Council Approves Placing Ballot Measures, Request for Tree-Sitters’ Food

By Judith Scherr
Thursday July 10, 2008 - 09:56:00 AM

Tuesday’s council meeting began with the council honoring the Berkeley Opera company.  

Code Pink members were prominent during the public forum, asking for an extension of their free Wednesday afternoon parking-space permit to continue demonstrations protesting the war and military recruiting outside the downtown Marine Recruiting Station. The question was not on the council agenda. 

With Councilmember Dona Spring absent, council decisions included: 

• Writing a letter to the university asking for the oak grove tree sitters each to receive nutritious food of 1,800 calories and five gallons of water daily to be monitored by a third party acceptable to the tree sitters. The vote, taken around 11:30 p.m., was 6-0-1, with Councilmember Gordon Wozniak abstaining and Councilmember Betty Olds having left the meeting. 

• Placing on the November ballot a fire and emergency preparedness tax to raise $3.6 million annually that 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 vote was 7-1, with Wozniak opposed; 

• Placing on the ballot a $26 million library bond to create more space and enhance disabled access in the branch libraries. It would finance the demolition and rebuilding of a larger South Branch, add program and meeting space to the North Branch, replace a structurally deficient 1974 addition at the West Branch and expand lobby space and the interior layout of the Claremont Branch. Homeowners with property assessed at $330,500 would be assessed at $59. The vote was 8-0. 

• Resubmitting to the voters the Patient’s Access to Medical Cannabis, formerly known as Measure R, which would eliminate limits on the amount of medical marijuana legally possessed by patients or caregivers, 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. The court ordered the measure to be resubmitted to voters. The council vote to place it on the ballot was 8-0. 

• Allowing three residential parking spaces at 3045 Shattuck Ave. and denying an appeal. The vote was 7-1, with Councilmember Kriss Worthington in opposition. 

Action on the following items was delayed until July 15: 

• Placing the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance referendum on the ballot. 

• Confirming a 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. An appeal will be considered July 15. 

• Discussing a report on the status of Berkeley’s ability to use instant runoff voting in November.