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December 8, 2009

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Safe Routes to Transit Grant; Clarification
AC Transit: Route 67
Parking Meter Pilot Program
2020 Vision Community Forums
Residential Traffic Calming: City Council Discussion

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

Many thanks to all of you who braved the cold to attend our December Town Hall meeting last week. Briefly, we learned:

  • Though the city is fiscally sound (in much better shape than its neighbors), we will have to make tough budgetary decisions when, in early 2010, the Council assesses the impacts of the state's budget woes, the decline of housing sales (property transfer tax) and sluggish retail sales.
  • The rate of property crime in North Berkeley has leveled off. Officer Pierantoni strongly urges residents to call police at the non-emergency number, 510-981-5900, to report any suspicious activity. Citizen reports have led to the apprehension of several perpetrators.
  • The City Council-approved (7-2) Downtown plan, currently in limbo due to a citizen referendum, was designed to bring life and vitality to a sustainable downtown by encouraging housing around the transit center and providing mutually agreeable limits to University office development. It is a blue print for the future that would encourage limited, responsible development in return for significant public benefits (plazas, support for public transit to the neighborhoods, green buildings, improved infrastructure).

And now we enter the holiday season. If shopping is on your agenda, please consider keeping your shopping dollars local by patronizing the stores on Shattuck Avenue and Solano Avenue. Both commercial areas are decorated for the holidays and have scheduled entertainment and activities.

For those of you who include nonprofit organizations on your December gift list, be generous to those most important to you. Every organization will be hurting from the erosion of government support. A local suggestion: If you enjoy the Fountain at the Circle at Marin Ave. and are thrilled that it is clean, beautiful and operating every time you drive around it, consider a small donation to the cause. (It is maintained almost exclusively by volunteers!) Donations can be sent directly to the Friends of the Fountain and Walk, c/o Sara Holmes, 946 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, Ca 94707.

If you are looking for kids activities, check out the Toy-making Workshop at the Aquatic Park's Waterside Workshop on Sunday, December 13 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00p.m.

Have a warm and wonderful holiday. Take a moment to enjoy the North Berkeley lights: the glowing hills at the end of the day, the lighting displays, the avenues of homes that radiate warmth from the inside out. Even in the dark of December there is great beauty in our neighborhoods.

My staff — Pam Gray and Jill Martinucci — and I wish you and your families and neighbors all the best during this season, and hope you have a safe and constructive New Year.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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Safe Routes to Transit Grant; Clarification

Last month I announced a "Safe Routes to Transit" grant funding award that would improve pedestrian and bicycle access to AC Transit buses at the intersections of Shattuck and Vine (North Shattuck area) and Solano and Colusa (Upper Solano area). I received several requests for clarification as to what exactly the grant would fund. Below is a brief description. (Residents and local businesses will have an opportunity to provide input to the City on these projects. Stay tuned for more details.)

Solano and Colusa: This project proposes to widen the sidewalk on the south side of Solano Avenue, starting just west of Andronico's market and continuing to the far west side of the intersection of Solano and Colusa. This safety project is intended to improve pedestrian visibility and reduce the length of the crosswalks. Bicycle parking will be added, away from the pedestrian walkway. Wider lanes alongside diagonal parking are intended to make diagonal parking safer and easier. All existing car parking will be preserved.

Shattuck and Vine: This project will relocate the existing newspaper racks and add weather-protected bicycle parking and new planters and benches in their place. There will be no change to the sidewalks. All work is proposed to be done in the existing sidewalk "bulbout" area on the northeast corner of the intersection.

The City also received "Safe Routes to School" grant funding to make safety improvements in the vicinity of Thousand Oaks Elementary School. At Solano and Colusa, these safety improvements include widening the sidewalk at the northwest corner of the intersection (in front of the Starbucks). At Colusa and Catalina, a "bulb out" sidewalk widening is proposed to improve visibility of children crossing the street and shorten the crosswalk length. The size of the current school bus drop-off area will also be increased.

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AC Transit: Route 67

Last September several constituents mentioned concerns about the AC Transit proposal to eliminate the 67 line that serves Spruce Street and the north Berkeley hills. Subsequently I, and several of my colleagues, met with staff from AC Transit about this and other proposed reductions to their service.

Last week AC released the following:

"AC Transit has released a Revised Service Adjustments Plan proposal, which includes the restoration of about half the service hours originally proposed to be cut. The public is invited to review and comment on the revisions at www.actransit.org."

A community open house was held on Tuesday, December 1 at the AC Transit General Offices. The public had the opportunity to learn more about the revised plan, talk with planners, and offer comments.

The good news: AC Transit has proposed to keep, in part, most of the 67 line that serves Spruce. Frequency will be every 40 minutes (that's the bad news). You can see all the proposed changes here.

Thanks for all of your comments and concerns. I am very pleased that AC Transit listened and did their best to accommodate in spite of their budgetary pressures.

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Parking Meter Pilot Program

Starting January 8, 2010, the City of Berkeley Public Works Department will conduct a Parking Meter Pilot Program. During this three-month trial period, Public Works will test 30 "IPS Group" single-space; solar-powered parking meters that accept both credit cards and coins for payment. The test location is in the North Shattuck Business District along Vine and Walnut streets. The parking rate will remain the same, and the meters will be removed and replaced with the old meters after the test is complete.

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2020 Vision Community Forums

What: Community Forums on 2020 Vision
When: Monday, December 14, 2009, 7:00p.m.-9:00p.m.
          Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 10:00a.m.-12:00p.m.
Where: Berkeley Technology Academy auditorium, 2701 Martin Luther King
          Jr. Way @ Derby Street

Childcare and Spanish translation services will be provided at both meetings.

Berkeley Alliance invites the public to attend a presentation on 2020 Vision for Berkeley's Children and Youth, to learn more about this initiative and provide feedback to help guide this important work. Anyone who is interested in the future of Berkeley's children and youth should attend! If you would like to schedule a 2020 Vision presentation for your organization, club, or group of friends and neighbors, please email bgreen@berkeleyalliance.org.

2020 Vision for Berkeley's Children and Youth is a community-wide movement to ensure academic success and wellbeing for all children and youth growing up in Berkeley, by closing the achievement and health gaps in Berkeley's public schools by the year 2020.

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Residential Traffic Calming:
City Council Meeting

What: City Council Discussion on Traffic Calming Policy
Where: City Council Chambers, 2nd floor, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
When: Tuesday, December 15, 2009. 7:00 p.m.*

My office has had many in-person and e-mail conversations with members of residential neighborhoods about relief from out-of-control vehicular traffic. I do understand that every resident wants to feel safe in his or her neighborhood. How we secure that safety is impacted by state regulations, local restrictions, and the unintended consequences of any traffic calming or traffic control device.

In an attempt to make residential traffic calming a more rational process, our new Director of Transportation, Farid Javandel, has introduced a process by which neighborhoods identify the problem and request review from City staff. This new policy comes to the City Council for discussion and approval on December 15. The Director hopes to include in the traffic calming tool kit "vertical speed deflectors" (formally speed bumps). This would mean lifting the moratorium on these devices, put in place some years ago after concerns raised by both public safety (because of increased emergency response time) and the disability community (the bumps can be painful for those with certain conditions).

The City Council will be accepting public testimony on this policy. Please consider speaking at the meeting or writing to the Council.

* The meeting will commence at 7:00 p.m. Depending upon the agenda, it may be well after 8:00 p.m. before the Council receives comments on the new traffic calming policy. Written comments may be sent to "The City Council" c/o City Clerk, 2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704, or e-mailed to clerk@cityofberkeley.info

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