At 1:30 this morning, Berkeley’s City Council decided unanimously to delay hearing and consideration of four proposed new anti-homeless laws until after the Summer recess. The decision to delay came in response to public outcry against the last minute introduction of substantive amendments at 1:00 a.m. that neither the broader public nor City Councilmembers had had the opportunity to review. Councilmember Kriss Worthington objected that the introduction of such dramatic changes after midnight was deeply undemocratic. Councilmembers Max Anderson and Jesse Arreguín announced that they would not participate in such a process. Members of the public voiced support. In response, the Mayor suggested that the matter should be held over, and referred to the Agenda Committee. Councilmember Maio, the author of the legislation and the amendments, accepted this recommendation, and pledged from the dais to work with opponents from the public. -more-
> June 30 > 6:00 p.m.: Rally at Old City Hall (2134 MLK Jr Way) > 7:00 p.m.: City Council Meeting (2134 MLK Jr Way)Berkeley City Manager Christine Daniel has re-tooled the March 17, 2014 anti-homeless proposals from the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) for Berkeley City Council approval on June 30th. She dialed back some of the DBA’s more extreme suggestions-- she even pointed out that they are currently enforcing laws against behavior which is perfectly legal-- but obediently developed some new recommendations on behalf of merchant groups hostile to sharing public space with poor, homeless, transient and traveling people: -more-
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said today that her office will be conducting a criminal investigation into the balcony collapse in downtown Berkeley last week that killed six people and injured seven others. -more-
There’s something fundamentally wrong with U.S. foreign policy.
Despite glimmers of hope — a tentative nuclear agreement with Iran, for one, and a long-overdue thaw with Cuba — we’re locked into seemingly irresolvable conflicts in most regions of the world. They range from tensions with nuclear-armed powers like Russia and China to actual combat operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.
Why? Has a state of perpetual warfare and conflict become inescapable? Or are we in a self-replicating cycle that reflects an inability — or unwillingness — to see the world as it actually is?
The United States is undergoing a historic transition in our relationship to the rest of the world, but this is neither acknowledged nor reflected in U.S. foreign policy. We still act as if our enormous military power, imperial alliances, and self-perceived moral superiority empower us to set the terms of “world order.” -more-
The city of Berkeley will consider more stringent requirements for building and inspecting outdoor balconies after finding severe dry rot in the joists of a balcony that collapsed last week, killing six people and injuring seven others, city officials announced today. -more-
New: Certification of Final Environmental Impact Report: Letter to Berkeley's Zoning Adjustment Board
I understand that in spite of repeated appeals to you to cancel consideration of certifying the FEI R for 2211 Harold Way, the item remains on your agenda with the notation that it is to be discussed no earlier than 8:00 pm on June 25, 2015. I personally know how time consuming and difficult your job is, as I have walked in your shoes back when the Zoning Adjustments Board was called the Board of Adjustments. I thank you for your willingness to do it. -more-
I am writing to tell you of my strenuous objection to the scheduling of a Council meeting on June 25 to consider significant community benefits that will be required of Downtown building projects over 75 feet. One of those buildings, 2211 Harold Way is not only the largest single building proposed to be constructed in Berkeley, it would be the tallest building (194 feet) in our Downtown, and, as such, has generated considerable interest, to say the least. As you know, 2211 Harold Way is currently under active consideration by both the Zoning Adjustments Board and Landmarks Preservation Commission. -more-
The Berkeley Neighborhoods Council (BNC), like people everywhere, is deeply concerned about the balcony collapse that occurred on June 16 at 2020 Kittredge Street. Our City must immediately address the problems that have been revealed regarding the safety of balconies, even in fairly recently constructed buildings, whether rental or for sale. Prevention of the re-occurrence of such problems must become a priority for Berkeley. It is an act of respect toward those who lost their lives and their grieving families. -more-
Updated: Some Berkeleyans Do Know That Shoddy Construction Doesn't Belong Here--Not For Our Kids, Not in Our Backyard
UPDATE: The Berkeley City Council, as predicted here, passed a version of the "significant community benefits" yardstick which exempts the RatBP project, so that it continues on the fast track which its well-wired promoter Mark Rhoades is demanding. What a shame. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
New: Don't Miss This: Which Side is He On?
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates tells all in video of speech to Berkeley Property Owners Association (the landlord lobby).
He's been the developers' guy all the way, all along, he says.Tom Lochner of the Contra Costa Times has found a video in which Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates tells his landlord buddies in the Berkeley Property Owners Association that he's on their side all the way. And so, he says, is Laurie Capitelli. He says he started out as a developer himself, as did Capitelli. Who knew?
In the speech, Bates advises the landlords to form their own Political Action Commitee (PAC) and suggests a city takeover of the Rent Board and the Housing Authority. No kidding. -more-
Many are tired of explaining things to idiots
Irish newspapers have outed the financier behind Library Gardens
Thanks to Tom Hunt for finding this.
Berkeley Pace of Development Questioned After Balcony Disaster
Tom Lochner in the Contra Costa Times is doing a terrific job of covering Berkeley.
Rotten to the Core, says Irish Paper about Berkeley Tragedy
As soon as Pope Francis issued his Encyclical Letter on Climate Change, Republicans belittled it. Catholic presidential candidate Jeb Bush suggested the Pope was out of line: “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.” It’s classic GOP position: they want Americans to go to church but believe US politics has nothing to do with Christian morality. -more-
Arts & Events
Closing out their 3-week Beethoven festival, San Francisco Symphony gave the first of three concert performances of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, on Thursday evening, June 25, at Davies Hall. With Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leading the orchestra, this Fidelio featured Swedish soprano Nina Stemme as Leonore, the wife who, disguised as a young man (named Fidelio) saves the life of her unjustly imprisoned husband, Florestan. This opera caused Beethoven much labor. He first presented a Fidelio in three acts in 1805, then he offered a much revised two act version under the title Leonore in 1806, and revised it yet again before eventually settling on a final two act version (once more as Fidelio) in 1814. -more-
On Saturday, June 20, San Francisco Symphony recreated the famous marathon concert given by Beethoven on December 22, 1808, at Vienna’s Theater-an-der-Wien. In this Akademie, or public as opposed to courtly concert, which lasted well over four hours, Beethoven presented the first performances of his 5th and 6th Symphonies, his 4th Piano Concerto, his Fantasy for Piano (Opus 77), and his Choral Fantasy (Opus 80), as well as his previously performed concert aria “Ah! perfido,” plus three movements from his already ill-received C major Mass. As Jacob Reichardt wrote in a letter, “There we sat from 6:30 till 10:30 in the most bitter cold, and found by experience that one might have too much of a good thing.” -more-
On Saturday evening June 13, San Francisco Opera presented the World Première of a new opera commissioned by General Director David Gockley – Italian composer Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara (Two Women). Based on the 1958 novel of the same title by Alberto Moravia, this opera, with a libretto by Luca Rossi, Marco Tutino, and Fabio Ceresa, recounts the trials and tribulations of a widowed World War II mother and her teenage daughter who flee Rome because of allied bom-bardments but find no haven from the war in the mountain villages of the region known as La Ciociara. From this same novel a 1960 film starring Sophia Loren was directed by Vittorio De Sica with a screenplay by Cesare Zavattini. (Sophia Loren won the Academy’s Best Actress Award in 1962 for her performance in the film known in English as Two Women, thereby becoming the first artist to win an American Oscar for a foreign-language film.) -more-