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February 15, 2011

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
TONA Discussion on Proposed Solano Avenue Zoning Changes
Youth Arts Exhibition
Family Art Day
North Berkeley Recycling Guide
Support Our New Animal Shelter
District 5 Profile: Mark Olivier's Beach Art
DEAR Day: Drop Everything and Read 
Free Compost For Berkeley Residents
Oakland CORE Citywide Disaster Drill
Theft Prevention: Note from Officer Byron White
City Contacts and Resources 

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

These past several weeks the City Council has been deliberating zoning changes to West Berkeley. We have taken extensive public testimony from local residents and business people about how best to invigorate our local economy while preserving what is best about our manufacturing/industrial district. As I listened to artisans, business owners, workers, academics and residents, I realized the most substantive and passionate discussions at the City Council are about weighing the unknown yet hopeful benefits of change against the security of the status quo.

This is true of everything from residential land use appeals, to proposals for new public amenities, to neighborhood traffic calming to changes in commercial zoning. These are extraordinarily difficult decisions, complicated by some advocates' unrealistic projections and the illusion that the city can anticipate and control all impacts.

What is the consequence of doing nothing? First off, we cannot maintain the status quo by doing nothing. Our community, its population and its economy are dynamic and changing around us. As Lewis Carroll's Red Queen warns us, "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" Opponents of the North Shattuck Plaza feared the closure of Black Oak Books if the plaza project went forward. It didn't, nothing happened and the store closed anyway. People's Park, preserved now over forty years as a symbol of the sixties' vision of grassroots community and public engagement, provides neither.

Even preservation is a dynamic activity. Buildings, systems and codes must be revisited, evaluated and retrofitted to function in a changing world or else they will deteriorate. As we revisit, as we must do on a regular basis, we have an opportunity to envision the future and to assess how best to get there within the context of our current pressures and assets.

So as I — and the entire City Council — entertain zoning changes to West Berkeley, or Solano Avenue, or Downtown, I will be guided by two principles:

  1. Embrace the vision of Berkeley as a lively, diverse, creative and intellectual community
  2. Provide resources (tax base) for the services and amenities that keep our population safe, healthy and engaged

As we conduct these community conversations, we will be experimenting with a variety of ways you can participate without having to attend a Council Public Hearing. Thank you to those who responded to my request for input through Open Town Hall about the West Berkeley Zoning change that would allow research and development. Many of you voiced a frustration about the limitations of the information provided. I have put together a FAQ sheet for your benefit. The issue is still open and I hope, if you haven't weighed in already, you will consider doing so.

Please read below about, a North Berkeley Recycling Guide, a local artist, reminders from our Police Department and some upcoming local events including a community discussion about Solano Avenue zoning.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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TONA Discussion on Proposed Solano Avenue Zoning Changes

What: Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association General Meeting
When: Thursday, March 3, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Thousand Oaks Baptist Church (Catalina at Colusa)

The Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association (TONA) will be holding their next general meeting on March 3. Along with elections and organizational items, the agenda includes a public discussion about the City Council's proposed zoning amendments for Solano Avenue.

The proposed amendments include:

  • Suspend the quota on new food service businesses
  • Allow restaurants to serve beer and wine with meals without holding a public hearing (unless appealed)
  • Let businesses remain open until 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.
  • Standardize the parking requirement at 2 spaces per one thousand square feet. (Preexisting buildings will be grandfathered.)
  • Allow "office retail" — office uses that generate significant foot traffic — on the ground floor.
  • Provide basic design standards for exterior signs for small businesses, exempting them from Design Review.
  • Allow sidewalk tables and chairs without a public hearing.
  • Explore ways to encourage landlords to rent their empty storefronts.

The December 2010 Council-approved item, sponsored by Councilmembers Capitelli, Wengraf and Moore, can found at: Encouraging Economic Development. Go to the Solano Avenue Survey, completed by over 1300 business owners and residents (over 1/2 of whom lived within 8 blocks of Solano), to see the background for the proposal. To read the TONA newsletter, including the announcement of this meeting, go to http://www.tona.org.

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Youth Arts Exhibition

What: IDENTITY: Exhibit of Artwork from BUSD Students, K-8
When: February 3 - March 20, 2011
Gallery Hours Wed - Sun, 12:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Where: Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley

Students in grades K-8 from the Berkeley Unified School District will present artwork based on the theme, IDENTITY at the Berkeley Art Center in February and March. Participating schools include Oxford, Washington, Emerson, Jefferson, Le Conte, Thousand Oaks, and Malcolm X Elementary Schools, and King, Longfellow, and Willard Middle Schools. Graciously sponsored by the Berkeley Rotary Club, this exhibit is presented in conjunction with Youth Arts Exhibition: Berkeley High School at Kala Art Institute (opening March 4). Both exhibits are part of Art IS Education month.

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Family Art Day

What: Family Art Day
When: Saturday, March 5, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley

Enjoy a range of art activities for all ages, led by BUSD teachers in Berkeley Art Center's beautiful gallery space and reception patio. Light snacks and beverages provided. The program is offered free of charge to the general public, and is made possible by a generous grant from the Berkeley Public Education Foundation.

Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Please visit BERKELEY ART CENTER or call 510-644-6893 for more information or to learn about related public programs.

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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


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

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Support Our New Animal Shelter:
A Benefit for Berkeley Animal Care Services

What: Jeffery Masson Book Reading and Signing: A Benefit for Berkeley Animal Care Services
When: Saturday, March 12, 2011. 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley

Mr. Masson will read from his most recently published book, "The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving, How Dogs Have Captured Our Hearts for Thousands of Years." Tickets are $25. Light refreshments will be provided. All proceeds will go to furnishing and outfitting the animal hospital that will reside within the new animal shelter currently being built by the City of Berkeley.

For more information about Mr. Masson and tickets for this event, see the benefit flyer.

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District 5 Profile:
Mark Olivier's Beach Art

On any typical East Bay beach, there are a few omnipresent components: gritty sand, cold water, shell fragments, and occasional seaweed. But there is also a huge variety of man-made junk, a constant reminder of modern civilization. If you are lucky, you may see a man come by, pick up trash to inspect it, and take it home with him.

Mark Olivier, a District Five resident for sixteen years and a beachcombing artist for the last six, has drawn a lot of attention with his sculptures made from materials he takes from local beaches. Some call it great art. Others call it trash. It's both. He gleans everything from lighters to car parts to animal bones, combining his finds into masks, animals, and a variety of other forms. For him, it's less about the materials he uses than the act of making art. "I've decided on a focus, so I'm figuring out what I can do with it."

Read More . . .

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Drop Everything and Read

What: Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) Day
Sponsored by the Berkeley Public Education Foundation
When: Friday, March 11, 9:00 a.m.
Where: Berkeley Public Elementary Schools

Want to share your favorite children's book with eager listeners? The Berkeley Public Education Foundation is looking for community volunteers to spend one morning in March reading to a classroom of young students.

Friday, March 11th, 2011 will mark the 18th annual Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) Day celebration. Along with Read Across America, and in celebration of the great Dr. Seuss' birthday, BPEF expects over 140 readers from our community will bring favorite books to read to our Berkeley Public preschool and elementary school students throughout the district.

Go to DEAR Day for more information about the event and how to volunteer.

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Free Compost For Berkeley Residents

What: Free Compost for Berkeley residents
When: The last Saturday of each month, starting at 8:00 a.m.
Where: Marina Blvd. across from Doubletree Hotel

The City of Berkeley's Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department offers free compost for Berkeley citizens on a first come, first served basis on the last Saturday of every month*. Bring your own shovels, safety gear and containers - none provided. Pick-ups may load no higher than the lip of the truck bed. Loads must be tarped.

For more information about this program, see the flyer, or call the Berkeley Marina Office at (510) 981-6740

*Except for July which will be the 3rd Saturday due to the Kite Festival.

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Oakland CORE Citywide Disaster Drill

What: Oakland CORE Citywide Disaster Drill
When: Saturday, April 30, 2011. 9:00a.m. and 12:00 noon
Where: Participating Oakland and Berkeley neighborhoods

The Berkeley Office of Emergency Services joins the City of Oakland'sOffice of Emergency Services in inviting Berkeley residents to participate in Oakland's sixth annual CORE Citywide Exercise scheduled for Saturday, April 30, 2011 between 9:00am and 12:00 noon. This annual drill focuses community groups on disaster preparedness and exercises disaster response readiness in their neighborhoods. Dozens of organized groups throughout Oakland will participate and Berkeley groups are invited to utilize the event's Exercise Plan and support workshop to host exercises in their own neighborhoods.

Further information about this workshop is available on the Oakland CORE website, on the event flyer.

For questions and registration information as a Berkeley group, please contact Khin Chin at 510-981-5506 or by email to oes@cityofberkeley.info.

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Theft Prevention:
Note from Officer Byron White

The Berkeley Police Department has identified a pattern of auto thefts in the neighborhood bounded by Hearst Avenue, La Loma Avenue, Cedar Street, and Oxford Street. My office has received reports of car break-ins in the Colusa neighborhood south of Solano Avenue. Unfortunately these kinds of crimes happen all too often in our neighborhoods, and we must take precautions as a matter of routine. Our Area Coordinator from the Berkeley Police Department, Officer Byron White, offers these basic guidelines for theft prevention:

Do Not Leave Valuables in your vehicle
Although it may sound sensible, many people continue to leave valuable items inside their parked vehicles. Items most commonly stolen include GPS units, MP3 players, cellular phones, backpacks, gym bags, briefcases, laptop bags, wallets, and purses. If you must leave valuables inside your car, place the items out of sight BEFORE you park your car. If a crook is "casing" an area for persons parking and sees you pack/hide your valuables under your seat or inside your trunk, it will clue them in that you have something to hide and that they should target your vehicle.

Leave no signs of your valuables
Although they may not be the actual valuable item, leaving charging cradles from MP3 players or loose change in the car may also attract a crook's attention.

Try to park in busy, well-lit areas
Auto-burglars prefer breaking into cars where they will not be observed or attract notice. Rather than parking in areas where there is little or no one around, try and park in areas where there is lot of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

SECURE your vehicle
Always make sure you lock your vehicle-even if you think you will only be away for a few minutes. Every week, community members report thefts from their vehicles to the Berkeley Police Department where they did not have their doors locked or they left a window open. Crooks can be as slippery as water-and they too follow the path of least resistance. A crook would much rather burglarize an unlocked vehicle than have to figure out a way to break into one.

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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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