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November 5, 2013

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Proposed Walgreens on Solano
John Hinkel Park Survey
Friends of the Fountain Say, “Thank You!”
Summit Reservoir Replacement Project
Planning for a Local Disaster
Berkeley’s First Half Marathon
Berkeley Police Alert: Catalytic Converter Theft
City Contacts and Resources

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

One of the most elegant and iconic of all Berkeley’s parks is historic John Hinkel Park. Located on the edge of the 100-year-old Thousand Oaks subdivision, John Hinkel preserves the oak-covered ambiance of the Berkeley hills while celebrating Berkeley’s architectural traditions of incorporating the natural world into our urban life.

Despite its inherent beauty, JHP is showing its age. Improvements and maintenance have been deferred. Antiquated play structures were deemed unsafe and removed with no plan for replacements. Invasive ivy now dominates the hillside and the creek banks. The largest structure in the park, the Clubhouse, has been closed since 1991 and estimates to both stabilize the hillside and renovate the building are between $3 million to $5 million.

On October 2, 2013, the Parks and Waterfront staff sponsored a community meeting to inform citizens about the condition of the park and to invite folks to discuss their priorities for the it. The good news is that the City is allocating $600,000 ($473,000 in real construction money) for capital improvements through the 2008 East Bay Regional Parks bond Measure WW. The bad news is that the need is far greater than the allocation.

To get a sense of the community’s priorities for the park, my staff and I, in collaboration with a neighborhood volunteer, have created an online survey. We will keep the survey open for several weeks. Results will be shared with project planners who will be developing scenarios to share with the community early next year. Please take a moment to complete the survey. If you haven’t been to JHP in a while consider taking a brisk, autumn walk there this weekend. You won’t regret it.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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Proposed Walgreens Store
For Solano Avenue

The owners of the gas station at 1830 Solano at Colusa have decided to sell their property. Walgreens has proposed opening a 10,000 square foot retail store with underground parking at the site and will purchase the property if they receive approval from the City for their project. Many District 5 residents have emailed my office regarding the proposed project and the process for approval. Here is a brief explanation of what you can expect:

The developers have to apply to the City for a Use Permit. (At the sending of this newsletter no formal application has been made.) Citizens can expect a minimum of one public hearing before the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB). That meeting will be scheduled after Planning Department (City) staff receives and deems complete the formal application. (This could take several months.) City Planning staff will review the proposal and make recommendations to the ZAB. The ZAB will decide whether or not the proposal conforms to the City’s zoning laws. Any decision by the ZAB can be appealed to the City Council.

Zoning applications that are currently under review can be found at Current Zoning Applications. (Be sure to read the disclaimer and “Accept” to go to the applications listed by street address.)

Since the project could come to Council on appeal (potentially another public hearing), I cannot make any prejudicial comments or I would forfeit my ability to deliberate and be a decision-maker on the project. Having said that, please know that I and my office staff are available to answer any questions.

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John Hinkel Park Survey

The City of Berkeley is entering into a planning and design process for improvements for John Hinkel Park (JHP). Allocated through the 2008 East Bay Regional Park District Bond Measure WW and chosen through a City prioritization process in 2010, construction funds of $432,000 are available for capital improvements for the park. The City is also considering the future of the Clubhouse structure which is currently fenced off. Estimates provided by contractors and engineers to both stabilize the hillside and rebuild the building run between $3 million to $5 million.

Because Measure WW funds and other resources are limited and the need is great, projects need to be prioritized. This survey, sponsored by the Office of Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, is designed to help identify the community’s use and vision for the park and will be used to inform planners in developing options. Those options will be available for public comment early in 2014.

Go to:

John Hinkel Park Survey

Please let us know what you think. The deadline to reply is November 25, 2013.

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Thank You
From Friends of the Fountain and Walk

Sara Holmes, volunteer extraordinaire and driving force behind the Friends of the Fountain and Walk, wants to thank the community for their support of the balustrade repair project.

In addition to the nearly $20,000 you helped us raise since October 2011 through 2012, the community has donated over $55,000 in 2013 for this effort. We are pleased to report additional repair funds from the City of Berkeley: the Public Works Department has agreed to contribute $10,000 and the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department $5,000.

Our sincerest thanks to the City and all contributors!

To see a list of continuing repair projects and short video about the fountain, please go to Friends of the Fountain and Walk.

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EBMUD Summit Reservoir

From Michelle Blackwell, EBMUD Community Affairs:

In preparation for the Summit Reservoir Replacement Project, EBMUD will be clearing trees from the work area to make room for the new facilities and to remove trees that have reached the end of their lifecycle. To avoid the nesting season the tree removal will take place from November 4th to December 20th, 2013. Work hours for the tree clearing will be from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. Per the environmental impact report (EIR), published November 2011, protected trees that are removed for this project will be replaced with native species appropriate for the area.

Landscaping and replacement plantings will be done towards the end of the Summit Reservoir Construction Project, which is expected to start in Summer, 2014 and take approximately two years. For additional information about the Summit Reservoir Replacement Project please go to www.ebmud.com and select Construction Projects/Summit Reservoir.

If you have questions or concerns now or during construction, please contact Michele Blackwell Michele Blackwell, (510) 287 2053. For after hours contacts call (866) 403-2683.

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Berkeley’s 2014 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan

The City of Berkeley is updating its Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP). The LHMP identifies natural hazards in Berkeley and outlines a five-year strategy to further protect Berkeley’s people, buildings, infrastructure and environment from those hazards. The City began updating the LHMP in summer 2011. This update effort will allow Berkeley to apply for federal mitigation grant programs and State funding, and is anticipated to be complete in spring of 2014.

The First Draft has been posted for public review at 2014 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan and City libraries. Members of the public are invited to provide written feedback on the First Draft Plan until Monday, December 9.

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Berkeley Half Marathon

What: First Annual Berkeley Half Marathon.
When: Sunday, November 24, 2013. 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley to Golden Gate Fields.

Put on your running shoes and race down University Avenue to support organizations in Berkeley that make a difference: Berkeley Food and Housing Project, the Berkeley Public Schools Fund and Berkeley Partners for Parks. For over three years the producers of the San Francisco Marathon have worked collaboratively with the City of Berkeley, local organizations, and a host of runners to put on this inaugural Berkeley event. They are expecting up to 6000 runners.

Participants can choose one of three routes: the half marathon, the “bearable” 10 mile or the 10 K.

For more information including a map of the course, please go to Berkeley Half Marathon.

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BPD Alert:
Theft of Catalytic Converters

The Berkeley Police Department has noticed a pattern a thefts of catalytic converters in the North Berkeley Hills. Since the beginning of October, there have been six (6) reported thefts of catalytic converters during the overnight hours. Thieves appear to specifically be targeting Toyota pickup trucks and vans.

If you have any information about these thefts, please contact the Berkeley Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit at (510) 981-5737 or you may anonymously provide information with Bay Area Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

A catalytic converter is a piece of the vehicle’s exhaust system (made of precious metals) that converts toxic emissions to less toxic substances. Because of the rising values of precious metals over time, catalytic converter thefts (as well as the theft of other items containing precious metals—such as brass railings, auto gates, etc.) have become a cost-effective means for suspects to turn a quick buck. A person who steals a catalytic converter could possible get up to $200 per device.

In the City of Berkeley, the typical modus operandi of the catalytic converter suspect is to operate during the nighttime hours—taking advantage of shadows and the darkness of night. The suspect will most likely be equipped with a reciprocating saw (aka: saber saw, sawzall) and some form of bag or backpack to carry the saw and stolen catalytic converters. A catalytic converter thief may be walking on foot, riding a bicycle, or driving a vehicle. When the suspect identifies a vehicle to steal the catalytic converter from, the suspect lies down underneath the rear of the vehicle at the tail pipe. The suspect then utilizes their reciprocating saw to simply cut the catalytic converter from the tail pipe. According to industry experts, a suspect can steal your catalytic converter in under two minutes. The most commonly hit vehicles are SUVs and trucks, especially late-model Toyotas, because they sit higher off the ground—making for easier access.

If you happen to wake at night to a “buzzing” sound coming from the street, look outside to see what’s happening. If you see a suspicious person underneath/behind a parked vehicle, you may be witnessing a catalytic converter theft. If you see something like this, immediately report this incident to the Berkeley Police Department.

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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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