The Editor's Back Fence
If it wasn’t such a cliché, I might say that you can’t make this stuff up. How could it be ethical for Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who will eventually be reviewing variances sought by 2211 Harold Way in his quasi-judicial role, to lobby himself using the services of his taxpayer-funded aide, who seems to be organizing “a special Berkeley sub-group” of the now notorious SF BARF group which fronts for developers?
It appears that the Berkeley activities of the pro-development San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation are being coordinated out of the office of Berkeley Mayor Bates, or at least by one of his city-paid staffers. A reader who lurks on the San Francisco BARF list-serv forwarded this communication to us:
From: Gregory Magofna <email@example.com>
Subject: [sfbarentersfed] Berkeley Community Benefits/Housing Mitigation Fee
Date: April 7, 2015 PDT
I know a special Berkeley sub-group was created upon my request, I will get to that with specific projects in the coming weeks. I just wanted to let the group know about something on tonight's city council agenda: Significant community benefits for developments over 75 ft in Downtown Berkeley.
The fight is over what else developers should be required to do and NIMBYs have been making outrageously impossible demands to meet to block the project. There is talk of another meeting coming up just on this so it's not the end of the world if no one attends, but it does set the stage for the other 4 tall buildings in downtown. Please plan on coming to the special meeting in May.
And who might this Gregory Magofna be? From the City of Berkeley website page for the Mayor’s office:
Gregory Magofña, Legislative AideLast night at the Berkeley City Council it was announced that the discussion of what constitutes the “significant community benefits” vaguely required for Berkeley’s planned tall buildings would be carried over until May 5.
Gregory's work spans from managing the office's administration and the Mayor's calendar to working on constituent services and economic development initiatives. Gregory staffs the Mayor on the East Bay Green Corridor, the Berkeley Startup Cluster, and issues surrounding Telegraph Avenue, including student relations.
Evidently, based on Magofna’s email, which was sent yesterday at 5:38:52 PM, the BARFers had prior notice that they didn’t have to show up last night. Building critics were present in force at the beginning of the meeting, since they don’t have a plant in the Mayor’s office, as were arts advocates who seem to be looking for a piece of the action in the new building. By the time the item came up late in the evening, however, many in both groups had gone home, to return on May 5.
By the way, after this story first appeared, another reader has pointed out that on December 5, 2014, Magofna cast the only "No" vote on Berkeley's Housing Advisory Commission on a motion that said "…the HAC strongly believes that the new high rises in the Downtown must also provide additional affordable housing benefits, in addition to other proposed community benefits,…".