Regular Meeting of the Waterfront Commission
November 10, 1999
Chair Wolgast called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
1. ROLL CALL
COMMISSIONERS PRESENT: Kamen, Smith, Kawczynska, Minasian,
Wolgast, Cobb, Wozniak
2. PUBLIC COMMENT
Mr. Scott Seebass, President of the Berkeley Hang Gliding Club, said that he had received a positive response from the general public on the Hang Gliding Club’s use of Cesar Chavez Park. He said that the only complaint he had received was from a cyclist whose path was momentarily blocked during the hang gliding lessons. He said that the public had been cooperative and that as many as fifteen people at a time had observed the hang gliding. He asked the Commission to renew the club’s permission to use the park indefinitely.
Mr. Joe Kurtz, a member of the Hang Gliding Club, said that he had attended all four of the hang gliding sessions, and that there had been no serious problems.
Mr. Nord Andresen, a hang gliding instructor, said that the club’s park activity was strictly instructional and did not involve extended flying.
Mr. Mac Phillips, a berther with a boat in dry storage, said that if staff’s rate increase proposal is implemented his rates will increase by 44% while some rates will not increase at all. He said that he supported a fee increase, but wished the increase would be more widely distributed among berthers. He said that because dry storage requires almost no maintenance by Marina staff, a sharp fee increase for dry storage is not justified.
Mr. Bob Griffiths noted that the monthly vacancy report had not been issued for November. He said that completion of the F& G docks took longer than expected and that the cost overrun was equal to the shortfall in the Marina budget. He said the charge of $15.00 for electronic keys was too much.
Ms. Joy Church spoke about the proposed fee increase for dry storage. She said that she has kept a very small boat in dry storage for four years, and that if the proposed increase is adopted her costs will have doubled since she first put her berth in dry storage. She said that the proposed $55 a month fee would price her out of the Marina. She said that the price increase was not warranted because the Marina did not provide maintenance or other services for the dry storage area and because dry storage is not full.
Paul Kamen, speaking as a member of the public, said that he basically supported the proposal, which he said brings the rate structure more in line with the market. He objected to the dock box charge, which he said compromised the progressive nature of the proposal.
Mr. Paul Canin asked if the fee structure for floating homes was still in place. He objected strongly to the Marina’s paying for the Fourth of July fireworks display. He suggested that berthers sign a petition objecting to this expenditure from the Marina Fund.
Mr. Amaha Kassa of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy spoke in support of the Living Wage agenda item. He explained the concept of a living wage and said that over 35 counties and cities nationwide had adopted similar ordinances. He said that passage of the ordinance would effect approximately 200 employees at the Berkeley Marina Radisson Hotel, including housekeepers and front desk staff. He urged the Commission to support the living wage proposal.
Mr. Brij Misra, manager of the Berkeley Marina Radisson Hotel, said that he supported a living wage but strongly objected to the proposed living wage motion on the Commission’s agenda because it singled out the Radisson and did not mention other employers. He said that the Radisson’s pay scale was higher than Hs. Lordships Restaurant. He said that it was unfair to single out only one of the Marina’s business establishments. He said any living wage proposal should apply equally to all businesses at the Marina.
3. APPROVAL OF AGENDA AND MINUTES
The Fee Increase item was made the last action item. Mention of the Radisson Hotel was removed from the Living Wage agenda item. With these changes the agenda was approved unanimously. The minutes were approved with two abstentions.
4. LIVING WAGE
Commissioner Smith introduced his living wage motion. He said he had decided to introduce it after learning that the Commission on Labor had been working on a living wage proposal which it plans to recommend to the City Council by the end of the year or early next year. He acknowledged that it would have been a better proposal if he had not mentioned the Radisson Hotel, and he apologized to Mr. Misra. He said that the Commission might eventually consider taking other action with regard to the relationship between Radisson hotel management and its staff, but that relations between management and employees should remain a separate issue from the living wage proposal.
Commissioner Kamen asked what impact the living wage recommendation being considered by the Commission on Labor would have on employees at nonprofit organizations. He said that employees of nonprofits were generally not the type of low-wage employee that living wage laws were designed to help. Commissioner Smith said that the proposal was still being formulated and that the needs of nonprofit organizations would be considered.
Commissioner Minasian asked how a living wage requirement would effect businesses with narrow profit margins. He asked whether businesses should be obliged to pay higher than the minimum wage if it forced them to become unprofitable. He said he was concerned that a living wage law implied regulation of a company’s profits. Commissioner Smith said the same was true of state and federal minimum wage laws. He said that a living wage was a reasonable adjustment to require of employers. He said “it morally makes sense for the workers that we know at the Berkeley Marina to make more than they do”. Commissioner Kawczynska asked whether the law would apply only to businesses with a certain number of employees. Commissioner Smith said that he thought the living wage requirement currently being considered by the Commission on Labor would apply to businesses with contracts involving more than $25,000 in City money or more than ten employees.
Commissioner Kawczynska asked Mr. Kassa for the union’s position on the living wage. Mr. Kassa said that the workers at the Radisson are organizing for a variety of reasons including better wages. He said that their wages are more properly compared with other “Class A” hotels than with restaurants like Hs. Lordships. He said that many of the Radisson’s workers would be covered by the living wage ordinance now being considered.
Commissioner Minasian asked Mr. Kassa if the Radisson Hotel offered employees an annual wage increase. Mr. Kassa said that the Union has alleged that when workers began to organize, wages were increased in an attempt to dissuade workers from unionizing. He said that the recent wage increase “may not be reflective of the wage increases over time.”
Commissioner Minasian asked Mr. Misra whether the Radisson offered its employees annual wage increases. Mr. Misra said that the low rate of unemployment obliged employers, including the Radisson, to give annual wage increases. Commissioner Minasian asked if the hotel’s pay increases were based on the cost of living or merit. Mr. Misra said that since 1990 the hotel has offered a 2 to 5 percent annual wage increase based on both performance and merit. Commissioner Minasian said that he had met employees who told him that they had not had a raise in a decade. Mr. Misra said that was ”totally false”, and he offered to open employee files to prove that the Radisson provided annual wage increases. Commissioner Minasian said that employees might be asked to attend a subsequent meeting to determine whether they receive annual raises.
Mr. Misra said that he had come to the meeting to respond to the living wage issue, not to speak on the subject of management/employee relations. He said that if the hotel had not been mentioned in the living wage agenda item he would not have attended the meeting. Commissioner Kawczynska invited Mr. Misra to attend the Commission’s meetings more regularly, not only when the Radisson was a specific agenda item. Commissioner Wozniak asked whether the recommendation would be binding. Commissioner Smith said that it was a recommendation to the City Council who had ultimate authority to adopt or not adopt a living wage ordinance. He said that he was making his motion in anticipation of the proposal expected from the Commission on Labor.
Motion: MSC (Smith/Cobb)
Whereas the Berkeley Waterfront Commission has been charged with the task of seeing that the resources of the Berkeley Waterfront and Marina are stewarded in a manner that preserves them and maximizes their benefit to the public; and
Whereas, City of Berkeley enters into leases and agreements with private entities to use public lands; and
Whereas such leases and agreements sometimes result in the payment by these entities to their employees of wages at or slightly above the minimum required by federal and state minimum wage laws; and
Whereas, such inadequate compensation does not serve the interests of the City of Berkeley and its citizens in promoting a healthy and productive workforce and combating poverty; and
Whereas, such inadequate compensation fails to provide employees with resources sufficient to afford life in the City of Berkeley; and
Whereas, in requiring the payment of a higher minimum level of compensation, a Living Wage Ordinance would benefit the interests of the City of Berkeley and its citizens; and
Whereas, over 35 cities, counties, and other jurisdictions across the United States have adopted Living Wage Ordinances;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Berkeley Waterfront Commission calls upon the Berkeley City Council to move expeditiously to adopt a Living Wage Ordinance; and
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED that the Berkeley Waterfront Commission urges the Berkeley City Council to ensure that any such Living Wage Ordinance covers those workers at the Berkeley Marina who are most in need at the earliest possible date.
Ayes: Kamen, Smith, Kawczynska, Minasian, Cobb, Wozniak. Noes: Wolgast. Abstentions: None. Absent: Windham, Felix.
5. Hang Gliding at Cesar Chavez Park
Cliff Marchetti introduced the Berkeley Hang Gliding’s Club’s request to continue to use Cesar Chavez park for Hang Gliding lessons and demonstrations and recruitment. He said that the Marina’s administration had not received any complaints. He said that he preferred that permission be granted for one year, not indefinitely as requested by the Club. Commissioner Kawczynska asked if Marina staff had monitored the activity, if there had been any damage done to the Park and if the club had posted notices prior to the events. Cliff Marchetti said that staff had not monitored the hang gliding and that notices had not been posted. He said that no damage had been reported. Commissioner Kawczynska asked that in the future the public be notified.
Motion: MSC (Kamen/Minasian). To renew the Berkeley Hang Gliding Club’s permission to conduct hang gliding lessons and demonstrations for four to six weekends during the coming year. Ayes: Kamen, Smith, Minasian, Cobb, Wolgast, Wozniak Noes: none. Abstentions: Kawczynska. Absences: Windham, Felix.
6. The Marina Budget
Commissioner Wolgast recalled that in the past the Marina Fund had maintained balances of between one and three million dollars, the interest on which was removed from the Marina Fund. Commissioner Smith distributed the latest version of his spreadsheet depicting Marina budget projections showing a return of the fund balance to 1,000,000 over the course of the next several years. He said that the fund balance had been greatly reduced since 1998 by several capital improvement and maintenance projects and the Marina Plan.
Commissioner Wolgast asked Commissioner Smith if he had spoken with the Finance Department about the idea of maintaining a million-dollar fund balance. Commissioner Smith said that although the Finance Department’s budgeting practices did not include projecting a specific fund balance, such a projection was important from a planning perspective. He said that the “revenue needed” line item in his spreadsheet, which was useful for planning purposes, was not a Finance Department budgeting practice. He said the Commission will have to identify the source of funds so that they can be included in the City budgeting process.
Commissioner Smith said the Preliminary Design Concept will require revenues above those already needed to maintain the Marina. He said that his projections included a $25,000 annual matching grant expenditure for the many Plan projects slated for grant funding.
Commissioner Cobb said that if the Park and Water Bonds on the March ballot are approved the Marina will have access to additional funds. She said the money could be used as matching funds for other funding sources. Cobb mentioned the Environmental Enhancement Program whose deadline she thought was November 15. She offered to discuss a grant application to the program.
Cliff Marchetti said the Marina has planned about $7 million dollars in projects to be funded by loans from the Department of Boating and Waterways.
Commissioner Cobb asked if the City had approached its state legislators for a special budget augmentation. Cliff Marchetti said that the City’s Departments could not make such an approach on an individual basis. He said Waterfront staff and the Commission would have to work with the City Manager’s office to coordinate an approach. Commissioner Wolgast said that representatives from the offices of State Assemblymember Dion Aroner and State Senator Don Perata had attended a recent CESP meeting to determine what the organization’s needs were and to offer help. He said the Marina should do something similar. Commissioner Cobb said that the Marina could probably obtain an augmentation of as much as $5,000,000 for next year if the City Council approved.
Commissioner Minasian said that the Marina should approach the City Manager with the request. He said that the Council had implied by its approval of the Design Concept that the Marina should begin looking for funding. Commissioner Cobb said the Commission and staff should go through appropriate channels but should move quickly to determine how much funding the Marina needed and approach the City Manager’s office with a request that the City ask for a budget augmentation through its state representatives. Commissioner Smith concurred. Cliff Marchetti offered to arrange the appropriate meetings.
7. MARINA PLAN
Commissioner Wolgast reviewed the City Council meeting at which the Marina Plan Preliminary Design Concept was approved. He said that the Concept was well received. He said that the Design Concept was approved with the understanding that more emphasis would be placed in the actual Marina Plan on implementation of improvements to wildlife habitat. Cliff Marchetti reported on the next steps in the Marina Plan process. He said a draft Plan would be ready by March. Commissioner Wolgast said that it was important to schedule subcommittee meetings with the planners, and keep Council members informed as the Marina Plan develops.
8. COMMUNITY GARDENS
Cliff Marchetti said that he, Commissioner Felix, Patty Jeffery and a representative from community gardens met to discuss whether the Marina Plan could include Community Gardens at the Marina. He said that the draft Marina Plan would include discussion of a Community Garden at the Marina without designating a specific site. He said that once the Plan is adopted the Commission could decide on specifics. Commissioner Kawczynska asked if the use of the gardens would be only for live aboards.
Cliff Marchetti reported that the City Attorney’s office has finished its analysis of the possible ban on jet skis and that staff would report on it at the December meeting.
Commissioner Wolgast said that he was dismayed with the amount of concrete used in the planner’s design of the I-80 Overcross touchdown plaza in Aquatic Park, and by other aspects of the plaza’s design which he said present safety hazards. He presented an alternative design. He said that his design provided a more natural setting and eliminated the safety hazards. Commissioner Kawczynska said that there was very little green area near the touchdown plaza. She said that it was mostly a parking lot. She said she was reluctant to recommend Commissioner Wolgast’s design because it did not include engineering or design specifications. She said that her understanding was that Bayer had contributed $150,000 for the touchdown plaza. She asked why that money could not be used to improve the current design. Commissioner Wolgast said that Lisa Caronna had informed him that the money had not been contributed for the touchdown plaza but for the entrance to Aquatic Park. Commissioner Wozniak said that there should be some sort of plaza, that the area should be more than just a natural area.
Motion: MSC (Kawczynska/Cobb) To strongly urge planners to give more consideration to a design element in the touchdown plaza taking into consideration the concerns of both wildlife and safety issues. Ayes: Kamen, Smith, Kawczynska, Minasian, Cobb, Wolgast, Wozniak. Noes: None. Abstentions: None. Absences: Felix, Windham.
Commissioner Wolgast reported his conversation with Nature Center staff. He suggested eliminating the $10 fee for tables for nonprofits at the Bay Festival and the $2.00 charge per child for summer classes. He said the fees were a nuisance to collect and the total collected was not worth the effort. Cliff Marchetti said that the Marina Fund was an enterprise fund and should be self supporting. He said that any reduction in fees reduces Marina revenues.
Commissioner Kawczynska suggested that the $2.00 charge be converted into a donation. Commissioner Cobb said there were several foundations that would support the Nature Center. She said the program should serve as many children as possible.
Commissioner Smith said that the Waterfront Commission had traditionally been willing to subsidize the Nature Center Programs as an outreach to bring people to the waterfront who would not otherwise come. He said it was difficult to balance the desire to subsidize these activities and the need to collect revenue. Commissioner Wolgast said Nature Center staff time would be better spent writing grants than collecting the $2.00 charge.
Motion (Kawczynska/Kamen) To drop the $10.00 table charge for non-profits at the Bay Festival and the $2.00 charge for summer Nature Center classes. Ayes: Kamen, Smith, Kawczynska, Minasian, Cobb, Wolgast, Wozniak. Noes: None. Abstentions: None. Absences: Felix, Windham
The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.