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November 9, 2010

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Solano Survey
Recycling: Bins, Carts and Poachers
Neighborhood Deer
Y Teen Center
Thousand Oaks Halloween Parade
Oxford School Celebrate 100 years
10/10/10 at Thousand Oaks Elementary
Toys for Tots
Tree in a Box: Revisited

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

Wow. What a week. One day San Francisco wins the World Series, and the next the Democrats lose the House of Representatives.

Despite the startling results at the national level, and the implications for further political rancor and fiscal constraint, I am extremely pleased about the outcome in most of the Berkeley races. Clearly, the success of both H & I reconfirms that good public education is a high priority in this community. Measure R reinforces the City Council's majority vision of investment in a green, sustainable downtown. Measures S & T — the medicinal cannabis measures — will allow the City to proactively regulate and tax the industry while limiting growing operations in residential areas.

In my District 5 office, my staff and I have been pouring over the results of the Solano Avenue Survey. Thank you to all of you who took the time to complete it. The quick take from the over 1300 responses is that neighbors and patrons love the Avenue. They want more variety in shops, restaurants and late hour venues. They want a hardware store. They prefer businesses that reflect a home-grown character and envision a vibrant street life with more café seating and green landscaping. (For a more detailed review of the results of the survey go to Solano Avenue Survey.)

From the national elections to our local issues, the overwhelming priority is economic recovery. Empty store fronts in all our commercial districts (certainly too many on Solano) and a decade-long decline in sales tax revenue underscore the need for action on the part of the Council. All the City Council incumbents will return in December. I look forward to working with all of them on an aggressive economic recovery plan that will encourage local business and make our commercial districts — including Solano Avenue — attractive centers of community life.

And amazingly enough, the holidays — and standard time — are now upon us. If you are walking around the neighborhood in the evening, please wear light colors so that drivers can see you. If you are driving, please be aware of pedestrians and bicyclists.

My staff and I wish you and your families a very happy, safe and warm Thanksgiving.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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Solano Survey

The results from our Solano Avenue Survey are available here and on my website. You will also find links to the original survey data and to the over 500 comments made by respondents.

Most of those who took the survey already appreciate the services and ambiance of the Avenue and want to see more of the same. They appreciate that there are very few chain stores/restaurants, and want to maintain the "independent business" quality of the Avenue.

In general they agree that Solano Avenue should be a thriving, pedestrian friendly commercial center for North Berkeley residents, complete with more sidewalk seating, street trees and a wide variety of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. There should be options for evening patrons, perhaps entertainment or later hours for restaurants. Many were very excited about the possibility of a new ice cream store.

In the next few months, my colleagues on the Council and I will be moving forward on a series of initiatives to support and encourage local businesses in our signature commercial districts. The feedback from this survey has both informed and inspired me. Thanks again for your input!

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Recycling: Bins, Carts and Poachers

By now many of you have received the City of Berkeley's new recycling split carts. We have received a few inquiries about the carts and thought we could answer questions about them here.

Are they required to be placed off the street on non-pickup days?
Yes, just like the garbage and green waste cans, they should be in the public right-of-way only during the 24 hour period around your pick up time.

What if I have no space to store it?
Contact the Ecology Center who administers the program at 510-527-5555 and talk with their customer service person. They are eager to work out any problems in the program.

Why new carts? Weren't the old blue bins adequate?
There were several reasons to transition to the split carts:

  1. The new carts can be emptied automatically by the Ecology Center trucks, saving wear and tear (and workers' comp claims) on the workers who previously had to lift the recycling bins off the curb.
  2. Wheeled carts are easier for the resident — and do not require any more bundling of paper.
  3. The carts keep the recycling dry and clean, particularly the paper, making the product more valuable.
  4. Closed containers make recycling less visible and hopefully less attractive to poachers. (Ecology Center says tonnage has increased just in the first two weeks of the program.)

Who chose the color, and why blue?
The ecology center chose the color. Blue is the "universal" color for recycling, and the light blue differentiates these bins from the dark blue multi unit and commercial bins.

When is the City going to do something about the poachers?
The success of the new carts aside, the City Council, through the City Manager, has directed the Police Department to work with the Ecology Center and the community to respond to complaints about poachers that are using trucks to collect recycling. Once again, we recommend that any community member who witnesses poaching and wants to support the Police in their efforts, do the following:

Please report recycling theft to the Ecology Center at (510) 527-5555, and include a description of the poacher, vehicle license number and/or description of poacher's vehicle if possible. For your safety, do not confront the thieves. If possible, discourage poaching by setting out your material on collection morning instead of the night before.

For more information on Berkeley's recycling program, go to Residential Recycling or the Ecology Center.

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Neighborhood Deer

As promised last month, we have collaborated with our representative from the California Department of Fish and Game and Berkeley's Animal Control staff to produce information and best practices for residents who have found wild deer to be constant neighbors. Please go to Living with Wild Deer in Residential Areas.

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Y Teen Center

Twice this fall I have toured the now almost-completed downtown YMCA-PG&E Teen Center. (Above, Fran Gallati, Executive Director of the Albany-Berkeley YMCA, and I stand at the entrance of the center at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Center Street.) Three years ago the YMCA and a few of us on the City Council approached PG&E about their former office building across from Berkeley High School. They generously donated the 8,000 square foot building giving the YMCA an unprecedented opportunity to meet the many needs of our city's teens and strengthen our entire community. This is one of the most exciting partnerships I have seen in the 45 years that I have lived in Berkeley.

It has been an impressive project — The $8 million expansion/renovation grew the facility to 13,000 square feet and is LEED Gold Certified. Teens were closely involved in both the construction process of the building and the planning for all programs. The Y will continue their excellent Y Scholars Program in this building along with other teen-oriented programming focused on academic achievement, employment and career preparation, service learning and leadership development.

I am thrilled that what appeared to some as a pie-in-the-sky vision for a teen center near the high school, will soon become a reality.

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Thousand Oaks Halloween Parade

On Friday, October 29, students, parents and staff from Thousand Oaks Elementary School walked in their annual Halloween Parade. Berkeley Police, including our Area Coordinator, Officer Casimiro Pierantoni, blocked off the top two blocks of Solano Avenue for the festive event.

Business owners, patrons and neighborhood residents lined the Avenue to watch the Cal Pep Band and Principal Julianna Sikes lead the parade up and down the street. This year was the first to include a fire truck, which was very much enjoyed by the children and grownups alike. As usual, the costumes were excellent. And the Thousand Oaks School Traffic Queen, Katrina Traywick (above with her fairy princess daughter), was out doing her traffic calming magic.

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Oxford School Celebrates 100 years

Parents, teachers and former students of Oxford School gathered together on Sunday, October 17 to celebrate the school's centennial anniversary. I was honored to present a commemorative proclamation from Mayor Bates, and to welcome Oxford alum from all over the Bay Area and the world — including Australia!

Saturday 10/16 was Oxford's Harvest Faire, the school's annual carnival and book sale with food, games and prizes. Sunday, the school honored its centennial with a family picnic of current students and families and many alumni. There was a photo display of the many decades of the school's history that was a delight to see. These photographs and details can be viewed here.

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10/10/10 at Thousand Oaks Elementary

Scientists say that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is safe for humans. We are currently at 388. 350.org is an international campaign that is building a movement to unite the world around solutions to our planet's climate crisis.

On October 10, 350.org organized a global day of work efforts aimed at creating these solutions. Berkeley was home to over 30 efforts - from multiple bike events, to letter writing campaigns, to creek cleanups and garden work parties. I participated in our neighborhood work party at the garden at Thousand Oaks Elementary. Volunteers came to dig, spread mulch, prune, pull weeds and turn compost. I helped build a much needed fence around the garden. Come visit the garden when school is not in session to admire our handiwork!

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Toys for Tots

The Berkeley Police Department, in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps Foundation, is collecting toys for Berkeley children who might not otherwise receive holiday gifts. Community members who want to support Toys for Tots can drop off new, unwrapped toys at the Ronald Tsukamoto Public Safety Building on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at Center Street or at any of the following Berkeley Fire Stations:

Station 1, 2442 Eighth Street
Station 2, 2029 Berkeley Way
Station 3, 2710 Russell Street
Station 4, 1900 Marin Avenue
Station 5, 2680 Shattuck Avenue
Station 6, 999 Cedar Street
Station 7, 3000 Shasta Avenue

(See BPD flyer for eligibility and registration details.)

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Tree in a Box: Revisited

Due to a cut and paste mistake last month (my staff is very apologetic) the story of the Tree in a box was abbreviated. Here it is in its entirety:

A small handful of Coastal Live Oak trees in Berkeley parks have been victimized by intentional poisoning, according to the City's Parks maintenance staff. This is a crime. The recently constructed "boxes" installed around these trees are designed to prevent further applications of any herbicides.

If you observe anyone engaging in some suspicious activity that is contributing to this serious problem, please alert the police at 510-981-5900 or the Parks and Recreation Office at (510) 981-6700 or the City's Forestry Division at (510) 981-6660.

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