Former District 8 Councilmember
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Get to Know Lori
Lori Droste was District 8’s representative on the Berkeley City Council from 2014-2022 when she retired. She currently works as a policy analyst and consultant. Lori previously served as Vice Mayor, Alameda County Transportation Commissioner, Chair of Berkeley’s Commission on the Status of Women, Vice-Chair of Alameda County’s Human Relations Commission, and on the Housing Advisory Commission. Lori also served on the board of the East Bay Women’s Political Alliance.
Lori spent years serving the public as a high school teacher and as a service provider for unhoused individuals in Alameda County. While working on her Master of Public Policy, Lori engaged Oakland business owners and city officials to improve parking efficiency, pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure. She also authored a glass ceiling report on under-representation of women in transportation services. She then taught courses on political under-representation and policy analysis at Mills College.
Lori has been active in the City of Berkeley for years. Prior to her time on Council, she worked on policies to curb violence against women. While on Council, Lori worked tirelessly on housing affordability, homelessness, public safety, economic development, children’s recreation, traffic mitigation, and family-friendly policies.
As one the few Berkeley Councilmembers with young children, Lori had particular interest in improving the quality of life for families and children in Berkeley. She is particularly inspired by her mother who was the mayor of Circleville, Ohio. Lori lives with her wife Carrie, 13-year-old son Simon, and 10-year-old daughter Cora in the Elmwood District.
As a lifelong advocate for public service and community engagement, I have dedicated myself to making a positive impact wherever I go. Twenty years ago, when I chose to make Elmwood my home, I did so with a clear vision of building a vibrant and inclusive community for my family and neighbors. My journey in service began with working closely with the homeless population and educating high school students while pursuing a master’s degree in public policy. As a City Councilmember, I prioritized listening to and collaborating with my fellow residents, bringing fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the challenges facing Berkeley.
I am deeply committed to ensuring that our city remains a place where everyone, from youth to seniors, can thrive. This means creating an environment that is not only attractive and vibrant but also safe and welcoming to all. We must support both new and existing businesses, foster economic growth, and address the pressing issue of housing availability and affordability, ensuring that those who contribute to our community can also call Berkeley home. Safety is paramount, and I am dedicated to working tirelessly to address crime and traffic congestion, safeguarding our quality of life. Above all, my commitment to making Berkeley the best possible place to raise my children, Simon and Cora, reflects my dedication to creating a community that enriches the lives of all its residents. Together, let us build a brighter future for Berkeley, one that we can all be proud to call home.
Lori’s legislative achievements have been instrumental in tackling pressing issues facing our community. Her groundbreaking legislation to eliminate exclusionary zoning has been a catalyst in addressing the root causes of skyrocketing housing costs and the pervasive homelessness crisis. This initiative garnered national and international attention, earning recognition from the White House and sparking similar reforms nationwide. For her outstanding efforts, Lori was honored with the Housing Hero Award by the Housing Action coalition. Her work in championing a global movement to address housing scarcity, affordability, and displacement has been featured prominently in esteemed publications such as The Economist, The New York Times, NPR, Harvard Law Review, Bloomberg News, and Time’s Top 100 Must-Read Book, “Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America.”
In 2021, Lori’s seven-year effort to modernize outdated parking requirements culminated in unanimous approval by the City Council. This achievement was acknowledged in the book Paved Paradise, named one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker. Her advocacy inspired state lawmakers to pass similar legislation the following year, with Governor Gavin Newsom signing the bill into law amid great fanfare.
Lori’s commitment to equity extends to education and tax policies. She led efforts to educate the community on inequitable tax policies, notably Proposition 13, and challenged the Disney Corporation in a high-profile battle that garnered national attention. The ensuing uproar led to Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, promptly apologizing, and donations poured into Berkeley’s local elementary school. Her appearances on CNN and the Daily Show, linked with her battle with Disney, have further amplified her message, ensuring that her efforts resonate far and wide.
Additionally, Lori prioritized criminal justice reforms while ensuring residents’ safety was upheld. She successfully advocated for fully staffing the police department while also supporting civilian responses to non-emergency, nonviolent calls so police can better address crime.
Her leadership as Chair of the Budget Committee ensured responsible spending on essential infrastructure and adherence to voter-approved allocations. Lori’s dedication to supporting small businesses led to the creation of a subcommittee focused on addressing their challenges, resulting in changes to the retail quota system in the Elmwood neighborhood to foster greater opportunity.
Furthermore, Lori secured funding for traffic calming measures and authored Berkeley’s Vision Zero plan, aiming to eliminate pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities through effective traffic management. In times of political turmoil, Lori has stood firm in defending the rights of undocumented residents, authoring the January 2017 reaffirmation of Berkeley as a sanctuary city and championing initiatives to support and protect vulnerable communities. Her tireless advocacy, strategic leadership, and unwavering commitment to social justice have made a profound impact on the Berkeley community and beyond.
Former Vice Mayor & Councilmember Lori Droste
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