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May 9, 2011

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
A Week in the Life of a Berkeley City Councilmember
Realizing Berkeley's Branch Libraries
Berkeley's Biggest Book Sale
Open Opera: Ending on a High Note
Eat Chocolate and Make Art in the Gourmet Ghetto
City of Berkeley News
Cal Neighbors Connects the Community to the Campus
Come for the Culture. Stay for the Food
City Contacts and Resources

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

If Berkeley is known for anything, it is the depth and breadth of citizen participation in government. Concerned citizens, the politically driven, neighborhood advocates and the big hearted all seek their place at the municipal table. Our institutional opportunities for participation, within the City's 34 boards and commissions, were highlighted at the Council's April meeting during an important phase of our budget deliberations.

The City of Berkeley supports its nonprofit service agencies - health care, youth services, housing, job training, and senior programs - in large part through the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), one large chunk of money, approximately $3 million, distributed at the local level. Organizations make applications to the City for a piece of this money. City staff creates an evaluation framework that allows a select group of citizen commissioners from the Parks and Recreation, Homeless, Community Health and Housing Advisory Commissions to make visits and evaluate the work of the organizations based upon desired outcomes. On Tuesday, April 26 they presented their results and recommendations (See pages 34 to 66) to the City Council.

This year was particularly challenging due to an across-the-board estimated 16% reduction in the CDBG allocation, which could eventually grow to 20%. Agencies were notified early that everyone would face some kind of reduction; another blow to organizations already sobered by deep state budget cuts.

It is a testament to both staff and these commissioners that this year's process was almost seamless. Despite some disagreements (there were adjustments and some compromises), the process demonstrated the best in staff/citizen collaboration. The commissioners' committed and graceful approach to this thankless challenge, on behalf of a variety of vulnerable populations, illustrates the very best of our long history of citizen participation.

I was particularly pleased that out of four commission chairs who presented their work, two were District 5 appointees: Pam Gray from the Parks and Recreation Commission, and Jeffery Davis from the Homeless Commission. It further confirmed my amazement at and deep appreciation for the level of professionalism, commitment, and expertise that I have witnessed from all of my commissioners over the past six years.

Thank you to all of the citizens who are serving or who have served as District 5 commissioners. It is your vision of a Berkeley that can and will excel, and that inspires me every day.

* * * *

As you may have read recently in the San Francisco Chronicle, the renovations of two of our branch libraries - the West and the South Branches - have been challenged by a small group of people, some from outside Berkeley, who take exception to the City's approval to demolish and rebuild. The City Council, at its May 17 meeting, will have an opportunity to confirm the library rebuild proposals and award the use permits for both projects. Berkeley's voters approved the renovations in 2008 with the passage of measure FF. If you want to support the renovation of our libraries, please join us at the May 17 meeting, or send your comments to the City Clerk.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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A Week in the Life of a Berkeley City Councilmember

Serving on Council gives me so many opportunities to continually learn about the City and residents of Berkeley. These experiences often leave me humbled by the enormous dedication of the people who live, work and volunteer in our community.

Starting last Thursday, I attended five events over five days, and again, was so impressed by the talent and commitment of the many people working to make Berkeley a better place for all of us.

On Thursday afternoon, I helped give out awards at In Dulci Jubilo's 2011 Arts, Poetry and Essay awards at Rosa Parks Elementary School. In Dulci Jubilo (Latin for "In Sweet Joy") is a non-profit that was established in 1978 to encourage, inspire, instruct and help young people enrolled in Berkeley's schools to develop during their formative years values beneficial to the community. This year's theme was "Let's Move to a Healthy Future!" which focused on the childhood obesity challenge by First Lady Michelle Obama.

On Saturday, I was privileged to participate in a Rebuilding Together project in Oakland (a colleague and me below). As you may know, Rebuilding Together mobilizes local businesses, community groups and volunteers to repair the homes of low income seniors.

Sunday morning found me with Councilmember Darryl Moore at Lake Merritt, helping at the Walkathon for the Center for the Early Intervention of the Deaf (here I am with students from Prospect Sierra). It was a beautiful day and an inspiring event.

On Sunday evening, I attended a moving tribute to California State Senator Loni Hancock, honoring her 40 years of public service to our community.

Finally, on Monday, I attended UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's Public Service Awards event, which highlighted the impressive community contributions of UC staff, faculty and students.

And then Tuesday night was a City Council meeting. Enough said!

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Realizing Berkeley's Branch Libraries

What: Public Hearing on Use Permits for the West Branch and South Branch Library Projects
When: During the Regular Council meeting of Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Where: 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr., Way, 2nd floor Council Chambers

The Berkeley City Council has set a public hearing to take comment on the Zoning Adjustments Board-issued Use Permits for a NEW South Branch Library at 1901 Russell Street and a NEW West Branch Library at 1125 University Avenue.

The agenda, staff report and start time for this meeting are available online at the Regular Meeting Agenda for May 17, 2011. The library items are numbers 22 (West Branch) and 23 (South Branch).

Go to the Branch Improvement Program for more information including services during the temporary branch closures, or call 510-981-6195.

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Berkeley's Biggest Book Sale

What: Friends of the Berkeley Public Library Annual Book Sale
When: Saturday, May 14 from 10a.m.-4p.m.
Where: 3rd Floor Meeting Room, Downtown Library, 2090 Kittredge

Local booklovers rejoice! The organization Friends of the Berkeley Public Library has just announced the return of its annual book sale. On Saturday, May 14, booklovers can browse through thousands of books in the Central Library's community meeting room. It's open to everyone, even if they don't remember the "old days" when the sale was outside in the Library's parking lot and buyers would hang over the nearby garage railing using binoculars to spot good buys.

Books, records, CDs, videos, cassettes, books on tape, pamphlets, and kids' books will be available, all for 50¢ each. All proceeds will benefit the Berkeley Public Library.

For more information, contact Sayre Van Young at 510-848-2229.

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Open Opera: Ending on a High Note

What: Open Opera: Concert in the Park
When: Saturday, May 21, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Live Oak Park

Bring a blanket and someone you love and listen to classical music under the oaks! Admission is free. Expect favorites by Vivaldi, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Bizet and Strauss.

Open Opera returns to Live Oak Park to present their last concert program in Berkeley. Many thanks to the founders of Open Opera - Olivia Stapp, Elizabeth Baker and Ellen St. Thomas - for bringing amazing, free and musically joyous productions to North Berkeley these past few years. The music will resonate for years to come.

For more information and announcements, go to Open Opera.

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Eat Chocolate and Make Art in the Gourmet Ghetto

What: 15th Annual 2011 Chocolate and Chalk Arts Festival
When: Saturday, June 4, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: The Sidewalks of North Shattuck Avenue and Vine Street

Join artists young and old for a day of colorful creativity and chocolate tasting. Drawing on the sidewalk is free, but registration is required (and chalk is available for purchase). Drawings are judged and prizes awarded the next day. There is a $250 first prize and gift certificates to Philz Coffee for runners up.

Chocolate lovers can purchase tickets for tasting at various shops and vendors along North Shattuck.

For more information, go to Chocolate and Chalk Festival.

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City of Berkeley News

Please check out the City of Berkeley's revamped 'Berkeley News Page." It has information about City events, public meetings, web content and City services. You can subscribe to the page to be notified by e-mail when new information is posted. (Updates are only about once a week. To protect your privacy, web page subscriptions are handled by an independent third party.)

If you manage a newsletter, listserv, e-tree, website, or anything similar, feel free to use the news page content to help connect your readers with City services.

If you have feedback or a specific request, contact Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, Public Information Officer City of Berkeley, City Manager's Office.

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Connects the Community to the Campus

UC Berkeley re-launched Cal Neighbors as an e-newsletter this year. For over a decade the campus delivered a printed copy to every household in Berkeley. Now the university has embraced a more timely, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective method of informing the community about campus news and events.

"The primary goal of Cal Neighbors is to connect the surrounding Berkeley community to the campus by informing residents about construction updates, campus events, and other topics of interest," says Caleb Dardick, director of community relations. "This is only our second edition so we'd like to hear what people think about it. I hope everyone will take our brief three-minute survey so that we can tailor it to meet the community's interests - and then sign up to receive it quarterly."

For more information, please contact the Office of Government and Community Relations at (510) 643-5299 or calneighbors@berkeley.edu.

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Come for the Culture. Stay for the Food

< td style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-weight:normal;font-size:14px;">Interested in a "staycation" this summer? One of Berkeley's best kept secrets is the Berkeley Convention and Visitors Bureau (BCVB) and its website, which lists a wide variety of events, cultural opportunities, recreational locations and restaurant suggestions in Berkeley.
This BCVB Arts and Culture button, found on the home page, links directly to the Berkeley Arts & Cultural Events calendar/map, where arts organizations post their open-to-the-public arts events.

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City Contacts and Resources

Listed below are important city phone numbers to keep close by:

Laurie Capitelli, District 5 Office


Tom Bates, Office of the Mayor


Officer Byron White, BPD Area Coordinator for North Berkeley


Non-emergency (to report a past event or suspicious activity)


Emergency (to report a crime in process or an emergency)
from a landline


From a cell phone 


To report nonfunctioning street lamps, graffiti, missed garbage pick-ups

On Line Service Center
or dial 311

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