Berkeley City Council Votes for Meter Holidays,Postpones Iceland Hearing, Re-Hires Non-Union Planners for Measure R Project

By Charlotte Perry-Houts
Thursday December 09, 2010 - 10:14:00 PM

Parking, Iceland and city staffing were the main topics discussed at Tuesday's Berkeley City Council meeting, preceded by celebrations on behalf of returning councilmembers. 

A large crowd of supporters gathered to cheer on the four recently re-elected Councilmembers as they were sworn in at this Tuesday night's regular City Council meeting. Linda Maio (District 1), Jesse Arreguin (District 4), Kriss Worthington (District 7), and Gordon Wozniak (District 8) stood at the front of the room and raised their right hands as the City Clerk read their oath of office. 

Councilmember Worthington invited his partner to stand in front with him as he was sworn in “for the emotional symbolism, and for the true family values of having my family with me as I'm being sworn [in].” Many public commentators came to congratulate all of those who were sworn in, the vast majority of them directing their congratulations specifically toward Councilmembers Worthington and Arreguin. 

After the swearing-in ceremony, the City Manager reminded residents that city administrative offices will be closed from December 23rd through January 3rd

All of the non-agenda public comments addressed the problem of pedestrian safety at the intersection of Hearst and LeRoy, an issue that Kriss Worthington has supported. Councilmember Worthington referred the public comments and the associated report to the City Manager. 

The entire Consent Calendar was unanimously approved after a few items were moved on or off of it. 

One of the items that was moved to the Consent Calendar and consequently approved was East Bay Iceland's request to put off the hearing on Iceland's landmark status for one year. In November, 2009, East Bay Iceland appealed the City Council's decision of July 17, 2007 declaring the building a historical landmark, complaining that the restrictions of the landmark status make it difficult to sell the currently empty building. While some are still hoping that the ice rink will be restored, East Bay Iceland has signed a deal with The Sports Basement, Inc., and wishes to continue to hold over the public hearing on the landmark status until January 1, 2012. The next year will allow time for the applications for re-use of the building to be processed. 

Other items passed on the Consent Calendar include the official re-appointment of Linda Maio as Vice-President of the Council for a term of one year, ending in December 2011. The revised Biennial Budget development calendar for FY 2012 and FY 2013 was approved, as well as an ordinance to accept a one-time $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Highway Administration Value Pricing Pilot Program, and an ordinance to apply for a $2 million grant for the Berkeley Transit Action Plan. 

February, 2011 was designated National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, an ordinance sponsored by the Peace and Justice Commission. The City gave its co-sponsorship to the 27th Annual Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, which is coming up on December 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 23rd, and 24th from 11 am – 6 pm. 

The Council also passed parts of Item 23, which had been pulled from the Consent Calendar, including the declaration of two meter holidays on Saturday, December 18th and Friday, December 24th, to encourage economic activity. The motion was approved by Councilmembers Maio, Moore, Anderson, Capitelli, Wengraf, and Wozniak, and voted against by Worthington, Arreguin, and Mayor Bates. 

Other items passed included two items to extend the temporary employment of Jay Claiborne and Matthew Taecker. Claiborne is an un-benefitted half-time Senior Planner, and Taecker is a full-time Senior Planner. Continuing these temporary employees was opposed by the unions because the work they’re hired to do could instead be done by permanent employees who are union members, many of whom now have reduced hours. Claiborne and Taecker will plan the implementation of Measure R, which Berkeley residents passed this November. Councilmember Worthington alone opposed Taecker's extension. Worthington and Maio abstained on Claiborne's extension, while everyone else voted aye.