City Council to discuss items opposing ICE data collection, right-wing extremism

City council meeting takes place.
Francesca Munsayac/File

Related Posts

Two initiatives will be up for a vote at the next Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday — one that seeks to provide protections for immigrants and another that denounces white supremacy.

Also on the slate is a Zoning Adjustments Board appeal to potentially study a residential site that may sit on top of a covered tributary of Strawberry Creek and updates to the city’s Living Wage Ordinance, which guarantees living wages for city-contracted workers.

Originally submitted by former District 7 City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the Sanctuary Contracting Ordinance would bar the city from awarding contracts to companies that either provide data or “extreme vetting services” to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

The ordinance — action item 18 on the agenda — takes aim at companies that collect data on individuals and then sell or provide it to ICE. The ordinance would put in place an annual analysis to ensure city departments comply, and the possibility for legal repercussion against the city if the ordinance is violated.

Item 17 on the action calendar agenda would declare the city’s strong opposition to white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups if passed. Submitted by Councilmembers Cheryl Davila and Ben Bartlett, the resolution references increases in far-right extremist groups and studies that point to their overlooked presence in dialogue surrounding terrorism. The resolution would reinforce the city of Berkeley’s opposition to “bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis.”

Contention over a proposed project at 1155-1173 Hearst Street has to do with its possible situation above a filled-in tributary of Strawberry Creek. While the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board gave the project the green light, nearby residents filed an appeal to have the project undergo environmental review. Developers behind the proposal seek to add on additional units to the duplex structure.

“The reason is that the site is on a buried branch of Strawberry Creek … there is evidence that it is filled with un-engineered unconsolidated fill,” said Hussein Saffouri, a real estate lawyer representing the appellants. “There’s evidence that the project may have environmental impact because of those circumstances.”

In order for the proposed renovations to be done to the property, current tenants would have to be “voluntarily vacated,” a condition that city staff agreed to in order for the project to go ahead. Council members will vote on whether or not to mandate an environmental review for the project.

In 2014, city council referred the Commission on Labor to make changes to the Living Wage Ordinance, which requires businesses contracted by the city to pay their employees above poverty-level wages. Almost five years later, the council will vote on proposed changes.

Proposed changes to the ordinance include changes to ensure “service charges” are received by workers, require employers to retain payroll records and mandate that living wage rates be updated annually and available to employees. A competing proposal from the city recommends only some changes be made so that current contracts would not have to be negotiated.

Brandon Yung is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @brandonyung1.