On this week’s council agenda there are two different proposals to streamline the city’s tortuous council meetings. One was written by City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan and the other by Mayor Shirley Dean.
But since there are about 70-something other items before the council – one of them being the passage of $3 million in budget items – the body may put off the discussion for another day.
Another agenda item will bring the animal-friendly community out – a vote on the proposed Spay/Neuter Ordinance is scheduled.
Last week the city heard from animal aficionados about the draft law. The proposal is to create a $30 cat license for unaltered felines and a $30 license for unaltered dogs. There would be no license fee for spayed and neutered cats, and there would be a $7.50 fee for spayed and neutered dogs. Unaltered dogs caught disobeying the law – wandering around unleashed, pooping where they shouldn’t or disturbing the neighborhood with their howls – would be placed on a “bad dog” list and their owners charged a $60 license fee.
The proposal brought out dozens of two-legged beings on both sides of the issue. Those in favor of the ordinance, such as Councilmember Dona Spring, said the higher fees for unaltered animals are the best way to get people to spay and neuter their cats and dogs and, consequently, the best way to reduce the numbers of strays euthanized at the animal shelter.
Those on the other side of the question, such as Diane Sequoia, an African-American veterinarian, argued that this law would give police officers one more opportunity to discriminate against people of color, by checking dog licenses when they go to public parks. She and others said that spay and neutering is not the answer – responsible animal ownership is the solution, they argued.
Another important decision the council will be asked to make tonight is on the question of taking away Kragen Auto Parts’ license to operate. The Zoning Adjustment Board voted for revocation, weighing in on the side of neighbors who have argued for years that operators of the establishment do not keep the area around the store clean and have not stopped customers from working on their cars outside the establishment. Kragen appealed the ZAB’s decision to the City Council.
At last week’s public hearing, Kragen representatives argued that employees regularly clean outside the business. They also made the point that in an emergency – such as when a person’s oil is dangerously low – individuals have a right to perform a certain amount of work near the business.
The council also will vote on whether to put a proposed measure on the November ballot that would blunt owner move-in evictions, which would displace seniors and disabled people and would displace long-term renters whose landlords own a number of rental properties.
The council decided several months ago to add plastic bottles to its recycling efforts on Sept. 1. A committee that included representatives from city staff, the Solid Waste Management Commission and the Ecology Center, which will contract for the recycling, met and proposed a number of principles, which council will be asked to approve. The policy would affirm:
• That producers of packaging ought to be responsible for designing products that are reusable or recyclable.
• That the city’s goal is to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that ultimately goes to the landfills.
• That the city will prioritize “bottle to bottle” recycling, with an awareness that plastics recycling is in its early stages. Bottle to bottle recycling means that the recycled bottle ends up being reused as a bottle.
• That the city will encourage local efforts for businesses to use reusable packaging, such as refillable plastic beverage containers.
• That the city recognize “the negative environmental impacts of polyvinyl chloride in the construction sector and from consumer packaging and recommend appropriate actions.”
In addition, the council will vote on putting two bond measures on the fall ballot: a $5.2 million bond for branch library improvements and a $3.2 million bond for renovation and repair of the warm water pool at Berkeley High School.