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Draft plan, substation and psychics on City Council agenda

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Tuesday December 11, 2001

Among the issues the City Council will consider tonight are councilmembers’ recommendations for amendments to three elements of the Draft General Plan.  

The council agreed last Tuesday to approve the Housing, Land Use and Transportation elements by Dec. 18 and consider the six remaining elements early next year. 

In order to meet the deadline, each councilmember agreed to submit recommendations for changes to the three elements by last Friday. Those recommendations will be discussed tonight, and then the council will begin a final round of voting to amend the draft plan. 

Once approved, the revised General Plan will guide the city’s Zoning Ordinance and public policy on a variety of issues including development, environmental management and open space. 


Expansion of winter shelter 

The Housing Department is requesting the City Council approve $36,000 to increase the number of beds at the Joint Winter Shelter at the Oakland Army Base. There are currently 100 beds at the shelter, split 50-50 for Berkeley and Oakland use. If approved, the extra funding will add 25 beds for Berkeley’s homeless.  

The increased funding is a response to the Berkeley Homeless Union’s request to use the former jail at 2171 McKinley Ave. as a temporary shelter. A Housing Department report suggests it would be more practical to increase the capacity of the winter shelter because it is already in use and includes showers, individual case workers and two meals a day.  


Extension of police substation lease 

The council will likely approve the extension of the Traffic Bureau Substation lease at 3140 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The substation has been operating at the location for 10 years. The police department is asking the council for $262,000 to extend the lease through April. 

According to a police department report, the Traffic Bureau is outgrowing the substation and is looking for a new location in south Berkeley. 


Creek Czar 

The council will consider a recommendation from Mayor Shirley Dean and Councilmember Linda Maio seeking funds for the city to hire a creeks and watershed coordinator. The coordinator duties would include pursuing grants for creek restoration and the forming of a creeks Task Force that will make recommendations on creek daylighting efforts, creek maintenance and other watershed issues. 

The recommendation calls for $85,000 in the short term. 


Regulating other worlds 

The Mayor has asked the council to approve a study of regulating the psychic and extrasensory consulting business in Berkeley. According to the Mayor’s report, her office has been “contacted” by longtime practitioner of psychic consulting who is concerned that “unscrupulous persons” who falsely claim psychic abilities are establishing extrasensory consulting businesses in Berkeley.  

According to the recommendation businesses that falsely claim psychic abilities often prey on “elderly, sick, lonely and disabled persons.” 

The recommendation suggests such business be required to have a Berkeley Business License and their proprietors be subjected to criminal background checks.  


Closed session council meeting 

A special City Council meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. during which council will discuss the appointment of an assistant city manager for transportation. Little is known about the candidate other than he is a British citizen and was most recently held a high position in Toronto’s Transportation Planning Department. 

The council will also conduct labor negotiations with Unit A Fire Management employees as well as conference with the city attorney on matters related to existing litigation and anticipated litigation on the university’s Northeast Quadrant Science and Safety Project and the 1990 Long Range development plan. 

The meeting will be held in the Sixth Floor Conference Room at 2180 Milvia Street. 


Berkeley Redevelopment Agency 

The Berkeley Redevelopment Agency, which consists of Mayor Shirley Dean, Vice Mayor Maudelle Shirek and the seven City Councilmembers, will hold special meeting at 6:30 p.m. prior to the City Council’s regular meeting.  

The agency will discuss a loan to the City Retiree Medical Trust Fund in the amount of $600,000 to renovate the Savo Island Redevelopment project, which contains 57 units of housing located in three square blocks near the downtown area. 


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