City Council District 5
City Council District 5

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June 17, 2013

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
$12 Million for Downtown
Streets and Watershed Community Meeting
Monday Crop Swap
Coffee with the Councilmember
311 to Report Potholes and Streetlights
City Contacts and Resources

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

Earlier this month the City Council held an unusual work session on an important public health matter: drug and alcohol use among teens. Ralph Cantor, a very highly regarded local health educator, did a presentation about the impacts of marijuana use on the developing adolescent brain. (Link to meeting video.) In short, Council learned that still-developing adolescent brains suffer from regular use of drugs, affecting cognitive function and impeding adolescents’ emotional development.

Ralph’s presentation, scheduled at my request, represented the culmination of my two-years participation on the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug (ATOD) Task Force, a City/School District collaboration to address the high rates of substance use and abuse by youth in Berkeley. I have long had serious concerns about youth drug and alcohol use (especially in Civic Center Park) and its impacts on students’ readiness to learn in the classroom. Since joining the Task Force two years ago, I have had many meetings with City staff, community members and education leaders who agree that this is a big and complicated problem in Berkeley.

While several members of the Task Force are focusing on community and parent education, I have been approaching the problem from a legislative angle. The City’s written and effective marijuana policy is unclear, putting enforcement of marijuana laws as the lowest priority for the police, and making no distinction between minor and adult use. Minors can easily obtain marijuana and alcohol, substances they perceive as less harmful than tobacco. And there is a common perception that our community is tolerant of use by minors.

After the work session, I submitted a Council Item for July 2, 2013 asking the City, the Police Department, the School District and the School Board to collaborate on policies and procedures to more actively discourage marijuana smoking, tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption by minors, particularly in the environs of Civic Center Park. But I am also requesting that when there is opportunity for discretion, intervention and recovery should be emphasized, rather than enforcement and discipline. I would like to see research on the best youth diversion programs for discussion of possible implementation in Berkeley. I want to ensure that effective interventions are available to assist students who use marijuana, tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.

Ralph’s presentation confirmed my concerns that the substance use and abuse by minors impairs a child’s physical health, emotional development and academic success. While this effort will be a cross-jurisdictional challenge, I am confident that it can help improve Berkeley youth’s health and school performance, which will offer them greater opportunities for future success.

* * * *

In other news, I am very pleased to have also been a part of the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC)’s allocation of $12.7 million to downtown Berkeley. My work as an ACTC commissioner gives me an opportunity to focus on the critical function that transit development plays in our county’s economic health and future.

The City has also received a federal grant to do a pilot study to ease congestion in the Downtown, the Elmwood and Southside: goBerkeley.

Finally, we have been tracking the public process around Measure M, the $30 million Streets and Watershed bond measure approved by Berkeley voters last November. There is one more public meeting for community input before the Public Works Commission makes its recommendation to City Council. I encourage everyone who drives, bikes and walks on our streets to weigh in.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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$12 Million for Downtown Berkeley

I am excited to announce that Downtown Berkeley is in line to benefit from $12.7 million dollars in funding for transit-related projects designed to increase safety, easy access to transit and to foster a more vibrant downtown.

The approved projects:

  • The BART rotunda at Center Street will be replaced and the plaza redesigned to maximize landscaping and pedestrian amenities.
  • The western arm of Shattuck Avenue, currently south bound one-way, will become two-way in order to eliminate the dangerous north-bound intersection at University. The eastern arm will be reconfigured to maximize street parking.
  • Hearst Avenue will receive a bike lane, a continuous sidewalk on the southside (adjacent to the Chancellor’s residence) and other pedestrian safety features between Shattuck and Gayley Road.

As a member of the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC), the board that administrates the county’s sales tax dedicated for transit projects, I was fortunate to work with City staff who presented comprehensive proposals that met the board’s criteria for projects that demonstrated a link between housing, jobs and transit. Berkeley's projects were rated 1 and 3 out of more than 2 dozen proposals submitted! ACTC will contribute $7.4 million to the projects with the balance coming from the City, UC Berkeley and BART.

These projects have been in the planning stages for many years through a variety of public processes including the Downtown Area Plan, the Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan, and the Pedestrian Master Plan.

For more details, see the 5/28/13 Berkeleyside article Berkeley set for $12.7m in downtown transport grants.

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Streets and Watershed Planning:
Final Community Meeting

What: Community Meeting Regarding Measure M Planning
When: Thursday, July 18. 5:30 p.m.
Where: South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street

Measure M – a $30 million bond measure designed to repair and rebuild streets incorporating best watershed practices when feasible - was approved by Berkeley voters in November 2012. Since May the Public Works Commission in partnership with the Community Environmental Advisory Commission, the Transportation Commission, and the League of Women Voters has been facilitating a public process designed to develop criteria and priorities for project selection.

The first meeting of this process was held May 2, where commissioners presented an overview of the process, possible investment considerations and a community survey. See also responses to community questions. The second meeting on June 8 began the process of developing criteria for project prioritization.

This last of three community meetings is to receive further public input on project criteria.

Berkeley residents who want to submit further comments are welcome to email them to: using the subject line “Measure M Community Input.”

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Monday Crop Swap

What: Crop Swap sponsored by Transition Berkeley
When: Mondays through October 28, 2013. 6:40 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Heavy rain cancels.)
Where: The Ohlone Greenway across from the North Berkeley BART station

Too much zucchini? No carrots? No problem. Transition Berkeley’s Monday evening Crop Swap has returned! Come with your excess kale, and end up with lemons or peppers or honey or... who knows. Trading the homegrown produce starts promptly at 6:40 and usually ends by about 7 pm. For more information go to Crop Swap.

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Smarter Travel in the Downtown,
Southside and Elmwood

Berkeley is poised to embark on a three-year pilot study - Go Berkeley – designed to improve the ease of travel within key areas of the City: Downtown, Southside and the Elmwood. Funded through the federal government, Go Berkeley will explore and test methods of reducing local traffic congestion, improving parking options, and promoting alternatives to driving one's own car in three of Berkeley's commercial areas.

One of the key components of the proposal is to reconfigure the metered parking (in these three areas only), altering both the rate structures and time limits depending upon demand, availability and the needs of the community. In short, parking will cost more in some areas and less in others, encouraging drivers to park where there is availability. Drivers will have access to information regarding parking availability.

Full public roll-out of the program will be in August. For more information check out the Go Berkeley website and the June 11, 2013 goBerkeley report to the City Council.

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Coffee with the Councilmember

What: No Host “Café” and group discussion with Councilmember Capitelli
When: Friday, June 28, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Where: Café Roma. 1549 Hopkins Street at Monterey.

I hope you can join me for a short discussion about what is going on around town. Bring your questions. I will have a few of my own. Rain will cancel.

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Reporting Potholes, Sidewalks,
Streetlights, Graffiti and More

Get the easy things fixed by calling 311 weekdays between 8 am and 5 pm, or by filing an online request at the City’s Online Service Center. You will receive a tracking number that can be used to reference your request if/when you call for an update or for further information.

Please alert the City directly. Reporting problems through a third party application/website significantly delays the response of City staff and eliminates any possibility for staff to ask questions of the reporting citizen.

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City Contacts and Resources

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

Laurie Capitelli, District 5 Office


Tom Bates, Office of the Mayor


Officer Byron White, BPD Area Coordinator for North Berkeley


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


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


From a cell phone


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

On Line Service Center
or dial 311

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