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Berkeley City Council's Closed Session On Monday to Consider BUSD Contract for Council Chambers instead of $1.76 Million Remodel which would be a Bad Deal for Berkeley

Kelly Hammargren
Sunday November 26, 2017 - 02:26:00 PM

Berkeley City Council – Closed Session, Monday, Nov 27, 4:00 pm, 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, agenda: City Council negotiations with BUSD School Board regarding use of 1231 Addison, BUSD Board Room, public comment allowed on agenda item only

Late into the night on November 14, 2017 after Susan Wengraf, Cheryl Davila and nearly every community member had left, Mr. Herrington, Director of Public Works, presented plans to spend an estimated $1,760,000 to remodel 1011 University (Formerly Premier Cru) for City Council meetings.

The City Council voted on the 14th to make one last ditch effort to work with the Berkeley Unified School District School Board (BUSD) to reach a price and terms to use the BUSD Board room at 1231 Addison Street for City Council meetings. Those negotiations will take place in a closed session Monday, November 27, 2017, 4:00 pm at 2180 Milvia Street Cypress Room with Dee Williams-Ridley, Jovan Grogan and Mark Numainville as the negotiators for the City. Public comment can be made before the closed session begins.

There is so much wrong with the proposal to remodel 1011 University for City Council Chambers that it has a stench about it that deepens as each layer is peeled away. Just for starters: 

  • 1/3 of the site purchased for affordable housing (1001, 1007 and 1011 University Avenue and 1925 Ninth Street) would be used for City Council Chambers.
  • Once new Council Chambers are built at 1011 University, it is improbable they will be demolished to build affordable housing.
  • The estimated cost for remodeling the 1011 University has already nearly tripled
  • The ongoing operational costs of 1011 University were excluded from comparisons to the cost of upgrading other City owned properties or renting other locations.
  • The site was purchased with a loan that must be repaid from the Worker’s Compensation Funds
  • The City Council vote for how to repay the loan has never been taken - it was proposed that part of the repayment come from U1 funds – the ballot measure for affordable housing
  • City Management and staff have been forging ahead with architectural plans to remodel 1011 University
  • South Berkeley has once again received short shrift. The South Berkeley Senior Center which is 0.3 mi from Ashby BART, convenient to AC transit, can seat at least 200 and could greatly benefit from audio-visual equipment for live-streaming was eliminated from discussion and consideration
  • The homeless are once again left flailing in the background as another potential temporary shelter slips away
City Management implied that BUSD is charging an exorbitant user fee for the space to be discussed at the Monday meeting. The cost to the City should be less than building out and operating a new space. The BUSD Board Room is already fully equipped and operational. It is reasonable for the City to pay the cost of turning on the lights and for employees to set up the room and clean up after the meeting is over. 

Shouldn’t we be using existing fully equipped space and telling our City leaders that we expect a full court press to get affordable housing built? 

You might just want to call and/or email all the parties involved to tell them you expect an agreement to be reached on the use of the BUSD Board Room for City Council Chambers. And, while you are at it – making those calls and sending emails, thank Kriss Worthington for getting the proposed project into the City Council agenda for all of us to see. 

Just in case you have misplaced all that contact information here it is: 

School Board

Ty Alper (President) 

Josh Daniels (Vice-President) 

Beatriz Leyva-Cutler (Clerk) 

Judy Appel 

Karen Hemphill 

City of Berkeley Negotiators (510) 981-7000 

City Council

email to all and for inclusion in the city council record 


Mayor Jesse Arreguin (510) 981-7100 

District 1 Linda Maio (510) 981-7110 

District 2 Cheryl Davila (510) 981-7120 

District 3 Ben Bartlett (510) 981-7130 

District 4 Kate Harrison (510) 981-7140 

District 5 Sophie Hahn (510) 981-7150 

District 6 Susan Wengraf (510) 981-7160 

District 7 Kriss Worthington (510) 981-7170 

District 8 Lori Droste (510) 981-7180