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May 9, 2012


In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Five Minute Grace Period at Pay and Display Parking Meters
Solano Avenue Business Improvement District
Himalayan Fair in Live Oak Park
Eat Chocolate & Make Art in the Gourmet Ghetto
Berkeley's Favorite Quirky Book Sale
Metropolitan Transportation Commission Summer Internships
City Contacts and Resources



A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

Every June the City Council winds up its budget process with some last-minute wrangling, a final public hearing and a vote to approve. Whether adopting a full two-year budget, or merely approving adjustments in the second year cycle (as we are doing this year), it is always a challenge to balance the needs of a vibrant community with the hard realities of stagnant if not shrinking revenues.

The good news: Every year since my initial election in 2004 we have approved a balanced operating budget. We will do so again this year. The bad news: long-term employee obligations have become increasingly unfunded since the 2008 economic downturn, and our infrastructure — roads, sidewalks, storm drains — needs attention. (See Frequently Asked Questions: The City Budget, Employee Compensation and Unfunded Liabilities.)

Many of you have expressed deep concerns to me about these long-term financial obligations. How are we going to figure out how to manage both our aging infrastructure and the promises made to employees in the boom years of the late 90's? True, we have acknowledged the problem. Getting the complete information on the table in a workable and useful format is our next step.

On May 15, the City Council will be considering my proposal to require a biennial report to Council five months prior to adopting a new biennial budget. The report will include a spread sheet detailing employee and retiree benefit costs over a 10-year horizon, a summary of current active employee costs, a summary of all current City obligations, a summary of City of Berkeley capital assets and infrastructure needs, including: public buildings, conditions of streets and roads, sewers and storm drains and parks. The goal is to have all the information consolidated and as easily accessible to the public as possible and available in February every other year as the Council begins their biennial budgeting process.

To see the item, go to City Manager's Report of Future City Liabilities.

I acknowledge and appreciate the work of Berkeley citizens who have been advocating for a similar report. They are right that this information is important for sound decision making. But it needs to be done in a way that is feasible, collaborative and that does not become a "condition" for future Council action.

* * * *

Also on the May 15 Council Agenda, as a Special Council workshop at 6:30 p.m., is the presentation of a survey done by two of my office interns. The "Affordable Housing Survey" attempted to assess the satisfaction of residents of some of Berkeley's affordable units; those in affordable developments as compared to those whose units are included in market rate buildings. The research is meant to inform Council's decision later this year about allowing housing mitigation fees from market rate housing developers in lieu of including affordable units within their developments. (Those fees would go into the Housing Trust Fund and would be available for affordable developments.) Here is a link to the Affordable Housing Survey.

In short, the survey demonstrated little difference in comparative satisfaction levels. If that is a given, then Council can focus on what fee will maximize the City's housing resources. (The incidental take away from the survey, illustrated by an overwhelming 40% response rate, was that residents in these units were honored and happy to be asked about their experiences.)

I want to thank my interns Beth Gerstein, long-time Berkeley resident and anthropologist, and Gimin Shon, UC Berkeley undergrad and Cal Corps volunteer. They did an outstanding job of contacting and surveying local residents, interviewing many of them and collaborating with representatives from our nonprofit housing community.

Last week our office was honored to receive an award from the Cal Corps Public Service Center. The "Certificate of Recognition" recognized our District 5 office as the Cal Corp Program's "Site of the Year" for its "demonstrated commitment to improving the local East Bay and the lives of those living within these communities."

It was a pleasure to work with Gimin and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors. (Pictured below from left to right: me, Gimin Shon holding our award, and District 5 aide, Pam Gray.)

Regards,


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

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Five Minute Grace Period
at Pay and Display Parking Meters

At our May 15 meeting, the City Council will be considering a proposal for a 5-minute grace period at the Pay-and-Display parking meters. Parkers would have up to five minutes after the expiration as printed on the parking receipt displayed on the dash board to retrieve their vehicle.

I introduced this item in response to many complaints about aggressive parking enforcement. (See the Berkeleyside article.)

Please consider contacting the Mayor and the other Councilmembers if you support this measure.

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Solano Avenue
Business Improvement District

Last week the City Council approved the reinstatement of the Solano Avenue Business Improvement District (BID). A BID is a defined commercial area where businesses are assessed a prescribed amount. The revenue is budgeted and spent by a board of business people from within the District.

Because there was no formal opposition to the BID, the members of the Solano BID Advisory Board members can move forward with projects they believe will enhance the area and the experience of its visitors.

Congratulations! I look forward to working with the board and to witnessing a revitalization of Solano Avenue.

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Himalayan Fair in Live Oak Park

What: 29th Annual Himalayan Fair
When: Saturday, May 19th, 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. and
Sunday, May 20th, 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Where: Live Oak Park, 1300 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

The Himalayan Fair has been a Berkeley annual event since 1983. It was conceived and initiated by Arlene Blum, local resident and mountain climber best known for leading an all-women's ascent of Anapurna. She envisioned the fair as a celebration of Himalayan culture and a gathering place for members of the Himalayan Community living in the Bay Area.

There will be entertainment, food and arts and crafts. Entry to the fair is free though we appreciate all donations. Every $5.00 donated earns you a ticket to our yearly raffle.

The Himalayan Fair is wheelchair accessable and volunteers are available at the information booth for disabled assistance if needed.

For more information, go to the 29th Annual Himalayan Fair.

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Eat Chocolate & Make Art
in the Gourmet Ghetto

What: 16th Annual Chocolate and Chalk Arts Festival
When: Saturday, June 2, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Rain date June 9)
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 $25 gift certificates 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.

This is a family-friendly free event produced by Another Bullwinkel Show (510.548.5335) and sponsored by the North Shattuck Association, City of Berkeley, Fiat, Art Kapour Realty, Comcast, KFOG, Berkeleyside.com, East Bay Express and YELP. For a good time, take BART to downtown Berkeley and stroll north six blocks.

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Berkeley's Favorite Quirky Book Sale

What: Friends of the Berkeley Public Library Semi-annual Book Sale
When: Saturday, June 2, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Rain date June 9)
Where: Berkeley's Central Library, 2090 Kittredge Street

The Library's meeting room will be overflowing with thousands of books, all priced at 50 cents each. Volunteers are already sorting donations and boxing books by category—Art/Music, Biographies, Children's, Cooking, Travel, and more. There'll also be several newer topics, based on suggestions from previous sales: African/American History, and Literary Criticism. Book buyers should also watch for Classics (or "Books You Always Meant to Read"), and "Quirky Books You Didn't Know You Needed." Take home a bagful for summer reading!

Phonograph records, CDs, DVDs, maps, ephemera, and other surprises will also be sold for the same bargain price of 50 cents. And this being Berkeley, there'll be a brimming "free table." All proceeds benefit the Berkeley Public Library.

For more information, contact Andrea Foley at 510-524-8378 or contact the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library.

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Metropolitan Transportation Commission Summer Internships

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is offering 13 college-level Internships for the summer of 2012. Internships at MTC provide students with the opportunity to gain professional work experience in transportation planning, finance and operational projects. Internships are generally full-time from June through September.

To qualify for an MTC internship, students must be enrolled at least part-time in a four-year undergraduate or graduate level curriculum. Individuals who have already graduated may be considered up to six (6) months post-graduation. MTC is looking for personnel with a professional demeanor, the ability to work effectively with a variety of people, have an energetic attitude and are self-motivated. Have excellent organizational, analytical skills and are detail-oriented.

For further information about and how to apply for the positions, please go to MTC Summer Internships.

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City Contacts and Resources

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

Laurie Capitelli, District 5 Office

510-981-7150


Tom Bates, Office of the Mayor

510-981-7000

Officer Byron White, BPD Area Coordinator for North Berkeley

510-981-5773

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

981-5900

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

911

From a cell phone 

981-5911

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

On Line Service Center
or dial 311

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