Berkeley Neighborhoods Council
Dedicated to improving the quality of life for all
Special Edition of the BNC eNEWS in Anticipation of Citywide Events Scheduled for July 25, 26, and 27 that Could Impact Your Neighborhood
Important Note: Please read the following about events that could result in traffic problems for most neighborhoods in Berkeley, and please once again, we ask that you distribute this to your own neighborhood and personal e-mail contacts. BNC would like everyone to let us know what you experience during these events, even if you experience nothing that is unusual. Just tell us your location (by street not address), the dates and times. We'll tally up the results and if there are problems, we will work for better planning in the future. Send your comments by e-mail to email@example.com. We will publish a follow up to this article in our next regular eNEWS.
Our eNEWS readers will remember that in April, Panoramic Hill neighborhood representatives wrote about their negotiations with UC regarding the parking structure under Maxwell Field. That story expanded to the news that UC was planning to turn Memorial Stadium into Sproul Plaza East with lots of new activities including a new Visitor's Center that will alone host 150,000 to 160,000 people annually. We can only guess that the driving force here is that someone has to help pay down that $400 million debt to renovate the Stadium!
Along with all of this news, it was announced that Sandy Barbour, UC's Athletics Director for about 10 years will “step-down” from her post in mid-July, and Michael Williams, a former UCB student athlete will take her place. In making the announcement, UCB Chancellor Dirks is quoted as saying:
Whatever that means, we understand that she will work on the development of an academic program in sports management in Berkeley's Extension Program. We are tempted, but will make no comment here.
The big, big news, however, is that the University is scheduled to host one of the games of the Guinness International Champions Cup, Inter Milan vs Real Madrid, at 3:00 pm on July 26, 2014 at California Memorial Stadium (CMS). A practice game will be held the day before on July 25th. While not as big an event as the World's Cup, this is a soccer game between two of the world's biggest clubs and is expected to draw a capacity crowd and be televised internationally. (See our May eNEWS for more background information on this soccer game.)
We posed several questions about what was going to happen and on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 representatives from the City and campus held an informational meeting with residents. On hand were members of the City and UC Police Departments, the City Fire Department, the City Manager's Office, Council Member Gordon Wozniak, and representatives from UCB sports facilities. This is what people were told:
The University states that the project is exempt from CEQA rules because it is an existing facility and it consists of use of an existing structure involving the type of use anticipated at the time the structure was approved and because a capacity sporting event at CMS is similar to activities for which the Stadium has been used for more than the past 3 years.
Up to this time, the City Council has been silent on all of this. On July 8, 2014 a delegation of neighbors went to the City Council meeting and spoke during the time reserved for items not on the agenda. They requested that the City enforce the City's Professional Sports Event License Tax. BNC remembers that this ordinance was approved back in the 70's when it was proposed that CMS would be used by the Oakland Raiders. The ordinance established a annual license tax of 10% on gross receipts for professional sports events. We believe that the tax was challenged in court by the Raiders, and the City was upheld. The neighbors from Panoramic Hill said they came to the meeting to make their request public so that everyone would know. While Brown Act regulations provide that no action can be discussed or taken on items not on the Council's agenda, it has been common practice for a Council Member to request that the City Manager look into whatever subject has come up and report back to the Council. That very action was taken by a Council Member when another speaker raised the issue of foxtails in Cesar Chavez Park. However, in the instance of the tax on the upcoming professional soccer game, there was no referral to the City Manager or other comment from any of the Council Members.