Back from Summer Recess, Council Faces Full Agenda

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday September 19, 2006

Fresh from summer break, the Berkeley City Council will jump into the fray with a public hearing tonight (Tuesday) on a controversial five-story project proposed for the corner parcel at Harrison Street and San Pablo Avenue. 

Neighbors are appealing the Zoning Adjustments Board approval of the Harrison and San Pablo project proposed for 30 units, including six units of affordable housing, five commercial units and 38 commercial spaces. 

Neighbors appealing the project, say it is too high and situated too close to residences.  


Beefing up street sweeping 

A decade ago the City Council decided to mandate street sweeping across the city, but has failed to follow through. A staff report from Jeffrey Egeberg, the secretary of the Public Works Commission, asks how to move forward on this question. 

Some neighborhoods once permitted to “opt out” of the program don’t want to be forced to participate. “Only a portion of the city is bearing the total obligation to meet regulatory requirements,” according to Egeberg’s report. 

Also, it will be difficult to expand the program due to a lack of funding needed for staff and equipment, as well as the additional cost of signage and a public notification program. 

Adding back neighborhoods that have “opted out” of the street sweeping program would reduce debris that clogs the storm drain system, reduce toxic pollutants that go into the bay and more.  

“There are blocks that opted out a few years ago,” said Ken Emeziem, supervising civil engineer in the Public Works Department. “The whole idea is to phase them into the program.” 


Also on the agenda 

The council will also be asked to approve a resolution to support Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces a court marshal because he has refused to fight in Iraq.  

Also on the council agenda are two separate items related to building height and density issues. Staff reports for both items were unavailable by press time. 

The City Council meeting is scheduled to open with the pledge of allegiance, which the council recites once a year, having dispensed with saying the pledge at every meeting a number of years ago. 


New Housing Authority governance 

The Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA), made up of the City Council plus two public housing residents, is currently deemed a “troubled” agency by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The BHA is exploring various forms of governance, such as becoming a commission appointed by the council or mayor.  

The Housing Authority meets at 6:20 p.m. and the Council meets at 7 p.m. at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The meetings are video-streamed at www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/video, broadcast on KPFB, 89.3-FM and available on Cable B-TV, Channel 33, which rebroadcasts the meetings Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m.