Updated: Berkeley Council Candidate Capitelli's Aide Accused of Trespassing at Home of Rent Board Candidate in Search for Signs

By Becky O'Malley
Monday November 05, 2012 - 10:09:00 PM

Alejandro Soto-Vigil, a candidate for the Berkeley Rent Board and aide to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, charged last night that an aide to Councilmember Laurie Capitelli violated state law by entering his private property without permission while Capitelli waited at the site in a car. 

California Penal Code Section 602(k) defines criminal trespassing as entering any property without the owner’s consent with the intent to agitate or intimidate the owner. Conviction of criminal trespassing is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. 

Soto-Vigil said that his wife told him that she saw Councilmember Capitelli, running for re-election against challenger Sophie Hahn in District 5, sitting in a car watching while his aide and campaign manager Pam Gray searched the contents of the Soto-Vigil family’s recycling bin at the side of the house and took photos of the contents. Soto-Vigil said that his wife confronted Gray who then left the premises. 

Soto-Vigil said that he later called Capitelli, who admitted to him that he and Gray had entered the Soto-Vigil property looking for damaged signs. 

Soto-Vigil explained that there were a number of torn-up paper campaign signs in the bin, including some belonging to his allies in the rent board race and to other candidates in various races, which he’d found on the ground while picking up the metal wire holders left after signs were destroyed. He said he re-uses the wires to save a dollar when he replaces his own signs. 

Soto-Vigil filed a police report with the Berkeley Police Department regarding the trespassing incident, but he told the Planet that he doesn’t want to press charges, but is just asking for an apology from Capitelli. 

He said that during this campaign he’d come to regard signs on public property as a public nuisance, and that as a Sierra Club-endorsed candidate he thought he should oppose their use after this election is over. 

Capitelli told the Planet on Tuesday morning that he and Gray were delivering materials to Soto-Vigil's neighbor when they noticed what looked like campaign signs spilling out of the family's recycling bin. He said they'd walked over to take a look, and confirmed that what they saw were indeed signs. He said that they'd decided "for a variety of reasons" not to file a stolen property report accusing anyone of stealing the signs.