Archive | Politics

No on Prop 8 Supporters Campaign Until Last Minute

BY SWETA VOHRA //

If you heard honking on the streets of El Cerrito today, it probably had little to do with the traffic.

The No on Prop 8 campaign is making last-minute efforts near local polling places on sidewalks and street corners, and many cars are using their horns to voice their support.

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City Hall Goes Green

BY N’JERI EATON//

After 10 years of city services displaced at sites across the city and over two years of construction, the new El Cerrito City Hall opened its doors this month.

The new building stands as both a monument to local government and a move to create a more green, sustainable city. Planning stages began back in 2004, when El Cerrito hired BSA Architects, a firm known for its environmentally friendly designs. The city’s goal was to think about sustainable design without necessarily going through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification, which is a set of criteria and standards for green building accreditation. Despite this, the city expects to get the official LEED certification by January.

Architect George Janson believes being environmentally friendly doesn’t need to be expensive; the focus should be on practicality. “It’s not the most expensive, just good, solid design,” he said. “Green design isn’t just about bamboo, but being able to create healthy spaces for people.”

For example, architects made sure to integrate natural daylight throughout the space as much as possible. Janson cut holes through walls or removed them entirely to create a more open, airy floor plan. “Transparency between spaces makes it a very nice place to be, not just sustainable,” he said.

At the front entrance, floor-to-ceiling windows replaced walls, allowing natural light to brighten each room. Janson said the windows offer an alternative light source and represent the transparent, open nature of the El Cerrito government. “It reflects the easy-going attitude of the city, not an inaccessible government,” he said. “It reflects they way they like to do things here.”

The emphasis on employing energy-efficient light systems will save the city money. “They’re finding that during the day, they don’t use a lot of light,” Janson said. Every room is equipped with motion sensor lights. When a room is no longer occupied, the lights will automatically switch off.

The city hall’s new radiant hydronic heating system also reduces costs. Hot water stored in the floor heats the room, creating a steady interior temperature. This kind of system can reduce heating costs by more than 30 percent.

Water efficiency is another area where designers reduced spending and energy. Low flush toilets are installed in every bathroom, exceeding government standards by 40 percent. The irrigation system for the bay friendly landscape includes an above-ground spray. According to Janson, the city hall uses “50 percent less of what you would normally use at a comparable building.”

As a part of a countywide mandate for new construction, architects developed an underground storage system for rainwater. During storms, the water falls through small vents around city hall where it is collected and used for irrigation.

The city hall site is accessible to public transportation and provides convenient bike racks. “The location is incredible. People overlook it, but that’s what sustainable design is all about,” said Janson.

For Janson, the greatest accomplishment of the plan was using simple and cost-saving methods to create the city’s first green public building. “We didn’t start by going through the LEED score card,” he said. “It was just good common sense.”

The city hall has an extensive display about green building for residents who want to learn more about the site and how they can incorporate some of the design elements into their own homes.

Watch the slide show for examples of city hall’s green design.  If you have a comment about this story, we would like to hear about it.

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Young, Evangelical, and Voting (AUDIO)

BY MATT DURNING //

The evangelical church community is widely regarded as one of America’s most powerful and reliable voting blocks. Over the past two presidential elections, they have played an integral role in the election and re-election of George W. Bush. In November 2004, Bush won 78 percent of evangelical voters nationally.

This year, however, opinion research has shown a shift in support among young evangelicals away from the Republican candidate, John McCain,and toward Barack Obama.

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Posted in Your Community, Culture, Politics, Election 08, Community PerspectivesComments Off on Young, Evangelical, and Voting (AUDIO)

VIDEO: Get Out the Vote Rally at Democratic Headquaters

BY N’JERI EATON//

The West Contra Costa County United Democratic Campaign Headquarters held a Get Out the Vote Rally in El Cerrito on Sunday to celebrate the work of volunteers. Read the full story

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In Focus: City Council Election Money Trail

BY MATT DURNING //

El Cerrito Focus has obtained the latest campaign finance disclosure documents for each of the five candidates running for city council. Read the full story

Posted in Politics, Election 08, LocalComments Off on In Focus: City Council Election Money Trail

City Council Debuts Technological Advancements at Regular Meeting

The front entrance of the new El Cerrito City Hall on San Pablo Avenue.

BY FERNANDO GALLO//

The El Cerrito City Council discussed technological advancements the city has made to better serve and educate its residents, as well as a new recycling system, at its bimonthly meeting on Oct. 20.

The council session, which also served as the Public Financing Authority meeting, marked only the second time the council has met in the new state-of-the-art city hall.

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SLIDESHOW: City Hall Goes Green

BY N’JERI EATON//

After two years of construction, the grand opening of the city hall this month marks a new green direction for the city. Read the full story

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Re-Financing the East Bay’s Parks: Measure WW

BY ALEXIA UNDERWOOD //

On a grey, late Sunday afternoon, El Cerrito resident Sherman Lam returns from hiking with his family and his dog in the tall bluffs overlooking the city, part of the 90 acres of the El Cerrito Hillside Natural area.

“We come here quite often. It’s kind of like a Sunday outing for us,” Lam says, as he waits by his car at the bottom of the hill for his wife and daughter. “My wife also likes to come here during the week with her friends and walk.”

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Posted in Your Community, Politics, Top StoryComments Off on Re-Financing the East Bay’s Parks: Measure WW

VIDEO: Vice-Presidential Debate Commentary at the Cerrito Speakeasy

BY N’JERI EATON//

A rowdy crowd of local residents gathered at the Cerrito Speakeasy to watch the vice-presidential debate.

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Cell Phones for Change

Team leader Juantia Hughes trains first-time callers Sydney Matherson and her mother Sheri Freeman-Matherson

Team leader Juanita Hughes trains first-time callers Sydney Matherson and her mother Sheri Freeman-Matherson

BY N’JERI EATON//

In the last critical days of the presidential election, volunteers at the West Contra Costa United Democratic Campaign Headquarters are spending the weekends working the phones for Obama to get out the vote and clear up any confusion. Read the full story

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