City Council to discuss midyear crime report, council chambers relocation, public transit

Ketki Samel/Staff

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At its regular Tuesday meeting, the City Council plans to discuss the Berkeley Police Department’s midyear crime report, the City Council chambers’ possible move to Addison Street, and a franchise agreement with FlixBus, which could set up a transit system ranging from UC Berkeley’s campus to various California cities.

The council will address the 40 items on the agenda, including a semiannual report on Berkeley crime statistics, in order to inform council efforts on reducing crime and victimization. The newest report charts a decrease in most “Part One” crimes, which include homicide, rape and robbery. Part One property crime decreased by 9.5 percent and Part One violent crime decreased by 18.9 percent. Burglaries and arson, however, increased.

According to the meeting agenda, BPD aimed to reduce Part One crimes this year through engagement in several community events and an upgrade to the BPD computer-aided dispatch system.

BPD also partnered with the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, to encourage recruitment. Councilmember Kriss Worthington said this focus on filling vacancies will be of interest to the council, because he said the city budget could accommodate more officers than are currently employed.

“We need to increase incentives to recruit and hire people,” Worthington said. “That’s a policy the City Council can do something about.”

Full implementation of officer body cameras and an anticipated report on racial disparities in police profiling will also be of public interest, according to Worthington.

The council may also adopt a resolution approving an agreement between the city and BUSD regarding the shared use of BUSD’s newly constructed board room at 1231 Addison St. If the resolution is adopted, meetings of the City Council, the Zoning Adjustments Board, and the Rent Stabilization Board will no longer be held at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

City spokesperson Matthai Chakko said the current chambers are “not adequate,” as they do not provide proper access for disabled persons. Worthington said BUSD designed the board room to fit the council and double the chambers’ occupancy.

The council will also discuss the city manager’s initiation of a franchise agreement with FlixBus, an intercity bus service. If the city enters into the agreement, FlixBus vehicles would stop only on UC property at the West Crescent and serve as a transit line to other cities, according to the meeting agenda. Worthington said this has drawn student support, with Worthington citing it as a “good alternative” to driving or flying that is “much more affordable and better ecologically.”

The council will also hear from the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts about the possibility of a statewide soda tax, and will consider funding additional safety measures for San Pablo Park.

Contact Rachel Barber at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.