Workshops will examine city's housing element

El Cerrito is holding a pair of workshops to discuss updates to the housing element of the city's general plan.

Sessions will be held 10 a.m. to noon July 19 at the Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane; and 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 13 at City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave.

Sate law requires jurisdictions in the nine-county Bay Area to update their housing elements based on an eight-year planning period that begins in 2015. Cities are mandated to have a plan to provide their "share of the state's housing needs for people at all income levels."

El Cerrito will "review the existing housing element and will revise the document to reflect current conditions, city policies, and methods to meet the housing requirements mandated by the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development."

For details and updates, visit el-cerrito.org/index.aspx?nid=900 or contact Housing Program Manager Hilde Myall at 510-215-4358.

Family entertainment at Albany Library

The Albany Library is hosting free events as part of its Summer Family Program.

A concert of Australian music by Didgeridoo Down Under will be presented at 3:30 p.m. July 12 at the library, 1247 Marin Ave.

The branch will have more family entertainment with singing and dancing with Risa and Jelly Jam at 2 p.m. July 15.

For more details call 510-526-3720 or visit www.aclibrary.org.

Families invited to Safety Palooza event

Safety Palooza, the free annual open house at the Albany Police Department, 1000 San Pablo Ave., is set for 1 to 4 p.m. July 27. The outreach event is a chance for adults and children alike to take part in fun and educational activities and get to know the department, its personnel and services.

The event will feature a 25-foot-high rock climbing wall; face painting; raffle prizes and surprises; the chance to try hands-on duty belts, training weapons, shields and other equipment; a live car window smash demonstration; a MADD crashed car and remote control police cars.

At the event, registration will be held for block party events for National Night Out on Aug. 5.

Helping hands needed for Del Norte cleanup

Volunteers are needed for the El Cerrito Green Team cleanup of the Del Norte area from 10 a.m. to noon July 13.

All ages are welcome (under 18 with guardian), and participants should wear a hat and bring water.

Meet at the corner of Key and Cutting boulevards.

No host refreshments will follow the cleanup. Details: 510-215-4350

Canine demonstration by ARF at library

The Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) from Walnut Creek will be at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., from 11 a.m. to noon July 12 to demonstrate what dog training is all about.

For details on the free event call 510-526-7512.

City set to begin bag ban enforcement

Enforcement of El Cerrito's ordinance banning single-use bags and food ware began this month. The ordinance, intended to reduce waste and litter, was approved last year and took effect Jan. 1, but there has been a six-month grace period to allow businesses time to comply with the new requirements.

The city has been conducting outreach efforts to educate businesses about the ordinance, which prohibits the distribution of single-use bags at retail establishments, and sets a minimum charge for paper bags. Food providers are prohibited from serving prepared food in expanded polystyrene foam food ware.

According to the city, "Field observations to date indicate that most businesses are complying with the ordinances, though some are not."

Businesses with questions can direct them to green@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us or 510-215-4350, or visit www.el-cerrito.org/bagsandfoam for more details.

Project starts on Ohlone Greenway

Construction has started in El Cerrito on the Ohlone Greenway Natural Area and Rain Garden project along the BART path between the Albany border and Fairmount Avenue, with completion expected in late August.

The project, funded by a $900,000 grant from the California Natural Resources Agency, "will create a multiuse rain garden at Fairmount Avenue and the Ohlone Greenway to treat stormwater runoff, informal play/exploration and gathering areas, restored riparian and native vegetation throughout the project area, and new wayfinding and interpretive signage," according to the city.

The project area is about 2.5 acres along the greenway, and will include a new stairway leading to El Cerrito Plaza, subject to agreement with the shopping center's owners.

The greenway segment will remain open during construction, but pedestrian and bicycle traffic at the entrance from Fairmount Avenue will be rerouted to the western edge of the path and a portion of the southern sidewalk along Fairmount Avenue will be closed to pedestrians for up to two weeks.

Learn more about the project at www.el-cerrito.org/ohlonegreenwayraingarden.

-- Tom Lochner and Chris Treadway

Public encouraged to be part of Relay for Life

Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society's fundraising vehicle for cancer research and education, will come to several West Contra Costa County cities this summer. Relay for Life events in West Contra Costa include:

El Cerrito: 10 a.m. July 26, Cerrito Vista Park, 950 Pomona Ave.

Pinole: 9 a.m. Aug. 9, Fernandez Park, 595 Tennent Ave.

To sign up for Relay for Life, visit the organizations's web site at http://www.relayforlife.org/