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Homelessness, scents and a wine boycott on agenda

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Tuesday December 18, 2001

Among the issues the City Council will consider during its last meeting of the year will be an authorization for the city manager to increase a contract with Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity, Inc. by $50,000 to run the city’s Homelessness Prevention Program. The HPP program has already exhausted its annual $110,000 per year allocation due to an increase of clients. 

The HPP program is designed to assist people at risk of becoming homeless by providing cash and non-cash emergency assistance to those who can demonstrate they are in danger of losing their homes.  

According to the report, the HPP has seen an increase of clients since the economic downturn began last March. During the months of July, August and September, HPP served 37 clients, more than the agency served in all of 2000 during which the organization served a total of 30 clients. 

“The recession has hit a lot of people really hard and this is one of our best programs with a lot of human value,” said Housing Director Stephen Barton. 

Barton added that the additional $50,000 is to fund the program through the holidays and that it will still need another $90,000 to get through the end of the fiscal year. 


Civic cafe service 

The council will likely authorize the city manager to negotiate a contract with a cafe business to open a full-service cafe in the lobby of the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center. The contract would include a loan of up to $40,000 to help cover the estimated $80,000 it will take to make the plumbing and other interior upgrades necessary to operate a cafe. In the fall 2000, the city sent out Request for Proposals to approximately 15 cafe-styled businesses, mostly local, in the hopes of finding an operator who would be interested in opening a cafe to serve coffee and snacks. No proposals were received.  

The business indicated that there were not enough customers at the location and the restricted hours, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., would not make such an operation financially feasible. But the owners did express an interest in opening a full service cafe that would offer full breakfast and lunch as opposed to just snacks. In addition, the operator would cater civic events. 


Refrigerators for low-income households 

The council is expected to authorize the city manager to enter into a $235,000 contract with Galvin Appliance to purchase about 400 new refrigerators for low-income households. The city will replace refrigerators that are at least 10 years old with new ones as part of the Housing Department's free weatherization services. The program will begin in January. For more information call 981-5400. 



Winery boycott 

The Peace and Justice Commission is asking the City Council to endorse a boycott of the Charles Krug Winery in support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. According to a report by the PJC, Krug locked out 43 union members during negotiations in July. The PJC is also asking the council to direct all city employees to not purchase Charles Krug Winery products until the union calls off the boycott. 


Scent of an environmental illness 

Councilmember Dona Spring will ask the council to approve a recommendation from the Commission on Disability to rewrite the language that appears on city agendas that alerts people to environmental illnesses caused by manufactured perfumed scents. 

According to Spring’s recommendation the current language is “misleading” and was adopted at the request of the perfume industry. 

Currently the notice reads: 

“Attendees at public meetings are reminded that other attendees may be sensitive to various odors whether natural or manufactured in products and materials. Please help respect their needs.” 

Spring would like to see the notice be more explicit like the one on BART meeting agendas: 

“Please refrain from wearing scented products (perfume, cologne, aftershave, etc.) to the meetings, as there may be people in attendance susceptible to environmental illnesses.” 


Closed session meeting  

The council will hold a closed session meeting at 5:30 p.m. at 2180 Milvia St. in the sixth floor conference room. During the meeting the council will confer with legal counsel on three existing cases in the Alameda County Superior Court.  

They are: The Alameda/Contra Costa Transit District v. the California Department of Transportation, the People on the Bus v. California Department of Transportation and the Bayside Commons v. the City of Berkeley. 


Housing Authority 

The Berkeley Housing Authority, comprised of the City Councilmembers plus one tenant member, will convene at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. The authority is expected to approve Department of Housing and Urban Development loan of $1.4 million to the Berkeley Housing Authority. The loan will be used to complete all of the deferred maintenance on the 75 units of city-owned housing including $859,000 for the rehabilitation of 58 units at an average cost of $17,000 each.  


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