Council to Discuss Cell Phone Moratorium Tuesday

By Judith Scherr
Friday June 06, 2008 - 04:20:00 PM

Wireless companies and opponents of wireless telecommunications antennas are likely to be out in force at Tuesday’s Berkeley City Council meeting, taking opposite sides on the question of whether the city should adopt a moratorium on wireless communications. 

The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, before their regular meeting as the Redevelopment Agency, to adopt the agency budget. The council meeting begins at 7 p.m., and in addition to the moratorium on cell phone antennas will include discussion of which ballot measures to present to voters in November and of authorizing bond financing for the YMCA. For a detailed look at the council agenda, see www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=21362. 

The idea behind instituting a moratorium on cell phone antennas is to allow the city time to adopt a revised ordinance on wireless telecommunications facilities. The Planning Commission is currently holding hearings on a draft ordinance.  

In the city’s staff report on the question, Acting City Attorney Zach Cowan points out that the moratorium would require a “supermajority,” eight of the nine council votes. And findings must be made to show that the moratorium is necessary to preserve health and safety. 

The council is being asked by the city manager to make a decision about which new taxes to put before the voters in November. The three which councilmembers have already decided to look more closely at are a tax to rebuild a therapeutic warm pool used by seniors and disabled people coupled with a tax to refurbish existing outdoor pools; a library tax to enlarge some branches and make the south branch library earthquake safe; and a fire/disaster preparedness tax measure. 

In addition, the Parks and Recreation Commission is asking the council to look at a tax to improve storm drains and the Youth Commission is asking the council to look at a Youth Success and Violence Prevention bond measure.  

The council will also discuss issuing revenue bonds for about $16 million on behalf of the Berkley-Albany YMCA for remodeling costs. 

Also on the agenda is an item of support for the people of Burma.