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Car sharing, Old City Hall on council’s agenda

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Tuesday January 15, 2002

Some of the issues waiting for the City Council upon its return tonight from winter recess include a car-sharing agreement, a residential energy conservation contest and a proposed architectural study of the stately Old City Hall for a possible seismic upgrade, face lift and expansion. 


Car sharing available next month 

The council is expected to approve a $54,000 agreement with City CarShare to provide and manage a minimum of five cars for a program that will allow members to share vehicles, thereby saving the cost and hassle of car ownership. 

“Car-sharing is an innovative mobility service that brings individuals, families and businesses the benefits of access to a car on a per-use basis without the costs and responsibilities of ownership,” the city manager’s resolution reads. 

The agreement calls for the program to begin on Feb. 1 and continue through Jan. 31, 2003.  

According to a brochure accompanying the resolution, the program has proven a success in several cities including Seattle, Montreal and San Francisco.  

Eligible applicants for membership in the CarShare program must be 25 years old, hold a valid drivers license and be acceptable to CarShare’s auto insurance company.  

Members can make advance reservations for an automobile, which will be a brand new Volkswagen Beetle, and then pick the car up at either the Oxford/Kittredge or the Berkeley Way parking lots, both of which are easily accessible from downtown or the UC Berkeley campus. Membership cost will include a monthly fee plus a usage rate. 


Energy conservation contest 

The Energy Commission has recommended the council approve a residential energy contest designed to showcase some of the innovative techniques Berkeley residents developed to conserve power during the recent energy crisis.  

According to the resolution the contest is “meant to provide an opportunity for Berkeley residents to learn from their neighbors.” It is more about but more about “publicizing creative (and we hope contagious) local efforts to reduce residential energy consumption” and less about choosing a winner. 

Contestants will be asked to produce a PG&E bill that shows they paid less than $12.50 for the month of January or produce a PG&E bill that shows they reduced their electricity consumption by 40 percent from the previous January. 

The Energy Commission will judge the contest entries and select 10 finalists. Each finalist will receive a $75 gift certificate for products available through the Berkeley Conservation and Energy Program. The cost to city is estimated at about $4,000. 


The grand old hall 

The council will likely authorize a $100,000 contract with ELS Architects to study two possible renovation plans for Old City Hall. Both plans will include a seismic retrofit and one will examine a possible expansion and modification of the City Council Chambers.  

Councilmembers have long expressed a desire to update the chambers with current technology as well as expand its size to accommodate larger numbers of people. 

ELS Architects will present the city with two possible renovation scenarios. One will seismically upgrade the building and restore it as it currently exists. The second will do the same but will also include designs and costs for an expansion of one of the building’s wings to increase the size of the City Council Chambers.  

The resolution to authorize the contract with ELS does not include estimates of what the two renovation scenarios might cost. 


Other items 

• The council will likely authorize a $396,000 contract with Gilbert-Morad for construction of the Shorebird Environmental Learning Center at the Marina. 

• The council is expected to adopt the first reading of an ordinance that will limit fast-food outlets on San Pablo Avenue. 

• The council will consider requiring the police department to send district crime reports to each council representative and a citywide crime report to the mayor each week. 

• The council will consider a request from the Commission on Disability to change the scent warning on city meeting notices to be more specific about health hazards related to scented products. 

• The council will hear an informational report from the Department of Planning and Development on the status of the bus shelters, which had been scheduled to be in place before this year’s rainy season. 


Closed session meeting 

The City Council will conduct an executive session meeting at 5:30 p.m. at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in the second floor conference room to discuss possible litigation against the University of California if the UC Regents approve the Northeast Quadrant Science and Safety Projects and the 1990 Long Range Development Plan Amendment. 

UC is proposing a 325,000-square-foot project on both sides of Hearst Avenue between Gayley Road and Oxford Street that will include several buildings that will provide new academic and laboratory space and a parking structure. 

There will be 10 minutes set aside prior to the council recessing into closed session for members of the public interested in commenting in the issue. 


Berkeley Housing Authority meeting 

The Berkeley Housing Authority will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers to discuss several issues related to the 75 units of city-owned housing. Housing Director Stephen Barton will ask the authority for authorization to issue a Request for Proposals to property management companies interested in taking over the management of the public units.  

Also Barton will ask the authority to issue another call for those interested in the maintenance contract for the 75 units. If authorized the contract will be for one year and no more than $80,000. It is also expected that the authority will approve a $155,000 contract with Mosto Construction, Inc. for the Sojourner Truth Court Public Housing Storm Drainage Improvement Project.  

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 KPFB Radio, 89.3 and Cable C-TV, Channel 78.