City Council to consider path to end homelessness, marijuana policy at regular Tuesday meeting

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Berkeley City Council will consider items including a revised plan to counter homelessness in the city and a temporary delay in implementing recreational marijuana ordinances at its regular Tuesday meeting.

The Path to End Homelessness proposal was submitted by the Human Welfare and Community Action Commission, or HWCAC, and recommends that the City Council adopt a resolution that would fight homelessness in a “robust and urgent manner.”

The proposal consists of two parts: assistance to the current homeless population and permanent housing. Recommendations to enhance assistance to the current population, or “critical first lines,” include the installation of a tent or dome structure where services such as medical assistance, mobile showers and job training will also be offered.

Meanwhile, the plan to enhance permanent housing options includes broad recommendations to incentivize — and in some cases mandate providing units to low-income tenants, eliciting the participation of neighboring towns for the construction of new units and partnering with the YMCA and senior citizens’ homes to provide further housing options.

Other provisions of the recommendations include the development of “serious” job training programs to prevent the recurrence of homelessness. Another recommendation is that UC Berkeley expand student housing by developing vacant land.

“Our proposal and recommendations may seem broad and, indeed, overambitious,” reads the summary in the official proposal submitted to the City Council by HWCAC. “But it is also arguable that the homeless crisis has reached today’s overwhelming and near unmanageable proportion because our measures in the past have often proven to be too little and too late.”

A companion report submitted by the city’s Health, Housing and Community Services Department, or HHCS, however, recommends that the City Council take no action on HWCAC’s proposal. HHCS argues that the proposal fails to recognize actions already being taken by the city, as well as the financial and staffing obligations that the plan would demand. As an alternative, HHCS requests that City Council await its own “1,000 person plan,” which it says will provide a housing solution for every person who becomes homeless in the city.

Another proposal that will be considered Tuesday is the Community Health Commission’s recommendation that the City Council delay the implementation of proposed cannabis ordinances until certain health protection measures — including limiting the quantity and scope of retailers, establishing marketing guidelines and prohibiting certain products — have been taken.

HHCS also submitted a companion report recommending that no action be taken, arguing that it was unnecessary to delay “all forward movement” and that various city departments are already considering regulations surrounding the implementation of the recreational cannabis regulation.

Also on the docket Tuesday are items concerning the enhancement of protections for whistleblowers and the creation of a working group to coordinate the actions of Bay Area sanctuary communities.

Contact Alex Teodorescu at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @AlexTeodorescu8.