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In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
King Park Play Structure
Berkeley Project Day at John Hinkel Park
North Berkeley Crime Updates
Traffic Calming Proposal
Start at Home: Free Energy Saving Workshop



A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

It was great to be at the Solano Stroll last month and to have the opportunity to talk with many of you. The hot topic of the day was the proposed service cuts by AC Transit which, if implemented, would hit particularly hard the residents in the hills along the Spruce corridor. Though we have no clear promise that route 67 along Spruce will be spared, we did receive good faith assurance that AC Transit is looking at ways to replace the operating monies lost by the state budget cuts. The Berkeley City Council also formally asked AC Transit to do so and to investigate other opportunities to partner with private shuttle providers to provide transit access to Berkeley neighborhoods.

But I think it safe to say that District 5 residents, when traveling around their neighborhoods to shops and events, choose to walk. Berkeley is known for its "walkabililty" and for its accessibility for those who need to use a wheelchair. Despite our reputation, I am reminded regularly that there are challenges to walking in our neighborhoods, not the least of which is the condition of many sidewalks and the intrusion of street trees and shrubbery into the public right of way. (Please note that my Council proposal to allow some encroachment in the public right of way absolutely did not include any encroachment into the required access area of a sidewalk, generally six feet.)

Just last week I had the opportunity to accompany one of my neighbors, Brigitte Beinhoff, on a wheelchair tour of the sidewalks south of Solano Ave. It was a humbling journey, to say the least, and jarring, and frustrating. Brigitte showed me first-hand the obstacles to her safe transit: renegade garbage cans, border shrubbery leaning across the sidewalk, broken and disrupted sidewalks, cars parked into and across sidewalks, and inappropriately placed curb cuts. Too often we had to veer out into traffic to avoid obstacles, or manhandle thorny bushes in order to pass, compromising our balance and scraping our arms.

What can we all do to improve the walkability of our neighborhoods? In his annual report to all the citizens of Berkeley, City Manager Phil Kamlarz reminds us:

"Berkeley is well known for our pedestrian-friendly way of life, and traveling our sidewalks is a great way for everyone to explore our unique neighborhoods. Overgrown landscaping, however, can make it hard for walkers and wheelchair users to travel freely. All residents are encouraged to ensure their sidewalks offer good visibility and are clear and easy to travel."

Please, please keep the sidewalk in front of your house clear of debris, shrubbery and vehicles. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulation requires six feet of clearance. Instead of a tape measure, I suggest you just walk with a friend, side by side and trim any growth that trips you, rubs against you or impedes your vision of oncoming traffic. This will serve ALL pedestrians including those traveling in wheelchairs.

Broken and deteriorating sidewalks should be reported to Public Works at pwworks@cityofberkeley.info, or by contacting my office. Be sure to include the exact address. The city will do an asphalt "make safe" or repair sidewalks impacted by City street trees, and notify property owners of their responsibility to repair other situations.

If street trees (those planted in the planting strip next to the street) are overgrown and encroaching into the pedestrian's path, please contact my office (again with the exact street address) and we will alert our forestry department.

Thank you, Brigitte (and thanks to Johnston's Medical Supply for the loan of the electric wheel chair). I'm getting out my broom and my shears this weekend.

Regards,


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

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King Park Play Structure

Great news! The King School playground has been graced with a large climbing structure suitable for children beyond the tot lot years. I want to extend my heartfelt any thanks to the Berkeley Montessori School for the donation of the structure, to the Friends of King Park who located it and who worked closely with City staff and my office to insure its installation. The vision of a more expansive and user friendly neighborhood park is not fully realized, but certainly one step closer.

My granddaughter is so excited!

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Berkeley Project Day at John Hinkel Park

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

As previously reported, Saturday, October 10 from 9 am to 2 pm, I will be joining more than sixty CAL volunteers to begin the daunting task of removing the invasive ivy at the northern end of John Hinkel Park, near San Diego.

Community members are more than welcome to join us. Please contact my office if you are planning to come by. Bring your comfortable shoes, gloves and clippers. We'll provide all other necessary equipment.

Other North Berkeley Project Day sites include Indian Rock Park, Grotto Rock Park and Thousand Oaks School.

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North Berkeley Crime Updates

Our Area Coordinator to the Berkeley Police Department, Officer Casimiro Pierantoni, e-mails periodic updates regarding local crimes and crime trends. Most recently, he has evaluated the statistics for June, July and August and found our property crimes are down compared to last year — slightly, but a positive trend nonetheless. He also forwarded a Police Department Press Release regarding the most recent events that include home security camera photos of the suspects.

If you would like to receive Officer Pierantoni's alerts, contact him at cpierantoni@cityofberkeley.info

You can also contact Officer Pierantoni if you would like a free security assessment of your property.

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Traffic Calming Proposal

At this time, we expect the new Traffic Calming proposal to come before the City Council at the Tuesday, November 17 meeting. This is a tentative date and we will alert the community again in early November.

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Start at Home: Free Energy Saving Workshop

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

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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