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March 9, 2010



In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Meet Berkeley's New Chief of Police
First Official Berkeley Tree City, USA Arbor Day Celebration
The Alameda Restriping Plan: Community Meeting
Friends of the Fountain and Walk
AC Transit
Berkeley's Green Scorecard Website
Electronic Waste



A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

Over one hundred community members came out last week to protest the proposal to close the Landscape Station Post Office at the top of Solano Avenue. On Wednesday, March 3, 2010, the USPS hosted a neighborhood meeting at Thousand Oaks School and invited residents specifically in 94707 to come voice their opinions about the proposal. (As reported in my last newsletter, the United State Postal Service has, as a cost-cutting measure, proposed closing three post office branches in Berkeley, including the Landscape Station. The financial woes of the Postal Service have received much press lately and the closure of branch offices is one of many steps towards solvency.)

Dozens of people spoke eloquently about the negative impacts the closure would bring to the neighborhood and business district, and the hardship for businesses that identify their business mailing address with a post box at that station. But the fate of our post office lies partially in the hands of local residents who must make their voices loud enough so that decision makers in Washington can hear that closing these stations is ultimately a bad business decision for the USPS.

I have posted more comments about the proposal and pertinent contact information about Landscape Station on my website.


The next step for the future of the Downtown will most likely be with the voters of Berkeley. At our meeting on February 23, the City Council rescinded the original, 2009 Downtown Area Plan, which was subject of a recent referendum. Subsequently, the Council voted 8 to 1 to put on the November 2010 ballot a revised scaled-down Downtown Area Plan. This proposal, the 'Green Pathway' that is sponsored by Mayor Bates, Councilmember Wozniak and me, prioritizes very high standards in environmental features (LEED Gold construction standards, management of water conservation and retention on site, contributions to open space, transportation subsidies, a path to career jobs for our youth). It limits the number of tall buildings to four - or five if one is dedicated for a hotel - which will be no taller than what exists in the downtown currently.

(Go to: the agenda for February 23, 2010 Item # 18. There is a link to a pdf of the Bates/Wozniak/Capitelli proposal with the amendments made on the floor.)

I am very excited about this plan and am thrilled that it was supported by a super majority of the City Council. This vision for the future, combined with the work of the Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan (SOSIP) subcommittee, will provide a comprehensive and forward-looking guide for our Downtown.

The City Council also invited Berkeley voters to jump into our pool renovation discussion. The Council approved a bond/tax measure for the June 2010 ballot that would facilitate the renovation of Berkeley'tys aging pools at Willard, King and West Campus schools. The proposal includes reconfiguring the King pool into a multi-use pool, and building a new warm water pool at West Campus. (The warm water pool at Berkeley High will be closed in June 2011.) If approved, the bonds would support the capital improvements, while a parcel tax component would sustain enhanced aquatics programming.

This proposal is the product of a long and passionate public process to provide adequate aquatics facilities to a wide variety of users.

On a neighborhood note, my office has received several e-mails about residential burglaries in north Berkeley. Though the rate of property crimes has not increased in the wider area, I understand the sense of urgency and frustration when the incidents are focused in one's neighborhood.

There are certainly some basic ways to secure our homes. (Please see the notes from my February 2009 community meeting.) Also, I invite you all to come out on March 18 to a Town Hall meeting, to meet our new chief of police, Michael Meehan. Chief Meehan will be our featured speaker, and will be answering questions about his vision of Berkeley's police department and his strategies for combating crime.

I hope to see you on the 18th.

Regards,


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

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Meet Berkeley's New Chief of Police

What: Town Hall Meeting: Berkeley's new Police Chief, the City's Budget, Recycling
When: Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda

Please join Councilmembers Susan Wengraf and Laurie Capitelli in welcoming Berkeley's new Chief of Police, Michael Meehan, to North Berkeley. Chief Meehan will present his vision of law enforcement and will discuss with community members their concerns about local crime.

Berkeley Budget Director Tracy Vesely and our Assistant City Manager Christine Daniel will be on hand to talk about Berkeley's budget outlook, and Martin Bourque, Director of the Ecology Center will talk about recycling and how the center's plans for the future impact the City's Solid Waste program.

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First Official Berkeley Tree City, USA Arbor Day Celebration

What: Berkeley Tree City, USA Arbor Day Celebration
When: Thursday, March 11 from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m. on blacktop on campus, 2:15 p.m. on the concrete corner of Tacoma & Colusa Avenues
Where: Thousand Oaks Elementary School, 840 Colusa Ave. (Meet at the redwood tree in front entrance of school)
Who: Thousand Oaks Elementary School students and families, Thousand Oaks Neighborhood community members, Berkeley City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli

The Berkeley Unified School District and the City's Forestry Division will join forces with Thousand Oaks elementary school students, community members and Councilmember Capitelli to plant nine trees in commemoration of the City's official new status as a Tree City, USA. The trees will be planted on the Thousand Oaks Elementary School campus and adjacent to the school on the city's planting strip and park.

Berkeley will be commemorating Arbor Day as a Tree City, USA, a program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, that provides direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs. This, Berkeley's first celebration as a Tree City USA, will take place as part of California's weeklong recognition of Arbor Day.

Please bring gloves and a shovel and join us in greening our neighborhood!

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The Alameda Restriping Plan: Community Meeting

What: Community Meeting to review The Alameda Restriping Plan
When: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Where: Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda

The proposal to restripe The Alameda from Hopkins to Solano Avenue will have a community-wide discussion on Wednesday, April 14. At our January meeting for neighbors close to The Alameda, I promised a wider community meeting with City Transportation Staff to review the plan and answer questions.

The goals of the restriping are to:

  • Improve pedestrian safety
  • Reduce traffic speeds
  • Provide for safer left turns
  • Provide bike lanes
  • Improve safety for exiting parked cars
  • Eliminate south-bound merge lane below Hopkins

This meeting is an opportunity for residents to learn about and comment on the plan. Hamid Mostowfi, Engineer from the Office of Transportation will be present to provide an over-view and to answer questions. Links to pdfs of the draft plans and community comments are available here.

Questions and comments can be sent to

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Friends of the Fountain and Walk

Please check out the new website for District 5's iconic water feature at www.friendsofthefountainandwalk.org

Posted are a detailed history of the fountain and its reconstruction, photos, merchandise and an opportunity to support the fountain's maintenance. Many thanks to Sara Holmes for her work and tenacity in keeping the fountain a beautiful part of our lives.

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AC Transit

On Sunday, March 28, AC Transit will implement major service changes in every community from Richmond to Fremont. These changes--resulting in an 8.4 percent reduction in service--were driven by the realities of reduced state funding and declining sales-tax revenue, among other economic factors that make for these difficult times. For detailed information about the changes, please visit www.actransit.org.

The changes are extensive, and getting familiar with them will take some time and effort. Printed materials, including brochures and maps, will be available on buses very soon. AC Transit staff has also scheduled information tables to distribute materials in person.

Riders are encouraged to review the quick reference to major changes by city and the detailed list of changes, links below. This list incorporates links to individual schedules and line maps. Riders can also view the new system map.

New System Map

Quick Reference to Major Changes By City (PDF)

Detailed List of Changes

Schedule of Information Tables

Background Information

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Berkeley's Green Scorecard Website

The City of Berkeley has launched an interactive web-based tool that presents scorecards on local sustainability trends such as annual energy use, waste disposal, and tree planting in our community. The website enables residents to, with a few clicks of a mouse, access relevant, up-to-date information about Berkeley's progress toward its climate action goals. In addition, the site provides a forum for questions and feedback regarding implementation of the City's Climate Action Plan.

The website is called the "Berkeley See-It." See-It is a performance management and communications software developed by Visible Strategies with support from the San Francisco Foundation and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Questions should be sent to:

Marna Schwartz
Office of Energy & Sustainable Development, City of Berkeley
www.cityofberkeley.info/sustainable
(510) 981-7473

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Electronic Waste

What: Electronic Waste Disposal
When: The First Sunday of Every Month
Where: Lutheran Church of the Cross, 1744 University Ave.

Your unwanted electronic waste can be dropped off every 1st Sunday of every month at the Lutheran Church of the Cross at 1744 University Ave. in Berkeley, CA 94703. You can bring monitors, televisions, LCD devices, stereos, printers, cell phones. . . Proceeds from these events will go to the Lutheran Church of the Cross and most especially their effort to clothe, feed and shelter the homeless youth of Berkeley.

For any questions please call either (510) 987-6489 or (510) 292-1726

Thank you for your support!

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