Page One

ZAB members questioned on conflict of interest

By John Geluardi Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday November 21, 2000

The City Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. to hear public comments regarding the city attorney’s opinion that four members of the Zoning Adjustments Board should disqualify themselves certain decisions because of the appearance of a conflict of interest. 

After the public comment portion of the meeting, the City Council will go into closed session to confer with City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque. 

The city attorney wrote the opinion because the ZAB will be hearing several matters specifically related to the proposed synagogue and school the Congregation Beth El wants to build at 1301 Oxford St. The city attorney said the commissioners, who are board members or staff on the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, should disqualify themselves because BAHA wrote a letter critical of the project’s Environmental Impact Report. 

The special meeting was called because Antonio Rossman said in an interview with the Daily Planet that he would sue the city on behalf of the four commissioners if the City Council insists the commissioners disqualify themselves. Rossman, along with other attorneys, will address the City Council during the public comments segment of the meeting. 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington has asked that time be allowed for public comment on the issue during the regular City Council meeting. There is a possibility the Council will vote to reject or uphold the city attorney’s opinion afterwards. 

The four commissioners, Becky O’Malley, Lesley Emmington-Jones, Doug Morse and Carrie Olson, have so far refused to step down and said they will take the issue to court if need be. 

The special meeting will be held in the third floor conference room at 1900 Addison St. at 5:30 p.m.  


Regular meeting 

The City Council will vote on a bid from McNamara and Smallman Construction, Inc. to replace or repair 8,330 linear feet of sewer lines in south Berkeley. 

The $807,000 project is part of the city’s long-term, mandated Sanitary Sewer Capital Improvement Program. The eight streets that will be effected are Carleton, Derby, Ward, Walker, Ellsworth and Dana streets and Walker and Telegraph avenues. If approved, the contractor plans to start work in the area within a month. 

Berkeley is complying with a Regional Quality Control Board Cease and Desist Order to eliminate sewage overflows. The sewers with the project area are old and prone to blockages and over capacity problems. 

The City Council is expected to adopt the first reading of an ordinance repealing the vintage 1950s Municipal Code regulating indoor entertainment and replace it with code. 

The current ordinance is permit oriented and cost applicants up $450 to apply. If awarded a permit the event is subject to a list of regulations such as “no obscene dancing,” and “any place if entertainment in which dancing takes place shall be kept well lighted.” 

Under the new ordinance, the permit process is eliminated and the old regulations are replaced with health and safety requirements such as fire precautions such as emergency access, placement of fire extinguishers and controlling admissions so the occupancy limit is not violated. 

The new regulations will apply to any public event in which more than 150 people are expected to attend. 

The regular City Council meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way at 7 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast live on KPFB Radio 89.3 and Cable B-TV (channel 25).