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Shoring up creek slope under consideration

By John GeluardiDaily Planet staff
Tuesday June 12, 2001

Among the issues the City Council will consider tonight is a recommendation from the Public Works Department to continue a contract for revegetation of a section of Cerrito Creek in Albany. 

The contract will be with Shelterbelt Builders, Inc., in an amount not to exceed $78,000 through the end of 2003. 

The project is to repair the slope of the creek damaged during the construction of the Cerrito Creek sewer pipeline project. The damage occurred in Albany between Pierce and Adams streets. 

The project, dubbed the Cerrito Creek Revegetation Project, was planned by a number of organizations including the University Herbarium of UC Berkeley and the Friends of Five Creeks. 

The goal of the project is to plant strong populations of selected local native plants that will provide soil erosion and habitat protection. 


The culture down under 


The city manager is asking the council to amend a contract with the city’s archeological consulting firm, which has been retained to give the Public Works Department advice about projects in the West Berkeley Shellmound Area. 

The archeology consulting firm, Garcia and Associates, is asking for an increase in contract fees of $26,000 for a total not to exceed $207,000 for the period beginning June 15 until the end of 2003. 

The services are necessary because the city has landmarked areas in the Shellmound that are considered within the public right of way. Because of the historical status, the city has to meet state environmental guidelines. Normally the city does not have to abide by the California Environmental Quality Act when carrying out projects on the public right of way according to the staff report. 


Protecting renters 

Councilmember Dona Spring is asking the city attorney to write an amendment to the Berkeley Municipal Code that will make it tougher for landlords to evict tenants. 

Spring wants the code to be tightened to “restrict code violations that are used as grounds for eviction to only those that constitute a genuine safety of health threat,” according to Spring’s written recommendation. 

The amendments would also make it a violation for landlords to interfere with the delivery of services such as electricity, water, cable and Internet access. 

Spring’s recommendation says that due to the Costa-Hawkins vacancy decontrol, “landlords now have an incredible financial incentive to try and get rid of tenants in rent-controlled apartments.” 

The recommendation points to the example of a Berkeley landlord who, it said, recently ripped out one of his tenants’ telephone and cable lines, leaving him without fire prevention services. 


Council’s budget recommendations 

The council will make recommendations for amendments to the city manager’s budget proposals for fiscal year 2001-2002. The city manager will also answer questions about his May 9 presentation to council. 

The two-year budget for fiscal year 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 is about $524 million, a 14 percent increase from the previously adopted two-year budget.  

The council will hold a public hearing on the budget during its June 19 meeting and then adopt the budget on June 26. 


Moratorium in the MULI 

After being pushed back on the agenda several times, the moratorium on new office development in west Berkeley is on the agenda. The Planning Commission recommended the council enact a one-year moratorium on office development in the Mixed Use-Light Industrial District, also known as the MULI, in west Berkeley. 

The staff report on the recommendation says the moratorium should remain in effect until the impact of the growing number of offices on blue-collar jobs, and on artists and artisans can be determined. 

Another concern is increased traffic congestion posed by more offices. The council report, approved by Planning Commission Chair Rob Wrenn, said that about 349,000 square feet of office space has been developed in the MULI in the last three years. 

Also on the agenda are: 

• A transportation pass for city workers 

• A passenger pick-up space at the downtown BART station 

• Encouraging low income and market-rate housing in the city 

• Asking the city manager to study a Sunshine Ordinance, improving on the state’s open meeting laws