Councilmember Susan Wengraf
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The City Council is on Spring break in April, yet I found myself working more than ever due to many important items that we are exploring and discussing.
For example, on April 24, the Council will discuss a new ordinance that I am co-sponsoring, to reduce the number of single use plastic utensils and packaging for restaurant dining and take out. Food and beverage packaging makes up the majority of street litter in the Bay Area, and much of it ends up in our waterways, clogging up drains and creeks. Earlier this year, I introduced legislation to limit the use of plastic straws in full service restaurants. That issue is currently being studied by our commissions.
On Thursday, April 26, we will hold a special meeting to discuss the City's sidewalk and encampment policies. Please read the proposed ordinance
. As you know, our unhoused population has increased, and we must find a balanced approach to managing the problem so that it does not interfere with the economic health of our local businesses, as well as everyone's enjoyment of our sidewalks. I invite you to write to me and let me know your thoughts on this critical issue.
Included in this newsletter is information about:
|Crime Increased in Berkeley in 2017
At the City Council Work Session on March 20th, the City Council received an overview report from the Police Department on crime in Berkeley for 2017, based on data collected by the FBI. Like most cities across the state, Berkeley crime increased in 2017. The complete Police Department report on Crime is provided
for your information.
What Steps Can You Take to Protect Yourself and Your Property?
Here are a few tips:
- Be a good neighbor. If you see any suspicious behavior in your neighborhood, call 911 immediately.
- Lock all your windows and doors in your home and garage when you leave home. 50% of home burglaries are enabled by open and unlocked window and doors.
- Install motion sensitive exterior lighting around your home and garage. Criminals usually shy away from light.
- Trim trees and shrubs that can be used as hiding places for intruders. Consider the installation of a security system and cameras. If you have a home security system, USE IT!
- Install a strong lock
Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other "secret" hiding places -- burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
f you leave your home for several days, try to make it look occupied in your absence:
- Make arrangements to have your mail collected or notify the Post Office to hold your mail. Do the same for newspapers.
- Put a few lights on automatic timers so that different parts of the home are lit at different times.
If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:
- Do not enter - the perpetrator may still be inside.
- Call police at 911 immediately
Sign up for crime prevention and updates through
and sign up for emergency notifications through
. To get information about crime in your neighborhood, go to
|Living With Coyotes
Several residents have called my office asking for information about how to deal with coyotes. Cats have disappeared and unfortunately have later been found to be victims of probable coyote attacks. In response, Animal Services is presenting a workshop. Information below:
Wheelchair accessible. Please refrain from wearing scented products to public programs. PLEASE NOTE: This event is not sponsored by the Berkeley Public Library. Groups and organizations may use meeting rooms when they are not being used for activities sponsored by the Library. Permission to use the meeting rooms does not imply Library endorsement of the goals, policies, or activities of any group or organization.
- Coyotes are members of the dog family; they are curious, adaptable, and learn quickly.
- Coyotes often mate for life, are devoted parents, and are highly communicative (barks, yips, howls).
- Coyotes weigh 18-35 pounds in the West and 30-60 pounds in the East.
- Coyotes may be more protective of dens/territories during pup rearing (April-Aug).
- Coyotes eat large numbers of rodents and rabbits, as well as fruit, vegetation, insects and carrion. They help keep ecosystems vital, healthy and clean.
- Coyotes are naturally wary of people but can habituate to our presence and the reliable food sources that we provide.
- DON'T FEED COYOTES. Their life and your safety depend on coyotes remaining wild and naturally wary of people.
- Remove attractants; pick up trash, secure garbage, and feed pets inside. Don't leave food or pets outside at night.
- Walk dogs on leashes, especially during pup rearing season (April-Aug). Pick up your small dog if you see a coyote and don't let pets roam.
- If approached, don't run. Wave arms, make noise and walk toward the coyote until he retreats. Be "Big, Bad and Loud."
- Avoid areas where coyotes may be denning or feeding/hiding pups.
- Appreciate coyotes from a distance. Share this information with family and friends.
|Storm Water & Lighting Assessment Ballot
Don't throw out your ballot! Mark it and mail it!
The Clean Storm Water Fund is currently facing a major deficit in capital improvements including $208M of needs identified in the
Watershed Management Plan
. Beginning in FY 2018, the Streetlight Assessment Fund is projected to experience an annual funding deficit. The City has a ballot measure to provide funding to ensure clean, safe water is entering our creeks and the bay, and to prevent flooding, as well as a ballot measure to improve street lighting in the City.
Funds from either of these ballot measures could only be used for their stated services, and cannot be taken by the State for any other purpose. A ballot measure would include strict fiscal safeguards and annual audits. The voting process is regulated by State initiative 218.
Since the storm drainage rate has not increased since 1991, and the street lighting rate has not increased since 1982, there is not enough funding available for needed system improvements, new infrastructure, or even for annual maintenance costs. The City recognizes it cannot responsibly go forward without investing in the future safety and reliability of this critical infrastructure we all rely on.
What is Proposition 218?
Proposition 218 was a voter initiative called the "Right to Vote on Taxes Act." Public agencies may not increase a fee or assessment, or implement a new fee or assessment, unless property owners approve a ballot measure allowing the agency to do so.
When will the votes be counted?
At the May 29th City Council meeting.
What does it take to pass?
More than 50% of votes have to be "yes", then Council can pass a resolution adopting new fees.
If I don't mail my ballot, does it automatically count as a "yes" vote?
No. Unlike previous protest voting procedures, only ballots that are submitted and checked "yes" will be counted as "yes" votes.
Are these additional fees or the only fees?
These are separate and in addition to the 1991 Stormwater and 1982 Streetlight fees. If passed, the fees will be on the property taxes as a separate line item than the current fees.
How much will this cost me?
The new Stormwater fee for the average size a single-family home parcel will be $43. The new assessment for Streetlight will be $11.17 for every single-family house.
The amount of the proposed fee will also be on your ballot.
Why are these fee increases needed?
The Stormwater and Streetlight fees have never been increased. As a result, the programs have been running deficits for many years and are facing cuts in service levels if fees are not increased.
I am not a registered voter. Am I still allowed to vote on the ballot I received?
Yes. These are property owner ballot measures, not a registered voter election. Therefore, if you own the property listed on the ballot, you may vote on that ballot, whether or not you are registered to vote.
| A Message From Berkeley's New Rosarian
BERKELEY ROSE GARDEN
Greetings from Berkeley's historic Rose Garden! It is with great honor that I am writing to you as The City of Berkeley's new Rosarian. The Berkeley Rose Garden is a gorgeous regional destination showcasing over 250 rose varieties, as well as breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. If you haven't heard of the Berkeley Rose Garden, then I personally invite you to experience the garden for yourself! If you're a long-time fan, then you know it is a lovely place to visit regularly.
For over 80 years, The Berkeley Rose Garden has been a beloved space for rose enthusiasts, photographers, tennis players, and for those who simply enjoy a peaceful stroll through the park. Built as a Works Progress Administration Project in 1937, the spirit of Berkeley's hard-working community lives on today, through community-based volunteer groups and individuals who may be looking for a rewarding way to spend a few extra hours a week.
Volunteer projects include, but are not limited to:
- Jan-March: pruning, soil amending, weeding
- April: weeding, raking, sweeping, preparation for Mother's Day
- May-Sept: deadheading, summer pruning, weeding, soil amending
- Oct-Dec: cleanup, defoliating roses, planting
- Year-round: sweeping paths, weeding, trash pickup, special projects
If you are interested in participating in any of the aforementioned projects, please email me with your weekly/monthly availability, as well as a brief overview of your experience working with Roses. Don't have experience with roses? No problem! We have need for all skill levels and time commitments! Tools and gloves will be provided.
Please note that official volunteer days led by the Rosarian will be held
Tuesdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. to noon.
No advance notice needed, just show up. If you prefer to work earlier or later on those days, let me know and I will expect you. If you are unable to attend those days, feel free to contact me about a time that is right for you.
Let's work together to preserve one of Berkeley's most cherished destinations. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
Miguel S. Cortes
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Parks & Recreation Department
City of Berkeley
|Water Quality Update
Following discussions last year of pollutant levels in our tap water, residents have inquired about current water quality. I have requested and update from EBMUD.
Below is a brief summary on THM (Trihalomethane) levels I received from EBMUD:
In calendar year 2017, the District met all federal and state drinking water standards and met 94 percent of the District's internal goals (7 of 125 were not met). The District's internal water quality goals are substantially more stringent than federal or state water quality standards to ensure regulatory compliance and maximize the quality of the District's treated water.
TTHMs and five haloacetic acids (HAA5) are regulated disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that form after chlorine reacts with natural organic matter in the water. For calendar year 2017, the District's goal was exceeded in 60 out of 64 TTHM samples and 46 out of 64 HAA5 samples. These goals are set at half of the regulatory standard. At no point did the District exceed the regulatory standards.
Several factors contributed to elevated disinfection by-product (DBP) concentrations during the spring and summer. First, prolonged drought caused organic material to accumulate in the Pardee Reservoir watershed. Intense rainfall last winter and associated runoff then greatly increased organic carbon loading into Pardee Reservoir. Warmer weather and higher organic carbon levels necessitated the use of higher chlorine doses at the treatment plants, which also increased DBP concentrations. Since early 2017, TTHM concentrations have steadily decreased as raw water quality improved and staff implemented DBP monitoring and control measures. Moving forward, our Board has approved a ~$8M contract for design of a UV disinfection system and chlorine contact basin that when constructed at a cost of ~$80M will greatly reduce THMs and DBPs. These processes will reduce organic compounds through filtration before chlorine is added for disinfection.
Our Annual Water Quality Report for calendar year 2017 is available online at www.ebmud.com/wqr.
Have you noticed that the Berkeley Hills have been experiencing increased aircraft noise? This is because aircraft have been redirected by the FAA into a concentrated flight track over your homes. This track was previously more scattered, but it is now restricted to a ½ mile wide single band over residential neighborhoods in the North Berkeley Hills, rather than east or west over a less populated area.
Last month, representatives of Save Our Skies East Bay and I met with Senator Feinstein's staff to request her help in getting the FAA to respond to the concerns of East Bay residents. Next month, we will try to meet with Senator Kamala Harris' staff as well.
We need your help. If airplane noise is a concern, please take the time to file a noise complaint here. The complaints are logged and will support my efforts to get the flight patterns changed.
To join the mailing list of SaveOurSkies East Bay click here.
- Need a new refuse can?
- Have a favorite pothole you want filled?
- Want to report illegal dumping?
| Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6