City Council District 5
City Council District 5

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March 16, 2011


In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
IScream . . . Finally
North Branch Library Closure: Reads on Wheels
In and Around Our Schools
Crime Down in Berkeley
City Manager's Budget Report
A Request from Berkeley Food and Housing
North Berkeley Recycling Guide
East Bay Regional Parks
City Contacts and Resources



A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

The Berkeley news story this past week centered on the budget of the City's Solid Waste Department and the recommendations of an outside consultant to restructure both waste pick up and the curbside recycling program.

Like all government entities, Berkeley is trying to manage a growing list of budget uncertainties. Last summer, after asking residential rate payers for a one year rate increase to cover increasing recycling expenses, the City Council requested that the City Manager enlist the services of an outside consultant. Experts in waste and recycling, Sloan Vasquez was charged with auditing our Solid Waste program in order to indentify efficiencies and establish a sustainable rate structure.

In their Final Report on Assessment of the City's Solid Waste Management Division, Sloan Vasquez, made several cost cutting recommendations including:

  • The City Solid Waste crews transition to one worker per truck and automate garbage pick up. (Currently there are two workers per truck).
  • Bring the curbside recycling program under City management and cancel the recycling contract with the Ecology Center.
  • Take our recycling to a nearby MRF (Material Recovery Facility) instead of sustaining the Community Conservation Center on Second Street

Critics say the report was flawed. I think at best the scope was too narrow. Many of you have e-mailed my office concerned that the curbside recycling program will be axed as a cost cutting measure. That will not happen. Curbside recycling is here to stay. Others e-mailed to support the Ecology Center and to remind me of their tremendous contribution to our community. I understand that and appreciate their work as well.

Nonetheless, the City Council must find a way to balance the budget of the Solid Waste Department. We must be respectful to our solid waste employees and sensitive to our colleagues at the Ecology Center - all this while staying focused on our zero waste goals.

The community discussion will continue at our next meeting on March 22, this time in the context of the entire City Budget. Of course the most uncertain aspect of our budget, the proverbial elephant in the room, is the state budget. At this writing, the governor has yet to secure an opportunity for Californians to vote on sustaining tax levels. If he cannot, the impacts on local governments will definitely be certain . . . and devastating.

Other announcements . . .

Last week the 2010 Census data was released. Berkeley has officially grown by almost 9000 residents (or the UC students were easier to find this round). City staff is working on an analysis of Berkeley data that will be available shortly.

As March rolls in (like a lion?) I begin to think about summer plans. Please check out the East Regional Parks system both for family friendly activities and job opportunities for older students and seniors.

And on your way home from the park now as well as this summer, you'll be able to buy ice cream on Solano Ave. at IScream, and check out the toys at the newly remodeled and just re-opened Mr. Mopps. What a pleasure it was to meet the new owners and celebrate their new venture (below).

Regards,


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5
510-981-7150

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IScream . . . Finally

What: Ribbon Cutting for IScream Ice Cream Store
When: Friday, March 18, 3 p.m.
Where: 1819 Solano Avenue

IScream, the new organic, homemade ice scream store on Solano Ave. opened this week. We are delighted and invite you to join us at a ribbon cutting and celebration on Friday, March 18 at 3 p.m. Judging by the inquiries the office has received, IScream already has a large and ready-to-eat group of patrons. Let's come and show our support and prove that anticipation is not really half the pleasure of anything. Ice cream in the hand trumps waiting every time.

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North Berkeley Library Closure:
Reads on Wheels

The North Branch Library is now closed for renovations. Library staff members expect the project to take ten to twelve months. For information about Library services at other locations, including the new "BranchVan" library (see me above) and a schedule of its regular hours at the Live Oak Community Center, please refer to the North Branch Temporary Closure Guide.

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In and Around Our Schools

Late in January, Berkeley Police responded to a neighbor's late-night call regarding activity on the Thousand Oaks School playground. The police discovered that a fire had been set in one of the dumpsters resulting in a small amount of property damage to the school.

The event was alarming as well as damaging, and neighbors were reminded of the vulnerability of school sites that are open to the public. The good news is that our kids and families have a place to recreate. The challenge is to be vigilant about inappropriate behavior.

Berkeley Police and this office encourage the neighbors of all our schools — Thousand Oaks, Oxford and King — to keep an eye out for public activity after 10 p.m. Do not hesitate to call the police at their non-emergency number: 510-981-5900 if you see suspicious or questionable behavior. Request that they do a drive by and check out who is there.

On a similar note, we have received too many calls about speeding traffic during school drop-off times. Our three schools are located on major commute routes, and it is up to all of us to stay alert and drive safely while students are crossing streets around the schools.

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Crime Down in Berkeley

After completing a departmental analysis of crime in 2010, Berkeley Police announced that violent crime, which includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault declined by 13%. This is good news and shows encouraging progress towards the BPD goal of reducing crime overall by 10%.

Property crime, comprised of burglary, theft, auto theft and arson (the most common crimes in North Berkeley) is down by 8%. Unfortunately burglary is up 1%. Anecdotally we know that burglaries are too common in our neighborhoods, and we look forward to BPD assistance in making them less frequent.

Please check out the complete Berkeley Police Department press release.

In February of 2009 Councilmember Wengraf and I sponsored a community meeting regarding Property Crime and Crime Prevention. The notes from that meeting contain lots of good reminders, best practices and prevention advice.

If you interested in receiving periodical updates directly from our Police Area Coordinator, contact Officer Byron White.

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City Manager's Budget Report

As they do each budget cycle, the City Manager's budget team, including Budget Director Teresa Berkeley-Simmons, has prepared an introduction to the City's budget and the FY 2012 & 2013 budget process. This is a great overview that includes breakdowns of General Fund Revenue and expenditures, definitions and a schedule of the approval process that ends in June. The process includes Public Hearings and community meetings — opportunities for community members to participate in the process.

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A Request from Berkeley Food and Housing

The Berkeley Food and Housing Project is asking the community for donations of new toiletries for their clients. Donations requested include: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion, razors, shaving cream, etc. in any size bottle.

The cost of toiletries can be a burden to extremely low-income families and individuals. Please help those most in need in our community. BFHP is asking for donations in order to keep program administrative costs as low as possible in order to maximize direct services to clients.

Please take items to the administrative offices at 2362 Bancroft Way in Berkeley (inside Trinity Church on the second floor, cross street is Dana). If you are interested in starting a toiletry donation drive and would like advice, please contact Paul Cwynar, Development Director, at pcwynar@bfhp.org or (510) 809-8515.

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In response to requests from District 5 residents, my staff has developed a "North Berkeley Recycling Guide." This is a print-it-yourself handout, a list of common household items that can be reused, recycled or repurposed.

You can see the guide, along with a link to a printable copy, here.

We did our best to narrow the list of items and organizations to make the guide succinct. For a comprehensive list of recyclables and recycling opportunities, go to the Recycling Guide at

Stopwaste.org.

We plan to revisit and amend this guide from time to time, so your feedback is welcome.

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East Bay Regional Parks

The East Bay Regional Park system is one of the jewels of our Bay Area. The Park District (EBRPD) that maintains and runs the parks, including Tilden and Wildcat Canyon, produces a monthly newsletter. Available by e-mail, it highlights activities for kids and families, recreational opportunities and even employment possibilities.

If you are looking for a variety of outdoor experiences for your kids, summer activities or a new place to go for a hike, check it out. East Bay Regional Park District.

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City Contacts and Resources

Listed below are important city phone numbers to keep close by:

Laurie Capitelli, District 5 Office

510-981-7150

Tom Bates, Office of the Mayor

510-981-7000

Officer Byron White, BPD Area Coordinator for North Berkeley

510-981-5773

Non-emergency (to report a past event or suspicious activity)

981-5900

Emergency (to report a crime in process or an emergency)
from a landline

911

From a cell phone 

981-5911

To report nonfunctioning street lamps, graffiti, missed garbage pick-ups

On Line Service Center
or dial 311

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