What Happened?

March 25, 2014 Council Meeting

Meeting Notes

Item #24 Appeal 2635 Ashby Ave

Staff presentation

Appeal of ZAB for new restaurant in the Elmwood. Variances included: over 3500 square feet, later hours until midnight on Friday and Saturday, full service bar and over quotas.  No additional parking required due to applicants parking study.  Staff recommends denial of appeal.


Issues:  Free standing bar with 12 seats when permit says alcohol is supplemental to food service. Later hours on Friday and Saturday.  Parking and traffic impacts. Loading zone is not discussed.  Will add to traffic impacts because trucks will have to double park.  Over the quotas. Sidewalk seating was not taken into account on parking demand.  Result in too much parking in the neighborhoods.


Own and operate Comal in downtown Berkeley.  Looked at issues with first application and made adjustments accordingly.  Capping interior seats at 100. Held community meetings, have been as receptive as possible.  Bar: Condition for demanding food consumption doesn’t occur.  Employees well trained to deal with issues.  Loading zone issues will be configured, hopefully, for mornings.  GoBerkeley adjustments were made with conservative adjustments.


Public comment

Support of Project.  Total 13

Against Project. Total 15


Councilmember comments

Moore. Excited about the project.  Parking is an issue throughout Berkeley and the jobs, sales tax and liveliness that this will bring is positive.  Move the staff recommendation.

Wozniak. I second the motion.  The former use was totally inappropriate for the neighborhood,  These are good operators.  There is a parking concern.  That is why we instituted the goBerkeley program.  I often walk down and it is 3/4 mile.  The garage a block away could be available for employee parking but it is too far for valet parking.  I don’t have strong feelings on the hours.  I would like to hear about the need for expanded hours.  Maybe we should review in a year.

Arreguin. Since we received the goBerkeley analysis would staff please address the results?  So it is more parked up after enforcement hours?  I think the operator is outstanding and I am supportive of a restaurant in this location but concerned about the parking.  The Elmwood and downtown are very different. Can we meet with the operator and work out some additional conditions as we need to address some of these issues.

Wengraf. So there weren’t any no votes at the ZAB?  I am in favor of this project and there are parking issues throughout the city.  We could look at modifying RPP permits and limiting parking to 1 hour in this neighborhood.

Maio. The peak looks like lunch in the weekends and 7-8pm during the week.  We can’t enforce these hours.  I am concerned about the parking.  We have received a lot of support but I want to see what the impacts would be.

Worthington.  This is very similar to the Starbucks but it is also dramatically different.  Starbucks had major opposition from businesses.  The support for this restaurant has been overwhelming from neighbors who would walk there as opposed to Starbucks.  We are voting on the facts.  Evidence by the residents and businesses say that they support the project.  Positives outweigh the detriments.  We need to respect that. There is a preponderance of evidence that it meets the legal standards for parking.  And this surprises me.  This is a compromise from what was originally proposed.

Capitelli. I would not vote for a project that was 10 times worse.  I support this project.  The Starbucks project would have been detrimental all day long at an already congested area.  This is a good project and I agree that it will exacerbate the parking.   We have to weigh all the balances when a project comes before us.  We want to have successful businesses that will also be an amenity to the neighborhood.  There are no common walls to the neighborhood. Hopefully the owners will moderate the noise when leaving the restaurant.

Arreguin. I acknowledge that this is a compromise but parking is an issue and there are some solutions that we can address in goBerkeley and we can address detriment if it becomes an issue.  I will be supporting the restaurant.

Anderson. This is quite different to the issue that was before us for Starbucks.  There is strong support for this restaurant. There is an issue with congestion.  Parking could be addressed through valet but I don’t know how it would work at that intersection.  Needs to be monitored but must be open and honest about the impacts and willing to address them if they occur.


Vote to deny appeal

Unanimous approval


Items 25 & 26. Aquatic park Ancillary Occupant permits

Staff report

Most unique process though Council, Planning and ZAB procedures.  All must approve leases at Aquatic Park.

Public comment

In support of leases for musical theatre Total 8


Unanimous on all leases


Item #29 Opposition to transporting crude oil through Berkeley

Councilmember Maio:

Accept changes in language in the resolution to not allow transport through Berkeley. Video shown of Maio on TV.  80 car trains would travel though East Bay down to San Luis Obispo. Sierra Club comment in EIR says the only route is through these populated areas.


Public Comment

In support of resolution. Total 16


Councilmember Comments

Bates:  I think that we need a dedicated staff assigned to this

Wozniak. If there is a need for additional support I hope staff will come forward so we can address this in the budget process.

Anderson.  There needs to be a broad coalition to oppose the transportation of this oil along this coast and though all the cities.  We are facing leaving large swatches of our community uninhabitable.  The federal government subsidized oil by billions a year even though profits are obscene.  I am looking forward to a successful resistance.



Unanimous approval


Item #27 Audit: Construction Permits

Staff Presentation

Accept report and have city manager report back every 6 months.  Improving service and increasing revenue and reducing theft.

  • Planning must address customers service needs
  • City is taking risk with cash and credit card privacy issues
  • Improve accuracy of information contained within permit department
  • Need to take into account VTO days in scheduling permit completion deadlines
  • Keep tract of performance deviations and causes
  • Switching to new computer program. Currently many input errors and record handling is poor
  • No imaging storage has been completed
  • Using old valuation tables for project costs and not being changed in the system
  • Need to focus on supervision. Not reviewing staff work. Too much time spent at counter.
  • Many plans accepted that are not complete. Must meet submitted criteria.
  • If the process is completed correctly the first time then it improves the additional time to process repeat work.
  • Staff feels they process things to keep from hearing from council members
  • Fraud risk. City must safeguard client information and city assets.  One person should not do everything in the process. Swiping cards is safer than taking information and letting it lay around.

Councilmember Comments

Wengraf.  What is the cause of the delays? What do you mean by equity?

Capitelli. I’m glad you brought up the former task force efforts.  I think we need to use reasonable increases.  Our website is woefully inadequate as to what is required to get a permit. We should be able to get simple permits on line

Arreguin. There have been great improvements but there is room for more

Wozniak,  The software needs to be improved so there’s is less guess work

Vote to followup on audit per recommendation

Unanimous approval


Item #31 Regarding burrowing owls, ground squirrels extermination and missing emails

Maio.  I want to understand the issues at Cesar Chavez Park and the missing emails.


Public comment

In support of not exterminating ground squirrels with toxic chemicals. Total 13


Councilmember comments

Worthington. Item A has been addressed we now have communicated and have a policy of receiving bulk email. I want to move that from the referral.

Maio.  I want to have the City Manager look this over and come back with a plan in two months. And delay the pilot plan.

Wozniak. I will support the substitute motion.  The emails were all identical but sent 6000 times.  Some comments were from Europe.  The place is infested with squirrels.  And it is ok to starve the squirrels but not ok to exterminate them?

Anderson. One of the things I notice is that all the prey birds are gone and they have been replaced by kites.  They are the natural predators.  We need to cultivate the raptors instead of caging.

Bates. Also the dogs keep the birds away.

Arreguin So when this comes back will there be an opportunity to act?


Vote to send to City Manager for investigation and suggested implementation of alternatives



Item # 32. Defer fees for Sequoia apartment building replacement

Bates.  This is a market rate project.  There is no low income housing.  I make a motion to deny this item.


Public comment

Support the delay of paying the fees so the project can be rebuilt quickly.  Total 1


Councilmember Comments

Worthington. This is to allow the delay of fees until the insurance claim is paid.  They are currently coming out of pocket for fees.  Let’s amend it to say the settlement of insurance claims or certificate of occupancy, whichever comes first.

Capetelli. I have another compromise.  There is a lot of information that is missing.  Is there a construction loan?  Was there’re a loan on the property?  There have already been concessions give.  We could defer it and charge him interest.

Wengraf. It is hard for me to understand how 100K will make a difference.  If he doesn’t have the money for this then he cannot build the project.

Vote to deny request

Abstain. Arreguin, Wengraf Anderson

No Worthington

Yes all others