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January 17, 2014

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Coffee with the School Board Director and the Councilmember
BART Plaza Design Open House
Healthy Homes: Alameda Grant Opportunity
Berkeley Police Alert: Smart Phone Robberies
City Contacts and Resources

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

Happy 2014. For the first time in over 30 years, my wife and I are starting a new year in a new home. Our perspective won’t change much – we only moved a block away – but the recent move and its relentless sorting, editing, packing, and tossing gave me a new mantra: Simplify. Prioritize. Look forward.

Before we look forward to Council’s first meeting of ’14 on January 21, I wanted to take a moment to touch a bit of the old and provide updates on several important District 5 issues that came to the surface last year.

Oaks Theater. In this case no news is, well, no news. The consortium of local performing arts groups has been so far unable to negotiate a business agreement with the Oaks Theater owner that will insure a sustainable plan moving forward. We will continue to look at all reasonable possibilities including purchase and work to finding the right proposal at the right time for all concerned. That said, what we have learned over the past year is that there is a significant need in this community for a permanent home for our rich and varied nonprofit performing arts groups. More importantly, there is a willingness amongst a strong core of groups to form a consortium to fill that need in a cooperative and collaborative fashion. Our steering committee is pledged to continue this process to a successful conclusion. Though we are disappointed that we haven’t been able to date to bring a performing arts center to the heart of north Berkeley, we are still committed to finding a home for our nomadic cultural assets.

Walgreens proposal for Solano. Thank you to all who have emailed and called about the proposed Walgreens project for Solano Avenue. I have noted everyone’s concerns and questions and have appreciated your many suggestions. The big opportunity for public input will be with the Zoning Adjustments Board either by submitting written comments to zab@cityofberkeley.info or by testifying at a yet-to-be-scheduled public hearing. You can see the project application for 1830 Solano by going to Current Zoning Applications. When the public hearing is set it will also be posted on this site. The Planning Commission is also considering putting limits on the number of pharmacies in any given area. We will keep you posted as to their progress.

John Hinkel Park. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete a survey regarding John Hinkel Park. The responses are tallied and available here. My staff has also put together a brief executive summary and answers to frequent comments/questions regarding the clubhouse. This information will be used by planners and City staff to craft possible scenarios to utilize the Measure WW Parks Bond funds allocated for JHP. Those will be available for the community later this year.

* * * * *

I look forward to working with you all in the coming year, and to meeting my new neighbors.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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Coffee with the Councilmember
and the School Board Director

What: Conversation with School Board Director Julie Sinai and Councilmember Laurie Capitelli
When: Saturday, January 18. 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
Where: Community Room, North Branch Library. Entrance at Josephine and Sonoma.

Berkeley School Board Director Julie Sinai will be joining the neighborhood discussion this month providing an opportunity to explore kids’ and school-related issues along with the usual fare. Julie and Laurie will bring coffee. You bring the questions. They promise not to wear their running togs.

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BART Plaza:
Design Open House

What: Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza Project Design Process Planning meeting and Design Open House
When: Monday, February 3, 2014. 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: Community Meeting Room in the Downtown Berkeley Public Library

As I reported last summer, the City of Berkeley is the recipient of over $12 million in grants from the ACTC for three transportation-related projects for downtown Berkeley.

The approved projects:

  • The BART rotunda at Center Street will be replaced and the plaza redesigned to maximize landscaping and pedestrian amenities.
  • The western arm of Shattuck Avenue, currently south bound one-way, will become two-way in order to eliminate the dangerous north-bound intersection at University. The eastern arm will be reconfigured to maximize street parking.
  • Hearst Avenue will receive a bike lane, a continuous sidewalk on the southside (adjacent to the Chancellor’s residence) and other pedestrian safety features between Shattuck and Gayley Road.

As part of the public process, BART planners have organized an open house for Berkeley residents who want to learn more about the grants and the parameters of the projects and who want to provide input to the BART planners.

More information will be available later this month and we will be sure to forward it to the community.

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Healthy Homes:
Alameda County Grant Opportunities

Lead poisoning, asthma triggers and safety issues in the home are a serious threat to our children’s health. The Alameda County Healthy Homes Department has services to assist low-income residents and property owners in making their homes safer for young children. Grants and technical assistance are available to reduce lead hazards, and other health and safety issues in the home, as well as free consultation services.

Do you have a pre-1978 home in Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville or Oakland? Are there any children under 6, or a pregnant woman, living in the home? Or do children under 6 regularly visit? Is the household low-income? If so, you may qualify for up to $4,000 in grants for lead hazard and other safety repairs in the home, from the Alameda County Healthy Homes Department. Rental and owner-occupied homes are eligible. Free consultations are also available. To find out more and to apply, go to www.achhd.org or call 510-567-8280.

For more information, please see the Free Lead Paint Consultation Repair Funds flyer.

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Berkeley Police Alert:
Smart Phone Robberies

Most of us are guilty of it: walking around town with either our nose buried in a text message, or wired up with ear buds enjoying a remote universe.

But be warned. Berkeley Police have documented a significant increase in the number of street robberies focused on smart phones, especially IPhones. They have asked us to forward to Berkeley residents the following safety precautions:

  • Be alert to your surroundings and people around you.
  • Do not lend your phone to anyone you do not know or take it out of your purse, pocket or bag to give someone the time, if asked.
  • Whenever feasible, walk, jog or travel with a friend or friends.
  • Walk confidently and at a steady pace.
  • Don’t talk on cell phones or listen to iPods when alone, as they significantly limit awareness.
  • Be aware of locations and situations which make you more vulnerable to crime such as alleys, doorways, parking lots and stairwells.
  • Call BPD to report suspicious persons or activity.
  • If you are the victim of a robbery, immediately call the police. An immediate report, including the suspect description, direction of flight, any associated vehicles and vehicle license plate # gives responding officers the best possible chance of locating the suspect, and ultimately making a successful case.

Please see the Berkeley Police Alert flyer with these recommendations and important phone number and contact information.

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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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