District 5 News Header Image

May 8, 2013

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
Downtown Post Office Update
Friends of the Fountain: Balustrade Project
Chocolate and Chalk Festival on North Shattuck
Coffee with the Councilmember
Measure M Community Meeting
Berkeley Police Neighborhood Alert
District 5 Organizing for Pet Donations
City Contacts and Resources

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

For some months, we have been faced with a seemingly endless barrage of violent images from within our country: a string of senseless mass shootings and most recently the bombing at the Boston Marathon. As parents, as community members, and as Americans we are faced with many questions; what motivates the perpetrators, why do these events happen so frequently and why are we unable to strengthen our laws to prevent more violence in the future (exemplified by the inability of the US Senate to pass some kind of stronger gun control legislation).

Late in April I had the honor of addressing a group of Berkeley citizens actively discussing these questions. Organized by the Congregation Netivot Shalom, the attendees represented many different faiths but shared a common commitment to their community and to positive action in the face of all these questions.

My remarks included a personal anecdote about an old, dear friend. He had been a Richmond police officer for many years and had too many times been a witness to the destructive aftermath of community violence. In response to my frustration over the lack of adequate gun control, he said if people didn’t have guns, they would use knives. If they didn’t have knives, they would use fists. Wherever people don’t have hope there will be violence.

So our challenge as caring community members is to do what we can locally to end the cycle of hopelessness. As we all know, hopelessness can begin in many different ways and at many different times in people’s lives. I believe that ending hopelessness for our kids means, in part, access to a quality education. That includes resources and encouragement from us so they can be ready to learn when they come to school. City officials don’t control the learning environments, but we are definitely key partners in creating a supportive atmosphere with clear expectations.

2020 Vision, a citywide movement to ensure academic success and well-being for all children and youth growing up in Berkeley, has institutionalized that partnership. As an original member of its 0 to 5 years subcommittee since 2008, I have worked very hard to research tangible strategies that will insure that young children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.

My work with Berkeley parents also brought me to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) task force, a City/BUSD collaborative working group. For the past two years I have worked with parents, City and school district staff who are committed to creating an atmosphere where our kids are not only in the classroom but ready to learn once they are there.

As a passionate advocate for public education, I am a firm believer that the key to life-long opportunity is education. And if life-long opportunity is the antidote for hopelessness, we as a community must combat hopelessness by insuring educational support for our kids.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

Back to top

Downtown Post Office Update
Elected Officials Just Say No

After it completed the legally required public process, the United States Postal Service formally notified the City of Berkeley of its plans to sell the Downtown Post Office. On Friday May 3, I and a coordinated congregation of Berkeley citizens and elected officials – including State Senator Hancock, Assemblywoman Skinner, Mayor Bates and other City Councilmembers - gathered on the steps of our historic Post Office to sign a letter appealing the sale of our historic post office and requesting a moratorium on the sale of any historic post offices across the country.

The USPS has proposed selling many of its public resources as a strategy to achieve fiscal solvency. Fortunately there are proposals in Congress designed to provide alternatives including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt) Postal Service Protection Act of 2013. Senate Bill 316 makes common sense recommendations including a crucial change in how the service is required to fund future pension benefits.

We support strategic changes to the administration of the USPS that would allow it to continue operating profitably. This is a far better alternative than the permanent loss to the public of many of our beautiful civic and historic resources.

For more information about the event and the efforts to preserve the building, go to Save the Berkeley Post Office.

Back to top

Friends of the Fountain
Balustrade Project

Two years ago, Friends of the Fountain and Walk (FOFW) embarked upon a fundraising campaign to repair the deteriorating balusters at The Circle and along the Walk. They are appealing to the community once again for assistance in completing the project.

From Sara Holmes, the project organizer and chief volunteer in keeping The Circle green and working:

Just as it was envisioned to be more than 100 years ago, the Fountain at The Circle is the pulsing heart of the city’s north side – a Beaux Arts icon that, along with its surrounding balustrade and nearby Fountain Walk, recalls the City’s rich architectural past.

Designed by UC Berkeley architect, John Galen Howard and sculptor, Arthur Putnam, some 100 years ago, the Fountain proudly stands today as a Beaux Arts jewel that not only reflects Berkeley’s architectural heritage, but also is an outstanding example of a privately funded public work of art. With the generous help of people like you and the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, we have moved forward and formed a successful partnership with the City for its ongoing maintenance and repair.

Currently, FOFW’s fund-raising focus is the replacement of more than 75 damaged balusters around The Circle and along Fountain Walk. Today we are approximately $20,000 short of our total project fundraising goal of $75,000.

FOFW, a neighborhood 501 (c) 3, is asking for contributions in any amount so they can finish the job of restoring this historic and economically significant benefit to the Northeast Berkeley area.

For more information about the project and how you can participate and/or donate, go to Balustrade Repair Update, check out the FOFW letter to the community, or contact FOFW by email at:FountainAndWalk@gmail.com.

Back to top

Chocolate and Chalk Festival
on North Shattuch

What: 17th Annual Chocolate and Chalk Festival
When: Saturday, June 1, 2013. 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Rain date June 8)
Where: North Shattuck, Berkeley. Event HQ booths, tickets and art registration at 1451, 1495 or 1673 Shattuck

Make art on the sidewalk or walk to participating shops to taste chocolate. For more information, go to the Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival.

Back to top

Coffee with the Councilmember

What: No Host “Café” and group discussion with Councilmember Capitelli
When: Saturday, May 18, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Where: Dorothy Bolte Park, 540 Spruce Street at Michigan

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.

Back to top

What: Community Meeting Regarding Measure M Planning. Second in a Series.
When: Saturday, June 8. 10:00 a.m.
Where: South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street

The public planning process for Berkeley streets and related watershed improvements is underway. Measure M – a $30 million bond measure – was approved in the November 2012 election. The additional funding will accelerate improvements to Berkeley’s streets as well as incorporating green infrastructure components.

The process to develop an expenditure plan is being coordinated by the Berkeley Public Works Commission, in partnership with the Community Environmental Advisory Commission, the Transportation Commission, and the League of Women Voters. Representatives from the commissions and the League of Woman Voters will be present.

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.

This second of three meetings is to receive public input on a range of scenarios for street and related watershed investments.

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

The final meeting will be Thursday, July 18, 5:30 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street.

Back to top

Berkeley Police Alert
The Grand Parent Scheme

Officer Byron White contacted our office about reports of a telephone scam. “The Grand Parent Scheme” starts by a call from someone who claims to be a Bay Area police officer. He/she says they have a person detained who is the child or grandchild of the call’s recipient. Then there is the appeal to wire money for the detainee.

Please note: the availability of personal information on social networking sites has made it easier for these scam artists to present a very plausible scenario.

Officer White says to avoid being a victim of these scams:

  • Resist the pressure to act quickly.
  • Try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate.
  • Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail...especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you can’t get it back.

To read the full BPD alert, go to Variations of the Grand Parent Scheme.

For information about local crime trends and crime prevention suggestions, please check out the April BPD Newsletter.

Back to top

District 5 Neighborhood Effort:
Organizing for Pet Donations

Byron Roos-Collins

One of District Five’s most successful volunteer projects is going to celebrate its two-year anniversary this May. Yet, driving past the corner of Hopkins and Carlotta one might easily miss the sign that aside from word of mouth, serves as one of the project’s only forms of advertisement.

Pet Donations. The project began two years ago when a Northbrae resident heard on the radio that the Rodeo Humane Society had run out of cat food for its monthly pet food giveaway to low-income pet owners. She had recently lost a cat, and wondered if her leftover food and supplies could be donated towards the giveaway. The Humane Society confirmed that they’d be thrilled to receive the items. Curious as to what would happen, the Northbrae resident put a note on her garage explaining the situation at the Humane Society and left an empty washtub next to the note for food and supplies donations. Within three weeks her garage was filled with donations and the monthly project was officially underway. Read more . . .

Back to top

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

Back to top