Berkeley City Council unanimously voted to appoint Hansel Aguilar as the new director of the Police Accountability Board, or PAB, during a special meeting Tuesday. They also approved a resolution to Measure L, an affordable housing and infrastructure bond that would allocate $650 million to improvements.
Aguilar, a former law enforcement officer, previously worked at the D.C. Office of Police Complaints and served as executive director of the Charlottesville Police Civilian Oversight Board, according to the meeting agenda. The decision to install him as director will be effective Oct. 24, and he will receive a salary of $200,000.
The PAB was created in November 2020 to advise the public and City Council on the proceedings of the Berkeley Police Department while providing independent civilian oversight.
In the past, the PAB has struggled to communicate with BPD and City Council. In one instance, the chief of police allegedly threatened to walk out of a meeting with the PAB, according to a previous Daily Cal article.
City Council had also previously revised Section 311.6 without informing the PAB, increasing the ability of BPD officers to conduct detentions and warrantless searches of people on parole or probation, the article notes.
“As we all know, it’s been a bumpy process so far and there’ll be some more bumps in the road in the coming year,” said Nathan Mizell, UC Berkeley graduate and vice chair of the PAB. “I see the appointment of Mr. Aguilar to this position as a concrete step forward.”
During the special meeting, attendees also discussed Measure L, a bond that is currently on the 2022 midterm election ballot.
The revision for Measure L submitted by city Mayor Jesse Arreguín included new provisions that will allow the city to amend policies as needed, submit annual budget reports and increase public participation via committees. It also further specifies how funds will be used, according to the revision language.
Public responses were divided on the proposed revision for Measure L. While some Berkeley residents commended the council, another expressed concern at the revision not being in the measure to begin with. There were also concerns over the changing of the measure after voter’s guides were already released.
Councilmember Sophie Hahn noted that the improvements to Measure L are derived directly from Measure O. Councilmember Kate Harrison added that the information came directly from Arreguin’s Vision 2050 plan, which focuses on addressing climate change and infrastructure, and a report from the task force on affordable housing.
“It’s been stated in public testimony that there is no specificity in the measure. That’s absolutely not true,” Arreguin said. “If you read the text of the measure, and we did cite this and reinforce this in this resolution, the bonds are to fund improvements to real property.”
Measure O, which was passed in 2018, was also reviewed for its impacts on affordable housing development.
Two other items were also approved during the meeting; City Council agreed upon the appointment of Aram Kouyoumdjian as the new director of human resources and approved the purchase of a 3,000 gallon tender emergency water supply for the Berkeley Fire Department.