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City Council District 5
City Council District 5

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February 12, 2014

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Coffee with the Councilmember
Library Launches New Website
TONA Hosts Discussion on the Proposed Walgreens
Film Premier: Berkeley Teens “Behind the Swings”
Berkeley is for Lovers This Valentine’s Day
Off the Grid Returns to North Berkeley
City Contacts and Resources

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

Last night the City Council considered strategic polling of Berkeley voters for possible Council-initiated November ballot measures. After public testimony and a spirited discussion, we gave clear direction to the City Manager to explore questions related to improving our parks and to strategies for reinvigorating our Housing Trust Fund.

But of particular note during public testimony was the cohort of citizens, Berkeley’s Healthy Child Coalition, who came forward to encourage the City to impose a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Though a Richmond “soda tax” proposal failed in 2012, Seattle and San Francisco are considering similar measures for 2014. They are among a growing list of municipalities grappling with a developing health crisis that finds its roots in the over consumption of refined sugars that leads too often to diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay.

The research on the detrimental effects of too much liquid sugar in one’s diet is compelling if not frightening. Sugary drinks are the largest single source of added calories in the American diet* and science has demonstrated that liquid sugar is significantly linked to diabetes, heart disease and dental decay. According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, 1/3 of all Americans born in the year 2000 and close to ½ of African Americans and Latinos born that same year will develop diabetes within their lifetimes. Bringing this issue closer to home, 29% of BUSD students are overweight or obese (a major risk factor for diabetes), and African Americans living in South and West Berkeley are 14 times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of diabetes than their white counterparts.**

Would a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages (milk and medical products would be exempt) solve this problem? Advocates argue that it could help fund programs that prevent diabetes and related illnesses. Locally, revenues from a new tax could be spent on programs that promote children’s health and healthy lifestyles. Should cities be in the business of taking on big industries? Our young people, and particularly our young people of color, are targeted daily by an industry that spends an unimaginable amount of money in its ad campaigns, utilizing appealing cutting edge technologies and cultural icons. Berkeley, as a community which is deeply concerned with its children’s health and the overall health disparities among its citizens, could counteract this onslaught. Certainly two generations of cigarette taxes have funded successful campaigns to inform citizens about the health effects of smoking. Perhaps a similar strategy could provide citizens with a pro-health narrative that would support an informed approach to soda consumption.

The Council did decide to include questions related to an SSB tax on the upcoming voter poll, exploring possible tax structures and preferred revenue allocation. I look forward to seeing the poll results later this spring and discussing options to allow for deliberation by all of Berkeley voters in November. Stay tuned.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

* California Center for Public Health Advocacy fact sheet

** City of Berkeley’s Health Status Report 2013

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Coffee with the Councilmember

What: Conversation with Councilmember Laurie Capitelli
When: Wednesday, February 26. 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Where: Café Roma. 1549 Hopkins St.

Back to the Roma. Buy a coffee or – whatever – and join me for a morning conversation about local issues. Rain (if we should be so lucky) will cancel.

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Berkeley Public Library
Launches New Website

Features Include Improved Navigation, a New Visual Identity and Community Focus

Check out the new Berkeley Public Library Website, showcasing the Library’s connection to the community while providing easy access to its dynamic print, music, film and digital collections:

  • Downloadable ebooks and audiobooks
  • Streaming music
  • Discover & Go, a service providing free or reduced price tickets to Bay Area museums and other cultural venues
  • Digital magazines
  • Kids and Teen focused content
  • Personalized book recommendations—tailored to patrons—created by our librarians
  • Information on reserving our free community meeting rooms
  • Calendar featuring the diverse range of Library events

The site was made with mobile users in mind and adapts to tablets and mobile devices easily without requiring an app. Built on the open-source Drupal platform, the site was constructed with a responsive design approach with usability and accessibility as top priorities.

“We really want to get away from the monolithic redesign process and have the ability to adapt the navigation and presentation of our site when we get feedback from our users, and this new site allows us to do this easily,” said Alicia Abramson, Manager of Information Technology and Technical Services for the Library. The Library will continue to collect user feedback about the new site through an online survey. For questions regarding the website, contact: Alicia Abramson, Manager, Information Technology & Technical Services at 510-981-6131.

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TONA Host Panel Discussion
On the Proposed Solano Walgreens

What: Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association General Meeting and Panel Discussion about Solano Walgreens Proposal
When: Thursday, March 6, 2014. Board Elections: 7:00 p.m. Panel: 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Thousand Oaks Baptist/Presbyterian Church. Colusa and Catalina Ave.

Walgreens has submitted an application to build a 10,000 square foot drug store at the corner of Solano and Colusa, current site for the 76 gas station. There have been many questions and concerns about the proposed project which is now in the City’s zoning approval process.

The Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association has graciously organized an informational panel discussion with representatives from Walgreens and their real estate partner and two local residents who have been vocal in their opposition to the project. This is a unique opportunity to hear from both sides and to ask questions directly to the project advocates.

Participating will be Kurt Beleck, VP Operations, Agree Realty Corporation; Michael O’Brien, Community Leader, Walgreens Company; Chris Gilbert, No Solano Walgreens; and Mark Delucchi, No Solano Walgreens.

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Film Premier:
Berkeley Teens “Behind the Swings”

What: “Behind the Swings: A Closer Look at Our Parks.” A Film by Local Teens from the Albany/Berkeley YMCA Youth Institute. Free.
When: Saturday, March 8th, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Where: Elmwood Theatre, 2966 College Ave, Berkeley

The YMCA Youth Institute presents its first feature film: “Behind the Swings: A Closer Look at our Parks” We invite you to join us for this exciting event, celebrating the work and vision of 8 youth over the last 4 months. The Youth Institute is a digital media arts program for underserved youth focusing on community building, job readiness, and leadership development.

We hope to see you there!

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Berkeley is for Lovers
This Valentine’s Day

What: Downtown Berkeley Hosts Mass Wedding, Celebrating Valentine’s Day After Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act
When: Friday, February 14, 2014. 5:00 p.m. Registration for couples married in the past 90 days, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza

Three lucky couples (gay, lesbian, straight) to win instant honeymoon.

On Friday February 14th, at 5:00pm the Berkeley community will be holding a Valentine’s Day celebration like no other: a Mass Wedding followed by a drawing for three couples to win a mini-honeymoon! The Downtown Berkeley Association invites ALL lovers to say “I Do” at Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza in front of their friends, family and the Berkeley community.

Couples who are interested in getting married and winning the honeymoon package must register in BART Plaza between 3:30 and 4:30pm on the day of the event. Bring valid ID’s for both parties, and a valid marriage license issued within the last 90 days. Weddings will be performed by licensed officiates: Berkeley City Council Member Darryl Moore, Berkeley School Board Member Judy Appel, and Berkeley Chamber CEO Polly Armstrong. DJ O Aces will be spinning romantic tunes for the couple’s first dance. And after the ceremonies there will be three drawings for the instant honeymoon.

Every person witnessing the wedding will have a chance to cast their vote for one couple—so bring lots of friends! Once the winners have been chosen, all will be invited to the Hotel Shattuck Plaza for wedding reception for champagne and cake (guests are asked to pay a small fee for admission).

For more information, go to Berkeley is for Lovers.

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Off the Grid
Returns to North Berkeley

What: Off the Grid Weekly Food Truck Event
When: Sundays. 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: North Berkeley BART Parking Lot, Corner of Delaware and Sacramento Street.

Launched on Sunday, February 9, Off the Grid returns to North Berkeley to bring delicious street food for Sunday evening dinners that you won't want to miss. Grab bites from a rotating list of 8-10 artisanal street food vendors. Check out their Facebook event or visit the Off the Grid for the most up-to-date vendor list.

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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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