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Council’s agenda filled with ongoing issues

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Tuesday November 27, 2001

At tonight’s meeting, the council will examine its options in light of a successful petition drive to repeal the recently-approved council districts.  

Citizens for Fair Representation collected 7,985 signatures, far more than the 4,000 valid signatures required to challenge the city. 

The council can choose to have the newly-approved redistricting ordinance put on the March 5 ballot, which would cost the city about $100,000 or simply repeal the ordinance and start the redistricting process anew.  

If the council chooses to start over, the Dec. 31 state-imposed deadline for approving new districts would be pushed back to April 1. 


Royal line of succession 

After the events of Sept. 11, the city is getting all of its emergency procedural ducks in a row. As part of the process, the council is being asked to assign an official line of succession in case the director of emergency services is unavailable.  

“Director of emergency services” is one of the many hats worn by City Manager Weldon Rucker. The state requires all cities to name a line of succession so the city is not without leadership during an emergency.  

If the council approves the recommendation, and if Rucker is unable to take the reins during a crisis, the line of succession follows as: Deputy City Manager Phil Kamlarz, City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque and finally Chief of Police Dash Butler. 


Free bus rides 

The council will consider a recommendation for free Saturday bus rides for shoppers during the holiday season. The recommendation asks the city manager to work with AC Transit and the Downtown Merchants Association to provide free transit fares.  

The recommendation also asks that the city provide free transit passes any time there is a city program that provides free parking at meters. 

The cost of the average AC Transit fare is 65 cents. The cost to the city will depend on an agreement among AC Transit, the city and the merchants. 


Parking rate hike 

The city manager is recommending the council raise the evening flat rate parking charges at the Center Street Garage from $4 to $5. Prior to approving the rate hike, the council will hold a public hearing.  

The council raised the flat rate for evening parking at the garage from $2 to $4 on Oct. 30. The council also moved the beginning of the evening parking rates back from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

The staff report recommends against the rate hike, arguing that the new $5 rate is above the current evening average cost of parking and will likely decrease use of the parking garage. 

The council will also consider: 

• An informational report from Planning and Development Director Carol Barrett on downtown transit options. 

• Giving police cadets a cost of living wage increase. The total cost to the city will be $255,000 over a six year period. 

• Councilmember Polly Armstrong will ask the city manager to submit a report on the status of the city’s parking meters. Armstrong said that over a third of the meters on College Avenue are not working. 


The Housing Authority 

The Berkeley Housing Authority, which consists of the City Council and two resident appointees, will hold a meeting just prior to the regular City Council meeting. 

The authority will likely approve an $80-per-meeting stipend for the Public Housing and the Section 8 commissions and consider holding a public hearing on the authority’s annual plan for fiscal year 2002-2003.  

Some of the new proposals in the updated annual plan are shared housing for Section 8 tenants and a Section 8 homeownership program. 

The authority will meet in the Council Chambers at 6:30 p.m. 


Special council meeting on energy policy 

The City Council will hold a a study session at 5 p.m. to review the city’s energy program. The session is designed to educate the council prior to its Dec. 7 approval of $400,000 for energy conservation projects. 

In addition the council will hear presentations from the Commission of Energy and Berkeley Energy Technical Advisory Group which will detail the status of the energy crisis 


The City Council meeting will be held tonight at 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. The meeting will also be broadcast live on the KPFA Radio, 89.3 and Cable B-TV, Channel 25