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Council Calls Session to Study Homeless Programs By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 29, 2005

The City Council has called a special work session starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the city’s existing homeless and anti-poverty programs. 

Following a presentation by city staff, the council will discuss the programs and give the staff direction in creating a unified set of goals and policies for the programs. 

Housing Director Steve Barton and Fred Medrano, director of the Health and Human Services Department, are among those who will make the presentation. 

The council’s main meeting begins as usual at 7 p.m. Both sessions will be held in the council’s chambers at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

One item sure to prompt heated discussion is a presentation by Mayor Tom Bates followed by council discussion and directions to staff for changes in the city’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington is asking his colleagues to join in a resolution calling on the Planning Commission to plug a gap in the city’s inclusionary housing code. 

While the inclusionary ordinance mandates that developers who build five apartments or live/work units must rent or sell one of them at reduced rates for low and lower-income tenants or provide an equivalent payment to the city’s housing trust fund, as the ordinance now reads, a developer can evade the rule by mixing the units. 

Worthington calls it the “4+4=1” loophole” because a developer could build a project with four live/work and four residential-only units, yet have no obligation to rent or sell any at reduced rates or pay into the city housing fund. 

The issue surfaced at a March 11 Planning Commission meeting where members reluctantly approved a project at 2209-2211 Fifth St. in West Berkeley featuring four apartments and two live/work units without an inclusionary unit or payment. 

The council will also consider adoption of a near-relative (that is, nepotism) policy that would apply to all community agencies that do business with the city. 

The measure would ban agencies from creating relationships where one near-relative holds a supervisory position above another near-relative. 

Included in the category are parents, children, step-children, siblings and step-siblings, in-laws, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephew, and grandparents and grandchildren as well as spouses and domestic partners. 

Any such relationships would have to be reported to the city, and none of the parties could directly supervise another, nor sign time cards for the other or participate in any hiring, promotion, demotion, disciplinary or salary decisions. 

Councilmembers will also consider: 

• A resolution opposing the execution of Stan “Tookie” Williams, the former Los Angeles gang leader who is scheduled to die in San Quentin’s death chamber on Dec. 13. 

• A call by Councilmember Linda Maio to direct City Manager Phil Kamlarz to work with the Clif Bar company to find a way to keep the growing firm in the city. 

• A final vote on the Ellis Act relocation fees approved on first reading on Nov. 15. 

• Adoption of inclusionary housing administrative fees and the establishment on a new fund for the Inclusion Housing Program. 

• Conflicting resolutions concerning the planned demolition of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Bevatron and Building 51 at the lab. 

• A request by four councilmembers for a vote directing the city manager to ask the staff to explore the possibility of creating a city-wide wireless Internet system and report back to the council by March. 

• Amending the city budget ordinance to re-authorize funds previously committed in fiscal year 2005.  


Planning Commission 

Planning commissioners will face a very light agenda when they meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

The single action item on the agenda is a hearing on zoning ordinance amendments that address permits, paving, landscaping and screening requirement for residential parking in required yards mandated by city ordinances. 

Parking became an issue recently in the case of the so-called “Flying Cottage” at 3045 Shattuck Ave. and at the proposed three-story condo project planned for 2901 Otis Street. 

Also scheduled for discussion are zoning amendments that would allow the elimination of so-called accessory dwelling units—typically converted garages—by the same process that allowed their creation and a discussion of proposed increases in fees charged for appealing land use decisions to the city council. 


Housing Advisory Commission 

The Housing Advisory Commission meets Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the South Berkeley Community Center, 2939 Ellis St. 

The biggest item on their agenda is the possible approval of a $4 loan application to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to help fund the planned David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza affordable housing units. 

The panel will also conduct a hearing on the city’s housing needs assessment for the coming year and another on the county-wide Homeless and Special Needs Housing Plan and hear reports on the city’s Joint Density Bonus Subcommittee and on amendments to the city’s condominium conversion ordinance.?