Council May Place Tax Measures on Ballot and Address Tree Sitters’ Needs

By Judith Scherr
Monday July 07, 2008 - 04:56:00 PM

After debating for months which tax measures to place before the voters in November, the City Council is likely to take action onTuesday night. 

The council meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a closed session. The regular meeting is slated for 7 p.m. 

Two proposed measures would tax property owners: 

• A fire and emergency preparedness measure is designed to raise $3.6 million annually. It would pay for firefighter overtime and avoid rotating fire station closures, pay the 12 percent differential to place a paramedic at every fire station, improve disaster preparedness and provide unified radio communications with outside agencies. This would cost the average homeowner with a 1,900-square-foot home $78 per year. 

• The second is a library bond to refurbish branch libraries, creating more space and enhancing disabled access. It would finance the demolition and rebuilding of a larger south branch to include both the tool lending library and more space for seating and computer use. 

The north branch library would get additional program and meeting space, along with historic restoration and improved landscaping. The west branch would replace a 1974 addition that has structural defects and increase space for the literacy program. The Claremont branch would get a small expansion of the lobby and improved interior design. 


Medical Cannabis 

The Patient’s Access to Medical Cannabis, formerly known as Measure R, is being resubmitted to the voters. The measure, which will be given a new letter designation, would eliminate limits on the amount of medical marijuana which could be legally possessed by patients or care-givers, establish peer review for medical marijuana collectives to police themselves and allow medical marijuana dispensaries to locate where permitted without a public hearing.  

The measure was narrowly defeated in 2004. There was a recount, during which it was found that voting machines had not retained the ballots. As a result of a decision in a lawsuit, the measure is being resubmitted to voters. 


Landmarks Preservation Ordinance referendum 

The wording for the ballot description of a referendum on the city council's controversial revision of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance,which was not implemented because of the referendum, is the subject of a dispute between the city attorney’s office and referendum supporters. The city attorney may place new language describing the measure before the council on Tuesday or at the July 15 meeting.  


The council will discuss an advisory ballot measure calling on the Berkeley Unified School District not to demolish the warm pool at Berkeley High School until a new warm pool for the elderly and disabled can be built. 


The council will also consider: 

• A resolution authored by Councilmember Dona Spring calling on the university to allow citizens to deliver food and medical attention to the tree-sitters in Memorial Grove. 

• Asking the mayor to form a working group of jurisdictions, including Oakland, Albany, Richmond, Emeryville, the Port of Oakland and other relevant agencies, to monitor expansion of rail traffic going through the East Bay to the Port of Oakland.  

• Co-sponsoring the Solano Stroll with the Solano Avenue Association, including giving the stroll $28,185 worth of services including the cost of police, and transportation and public works staff. 

• Confirming Zoning Adjustment Board approval of the use of 921 Parker St. for office use for Bayer Healthcare, even though it is in a location zoned as light industrial. Bayer will make replacement light industrial space available, according to the city staff report.