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February 15, 2012

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Lock That Car: Burglary Prevention Reminders
Living In Berkeley: Are You Having Fun Yet?
Coffee with the Councilmember
E-Book Office Hours at the Library
Cleaning Up the Downtown
Gioia: Sit and Eat Your Pizza Too
City Contacts and Resources

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

This past month we were all deeply saddened to learn of the tragic accident on Marin Avenue at Tulare Ave., where an 18-year-old high school student died in a collision with a vehicle. My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the young man. I can only imagine their personal grief.

Incidents like these give us pause to assess our own lives, our families, and our actions. Looking for reasons that these things happen and for possible changes that we can make in our environment may be the only good that can come out of tragedies. Community members have called on the City to assess the traffic speeds on Marin, and the lighting levels at that intersection in order to make the area safer and to prevent future accidents. Once the police have finished their investigation of the accident, I will request that.

What we can take away now from the accident is that we live in a dense, urban and highly mobile community. Our streets are extraordinarily busy thoroughfares not just for vehicles, but also for pedestrians, bicyclists, strollers, skateboarders and scooters. They are too often dangerous. No street or intersection can be 100% safe when human nature is so unpredictable, and even the safest drivers will choose the speediest route to their destination.

For just one moment, let's realize that this young man could easily have been our son or brother. That driver could easily have been any one of us who drive. However we move through our streets, we all must take some personal responsibility to drive safely, to be seen in the dark, to be alert and attentive to others and to treat the others in and around our paths as if they are your friends and family.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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Lock That Car:
Burglary Prevention Tips

Property crimes, particularly auto burglaries, have been on the rise in our neighborhoods during the past few months. A rash of incidents where cars were left open or forced open, rummaged through and cleaned of quick valuables - including the theft of my wife's cell phone on a third attempt - led neighbors to appeal to this office for attention and the Berkeley Police for assistance.

The good news: one of the thieves was apprehended by BPD due to one resident's video surveillance and another resident's quick reporting of suspicious activity. The bad news: there are still thieves roaming our neighborhoods looking for similar crimes of opportunity.

It is the careful observations of and vigilant reporting by local residents that provides BPD the information they need to catch these thieves. Please report all apparent break-ins, even when nothing is stolen. It is easy to do on line at: http://www.cityofberkeley.info/onlinepolicereport/

Though the police may not respond to these non-emergency incidents, the collective information they glean is very important to tracking crimes and developing appropriate responses. (I reported our incident on line and ultimately recovered the phone!)

Officer Byron White, BPD Area Coordinator and Liaison to the District 5 Office, also provided us the short list of auto burglary prevention reminders:

  • Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. Ever.
  • Leave no sign of your valuables.
  • Try to park in busy, well-lit areas.
  • SECURE your vehicle, even if you are away from it for a few minutes.

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Living In Berkeley:
Are You Having Fun Yet?

What: University/City Speakers' Forum. Free.
When: Thursday, February 23. 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stephen's Lounge. MLK Student Union. UC Berkeley

Next in a series of panel discussions focusing on University/City issues, "Living in Berkeley: Are You Having Fun Yet" will focus on the economic and social challenges - and progress - in the areas surrounding the campus. Highlighting new initiatives and UC/City partnerships, topic areas include: the Downtown, Telegraph Avenue, the Lower Sproul project. Panelists are: John Caner, Executive Director of the Downtown Berkeley Association; Doris Mostkowitz, owner of Moe's Books on Telegraph Avenue; Bahar Navab, President UC Graduate Assembly; Thomas Spivey, Associate Director, UC Auxiliary. Polly Armstrong, President of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, will moderate.

This forum is sponsored by Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli, Gordon Wozniak and Susan Wengraf, UC Berkeley Office of the Chancellor - Local and Government Community Relations, Berkeley City College, Graduate Student Assembly, Downtown Berkeley Association, and Berkeleyside.

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Coffee with the Councilmember

What: No Host "Café" and impromptu discussion with Councilmember Capitelli
When: Friday, February 24, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Where: Café Roma, 1549 Hopkins Street (across from Monterey Market)

Please join me for a casual discussion. Bring your questions and concerns. Rain will cancel.

Note: My staff and I are happy to take suggestions for other times and venues. Just send an email to me if you have an idea.

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E-Book Office Hours at the Library

What: E-Book Office Hours at the Berkeley Public Library. Free.
When: Friday, March 16, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Tuesdays, February 21 & March 7, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Where: Electronic Classroom, Central Library, 2090 Kittredge St.

The Berkeley Public Library is beginning a free drop-in service about e-books. If you have questions about e-books and e-readers, bring them to E-Books Office Hours. Bring your devices and talk with a librarian who can help you set up your e-reader, tell you about the library's e-book collection, troubleshoot download issues and answer questions about readers, formats, digital rights and other topics. No registration is required. These are the first sessions in an ongoing series and more dates will be announced in March. To learn more about the series, please call (510) 981-6148.

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Cleaning Up the Downtown

No, that's not bay fog you see rolling through the downtown in the wee hours of the morning. That's the steam produced by the new Downtown Ambassador Cleaning Team as they pressure wash the sidewalks. The team, hired by the newly-formed Property Based Business Improvement District (PBID) for the Downtown, is also charged with removing graffiti, painting lamp posts and other fixtures, weeding tree wells, sweeping and picking up litter. Team members are on schedule to complete the deep cleaning, painting, and landscaping of the entire 30 block Downtown Berkeley District in time for the April 2nd launch event of the renewed Downtown.

The current Host Ambassador Program (510-550-7550) will continue to provide hospitality and social service outreach services until March 31st when the team will be expanded and combined with the new Cleaning Team in time for the full launch on April 2nd.

The Cleaning Ambassadors, along with Hospitality Ambassadors, landscaping, and marketing program are funded by the new Property-Based Business Improvement District (PBID), whereby Downtown property owners agreed by 71% (weighted by assessment) to fund these services to achieve a more vibrant, welcoming, and prosperous City Center.

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Gioia: Sit and Eat Your Pizza Too

Many of you have e-mailed my office about the disappearance of the stools at Gioia Pizza on Hopkins. I'm happy to say that zoning changes adopted by the Council last July (and seemingly unknown to Gioia advisors) DO allow for incidental, on-site seating. Our office straightened it out. Once the paperwork is finished, the stools will be back. Get out your napkins.

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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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