Garbage collection fees set to rise

Residents are likely to get a 25 percent rate increase in garbage collection rates this summer, following a 5-0 City Council vote earlier this week which precedes a final vote in May.

Rates for the typical 32-gallon garbage can will rise $7.38 a month to $36.94 in order to help close a $3.5 million deficit in the Zero Waste Fund.

Commercial rates will rise 2.5 percent.

"If we do nothing and don't raise the rates, in five years we'll be between $13 million and $15 million in the hole," said Public Works Director Andrew Clough.

As part of the increase, the city will begin phasing out the big 96 gallon cans by not offering them once the new rates take effect July 1.

Rates were last raised, also by 25 percent, in 2009. At that time the Zero Waste Fund had a $4 million deficit.

As the city's 23,000 garbage customers use less trash and switch to cheaper, smaller cans, the city collects less money. But at the same time the cost of collection rises.

The new rates will close the deficit in the department and help pay for repairs at the city's trash collection station, according to a city report.

Notices of the rate increase will go out to residents March 28.

They can protest the rates and the city can finalize the increase if there is not a majority of people filing formal protests.

There will also be a final public hearing on the increases May 20.


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Tobacco products ban near schools weighed

Berkeley is considering a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and flavored roll-your-own tobacco within 500 feet of any school because of their potential for being more appealing to teenagers who are thinking about smoking.

The City Council on last week approved a referral to the city manager, who will return with a regulation for a vote in the near future.

According to a City Council report, flavored smoking tobacco products "have been designed by tobacco manufacturers to make their products less harsh, and as a result, more appealing to young smokers."

"We protect our children from drugs, guns and alcohol, why wouldn't we protect them against tobacco, which kills more people than the other three combined?" the idea's proponent, Councilman Darryl Moore, said in a prepared statement.

Women's Day event in memory of Kayla Moore

La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., is hosting an International Women's Day benefit for Berkeley Copwatch and "dedicated to the memory of Kayla Moore" at 7:30 p.m. March 8.

The In Love and Struggle event will include hip hop and spoken word performances, followed by a dance party featuring old-school funk and R&B by The Average Dyke Band, dance band. Admission is $15 at the door, $10 with a student ID.

For more details call 510-548-0425.

Program on state of Cal's historic buildings

The fate of the many historic buildings on the UC Berkeley campus will be the topic of a talk by Gray Brechin from 5 to 7 p.m. March 7 at Cal's Wheeler Hall, room 315.

The program "Ruin In Progress: How the Decay of Cal's Historic Buildings Reflect Its Changing Mission" takes the view that "as costly new structures rise around the university's perimeter, the historic buildings at its core suffer advanced neglect."

The talk will be followed by a discussion on "the crisis of maintenance at UC's flagship campus" with art history Professor Margaretta Lovell and Professor Emerita of Integrative Biology Roberta Park as panelists and audience participation is encouraged.

The talk is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Faculty Association and the Department of English.

Lecture series on culture, history

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association and the Berkeley Historical Society are co-hosting a series of lectures on historic and cultural topics. The series opens with a presentation by Daniella Thompson of BAHA on "The Berkeley Unitarians and Architectural Innovation" at 7 p.m. March 13 at the Berkeley History Center in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1931 Center St.

The series will continue on alternating Thursdays through April 24.

Admission to the talks is $10 and space is limited, so reservations are advised and can be made at berkeleyheritage.com. For more details visit baha-news.blogspot.com

Bancroft Library set to hold open house

The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley is holding its second open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 26.

"Explore the library collections and see magnificent displays of dynamic compendia. Discover our museum for a day through astonishing exhibits, amazing staff illumination, and riveting demonstrations with your friends and family."

Details: 510-642-3782 or friends@library.berkeley.edu.

-- Doug Oakley and Chris Treadway