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Berkeley Today

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday May 17, 2010 - 09:18:00 PM

In the news today: Bayer Pharmaceutical’s announcement of a new Innovation Center will not change anything for its Berkeley campus, the Berkeley City Council tonight (Tuesday) will consider an Arizona travel ban and a request for continuation for reconsideration of the Berkeley Iceland landmark designation. 

Bayer to open Innovation Center in Mission Bay 

Bayer’s announcement Tuesday about opening a new Innovation Center in Mission Bay will not change the pharmaceutical company’s operations in Berkeley, company spokesperson Cathy J. Keck Anderson said. The employees moving to the U.S. Innovation Center are currently based in Richmond. 

The Innovation Center will introduce a newly formed “Science Hub” for innovation sourcing in the country creating collaborations with academic research scientists and small biotech firms to “realize product development and commercialization of new therapies through partnerships with Bayer.” The U.S. Innovation Center will house Bayer scientists who carry out the company’s hematology research program focused on coagulation factors and the discovery of novel biologic drug candidates. 

This is the second time in less than a year that Bayer has decided to invest in the Bay Area. In September, Bayer decided to stay on at its Aquatic Park campus in Berkeley and invest $100 million in Kogenate research in exchange for tax incentives. 

Berkeley City Council to consider Arizona travel ban 

The Berkeley City Council will vote today on whether to denounce the Arizona State Senate Bill 1070 and call for a boycott of the state and businesses based there. The council will also vote on whether to ban all non-essential travel by city employees and officials to Arizona. According to a report from Councilmembers Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin and Darryl Moore, ‘the bill requires police “when practicable” to detain people they “reasonably suspect” are in the country without authorization; allows the police to charge immigrants with a state crime for not carrying immigration documents; creates a private right of action to sue cities upon belief that the government has a policy or practice that restricts immigration law enforcement; and makes it a crime to stop on a public street to attempt to hire a temporary worker.” The report from the councilmembers warns that the illegal immigration bill will “inevitably lead to racial profiling, jeopardize public safety and create a wedge between law enforcement and ethnic communities.” 

Berkeley to revisit large home family daycare fees 

The Berkeley City Council will vote on whether to direct the City Manager to review the business license and zoning regulations related to large, in-home family daycare businesses and return to the council with 

1. Defines “large family in-home day cares” as per the state of CA; 

2. Establishes a flat rate for an annual business license fee of $150; 

3. Exempts large family in-home daycares from paying business license registration, past due fees and any fines accrued prior to January 2010 but requires such fees from January 1, 2010 on; 

4. Proactively works with BALDCOA, Bananas, and current providers to develop a method of providing new and existing childcare licensees with information about the city ordinances; 

5. Exempts large family in home daycares operating before January 1, 2010 from the requirement to obtain an AUP. 

City Council to consider continuation of Berkeley Island landmark status 

The City Council will also vote on whether to continue the reconsideration of the Berkeley Iceland as a City of Berkeley landmark. Iceland’s owners East Bay Iceland (EBI) are asking for a six month continuation to consider proposals for the site. 

After Berkeley Iceland was designated a city landmark in 2007 by the City Council, its owners challenged the decision in court. On Nov. 20, 2009, the California Superior Court of Alameda County passed a judgment that settled the lawsuit. 

The settlement requires that the council rescind its 2007 action and hold a new, duly noticed, public hearing to reconsider EBI’s appeal of the landmarking. Although a hearing was originally set for Jan. 19, 2010, a request from Save Berkeley Iceland, the group trying to buy the property, and EBI, the council continued it to May 18, 2010. 

On May 4, representatives of EBI requested another continuation during which they will seek proposals to purchase and develop the property and may enter into a contract for sale.