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Council Set to Receive Report on UC Long Range Plan

Tuesday June 15, 2004

The students might have gone home for the summer, but concerns about UC Berkeley will be front and center at tonight’s (Tuesday, June 15) City Council meeting. 

Just days after councilmembers received a study spelling out UC’s cost to the city in unpaid services and taxes, the council is set to receive the city manager’s still-unreleased final report on the university’s Long Range Development Plan. 

Two weeks ago, city staff joined a chorus of criticism lambasting the university for a plan that—by the year 2020—pro-jects 30 percent more parking spaces, 18 percent more building space, 26 percent more staff, 22 percent more dorm beds, and five percent more students, than UC currently has. 

Among the chief complaints included UC’s intention to build 2,300 new parking spaces, 1,900 of them on property beside the main campus, and 100 new units of faculty housing in the university’s hill campus. In addition, staff questioned the lack of public input in crafting the development plan, and UC’s decision to separate the long range plan for the campus from that of the neighboring Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

If the UC Board of Regents approves the long range development plan as currently proposed, it will cost the city an additional $1.6 million in unpaid services, according to the fiscal impact study released last week.  

Meanwhile, with one week left until the city is scheduled to pass its fiscal year 2005 budget, councilmembers will get a final opportunity to propose amendments to help close the city’s $10.3 million shortfall. Two proposals on the table include a recommendation from Mayor Tom Bates to provide six months of additional funding to several nonprofit community agencies before voters decide on tax measures that could sustain funding for the agencies indefinitely, and a recommendation from Councilmember Dona Spring to restore money to several community organizations and add money for traffic circles and creek restoration. 

At its 5 p.m. work session tonight before the regular meeting, the council will discuss four proposed tax measures for the November ballot that would raise about $7 million. 

At the 7 p.m. meeting, the council is scheduled to conduct six public hearings, five on new fees for ambulance use, fire inspection, marina use, false alarms and animal adoptions, and the sixth on the proposed Berkeley Hills Fire Station.  

Peter and Andrea Cukor have led a long and lonely battle against the proposed fire station at 3000 Shasta Road, which would be built near their home. The couple lost a court battle last year trying to stop construction of the fire house, first planned in 1992, which the Cukors say is poorly designed and not worth the estimated $3 million cost to build. 

The firehouse, which would be paid for with money from a 1992 city bond measure, enjoys widespread community support, however, and the council is expected to deny the Cukors’ appeal of a use permit granted by the city’s Zoning Adjustment Board.  

At tonight’s regular meeting, the council will also get to weigh in on an issue that extends far outside of Berkeley’s city limits.  

The Peace and Justice Commission is asking the council to adopt a resolution to recommend amendment of the federal and state constitutions on corporations. The commission wants the federal and state governments to retract clauses that grant corporations the protections or rights of persons. In addition, the commission wants a declaration that the expenditure of corporate money is not a form of constitutionally protected speech. 

If the council passes the resolution, a copy would be sent to local, state and federal legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. City Manager Phil Kamlarz took no position on the commission’s recommendation.