City Council to meet Tuesday to discuss minimum wage

Zainab Ali/Senior Staff

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Berkeley City Council will meet Tuesday to discuss the possibility of placing two minimum wage items on the November ballot, as well as potentially granting landmark status to the Village, a building on Telegraph Avenue.

The two different proposals to increase the minimum wage that the council will look at Tuesday include Item 41 and Item 42. Item 41 was proposed by the Berkeley for Working Families coalition through gathering signatures and the initiative process, and Item 42 was written and proposed by members of the council.

Both proposals raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but Item 41 will raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2017 and continuously increase it until it reaches Berkeley’s current official living wage of $16.37. Item 42 would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said if both proposals are placed on the ballot in November, they could potentially confuse voters. To prevent this outcome, Worthington has moved to adopt Item 42 as an ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We’ve had competing things on the ballot before and they both lose,” Worthington said.

At the meeting, councilmembers will also vote on the landmark status of the Village, a building located at 2556 Telegraph Ave. The Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected a petition to designate the building as a landmark in January, a decision that was later appealed by community members and since pushed back from a city council meeting in May.

Kris Kargo, Berkeley resident and member of group Preserve the Village, has been active in the campaign to grant landmark status to the building, noting that the building was built in 1946 as an auto showroom and later converted to its current form in the 1970s. According to Kargo, the building now serves as a training ground for locals who want to start small businesses.

M Eid Abdallah, the owner of Eids TV and Electronics, a store located in the Village, said when his business moved into the Village two years ago, he agreed to leave within a year if the redevelopment occurred.

“It is a beautiful building,” Abdallah said. “I believe it is a landmark.”

Abdallah described the new buildings in the area as “shoddy” and questioned the necessity of new construction when there are already open storefronts in the area.

At the meeting, council members will also vote to put a measure on the ballot to lower the voting age in school board elections to 16. Another proposal is to create a ballot measure to increase police accountability, including creating a police review commission with the power to hire and release the chief of police.

Council members will also be commenting on the proposed budget, which, according to Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, includes cuts to homeless services and arts programs.

There are several other items for approval on the agenda, including a measure to add chapters to the short-term rental ordinance and adopt its second reading.

The deadline to place items on the November ballot is in early August. Council adjourns for summer recess after July 19, with July being the last opportunity to put additional measures on the ballot.

Contact Mira Chaplin at [email protected].

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