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Council Looks at Condo Issues, Alcohol Problems

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday July 18, 2006

Berkeley Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson are proposing amendments to the city’s condominium conversion ordinance that would prevent condo conversion for 20 years from the date a landlord has quit the rental business for that particular property and would prevent condo conversion for 10 years from the time the owner has enacted an owner move-in eviction. 

Under the proposal, when a vacant unit is to be converted, the owner cannot convert the apartment for five years when there has been a wrongful eviction from the apartment. 

“We’re trying to add tenant protection that is not in existing law,” said Rent Board Commissioner Jason Overman, who helped craft the ordinance.  

A separate proposal by Councilmember Dona Spring would put these protections before the voters in the form of a ballot measure. 


Public hearings 

Several public hearings are on the council agenda including one that would allow developers to pay fees instead of providing 20 percent inclusionary housing and one on transportation services fees, which are levied for new vehicle trips generated by new construction or by a change of use at an existing property. 

Among the 22 items the council will consider on its consent calendar tonight (Tuesday) is an informational report on drug and alcohol abuse, with recommendations by the city’s Health and Human Services Department to create a plan to address the problem.  

Last week the council looked at a plan written by a nonprofit group, the Alcohol Policy Advisory Coalition(APAC), that targets criminal behavior associated with alcohol abuse.  

The city report on this week’s agenda includes several recommendations similar to the APAC report, with respect to the education of bartenders and regulating nuisance alcohol outlets, but this report adds treatment to the mix, particularly specialized treatment for youth, older adults, pregnant and parenting women and dual-diagnosed persons.  

Barbara Coleman, alcohol and other drugs coordinator for the city, said that even though Berkeley has a reputation for tolerating drugs and alcohol dating back to the 1960s, changes must be made. 

Underscoring that the report was written with input from service providers as well as city staff from various departments, Coleman said she hopes for council input to finalize her recommendations. 


Also on the consent calendar 

• The second reading of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. 

• A $49,970 contract with Lynn Suter & Associates as a lobbyist for the city in Sacramento. 

• An off-street parking ordinance, already conceptually approved by the City Council. Today, the council will be asked to approve the ordinance that allows one new parking space in side yards. An administrative use permit would be required for new uncovered parking spaces in front and rear yards. 

• Leases for city-owed shops beneath the Telegraph-Channing garage for a dollar store and a shoe-repair shop. 

• Reducing the speed limit on part of Frontage Road from 40 mph to 35 mph and on Claremont Avenue between Ashby Avenue and the Oakland border from 30 mph to 25 mph. 

Preceding the council meeting, a 6 p.m. workshop will be held to advise the council of a new law concerning councilmember expenses.