Meeting Tomorrow Morning:
Trump Tax Cuts and Affordable Housing

Kate Harrison, Berkeley City Council, District 4
Wednesday February 19, 2020 - 09:32:00 PM

At tomorrow’s Land Use Policy Committee, we will discuss requiring on-site inclusionary units in Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). I introduced this item and it is co-sponsored by all Councilmembers who represent QOZs – myself, Councilmember Davila, and Councilmember Bartlett.

The meeting is tomorrow, Thursday February 20 at 10:30am on the 6th floor of 2180 Milvia.

Qualified Opportunity Zones are census tracts designated as “economically distressed” in the 2017 Trump tax cuts. Housing projects built in these zones see massive federal tax relief, including deferring upfront capital gains taxes, forgiving taxes on the proceeds of the sale of the building, and more. All told, the Congressional Research Service says that projects can increase investment by 70%! Berkeley is going to see projects across the Downtown, South Berkeley, and Southwest Berkeley that will generate huge profits, and the City has a responsibility to recapture some of these profits by strengthening affordability requirements and preventing displacement in these low-income areas.

Berkeley has long required that new buildings include 20% affordable units, but we have provided the option to pay a fee instead of building the units. Developers typically choose the fee because it costs less, or utilize the state density bonus to provide 10% of units at a single level of affordability, then pay a fee for the rest. This means that affordable housing is built more slowly and in separate nonprofit buildings, rather than integrated in with market rate units. The courts have upheld a city’s right to require onsite units, rather than always paying the fee.

The City of Berkeley is facing two issues: the federal government is providing tax relief to gentrify low-income neighborhoods, and we need more affordable housing. The item I am introducing seeks to have these problems solve one another by requiring affordable units be built onsite by those projects that can most afford to do so because they are receiving these tax breaks. We are not changing the percentage or otherwise altering the affordability requirements, but rather ensuring that affordable units actually get built in these neighborhoods.

I hope you will join me in supporting this important piece of legislation. -more-

Inclusionary Units Belong in Opportunity Zones:
An open letter to Berkeley City Council

Erin Diehm
Wednesday February 19, 2020 - 09:41:00 PM

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend tomorrow's meeting of the Land Use, Housing, & Economic Development Committee to speak during public comment. I am, therefore, writing to express my strong enthusiastic support for Item 2, "Inclusionary Units in Qualified Opportunity Zones".

I want Berkeley to do everything in its power to allow people of all economic levels to live in the buildings funded by these QOZ incentives. I am deeply concerned that allowing developers to pay in-lieue fees effectively ghetto-izes lower income housing, pushing it further away from BART and other transit options. Our service workers, teachers, barristas, musicians and artists should be able to live near transit and other amenities, in buildings with people of all economic means, from high-income to low. Your proposal helps address these concerns and I enthusiastically support it. -more-

Page One

Officer-involved Shooting, BART El Cerrito del Norte Closed

Kathleen Kirkwood
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 05:02:00 PM

One person was wounded in an officer-involved shooting Saturday afternoon at the El Cerrito del Norte Station, BART officials said. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to Berkeley City Officials
Re: Accessibility problems at the Pathways STAIR Center

Mary Behm-Steinberg
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:58:00 PM

Dear Mr. Kapfer,

I'm writing to you to address the illegal construction at Pathways, which is in violation of federal law and the city code meant to bring us into compliance with federal law. I'm copying and pasting the problems, which I've already raised with Council, the Mayor, the City Manager's Office, Mr. Burroughs, and Mr. Buddenhagen, as well as the Disability Coordinator and the secretaries of the Homeless and Welfare Commissions, and I'm trying to find out what the path to approval looked like so that we can avoid problems like this in the future, both in terms of the humiliation and injury they are causing to residents at the center and in terms of wasted taxpayer money and the possibility of lawsuits that this is opening up. I would like to know who issued the final approval; whether or not there was a CASp certified consultant or inspector involved, and what the process was from the design stage to approval. I'm hoping that you can share that with me as soon as possible, but hopefully no later than Wednesday afternoon because it will be a topic of discussion at the HWCAC meeting.

The prior messages show the crux of the issue. I was referred to you by the Planning Department.

Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter. I left you a phone message earlier, and you can also reach me by phone at (510) 526-7259 during regular business hours, but this is a landline so no text.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Mary Behm-Steinberg -more-

The Democrats' Dysfunctional Family Circus: Why Not Let the Kid Drive?

Michael Katz
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:49:00 PM

Like everyone from progressive Democrats to ex-Republican Never-Trumpers, I'm queasy about the Democrats' ability to settle on a candidate who can dump Trump. Or to even settle on a candidate.

But I've identified the root of my own queasiness: The Democratic presidential field feels like family. And not in a good way. They feel like relatives, neighbors, or childhood authority figures who definitely have positive qualities, but whose negatives are gratingly familiar.

Sure, I'd vote for any of them (or for Siba the Westminster-winning Standard Poodle) over Trump. But I'd plant myself at the opposite end of the table at a family dinner to avoid talking to several of them. Wouldn't you? -more-

A Short and Depressing Course On Tax Policy

Harry Brill
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:41:00 PM

1. According to the Republicans in Congress, the auditing practices of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are much too harsh on the big corporations and the wealthy. So to reduce the number of audits of those with lots of money, Congress has cut the budget every year for the last eight years. But have these cuts really been significant? Yes, indeed. Since 2010 there has been 675,000 fewer audits. That is a whopping 42 percent reduction. As the IRS auditing continues to decline every year the news gets better for the rich. -more-

President Corleone

Tejinder Uberoi
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 03:11:00 PM

Following a sham impeachment trial with the Senate packed with his enablers, President “Corleone” Trump, the Godfather, continues to trash the US Constitution. He makes a complete mockery of the critical clause, “equal justice under law,” to favor his friends and punish his enemies. -more-

Smoking in Dispensaries:Letter to the Berkeley City Council

Carol Denney
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:56:00 PM

Dar Berkeley City Council,

I appreciate the revisions made to the dispensary regulations at the last City Council meeting, which recognize that flavored products are playing a large role in the underage smoking epidemic in California, an epidemic even higher in the City of Berkeley's current underage population and disproportionately targeted toward communities of color.

But the current regulations still allow involuntary exposure to employees and customers by allowing on-site consumption, something the tobacco, marijuana, and vaping industries have been trying to re-introduce into workplaces for decades. Only about half of the states in the nation have smokefree worker protections, and their disease rates show it. Many dispensary customers wish to have safe access to products such as creams, oils, patches, lozenges, etc., but do not use any combustible forms of cannabis and will risk exposure to secondhand smoke and emissions if they enter a dispensary with on-site consumption, since there is no effective ventilation or air filtration system which can remove small particulates (see ASHRAE Position Document below). This industry warning was updated only six months ago to ensure that no legislation suggests that ventilation is an effective safety measure, as Berkeley's impending regulations from the Cannabis Commission currently, erroneously, do.

All Berkeley renters who use combustible medical marijuana can legally smoke in their units, and have no need of on-site smoking as many of the City Council erroneously stated: -more-

February Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Monday February 17, 2020 - 10:21:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-

Delete Facebook

Tejinder Uberoi
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 03:22:00 PM

There is little doubt that Mark Zuckerberg and his flagship, Facebook, propelled Donald Trump to victory in 2016 and is likely to repeat the favor in 2020. He has left the door wide open for Russian trolls and other fake news. His partners in crime are Twitter and Google who generate $billions in political advertising making little effort policing its content. They engage in blatant theft of users’ personal data to bombard them with advertising to maximize their profits. But Facebook is by far the worst villain in amplifying political messages. -more-

Why Bernie Needs to Straighten Up His Act

Gar Smith
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:19:00 PM

I hate to be the one to say it but, if Bernie Sanders wants to stand up for America, he's got to do something about his posture. -more-


It's Primary Time: Get on Board

Becky O'Malley
Monday February 10, 2020 - 05:36:00 PM

UPDATE on Valentine's Day: The New Hampshire primary didn't change much. The newsies, bless their tiny hearts, are desperate to turn the race into a two-team clash of cultures, but really the modest voting pools in two small White states are being wildly over-interpreted. I still recommend voting for the person best qualified to actually be president, and that's still Warren. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Irish Elections & Unification

Conn Hallinan
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:28:00 PM

The victory by Ireland’s leftwing Sinn Fein Party in the Republic’s recent election has not only overturned some 90 years of domination by the island’s two center-right parties, it suddenly puts the issue of Irish reunification on the agenda. While the campaign was fought over bread and butter issues like housing, the collapsing health care system, and homelessness, a united Ireland has long been Sinn Fein’s raison d’être. In the aftermath, Party leaders called for a border referendum on the subject. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Evaluating the Democratic Candidates

Bob Burnett
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:22:00 PM

We're heading towards March 3rd, "Super Tuesday," and the race for the Democratic presidential nomination remains competitive. A field of 29 candidates has been winnowed to eight: Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Peter Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, and Elizabeth Warren. Here's my evaluation of the Democratic survivors. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: A Dilemma: Miss an Essential Appointment or Drive Impaired

Jack Bragen
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:10:00 PM

As adults living in a developed country, most of us have had to drive in an emergency. It might mean taking a sick person to a doctor, taking a sick beloved pet to a veterinary clinic, or even evacuating when under the threat of a hurricane or a fire. -more-


Ralph E. Stone
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:43:00 PM

“Brexit” is a shorthand word combining two words — ”Britain” and “exit” —for the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

The Brexit vote was conducted in 2013, when then United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister David Cameron was looking ahead to his re-election. He did not want to lose too many voters to an anti-European Union political party. So he promised, if re-elected, to hold a referendum on whether Britain would stay in the European Union (EU) or not. He said that the referendum would have just have two options — in or out and that it would be binding.

When Cameron made that promise, he and his advisers believed it would be a relatively low-risk ploy to deal with a short-term political problem. It turned out to be a gross miscalculation. The June 23, 2016 referendum to leave won 51.89%. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:25:00 PM

Stamp Out Breast Cancer

During a visit to Berkeley's Main Post Office this week, I overheard the following exchange between a young USPS clerk and an older male customer.

He: "I'd like some stamps."

She: "Here's our selection."

He (pointing to the "Fund the Fight; Find a Cure" stamps in her right hand): "I'd like those, please."

She: "So you want breast cancer?"

He: "Whoa! Nobody wants breast cancer!"

She (shocked): "What? You don't support breast cancer?!"

He: "No, but I do support finding a cure for breast cancer…."

Tension defused.

Those Political Ads

Forget the John Kerry rumors, I'm starting to wonder if Barack Obama is being considered as a late-minute replacement for would-be president Joe Biden? It's no surprise that Barack Obama is invoked in Biden's ads but that's not where Barackomania ends. With increasing frequency, Obama keeps popping up in TV ads for other members of the current batch of Democratic contenders—Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer, Tulsi Gabbard (and their less-well-known rivals, Deval Patrick and Eric Jaye). -more-


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar: Feb. 16-23

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday February 15, 2020 - 02:16:00 PM

Worth Noting and Showing Up:

The most important thing you can do to save the last shreds of this Democracy is to vote and to reach out to help, encourage, push, people to register especially in other states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan. Check www.rockthevote.org for quick reference.

February 18 is the last day to Register to Vote for the March 3, CA primary, https://registertovote.ca.gov Use the same link to check your registration. If you are a permanent absentee voter you should already have your ballot. The Ballot Collection box in front of City Hall on Milvia is ready for your ballot.

Monday, President’s Day – Bernie is coming to Richmond for a noon rally

Tuesday – Council Facilities, Infrastructure Committee is meeting Tuesday at 2 pm not Thursday

Wednesday – Governor Newsom gives State of the State address at 10:30 am, The next Democratic Debate is Wednesday, 6 pm, NBC and MSNBC, the debates are always available live online from multiple sources if you do not have access to NBC or MSNBC,

Thursday – Land Use 10:30 am includes requiring inclusionary affordable units in Opportunity Zones, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board 7 pm, presentations Moms 4 Housing and Redlining.

The agenda for the February 25 City Council meeting is available for review and follows the list of meetings.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

No City meetings or events found

Monday, February 17, 2020 - Presidents’ Day Holiday

Bernie Get Out The Vote Rally, 12 p – 2 pm, doors open 10 am, Where: Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way S, Richmond, CA, 94804


Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 4 – 5 pm at the Top of Solano in front of the Closed Oaks Theater, Rain Cancels -more-