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April 2, 2010



In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Update on the Landscape Station Post Office
Ecology Center Climate Change Action Workshops
The Alameda Restriping Plan: Community Meeting
"Spring Fling" to Support King Park
Summit Reservoir Replacement Plan: Public Meeting
Proposed Shopping Bag Reduction Ordinance
Planning Your North Branch Library Project
Ferries in Berkeley?



A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

March 11, 2010 — Berkeley's first Arbor Day as a Tree City USA was a glorious early spring day. The celebration of trees was loud, enthusiastic and productive. Thirteen new trees were planted — two at Thousand Oaks Elementary School, four on the school planting strip and seven in the adjacent park — and countless Thousand Oaks School students got their hands dirty liberating roots and gently arranging mulch. The City Council will acknowledge our new status as a Tree City USA, as designated by the National Arbor Day Foundation at their next meeting on Tuesday April 20.

Check out the photos of the Arbor Day event and video accounts on YouTube, Arbor Day Part one (TO School) and Part Two (formal presentation of Tree City honor.)

As I look to upper Solano Avenue for our next year's Arbor Day project, I want to acknowledge the many calls and e-mails we have received from residents about a couple of other Solano issues: the Post Office and the Oaks Theater. Though the Landscape Station Post Office is still on the USPS list for potential closing, the USPS has extended the comment period to April 30. We have learned from other nearby communities that a groundswell of local support will play a critical role in the final decision. For more information, including where to find petitions, go to Update on the Landscape Station Post Office (below) or to Saving the Landscape Post Office.

And Good News on the Avenue: I learned this week that the Oaks Theater will remain a movie theater. According to the property owner, a lease was recently signed with a group of South Bay investors who plan to show both Bollywood films and first run Hollywood films. They may choose to revise their business plan, so further work with our Zoning Department will be in order before a grand opening. We'll keep you informed.

I want to thank Police Chief Michael Meehan for coming out to meet north Berkeley residents last month. From my perspective, attendees were reassured by the chief's commitment to proactive policing, his acknowledgement of the high rate of property crime, particularly in North Berkeley, and his respect for Berkeley's history and citizenry. We wish Chief Meehan and his family all the best during this transition period and in years to come.

Recycling and our Solid Waste program budget were also on the agenda at our March Town Hall Meeting. There has been much press about both our deficits and potential remedies. Berkeley Citizens are concerned about another rate increase, the frustration of recycling poachers and the erosion of resources that should be going into the City's programs.

For generations Berkeley has based its Solid Waste rates on the quantity of trash hauled away from properties through the size of the trash cans. Thirty years ago with the beginning of curbside recycling, and more recently with the adoption of a "Zero Waste" goal, the goals of our Solid Waste program radically changed. The business plan did not. Consequently, our recycling and green waste services expanded to facilitate the tremendous reduction in "trash," but revenue to fund those services decreased as residents reduced the size of their trash cans in order to reduce their garbage fees. This model is not sustainable.

Last summer we completed a Solid Waste rate study that ultimately resulted in a rate increase. This increase is based upon an antiquated vision of goals of trash hauling. What we really need is a comprehensive look at our entire system of trash reduction, recycling and green waste diversion, and decide how to fairly assess community members for the benefit they receive. We need a new business plan.

I have heard from many of you about recycling poachers and your frustration that they are "enabled" in the diversion of City resources. Why should citizens have to pay for recycling services that poachers prevent them from using? Good question. Chief Meehan was very clear that enforcement of recycling poaching is a low priority for our Police; preventing violent crime and property crime and addressing traffic enforcement will always trump the pilfering of recyclables. And even if Berkeley Police did cite offenders, the County District Attorney does not have the will or the resources to prosecute.

This is a challenging issue. I look forward to your comments and ideas as we move forward toward a new and sustainable waste management business plan. And speaking of curbside. . .

Councilmember Susan Wengraf and I have referred to City staff the challenge of recharging private electric vehicles where there is no appropriate off-street parking (and easy access to an electric receptacle). Many homes in Berkeley, particularly in the hills, either have no driveway, or have a drive too small for a contemporary vehicle. There are access and right-of-way issues that need to be addressed. I look forward to some creative solutions.

Please read below for some important community announcements, including the next community meeting about restriping The Alameda, the next community meeting about our North Branch Library remodel, a fun family event (and fundraiser) for King Park, the final community meeting for the Summit reservoir replacement, and a short update on the proposal to ban plastic bags.

Not interested in a community meeting? Then visualize trees on Solano Avenue. And enjoy the spring.

Regards,


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

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Update on the Landscape Station Post Office

As of this newsletter, the citizens of Berkeley have until the end of April to formally comment on the closure of the Landscape Post Office on Solano Avenue. Here are ways to make your opinion known:

  1. If you have not done so already, sign a petition opposing the closure. The petition is available at the KNA Copy Centre at 1865 Solano Avenue. (We understand that though addresses are optional on the petition, signatures accompanied by addresses will have more weight in the decision process.) Members of the Solano Avenue Association will also be on the street with petitions.
  2. Circulate a petition in your neighborhood. Blank petitions are also available at KNA Copy Centre.
  3. Send a personal letter, or signed petitions, to:

    Ellie Loose
    Re: Landscape Station Post Office
    United States Postal Service
    1675 7th Street
    Oakland, CA 94615-9500

Any letter or petition must be received in Oakland by Thursday, April 30, 2010. Be sure to send them by at least Saturday, April 24, 2010.

For more background information and reasons why you should weigh in even if you do not use the post office go to Saving the Landscape Post Office.

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Ecology Center Climate Change Action Workshops

  • Build a community garden with neighbors and make local eating easy, affordable and fun
  • Bike to work and get your coworkers to do the same
  • Weather-strip your home and watch the gas bill plummet
  • Benefit from the support, encouragement, and fresh ideas of other community members as you reduce your environmental impact

Participate in a series of Climate Change Action Workshops and create an action plan that suits your lifestyle and interests. During four weekly sessions, you will join with a small group of Bay Area residents to calculate your carbon footprint, create a measurable personal action plan to reduce your footprint and make substantive changes in your community. A free membership to the Ecology Center is part of the deal.

For more information go to Ecology Center Climate Change Action Workshops or write to debra@ecologycenter.org or call 510-548-2220 x240

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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. - 8:30 p.m.
Where: Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Parlor Room

The proposal to restripe The Alameda from Hopkins to Solano Avenue will be the topic for a second community discussion on Wednesday, April 14.

The primary goal of the project is to improve pedestrian safety.

Other goals include:

  • Safer left turns
  • Bike lanes
  • Improving safety for exiting parked cars
  • Eliminating south bound merge lane below Hopkins
  • Reducing traffic speeds

    This meeting is an opportunity for residents to learn more 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 draft plans and community comments are available here.

    Questions and comments can be sent to lcapitelli@ci.berkeley.ca.us

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"Spring Fling" to Support King Park

What: Family fun day and picnic fundraiser for King Park
When: Sunday, April 11th 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m.
Where: King Park, Hopkins Street at Colusa (between the tennis courts, King Swim Center and the track).

Please join neighbors and friends in an afternoon of family fun. Activities include: "Create with Nature" area, kids bouncy house, old fashioned games, raffle tickets, face painting and a neighborhood picnic sponsored by Berkeley Covenant Church and the Friends of King Park.

The Friends of King Park invites you to show your support for ongoing improvements at the play area at King School Park on Hopkins including a mural project for the retaining wall! Neighbors are working hard to raise $3000 to match a grant from Alameda County for Bay Friendly landscaping and a tile mural that will reduce graffiti and add a beautiful focal point to the park. MLK Jr. middle-school students will collaborate with professional muralists on the design and installation of the project this spring. Find out more about the project and enjoy this special neighborhood park with your family!

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Summit Reservoir Replacement Plan: Public Meeting

What: Summit Reservoir Replacement Meeting
When: Monday, April 12, 2010 — 6:30 p.m.
Where: Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church — Sanctuary. 401 Grizzly Peak Blvd. Berkeley, CA

EBMUD is planning to replace Summit Reservoir, which is located in the cities of Berkeley and Kensington. The reservoir was built in the 1890s and has had several upgrades that extended its life. The existing reservoir needs to be replaced. Preliminary planning studies call for either one or two small water tanks within the footprint of the large site. Two pumping plants on the western side of the site also have reached the end of their useful lives and need to be replaced.

EBMUD held two of three planned community meetings and discussed the project with officials from the City of Berkeley, Contra Costa County and East Bay Regional Park District. Outreach will continue through spring 2010. Work on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will begin after meeting on April 12. Based on the project construction sequence and typical schedules, EBMUD expects construction to take approximately two years, beginning in late 2013.

For more information and a timeline of the project, go to EBMUD > More Project Updates > Summit Reservoir, or e-mail Michele Blackwell at mblackwe@ebmud.com

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Proposed Shopping Bag Reduction Ordinance

Many residents have sent e-mails supporting the City's proposed ordinance to limit single-use plastic and paper shopping bags. City staff is currently working on the proposed ordinance and all of the support information. The item is currently slated to come before the Council in June 2010. The City has a webpage dedicated to the bag reduction ordinance where you'll find the proposed language of the ordinance, details of its development, and updates on the timing of when it will come before the City Council.

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Planning Your North Branch Library Project

What: Board of Library Trustees Meeting: North Berkeley Branch Library Design Development Update
When: Wednesday, April 14 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge Street

The design team Architectural Resources Group w/ Tom Eliot Fisch will present more developed drawings of the proposed design, including materials and finishes.

For accessibility information or other questions, go to berkeleypubliclibrary.org or call 510-981-6195.

To see the draft, working plans, go to the Library Board of Trustees website and click on the pdf Agenda for January 13, 2010. Check out pages 13 through 24.

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Ferries in Berkeley?

Many of you probably aren't aware that I represent Berkeley on the WETA (Water Emergency Transit Authority) Community Advisory Committee. We met on March 31 to get an update on the program that includes a new ferry terminal in Berkeley just north of His Lordships at the Berkeley Marina. We are in the environmental review phase for the Berkeley terminal and expect it to be certified toward the end of this calendar year. The South San Francisco terminal has gone out to bid (it came in UNDER budget) and is awaiting release of state Proposition 1B funds. Preliminary planning has also commenced on sites in Redwood City, Hercules and Richmond. For more information about the transit authority go to the WETA website.

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