Laundromat, BRT, Recycling Fees Head Back to Council

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday April 20, 2010 - 12:32:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council will be holding an 8 p.m. time- specific presentation and discussion on the Bus Rapid Transit Build Option at its first meeting after its spring break tonight (Tuesday.) 

Before taking up Bus Rapid Transit, the council will hold a special 5:30 p.m. meeting to vote on whether to allow a laundromat in a ground floor retail space at Southside Lofts on Telegraph Avenue. 

A group of neighbors oppose the development, which the city allowed to move forward through an erroneous use permit. 

Although BRT had originally been scheduled for March 23, it was pushed to the end of the meeting, and the council only had time to listen to a few public comments close to midnight. 

A large crowd is expected for Tuesday’s meeting, so Councilmember Kriss Worthington requested a change of venue to a Berkeley public school auditorium, but his proposal was rejected. 

The council is expected to decide on which “Build” alternative, if any, to forward to AC Transit for environmental review.  

Bus Rapid Transit has been a hotly-contested topic in Berkeley ever since AC Transit announced its plans to create a 17-mile route which would link Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro with faster, more efficient bus services. 

AC Transit has asked for a final Locally Preferred Alternative or Build option from the three cities by April.  

A Feb. 10 Planning Commission recommendation had asked the Berkeley City Council to study the Bus Rapid Transit Full Build option, which includes making Telegraph two ways and creating dedicated downtown bus lanes, for possible endorsement, along with another alternative called Rapid Bus Plus and a “No Build” option.  

The city’s Planning Department staff proposed their own new set of recommendations at a March 10 meeting in light of new information about the decision process and continued opposition to the plans for Telegraph and downtown.  

The Downtown Berkeley Association has come out against dedicated bus lanes on the four blocks of the BRT route on Shattuck Avenue between Addison Street and Bancroft Way because of the loss of parking.  

Both sets of recommendations will be presented to the City Council Tuesday. 


Animal Shelter Project 

The council will vote on whether to adopt a resolution authorizing the sale of $5.5 million in bond certificates to fund the Dona Spring Animal Shelter. 

The city currently does not have funds to build the shelter and has decided to use certificates of participation to raise the required funding. 

The city has decided to hire Broward Builders, Inc. for the construction of the animal shelter and East Touchdown Plaza Project. 


Strategy to Deal with Berkeley’s Poacher Problem 

Councilmember Darryl Moore will ask City Manager Phil Kamlarz to develop a strategy to significantly reduce the poaching of recyclables and seek the input of the Zero Waste Commission before reporting back to Council. 

The City Manager is expected to return with recommendations before the June 1 council meeting to help the council implement a strategy to reduce lost recycling revenues before voting on a budget that may impose a recycling fee. 

The city is currently facing a $4 million deficit in its refuse fund. 

In the past, Berkeley residents have complained that poachers often steal recyclables from their garbage bins thus leading to a shortage of materials that can be recycled. 



Allowing Veterans to Use Veterans Building 

The City Council will vote on whether to adopt a resolution authorizing the City Manager to carry out a license agreement with the Disabled American Veterans Chapter and American Legion Post for veterans’ meetings, gatherings and office space at 1931 Center Street. 

In the past, the Disabled American Veterans organization has used parts of the Veteran’s Building for group activities and storage space. 

The building has relics and mementos in the building that belong to various veterans’ organizations, 

After the American Legion Post approached the city about a meeting space in the building, the city decided that the existing DAV office could be shared with other veteran groups.