At its meeting Tuesday, City Council passed the 2018 budget, unanimously voting on about $425 million in net appropriations.
In addition to the budget, the council also approved item 52, which urges Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood to release the first annual report on data regarding racial discrimination. Greenwood insisted at the meeting that the analysis of the data was “incomplete and in error.”
The meeting began about 7 p.m., but members of the public gathered on the steps of City Hall at 6 p.m. for a press conference to express their views on item 52.
The item calls on Berkeley Police Department to release its report on Fair and Impartial Policing to the Police Review Commission, and thereby release it to the public. Greenwood and the Center for Police Equity, however, still have the right to withhold the information for a 45-day review period.
Key speakers at the press conference included coalition leader Cat Brooks, Peyton Provenzano of Copwatch, Nanci Armstrong-Temple of the Anti-Police Terror Project, Ellen Brotsky of Stop Urban Shield Coalition and Mansour Id-Deen of the Berkeley NAACP.
The report has garnered renewed interest after violence broke out at last week’s City Council meeting. This violence was mentioned by several speakers, most notably Lew Williams, a victim of the violence, who called the event “a police riot.”
According to Brooks, the coalition aims for BPD to end racial profiling, adding that the burden falls to BPD to make plans for accountability.
In addition to item 52, council approved several other agenda items.
The consent calendar was successfully moved to the action calendar for future votes, while an increase in housing mitigation fees levied to housing developers was approved, along with the passing of the city’s 2018 budget.
Mayor Arreguín called his budget “the biggest investment in the homeless in Berkeley’s history.”
Councilmember Sophie Hahn said she was not satisfied with the amount spent on the budget’s signature “Pathways” Project, which intends to alleviate homelessness by creating a pathway to housing and employment.
Hahn also requested the homeless have a seat in the budget making process. Arreguín assured her that there had been great cooperation between budget makers and homeless representatives.
An issue that attracted a great number of public commentary was funding for the Berkeley Art Center. While City Council did not fit it in the budget, Councilmember Kriss Worthington gave $21,000 from his discretionary fund to the art center.
Councilmember Kate Harrison applauded the lack of “horse trading” between district members and general citywide altruism with regards to the budget.
Agenda item 41, which eliminated a discount on the housing mitigation fee and requires it to raise by the rate of inflation, passed with intense and long debate.
Most vocal in her dissent was Councilmember Lori Droste. Droste urged caution on raising fees without adequate data and listed several sources such as an advisor to former president Barack Obama to bolster her argument. Droste abstained from voting on the measure.
Lastly, the council debated and passed agenda item 52. Greenwood addressed the council in-person. He defended his refusal to release the data, citing the “gaps in analysis” and “factual errors” within the report by the Center for Policing Equity. Greenwood said it was always his intention to release the report when it was corrected.
The council voted in favor of releasing the data to the public. Councilmembers Maio and Hahn voted against.
“Accountable policing is not just a phrase,” Id-Deen said.