Two Berkeley artists awarded a $100,000 commission to install a on San Pablo Avenue streetlight poles will give a presentation about their project at the El Cerrito City Council's bimonthly meeting tonight, Tuesday, one of several items on the evening's agenda.
The project – which will be the city's most prominent example of public art – is being created by the wife-and-husband team of Saori Ide and Jonathan Russell. A city staff report on the project (attached to this article) says the installation is expected to take seven months and be completed by the end of this year.
The project from the city's Arts and Culture Commission on March 22.
Measure K parcel tax for schools
Also before the council tonight is a resolution to support Measure K, a June 5 ballot measure to extend and increase the current parcel tax for West Contra Costa schools.
The current tax, first adopted by voters in 2004 and renewed with 79-percent voter approval in 2008, is 7.2 cents per square foot of building area and is due to expire June 30, 2014. The new tax would be increased to 10 cents a square foot, effective July 1 this year and last five years.
At a special joint meeting of the City Council and West Contra Costa Unified School District board on April 3, schools Superintendent Bruce Harter said the tax would cost the typical El Cerrito homeowner "a little more than $3 a month" in addition to what is currently being paid. Seniors would be exempt.
"Choose Civility" resolution
Mayor Bill Jones and Janet Abelson are proposing that the council adopt a resolution endorsing the "Choose Civility" initiative to promote "activities that demonstrate to the public the importance of civility.
The proposal follows a Jan. 5 letter to Jones from the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Joseph Ovick saying that he planned to launch a campaign this spring for the initiative. (His letter and the proposed council resolution are attached to this article.)
"I arrived at the decision that this initiative is jmportant and especially needed at this time when I realized that in today's world there are very few public figures thai demonstrate civility, whether it be on television, the radio, or other forms of media," Ovick's letter said. "Civility is a core value of a well-functioning community, and quality of life depends on how people treat each other."
He cited the work of Johns Hopkins University Professor P.M. Forni, author of the 2002 book, Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct. A number of various local communities have endorsed similar campaigns.
Ohlone Gardens affordable housing project
The council also is being asked to approve a change in the planned 57-unit Ohlone Gardens affordable housing project, following the withdrawal of one of the two partnering organizations. The project – to be located on Portola Drive near San Pablo Avenue – was designed to include 10 units for special-needs students from the Hatlen Center for the Blind, but Hatlen has been obliged to withdraw because it was unable to meet its fundraising goals for the effort, according to a city staff report (attached to this article).
The remaining partner, Resources for Community Development (RCD), proposes the 10 special needs units be "occupied by five households with persons living with HIVIAIDS and five households with mental health consumers," according to the staff report. The revised plan, would would change the timeline and funding mechanisms, also would expand the range of funding opportunities, according to the report.
Proclamation honoring Cynthia LeBlanc
Also on the council agenda is a proclamation commending Cynthia LeBlanc of Richmond on her selection as the chair of the American Cancer Society's national board of directors and as the winner of the St. George National Award, the society’s highest honor.
LeBlanc, a long-time American Cancer Society volunteer, grew up in Berkeley, earned her Ph.D. at the University of San Francisco and worked as a teacher and administrator in public schools. She is the first African American to chair the society's national board.