City Council discusses funding allocations, Adeline Street zoning agreement

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Joshua Jordan/Staff

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Berkeley City Council passed the city staff recommendation on the funding allocation for community agencies in the upcoming financial year, among other items at its Tuesday meeting.

The goals presented by staff members intend to fund programs that align with the city’s priority initiatives, such as the 2020 Vision and the Homeless Coordinated Entry System, as well as programs that serve the lowest-income Berkeley residents and produce immediate and direct benefits. The total amount of available funding for the 2018 financial year is about $7.7 million, according to the presentation.

The city manager and four city commissions agreed on 91 out of 100 funding recommendations. The Homeless Commission disagreed with nine out of 42 of the city manager’s recommendations — the only commission to diverge from the proposed allocations.

Christina Murphy, a Rent Stabilization Board commissioner, praised the attention given to homeless services, such as the proposed increase from five to seven days per week of shower access at Berkeley’s Multi-Agency Service Center, as well as agencies providing resources such as identification and addresses.

“It’s important that (these agencies are) funded so they can continue to provide the supportive services to the people that are underserved,” Murphy said at the meeting.

The council also held a divisive discussion on the project proposed for 2902 Adeline St. — a 14,065 square foot, 52-unit apartment complex — that came down to two motions: one to send the appeal back to the Zoning Adjustments Board and one to approve the revised project. Both motions failed to acquire enough votes to pass, with discussion on the appeal suspended until May 2.

Jonathan Morris, external affairs vice president of the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly, argued for the necessity of access to additional housing, explaining that students, for the most part, don’t benefit from rent control. Richie Smith, a longtime South Berkeley resident, alleged that the developer of the Adeline property, Realtex, is a “speculator” only looking to make money.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín said that during a debate March 7, he had been under the impression that the project developer would be willing to offer nine units of a variety of low income housing. During the meeting, however, Realtex Executive Vice President Cody Fornari said the current number of units was up in the air and that the previously presented numbers were not feasible for the company.

Councilmember Sophie Hahn questioned Fornari’s statement, saying that “it really (takes her) breath away.”

“I just want to say that this is not a game,” Hahn said at the meeting. “It may feel like that, but this is about us deciding to give you a concession to which you are not necessarily entitled and trying to meet the needs of the community.”

The council also unanimously passed a motion connected to Wells Fargo at the meeting, setting into play a possible one-year contract with the bank. The motion, introduced by Councilmember Kriss Worthington, requests that the city manager initiate talks with Wells Fargo about the possibility of a one-year extension to replace the three-year extension currently specified in the contract.

Recently, Wells Fargo has faced criticism for its investment in companies funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL.

Cynthia Papermaster, a member of the Indivisible Berkeley Economic Justice team, argued for divestment from Wells Fargo, ending her comment by pulling a dog tunnel, meant to represent a pipeline, out of a bag and placing it on a table before the council.

“What happens to these things?” Papermaster said. “They leak and they pollute the water and the air, so I’m just telling you right now that we have to do everything we can — we can’t delay.”

Edward Booth covers city government. Contact Edward Booth at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.