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June 19, 2012

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Coffee with the Councilmember
Berkeley Police Roll Out New Crime Reporting Initiatives
National Night Out: Save the Date
Curbside Recycling: Best Practices
City Contacts and Resources

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

Last week the City Council asked the City Manager to develop language for a November 2012 ballot measure that would regulate sitting and lying on sidewalks in commercial districts. The regulation is not intended to be an upfront enforcement mechanism (two warnings would be given before a citation would be written), but another engagement tool for our Downtown Hospitality Ambassadors, giving them opportunities to dialogue with street people and hopefully to establish relationships that may well lead them to services, support and housing.

Thank you to all who wrote to my office or weighed in through Open Town Hall regarding a sit/lie ordinance. I always appreciate hearing from constituents, especially on more complex and contentious issues like this one.

I supported the measure in large part because I see it as the logical extension of the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative approved by Council in 2007: a package of revenues and services put forward by Council that included assurances that a certain level of services would be available - including a place to sleep - for anyone who needed it. There was also the expectation that the community would have civil and accessible sidewalks.

Claims that a similar sit/lie ordinance in San Francisco has failed due to non-enforcement may be true. But similar ordinances in Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and Seattle have been successful in large part because of their non-sworn "hosts" or "ambassadors" that provide information, guidance and assistance for all visitors. In Seattle, just the reminder of the community's rules about decorum in public commercial districts has been enough to sway 90% of the folks from sitting on sidewalks, and many have been guided into services.

Berkeley does more than its fair share to provide services and opportunities to those in need. An oft quoted statistic: Berkeley citizens make up 7 % of the County's population, yet we embrace over 40% of the county's homeless population. The City spends $3 million a year on homeless services. Homeless individuals come here because we provide food, shelter, opportunities and few expectations.

I think that most people could agree that Berkeley's self image as a progressive and compassionate community runs headlong into policies regarding un-civil behavior in public spaces. What we cannot agree on, as evidenced by the high emotion at last Tuesday's Council meeting, is how to achieve the greatest common good for all Berkeley residents.

I feel deeply compassionate for the many individuals who spend their days and nights living on our streets. Homelessness is a very difficult way of life. It compromises the health and welfare of those that it affects directly and impacts the community around them.

I know that many individuals experience homelessness through circumstances beyond their control — loss of employment, mental or physical illness, substance abuse, divorce or other crises. Often, these people accept supportive services offered by the City of Berkeley and the County of Alameda to regain their health, stability and independence. However, I also recognize that there is a younger population of homeless that appears to choose this life and reject community help or intervention.

It is most commonly the homeless youth, sometimes aggressively panhandling and often congregating into encampments with their dogs and belongings that create the biggest impact in our commercial areas. Many business owners have complained that patrons avoid their restaurants and stores because they don't want to interact with these groups. They complain about the unwelcoming behavior, trash, urine and feces that they have to encounter every day. Many Berkeley citizens tell me that they would rather shop or dine anywhere than Downtown Berkeley or Telegraph Ave.

I believe that it is neither progressive nor compassionate to permissively allow fellow citizens to self destruct in our public commons. It is our moral responsibility to make every effort to help them and I believe we do that. However, it is not our additional obligation to license uncivil behavior in our public spaces.

Sitting on and obstructing the sidewalk is not the only issue here. I believe that as a community, it is time for us to come to some accepted common standards of behavior in the spaces we all share. It is not unreasonable to insist that all of us conform to some broadly-accepted minimum standards of behavior. I want the citizens of Berkeley to speak their minds on this issue in November.

* * * *

This past Sunday I was pleased to see the Chronicle article Bay Area sees dramatic drop in violent crime. According to the Chronicle's statistics, Berkeley's violent crime rate is down 9.57%, and property crime rate is down 14.7%.Though parallel to reductions in many Bay Area communities, I think it is safe to say our Police should be credited for the work they do in our community and for their collaboration with community members including providing information about crimes and crime prevention.

On that note, please read below about a series of initiatives design to provide information and reporting options to Berkeley citizens recently introduced by the Berkeley Police Department led by Chief Meehan.

* * * *

On Saturday, June 9, a beautiful spring day, I was pleased and honored to attend the ground breaking for the new baseball field at Derby and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. (See photo below of former BUSD Superintendent Jack McLaughlin, Mayor Bates and myself.) The configuration of this field and the rerouting of the adjacent road to accommodate it — "Curvy Derby" — exemplify the creative problem solving with which our community can face its challenges. It has been a long road for the field's neighborhood, and for the Berkeley High School baseball community who now bear deep sadness at the tragic loss of their coach and biggest advocate, Tim Moellering. As of Saturday, the field will be named Moellering Field. It is a fitting tribute.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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Coffee with the Councilmember

What: Coffee with Councilmember Capitelli
When: Saturday, June 23. 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Where: Dorothy Bolte Park, 540 Spruce Street at the Picnic Area

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

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Berkeley Police Roll Out
New Crime Reporting Initiatives

Property crime, crime prevention, home burglaries, auto theft - these are issues of real concern for North Berkeley residents. I am so pleased to announce several initiatives from the Berkeley Police Department designed to give you up to date crime information, crime-reporting options, and maybe even a casual conversation with one of officers.

"It is becoming increasingly important to afford our community access to timely, quality information and guidance regarding crime, crime prevention measures, and the services that Berkeley Police Department personnel provide. We also want the community to have choices and convenience in reporting certain types of crimes and have access to BPD staff. Our community is evolving and changing and the BPD is continually striving to engage in new and innovative ways." —Chief Michael K. Meehan

CrimeView Community

This interactive map allows residents to see crimes that have been reported in the City within a few days after their occurrence. Viewers can choose from a variety of crimes and zoom into particular neighborhoods to see recent activity within a given timeframe. The program can send e-mail alerts about current crime reports.

The CrimeView Community data reflect crimes as they have been reported to members of BPD based on preliminary information supplied to them by the reporting members of the public. Preliminary crime classifications may change based on the direction of follow-up investigations. Not all calls for police service are included (e.g. calls of loud reports).

The information provided on this site is intended for use by the community to enhance their awareness of crimes happening in their neighborhoods and the community as a whole.

Go to CrimeView Community to learn more about the program, where to find it and how to utilize it. If you have any questions regarding this program, please contact Manager Brenda Velasquez at bvelasquez@ci.berkeley.ca.us.

Online CRIME Reporting

Many of the crimes that plague North Berkeley - theft, identity theft, vandalism, auto break-ins, burglaries - do not necessarily require immediate police response (particularly if the crime scene is cold). But it is extremely important that these crimes be reported and recorded so that our police can track crime type, location and frequency in order to develop overall strategies and assess staffing levels.

The "Online CRIME Reporting System" allows you a quick and easy way to submit a police report anytime, day or night, documenting a variety of crime incidents.

You can use this system so long as:

  • This is a non-emergency matter (the crime is not in process);
  • There are no known witnesses or suspects;
  • The incident occurred within the Berkeley city limits, but not on University of California property or on a freeway;
  • You have an email address.


Coffee with the Commander

The four Area Commanders in the City of Berkeley Police Department are participating in a series of informal community outreach gatherings at local restaurants, coffee shops, etc throughout the city. The department's hope is to have these informal gatherings a couple of times a month to have an open and continued dialogue with the community. The informal gatherings do not have a specific focus and offer police and citizens a chance to "check-in" with each other.

Next coffee will be Wednesday, June 27, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Off the Grid, Shattuck and Rose Streets.

Liaison with the Police Department

As always, if you have questions about police actions, or want to discuss a non-emergency ongoing situation in your neighborhood, contact Officer Byron White, BPD Area Coordinator for North Berkeley at 510-981-5773.

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National Night Out
Save the Date

The annual "National Night Out" (NNO) program, held on the first Tuesday each August, has been extraordinarily successful in promoting involvement in community, crime prevention activities, strengthening community relations, and encouraging neighborhood camaraderie as part of the fight for safer streets. Since 1984, "National Night Out-America's Night Out Against Crime" has grown to involve over 37 million people from more than 10,000 communities.

The City of Berkeley welcomes all Neighborhood Watch Groups, local businesses, faith based organizations and community/neighborhood groups to organize and participate in a festive and positive night. It's an opportunity to celebrate community, the fight against crime, safety and disaster prepardeness with members of the City of Berkeley Police and Fire Departments, City staff and elected officials.

Register today to be included in the group list of block parties around the City. All groups who want to hold their event in the street must submit a block permit with the City of Berkeley for street closures for this event. Please read the Block Party permits and necessary requirements to download the necessary forms.

Go to National Night Out 2012 to download the City of Berkeley National Night Out registration form.

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Curbside Recycling:
Best Practices

The Ecology Center will soon be rolling out a new customer education program designed to maximize collection efficiency. Part of that program is a list of best practices to make recycling pick up as efficient and effective as possible. (See chart below.)

If you have any comments, suggestions or concerns about the program or about curbside recycling in general, please contact the Ecology Center directly through their recycling hotline (510) 527-5555 or recycling@ecologycenter.org.

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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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