Four Candidates Battle For District 4 Vacancy

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 23, 2008 - 09:51:00 AM

In the battle to replace the late Dona Spring in the city’s fourth council district, only one of the four candidates in the running is a strongly pro-development advocate. 

Former school board member and current zoning board member Terry Doran has raised $11,764 in contributions by Sept. 30 and won the endorsements of Mayor Tom Bates and every member of the current City Council except Kriss Worthington—who often found himself paired with Spring in dissenting votes. 

On the citizen panel that developed the first draft of Berkeley’s pending new downtown plan, Doran advocated the same policies favored by the opponent whom Spring trounced in her re-election bid two years ago. 

Raudel Wilson, a banking executive who had been backed by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, had served on the same Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee as Doran and his best-funded opponent for the vacant seat, Jesse Arreguin. 

The other two candidates, community activists LA [sic] Wood and Asa Dodsworth, have similar positions to Spring’s. 

Arreguin, who is also seeking reelection to the city’s rent stabilization board, reported nearly as much in contributions as Doran—$11,034—including one from Councilmember Worthington, who had appointed him to DAPAC and for whom he has worked as a legislative aide. 

Many of the contributions of the two fund-raising leaders parallel the patterns of support when the two were members of the citizen panel charged with drafting a new plan for the downtown Berkeley-Spring’s council district. 

That citizen panel was appointed by the City Council, with three additional members drawn from the city planning commisssion. 

With Arreguin, the majority of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) voted for a plan favored a lower-skyline version that allowed only a few taller buildings and preserved more of the district’s historic character. 

The minority, including Doran, favored a denser, taller downtown—concentrating there most of the permissible housing growth mandated for the city by regional government in taller, denser buildings, including up to 14 “point towers”—16-story apartments—and condo-over-commercial high-rises. 

Both sides said their alternative held the best hope of revitalizing the downtown as a vibrant commercial district serving the needs of local residents as well enriching a regional entertainment center. 

The critics held that the minority’s proposal would fail to provide affordable housing for Berkeley’s blue- and white-collar employment housing while placing heavy burdens on surrounding low-rise residential neighborhoods by filling the new apartments and condos with students in the rentals and with the whitest of collars and the even-more-more affluent retirees in the condos. 

Spring’s views accorded with those of the DAPAC majority, and Arreguin has won contributions from many of the other committee members, including Berkeley Planning Commissioner Gene Poschman, Juliet Lamont and Winston Burton. 

Doran has contributions from DAPAC chair Will Travis and fellow minority members Dorothy Walker (a former UC Berkeley developer), Linda Schacht and planning commission chair James Samuels. 

DAPAC member Carole Kennerly, who typically voted with the minority members on development issues, gave money to both leading candidates, but as of Sept. 30 had given twice as much to Arreguin, $100, as to Doran. 

Raudel Wilson’s DAPAC votes had generally sided with the high density minority, though he quit the planning committee and moved out of town shortly after his resounding defeat by Spring. 

LA [sic] Wood, who operates the Berkeleycitizen.org web site, reported $1,750 in contributions. 

Dodsworth, a Food Not Bombs activist and community organized, reported $1,033 in contributions, including T-shirts he donated and a loan from his father.