, there are extended resources and trainings available for you to maintain that commitment.

The first bit of good news is that your support of last fall's Measure GG infused added resources into the City's Office of Emergency Services. There are already additional CERT classes (they fill up quickly so don't procrastinate) and plans to place more emergency caches in the community. OES plans to announce the application process soon.

The other exciting community development is the grassroots, all-volunteer Berkeley Disaster Prep Neighborhood Network. In their own words, "The mission of the BDPNNetwork is to assist the neighborhoods of Berkeley to prepare to be effective responders to major disasters by developing their skills, resources, and organized response plans." Through regular meetings, an e-mail list-serve and occasional drills, the members of the network provide information, examples and mentoring for neighborhoods just getting started and for already well-organized neighborhood groups. For more information, contact the BDPNN at lynn@millerzummo.com or sign up at their list-serve.

The first and most important step in any disaster planning, more important than the tools and equipment stashed for emergencies, is to establish relationships with your neighbors and to prepare with them. Estimates by professionals tell us that we should expect to take responsibility for ourselves and those closest to us, without government assistance, for up to a week. It will be the skills, creativity and hard work of our immediate neighbors that will make the difference in how we fare as a larger community.

Though District 5 is already arguably one of the most "prepared" districts in the City, we mustn't be complacent. I challenge each and every one of you in the next month, to at least make an inquiry into personal preparedness (www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/getready lists extended resources about personal and community preparedness, and links to state and national resources) or to bring your neighbors together to share contact information. If you are ready to prepare, contact either the Office of Emergency Services list OES website or the Berkeley Disaster Prep Neighborhood Network for next steps. Or call my office and we'll put you in touch with someone who knows the answers.

And when you drive over the new section of the Bay Bridge, remember twenty years can go by in a flash.

Sincerely,


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

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The Downtown Area Plan

The Downtown Area Plan, approved by the City Council 7 to 2 in July, has been successfully stopped by opponents through a referendum. Now, the City Council has several options:
     1. Rescind the Downtown Area Plan entirely.
     2. Rescind the Downtown Area Plan and adopt a modified plan.
     3. Put the existing Downtown Area Plan on the ballot in June 2010.

Read Councilmember Capitelli's comments on the status of the plan.

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Getting on the Bus

AC Transit has recently announced a series of service cuts — route eliminations and reduction in frequencies — proposed to offset deep deficits in their budget. From our perspective, their priority is to preserve the north-south trunk lines, and eliminate or reduce the frequency of the less used cross-town neighborhood lines.

Specifically in District 5:

Line 7 would see reduced frequency to every 40 mins. during the commute period and every 60 minutes other times.

Lines 19 and 79 would be discontinued, but combined into new line 25 that would provide a loop between Downtown Berkeley BART and El Cerrito BART. The new 25 would run every 30 minutes on weekdays with no service on weekends.

Line 67 would be discontinued.

Line 65 would see reduced frequency.

Go to AC Transit Scheduling for a complete explanation of all route and frequency changes.

"The proposed Service Adjustments Plan would reduce annual service hours by about 15 percent. A reduction of this scale requires evaluation of each bus line in terms of ridership, operational efficiency, and importance in the overall East Bay transportation system. Staff has used every available source of data to do this evaluation, including stop-by-stop and time-of-day ridership numbers."

Go to AC Transit to comment on the changes, or to see where/when public meetings and public hearings will be held.

At the urging of Councilmembers Wengraf, Moore and myself, and in light of Berkeley's long support of AC Transit, both in ridership and local financial support, the City Council will be encouraging AC Transit to revisit these service cuts. If we are unable to get a satisfactory response from AC Transit, one that provides Berkeley with a comprehensive transit or shuttle system, we may have to look at other alternatives.

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Open Town Hall: Traffic Bumps

Dozens of you responded to my query regarding the use of speed bumps as an effective traffic-calming device and the possibility of lifting the City's moratorium against them. Surprisingly, respondents were divided with a small majority believing they were effective and appropriate.

Generally, respondents who are in favor of speed bumps focused on their own specific circumstances on residential streets, as well as the frustrations of controlling speed and volume of cars. They see them as a viable and necessary tool to limit speeding and insure the safety of pedestrians and children.

Those respondents who are not in favor of the speed bumps are looking at improving the efficiency of vehicle use and fair distribution of traffic flow citywide, and minimizing personal discomfort. They prefer other physical street changes and, most importantly, police traffic enforcement.

I do believe that in certain limited situations that speed bumps are appropriate and DO remind drivers of their responsibility to drive safely in residential areas. In other areas where traffic needs to flow efficiently, we need to use other tools AND speed enforcement.

Later this year, the City Council will be reviewing the traffic-calming proposal from the Office of Transportation; a systematic process of prioritizing calming projects, and cost effective tools for doing so, including speed bumps in certain locations. I will be sure to announce the meeting and the opportunity for citizen input.

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Come Together At the Stroll

What: 35th Annual Solano Stroll
Where: Solano Avenue between San Pablo Avenue and The Alameda
When: Sunday, September 13, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Look for my booth above Ensenda in front of 1747 Solano Avenue. I will be sharing it with Councilmember Susan Wengraf from District 5 and Mayor Tom Bates.

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It's Your Library: Rebuilding the North Branch

What: Branch Renovation Program Update: Meet the Project Architects
Where: North Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda at Hopkins Street
When: Wednesday, September 23rd 6:30 to 8:00 PM

Berkeley Public Library is embarking on a most vital program to renovate, expand and make structural, seismic and access improvements at its four branch libraries as well as the Tool Lending Library — including the restoration and refurbishment of historic features. As a first step in engaging the community in the refurbishing of their local libraries, Berkeley neighbors are invited to come and meet the architects, learn about the projects' scopes, and ask questions.

For updates on the branch projects, please check bulletin boards in any neighborhood branch location or online at the Berkeley Public Library's branch renovation page. To receive updates by email, please contact Alan Bern, Community Relations Librarian, at alb2@ci.berkeley.ca.us.

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Save the Date: What's a Little Ivy Between Friends?

What: Community workday at John Hinkel Park in Collaboration with Berkeley Project Day
Where: John Hinkel Park
When: Saturday, October 10, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Come join Cal students, creek advocates and neighbors in cleaning up John Hinkel Park. More information will be available later for this community event, but sharpen your shears and save the date.

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Stimulate Energy Savings: It Starts at Home

What: Start at Home Workshops
Where: Epworth Unified Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins Street
When: Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

The City of Berkeley plans to launch new energy efficiency programs for Berkeley homes. Learn how these programs can help you improve the comfort of your home, save energy and money, and improve indoor air quality.

This workshop will provide information on how to finance energy efficiency retrofits, how to take advantage of incentives and rebates, and how you may be eligible for federal stimulus funds. Meet local contractors and energy specialists. FREE giveaways and refreshments.

To RSVP, or to find out about other scheduled workshops, call 510-981-7473 or email mschwartz@cityofberkeley.info. For more information, visit the City of Berkeley's website at: www.cityofberkeley.info/sustainable

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