2015 Newsletters Archive
Please note that links from these archived newsletters may no longer be active.
January 12, 2015
Councilmember Lori Droste
District 8 January 12, 2015 Newsletter
Dear Neighbor — Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe and fun holiday vacation. There are several exciting events coming up this month that are great ways to provide input on the future of Berkeley, details below.
We have two special City Council meetings coming up on January 13th (addressing zoning proposals) and January 17th (addressing police and community relations), followed by our regular City Council meeting on January 20th. Click here to see the agendas. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.
Improving Police and Community Relations
Please join me for a special City Council meeting to discuss possible ways to improve police and community relations in Berkeley. This meeting will provide a chance for public comment and a facilitated discussion.
When: Saturday, Jan 17, 10am, Ed Roberts Campus Atrium – 3075 Adeline St.
4th Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast Celebration
You are invited to the 4th Annual Berkeley MLK Breakfast Celebration! Join Faith, Community, and Civic Leaders at this fun event. Get more details and information on purchasing tickets here.
When: Monday, Jan 19, 8-10am at Hs Lordships (Berkeley Marina) 199 Seawall Dr. Berkeley.
Shape the Future of Parking in the Elmwood
Are you concerned about parking in your neighborhood? Learn the results of the yearlong goBerkeley parking pilot from the City of Berkeley’s Transportation division staff. Read more information about this event here.
When: Thursday, Jan. 22, 6-8pm, Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave.
Willard Play Area Renovation: Neighborhood Meeting
The City has an opportunity to renovate part of the Willard Park Play Area using Measure WW funds. What do you want to see the play area look like? Read more information here.
When: Saturday, Jan. 24, 10-11:30am in the Corporation Yard Green Room, 1326 Allston Way
I’m thrilled to introduce Nathan Dahl as my recent appointment on the Children, Youth, and Recreation Commission. Nathan Dahl is Berkeley native and current D8 resident. He works as a Community Development Project Coordinator for the City of Berkeley overseeing community outreach and compliance with the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance. In his spare time, he serves as the Lead Advisor of the Berkeley Chapter of California’s Youth and Government where he works with 10 advisors and 100+ high school delegates. Nathan is also one of the coaches for the Berkeley Rhinos, a local high school rugby club and is a member of the Berkeley Men’s Rugby Club. Nathan has a long history of participating in City of Berkeley camp programs and recreation leagues ranging from being a camper and counselor at Berkeley Day Camp, a lifelong camper at Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp, and participating in recreation activities and leagues including swimming, baseball, basketball softball, flag football and boxing from his earliest days as a child growing up in Berkeley through adulthood. In his role as Children, Youth, and Recreation Commissioner, he wants to continue and expand his role in serving the youth and citizens of Berkeley by ensuring that the city continues to provide excellent and affordable recreation activities, camps and facilities.
February 4, 2015
Dear Neighbor —
Given that it’s already February, I thought it would be fun to reflect on my time in office thus far. Since my swearing in, so much has happened: I’ve moved into City Hall, participated in five City Council meetings and witnessed a fighter jet fly-by, to name a few highlights. I’m happy to say I’ve been able to appoint nine new Commissioners to our city commissions. I’m also working with Councilmember Maio to address air pollution in our city.
Our next City Council Meeting will be on February 10th. We’re discussing several important issues including the next steps from our January 17th meeting on community and police relations, the use of body cameras among police, and equal pay reporting for city contractors. To see the full agenda, click here. As always, your feedback is welcome.
Here are a few updates and announcements:
Safeway on College
As many of you are aware, the new Safeway on College opened last month. In conjunction with that project and AC Transit Line 51 improvements, there have been several changes to mitigate traffic in the area, particularly around the Alcatraz and College intersection. I’ve met with City staff repeatedly to address your concerns, including those regarding the installation of a southbound left turn signal and lane from College onto Alcatraz. As of now, the installment of the lane has been postponed, and the signal technology will be installed but not utilized. Electrical service boxes will be relocated to the Alcatraz side of the northeast corner, and the Transportation Commission has recommended that staff evaluate the traffic conditions over the next six months before additional changes are made.
Berkeley’s Building Energy Saving Ordinance (BESO)
At our Jan. 27th Council Meeting, Councilmembers listened to staff presentations, heard public comment, and discussed Berkeley’s BESO proposal which would change our current Energy Conservation Ordinance to better meet Berkeley’s climate action goals. City Council approved proposed changes to the commercial ordinance, and directed staff to revise the proposed ordinance to limit the energy audit requirement for 1-4 unit buildings to point-of-sale only. Council will reconsider extending the requirement to all 1-4 unit residential buildings by 2018. Details available here, item 24C.
Don’t forget to get vaccinated More information here.
My office is currently accepting applications for the following City of Berkeley Commissions: Animal Welfare To learn more about serving on a City commission, please click here. If you are interested in applying, please contact Kerry Birnbach, Legislative Aide to Councilmember Droste, at [email protected]
Meet My Legislative Aide
I’m thrilled to introduce Kerry Birnbach as my Legislative Aide. Kerry was born and raised in Berkeley, and has a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Policy at the University of Texas, Austin. Prior to joining my office, Kerry led CalFresh (food stamp) advocacy at CA Food Policy Advocates. She likes yoga, the Golden State Warriors, and playing scrabble.
March 4, 2015
Councilmember Lori Droste
District 8 Newsletter, March Update
I’m pleased to share that I cosponsored and authored two items that passed on consent at our last City Council meeting.
- The first item refers the City Manager to extend the expiration of business licenses during the renewal process to prevent work from stalling as renewal paperwork is completed.
- I also cosponsored an item referring the Disaster and Fire Safety Commission to establish a pilot disaster training program and cache program specifically targeting multi-unit residential buildings, to help them prepare in case of emergencies.
Our next Berkeley City Council meeting will be on March 10th, and the agenda is available here. We’ll be finalizing our actions on commercial and residential energy ordinances that will require residential energy audits at point of sale only. (This is a modified version from the original proposal, which would have required all residential homes to undergo an energy audit every ten years). As always, your feedback is welcome.
Here are a few updates and announcements:
Possible Measles Exposure in Berkeley – Reminder to Vaccinate
An adult with measles visited La Mediterranee restaurant in Berkeley on the evening of Friday February 20, meaning that patrons during that time should monitor themselves for symptoms until March 13. Members of the community who have questions or concerns can contact Berkeley Public Health at 981-5300 or [email protected]
At our last City Council meeting there was a Special Session for a FY 2015 Mid-Year Budget Update and Projection of Future Liabilities. Many of you have expressed interest in our budget process so I encourage you to look over these materials. The city will have several more information sessions (starting at 5:30pm before Council meetings) regarding our budget. These are open to the public:
March 17th – Sewer Fees
March 24th – Capital Improvements and Infrastructure
May 12th – FY 2016 & FY2017 Proposed Biennial Budget and Public Hearing #1
May 26th – Proposed Fee Increases and Public Hearing #2
June 9th – Council Recommendations on Budget
June 23rd – Council Discussion on Budget Recommendations
June 30th – Adopt FY2016 & FY2017 Biennial Budget
Come introduce yourself! I’ll be at Espresso Roma Cafe, 2960 College Ave, on the first Thursday of every month from 9:30am – 11am, starting on March 5th if you want to stop by to talk. No appointment necessary.
Volunteer for Berkeley’s College and Career Day
BCCD is part of the 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth initiative that aims to eliminate the achievement gap in our schools. Berkeley College and Career Day is a city-wide event and will be held on Thursday March 12, 2015. Our goal is to engage 10,000 students throughout the City and our schools and get them thinking about their future careers. We are inviting professionals, students and community members to share their educational and professional path with Berkeley students. Your presentations will provide an influential experience in helping the students think about their future educational and professional goals.
If you have any questions about the event or would like to get more detailed information, please contact Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton, Senior Aide to the Mayor at [email protected] or at 510.981.7101
Community Meeting on Willard Play Area
Please join Berkeley Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront in a community discussion about the future Willard Play Area. Saturday March 21st, 10 – 11:30am at Willard Park Clubhouse,2730 Hillegass Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705. For more information, contact Wanda Williams at [email protected]
I’m thrilled to introduce Paul Degenkolb as my recent appointment on the Disaster and Fire Safety Commission.
Paul Degenkolb is a Bay Area native, current D8 resident, and Cal Berkeley alum. After completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley, he worked for the Naval Aviation Depot in Alameda, California where he designed and retrofitted aircraft. He was also responsible for handling safety concerns related to the aircraft. He is currently the Director of Information Management for Degenkolb Engineers, where his job includes corporate disaster planning. Paul is excited to contribute to the disaster and fire commission by improving existing processes and procedures required to respond to a disaster/fire in our community.
March 23, 2015
Councilmember Lori Droste Newsletter – March Update
March 23, 2014
It’s been a busy month! At our last Council meeting, I supported two referrals, which would 1) dedicate one percent of construction project costs on development projects to go to public arts, and 2) strengthen policies related to street behavior on commercial sidewalks. Council also discussed sewage rate increases. Last week I spoke with students at John Muir Elementary as part of Berkeley College and Career Day. I also had a great meeting with the Elmwood Merchants Association.
Our next Berkeley City Council meeting will be on March 24th, and the agenda is available here. We have a packed agenda which includes new rules regarding accessory dwelling units and group living accommodations/mini-dorms.
I’d also like to highlight some important items for discussion at our April 7th meeting: we’ll be addressing a statewide bill tightening California’s vaccination requirements and hearing public comments on community benefit requirements for tall buildings in the downtown area. As always, your feedback is welcome.
Here are a few updates and announcements:
This month’s office hours will be altered from the usual first Thursday of the month due to a busy schedule. I’ll be at Espresso Roma Cafe, 2960 College Ave, on Friday, April 10th from 9:30am – 11am if you want to stop by to talk. No appointment necessary.
Bicycle Safety Tips
The Berkeley Police Department has compiled a list of bicycle theft prevention tips. I encourage you to check them out and get your bike registered. Read more here.
I’m thrilled to introduce Karen Chapple as my recent appointment on the Planning Commission.
Karen Chapple, Ph.D., is a Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Berkeley resident. She serves as Interim Director of the Institute for Urban & Regional Development, specializing in housing, community and economic development, as well as regional planning. Prior to academia, Karen spent ten years as a practicing planner in economic development, land use, and transportation in New York and San Francisco. Karen recently published a book, Planning Sustainable Cities and Regions (Routlege 2014), that explores the future of developing sustainable cities.
April 9, 2015
It’s spring! I hope you’re enjoying the great weather and spring blossoms. As you likely heard in response to the drought Gov. Brown has announced a 25 percent mandatory reduction in water usage statewide. While East Bay Municipal Utilities Division identifies steps to meet those requirements, I would encourage everyone to learn more about what we can do to preserve water at http://saveourwater.com/. I’d also like to take a moment (in honor of Earth Day, April 22nd) to remind everyone that gas leaf blowers are not permitted in Berkeley.
During this past Council meeting, I put forward the idea of prioritizing/limiting City Council referrals so that City staff have better direction on how to manage their full workplans. After looking at several other City Council processes, I think Berkeley could benefit from more strategic prioritizing. I will submit a formal item for discussion soon. At that meeting, Council also discussed (and ultimately voted to support) statewide legislation to limit the personal belief exemption around childhood vaccinations, heard public comment on how we should define “community benefits” that are required as a part of large developments in our downtown area, and voted in favor of extending the affordable impact housing fee that developers can choose in-lieu of including affordable units in their buildings. Click here to see the full agenda and notes.
More Updates and Announcements:
Join me for coffee with Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Councilmember Worthington
I’m delighted to share that Councilmember Worthington and I will be hosting a coffee with Supervisor Keith Carson. This is an opportunity for you to stop by and talk to us about your concerns as a Berkeley and Alameda County resident.
When: Wednesday, April 15th, 8 – 9am at Cafe Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave, Berkeley
A Forum on Community Choice Energy for Berkeley
The Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, Ecology Center and David Brower Center present a panel discussion on Community Choice Energy. Learn about the County’s plans to create a not-for-profit Community Choice Energy program with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create clean energy jobs and provide stable electricity rates for Berkeley and other Alameda County communities.
When: Monday, April 20th, 7pm at the Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way. The event is open to the public, free of charge and wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact [email protected]
Berkeley Bicycle Plan Open House
The City of Berkeley is starting the process of updating our Bicycle Plan, and we want your input! Come share your feedback on bicycling conditions in Berkeley and consider what could make bicycling safer and more comfortable for you and your family. Open House format – stop by any time to provide your input. More information, project news and updates: www.BikeBerkeley.com.
When: Monday, April 27, 4:30-7:30 PM (presentation at 6:00 p.m.), Berkeley Central Library, 2090 Kittredge Street. Children welcome – activities will be provided.
Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee: Upcoming Events
For more information about attending one of the upcoming BSNC Meetings, contact [email protected].
Police Resources, Mental Health Problems and Crime in the Downtown
Learn how big the problem is and what is being done about it. (NOTE: This is not about the homeless, this is about individuals who are experiencing mental problems needing immediate treatment).
When: Monday, April 13, 2015 6:30 pm—8:00 pm
Police and Emergency Response to Disturbances and Crime in Areas Around Campus
What is the situation with noisy parties and alcohol use and how this impacts Police & Fire Department Resources and emergency medical care—particularly in the event that local hospitals were not available.
When:Monday, May 4, 2015 6:30 pm—8:00 pm
Fair Campaign Practices Commission seeks public input on public financing of elections
The Fair Campaign Practices Commission (FCPC) seeks your insight and feedback on proposed changes to the City of Berkeley Charter and/or Berkeley Election Reform Act (BERA) to allow for public financing of local elections.
Background: At its May 20, 2014 meeting, the City Council considered a draft measure that would amend the Charter and BERA to allow for public financing of local elections. The Council referred the draft publicly financed elections measure to the FCPC to review and provide its recommendation to Council for the November 2016 ballot. The Commission seeks input from interested stakeholders on the proposed amendments. Stakeholder input will assist the Commission in making its recommendation to the Council regarding public financing of elections.
Your attendance is encouraged at a workshop scheduled for Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center.If you cannot attend the April 23rd workshop, the Commission welcomes your feedback by letter or email. Please send any communications to the attention of the Commission Secretary Savith Iyengar at [email protected]
I’m thrilled to introduce Jessica Rodriguez as my appointee to the Commission on the Status of Women
Jessica Rodriguez, originally from San Jose, CA, has been living in Berkeley for the last 4 years while attending school at UC Berkeley. She’s in her last year at the university graduating in May with a degree in Political Science. What brought her to COSOW is her deep passion for women’s issues and gender equality. For two years, she was involved producing the campus’ production of the Vagina Monologues. As the country’s largest university production, it raised approximately $25,000 each year for Bay Area organizations working toward ending violence against women. Additionally, she has been involved with other organizations that work towards serving women of color in particular. These have included the Empowering Women of Color Conference held annually at UC Berkeley and TRENZA de UC Berkeley, a campus organization that provides a space for social and academic support for Chicanas/Latinas and fundraises to provide scholarships for other Latinas going into higher education. Working with the Commission on the Status of Women, Jessica is excited to expand the work she cares about so deeply beyond UC Berkeley and dedicate her time to serving the women of the City of Berkeley.
April 20, 2015
Hello! With Berkeley’s next City Council meeting on April 28th, I wanted to give you a quick heads up about a few things on the agenda for discussion: Council will be reviewing funding allocations for community agencies, debating a citywide solar goal to reach by 2030, participatory budgeting, discussing updated operating standards for group living accommodations, and considering a city density bonus to bolster affordable housing in Berkeley. The full agenda is available here, and as always, we welcome your feedback. If you want to formally comment on any agenda item, you can submit comments to the City Clerk at [email protected]
As the City of Berkeley begins developing a plan to rebuild Berkeley Tuolomne Camp, the community is invited to attend one of a series of workshops and complete an online survey. The three-month public process will provide critical input on the camp’s future and shape the “draft concept design,” which will be submitted to the U.S. Forest Service for environmental and other reviews. The workshops will provide opportunities to see initial concept drawings of the camp, contribute ideas, and gain an understanding of the design and planning processes.
Berkeley Public Schools Gardening Program 2nd Annual Gala
Join the Berkeley Public School Garden and Cooking Program for their 2nd Annual Gala. This is a great opportunity to support Berkeley’s garden-based education, dedicated school communities, and vibrant students and educators. All proceeds go to the BUSD Gardening and Cooking Program.http://bpt.me/1071738
When: Friday, May 1st, 6-9pm, Chevron Auditorium, International House, UC Berkeley
Bikes in Berkeley Fiesta de la Tierra 2015
Mark your calendar and join us for this 3rd annual Bikes in Berkeley Fiesta de la Tierra! This festival is a project of the Safe Routes to Schools Alameda County Berkeley Task Force in partnership with Berkeley Unified School District. This day of bicycle celebration and education, will prepare families for Bike to School and Work Day and bring the community together on bikes in honor of the Earth.
When: Sunday, April 26, 12-4pm. Visit Bikes in Berkeley Fiesta de la Tierra for more information.
My next office hours will be on May 7th (the first Thursday of the month) from 9:30am to 11am at Cafe Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave, Berkeley. No appointments necessary.
I’m happy to introduce Kate Gordon as my recent appointee to the Housing Advisory Commission. Kate is is a Cal Alumni and lives in District 8 with her husband and two children.
Kate Gordon has worked on a variety of economic development and social justice issues for more than 15 years, and is regarded as a leader in the national “green jobs” movement. She has focused on issues related to clean energy manufacturing, regional economic development in clean energy sectors, and American competitiveness. Most recently, Kate led the Energy & Climate team at Next Generation, developing policies and communications strategies to combat climate change and move the U.S. to a clean energy economy. She founded and currently serves as Senior Adviser to the Risky Business Project, an initiative to quantify and publicize the economic risks of climate change that is co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Hank Paulson, and Tom Steyer. Kate is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.
Kate has worked on a variety of energy and economic issues here in California, and currently serves on the state’s Citizen Oversight Board for Proposition 39 (the California Clean Energy Jobs Act), which directs more than $2.5 billion in funds to energy efficiency and modernization projects in public schools. She earned a J.D. and master’s degree in city planning from the University of California-Berkeley, and she received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University.
May 9, 2015
Dear Neighbor —
May is getting to be a busy month – City Council had a meeting about community benefits required for downtown developments and at our meeting on May 12th we’ll discuss the city budget and then have a public hearing on it. I would encourage you to provide public comment. We’ll also look at a proposed buffer zone around tobacco retailers, and discuss participatory budgeting as a potential model for Berkeley. The full agenda is here.
Over the past month, many of you have reached out to my office with concerns about the growing homeless encampments and problematic street behavior around Willard Park. Please know that my office is meeting with our area coordinators, police, and homeless advocates to talk about this issue. If you see illegal behavior, please report it in a timely manner to BPD at 510-981-5900 along with details about the incident – where it specifically took place, what time, what the person looked like, etc. BPD uses incident reports to identify areas in need of more frequent patrolling. In terms of longer term solutions, the budget that we’re discussing on May 12th includes improved funding (and more staffing) for our Mental Health Division (see pages 16 and 17 of the budget).
My Op-Ed featured in the Daily Cal
Read how we can address Berkeley’s housing shortage here.Support Take to the Hills – Repair the Steps Above Clark Kerr Campus
A new group, Take To The Hills, working in conjunction with Berkeley Partners for Parks, has secured permission from UC to repair the stairs above Clark Kerr Campus. They will work this winter when the soil is soft again. A skilled volunteer team from Berkeley Path Wanderers has agreed to work on the project, all we need to do is raise $2,000 for materials and lunch for the crew. This is a great opportunity to repair a local resource with hand labor and locally sourced eucalyptus treads. Complete information is here:www.TakeToTheHills.net
City Water Use Declines During Drought
The City of Berkeley slashed water use last year by 26% after scaling back irrigation, fixing leaks and using more water efficient fixtures – steps also recommended for businesses and residents. Read morehere.
Happy Neighbors Workshop
Happy Neighbors, created by a group of Cal students in 2009 to create awareness and optimal neighbor relations through peer education and outreach, will be holding a workshop for property owners and management teams regarding student/alcohol impact on May 20th. For more information, email Leona Chen at [email protected] or call (510) 502-9880.
My next office hours will be on June 4th (the first Thursday of the month) from 9:30am to 11am at Cafe Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave, Berkeley. No appointments necessary.
I’m happy to introduce Ben Bartlett as my recent appointee to the Police Review Commission. Ben is a 5th generation Berkeley resident and has demonstrated a real commitment this city.
Ben is a graduate of Colby College in Maine, and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He is a business consultant who is committed to extending the circle of prosperity to all people. He currently serves on the development committee for the Berkeley Food and Housing Project.
June 3, 2015
In May, I joined the Mayors of Berkeley and Copenhagen, along with fellow Council members to celebrate Bike to Work day on May 14th. It was wonderful to see so many people out on bikes to celebrate alternative methods of transportation, and I am committed to strengthening Berkeley’s bicycling infrastructure even more.
City Council recently met and discussed the City Budget, community benefits, and regulations on short term rentals, which is an item I cosponsored with Mayor Bates. Because of the long meeting agenda, that item was held over for discussion until Council’s June 9th meeting. Essentially, the goal of this item is to legalize and regulate short term rentals in Berkeley, ensure that short term rentals do not take existing housing stock away from long term renters, establish protocol for renters and neighbors, and generate revenue to cover enforcement.
Specifically, the proposal would:
- require hosts to live in the unit for at least nine months of the year for it be rented
- require hosts in rental housing to get approval from the builder owner/manager to do short term rentals
- require hosts to obtain a business license and liability insurance
- allow hosts to rent their unit up to ninety days per year if they are not present in the unit, with no limit to the amount of rental days if they are present. (If owners/tenants are renting a room within the unit they live in, as long as they are present they can rent the room for any number of days).
- hosts must provide neighbors with notice that they are doing short term rentals and if they are not present during the rental, they must provide a contact person for neighbors.
I’m also pleased to say that my item to explore a mobile shower program similar to the one in San Francisco was referred to City staff and the Homeless Commission for review. Currently, the City of Berkeley runs two shower programs (one of which is at Willard Park) and I am curious if a mobile program would bring greater efficiency and maximize services to Berkeley’s homeless and transient populations.
Our June 9th Council meeting agenda is available here.
More updates and announcements:
Community Park Work Day
Come join City of Berkeley Parks staff for our Community Crew Day. We will be planting, mulching, weeding, cleaning the sandbox, cleaning the courts and doing general cleanup at Willard Pool and Willard Park. Anyone who volunteers is asked to join us for lunch. We will supply gloves and tools. All ages are invited to participate.
When: Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 8:30 am to 2:30 pm to work in the park. Willard Park and Willard Pool, 2701 Telegraph. Contact Tom Suttles, Landscape Gardener Supervisor, 510-981-6660
My next office hours will be on June 4th (the first Thursday of the month) from 9:30am to 11am at Cafe Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave, Berkeley. No appointments necessary. Evening hours coming soon!
Soda Tax Update and the Future of BUSD Nutrition Programs
MomsRising and the Ecology Center are hosting an informal gathering of Berkeley parents and other interested folks to discuss the current state of Berkeley Unified School District’s nutrition programs and what people can do to support a strong nutrition program in the future. There will be a panel discussion, followed by Q&A moderated by Ecology Center Executive Director Martin Bourque. Panelists from City Council, the Healthy Child Coalition, and BUSD will address topics such as:
- Initial outcomes of Measure D soda tax revenues
- The impact of soda tax revenues on school nutrition programs
- BUSD’s current school nutrition funding proposals
- How to get involved and use your voice to impact BUSD budget decisions
When: Thursday, June 4, 2015, 7pm at the Ecology Center 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702
City of Berkeley Recreation Offices Now Open at Willard Park
Read more here.
Wanted: Strong, Hard-Working Volunteers June 13-14!
Halcyon Neighborhood Association Work Party – Improve Halcyon Commons: Halcyon Commons is a unique community park initiated and created by the neighborhood in partnership with the City of Berkeley in a space where there was once a parking lot. Next year, we’ll be celebrating the park’s 20th anniversary, and in honor of the occasion we’re refreshing the d.g. pathway to make the park more welcoming and accessible to all. Breakfast snacks, full lunch, water, and snacks provided courtesy of Whole Foods Market. Fresh coffee courtesy of Mokka Café.
When: Saturday, June 13 (first shift, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; second shift, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) Sunday, June 14(one shift, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) Note: spaces are almost full for Saturday morning but we could really use a few more willing volunteers for Saturday afternoon; we’ll also have a small backup team on Sundaymorning 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in case we don’t finish up on Saturday. Sign up by contacting HNA Co-Chair John Steere by phone or text (preferred method) at 510-847-0575 or email [email protected]
National Night Out- Start Planning
Start planning for National Night Out, part of a nationwide effort to build healthier and safer communities through a simple act: getting to know your neighbors. Use the night of August 4th to organize your block, join a gathering in your Berkeley neighborhood, or meet nearby residents. Some neighbors simply turn on their lights and have conversations on their porches. Many areas throw block parties.
Last year, over 58 groups in Berkeley celebrated National Night Out with events that ranged from potlucks and barbecue cookouts to ice cream socials. This year, our goal is 100 groups! Bring your block into the fold in 2015. If your neighborhood, business, church, association or community agency would like to participate, please contact Berkeley Police Officer Stephanie Polizziani at[email protected].
I’m happy to introduce Leona Chen as my recent appointee to the Community Health Commission. Leona is a District 8 resident working at UC Berkeley.
Leona Chen is a graduate of San Francisco State, where she studied Public Health through a holistic lens. She recognizes the importance of integrating a diverse cultural, historical and interdisciplinary perspective to improve health and quality of life through community engagement. She is currently a health educator at UC Berkeley and is enthusiastic to be involved with the progress of increasing the health equity in Berkeley.
July 6, 2015
We made it to July!
June was a turbulent month with tragedies here in Berkeley, with the balcony collapse, and in South Carolina, with the Charleston church shooting. My heart goes out to everyone in these communities, especially the family and friends of those who lost a loved one.
There was also cause for great celebration: the Supreme Court guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage, upheld President Obama’s healthcare law to provide subsidies to poor and middle class people to buy health insurance, and bolstered laws to fight housing discrimination.
The Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage has so many implications for my family and many others as well. First of all, our country recognizes our love. More importantly, my family can now feel safe to travel to my home state of Ohio with our children and not feel as if we put our family in legal jeopardy. I acknowledge there are many more hurdles to overcome for LGBTQ citizens but this is one big happy step. To celebrate, my office participated in the San Francisco Pride parade:
Update: Development in Berkeley’s Downtown
I’m pleased to say that a proposal which I cosponsored with Councilmember Moore passed by an 8-1 vote on June 25th. The proposal defines what a “community benefit” is and how community benefits should be provided to the City as new, taller buildings are built in our downtown (per Berkeley’s Downtown Plan). The proposal ensures that every development in the downtown area that exceeds 75 feet must either:
- include significant affordable housing units on-site, use local labor, and contribute to some combination of arts and culture, street and open space improvements, green building standards, restoration of historic buildings, or supportive social services or
- pay a square footage fee that will go into City funds to support the aforementioned benefits.
Additionally, the community benefits amount must be independently verified to ensure that projects provide adequate community benefits while also remaining financially viable. This proposal acknowledges the growth and development that Berkeley voters have indicated they want to see in our downtown, while at the same time ensuring that the growth also contributes to our community in a meaningful way. Read the details of the proposal here – the item is coming up for review at our July 14th meeting.
The full July 14th meeting agenda is available here, and includes items on building safety, affordable housing, and undergrounding of utility wires, etc. After that, Council breaks until September.
More updates and announcements:
Movies in the Park!
Join us for a FREE outdoor movie series on Friday nights brought to you by Berkeley’s Parks, Recreation and Waterfront department. The featured films are:
- July 10th, The Lego Movie at Cedar Rose Park,1300 Rose St., 8:45pm – 10:45 pm
- July 31st, Despicable Me at Willard Park, 2730 Hillegass Ave., 8:30pm – 10:30 pm
- August 28th, Big Hero 6 at Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck Ave., 8:00pm – 10:00 pm
Enjoy all the fun of a drive in movie at your local park. Please arrive at least 30 minutes before the movie begins. Bring blankets, sleeping bags and/or low-back beach chairs with a maximum height of 9 inches off the ground, so the view of other patrons is not blocked. A flashlight or headlamp makes walking out at the end of the night easier. Limited street parking is available. This is an alcohol free event. Visit www.cityofberkeley.info or call 510-981-5150 for more information. We’ll see you at the movies!
Surge of Summer Street Paving – Measure M Update
The City of Berkeley will soon pave 40 streets that account for 11 miles of Berkeley roads, an amount that is more than double the typical pace of recent years. The increased paving and installation of green infrastructure throughout the City is made possible by the passage of Measure M, the $30 million streets and watershed bond passed by Berkeley voters in 2012. The paving is also funded by Alameda County Measure B Sales Tax, Capital Improvement Fund, and Gas Tax revenues.
The paving is expected to be completed within four months, with the first streets to be paved starting in June. Individual streets, which are listed at the bottom of this message, have already been sent mailers. They will be given further notice about timing roughly one to two weeks in advance with mailers or notices hung on door handles. Read more here.
Free Automatic Gas Shutoff Valves Available to Berkeley Residents
Office Hours – Evening Hours in August
My next office hours will be on August 11th, 6:30-8pm, at Cafe Espresso Roma. No appointment is necessary.
I’m happy to introduce Noemí Gallardo as my recent appointee to the Berkeley Energy Commission. Noemí is a District 3 resident working at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, a private foundation in San Francisco.
Noemí Gallardo is a licensed attorney with a JD from UC Hastings and an MPP from the University of Southern California. As the daughter of immigrants, she has pursued social justice in all her work. Her passion for energy and environmental issues ignited during her fellowship at The Greenlining Institute, where she focused on helping ensure that fundamental resources like energy are affordable and accessible for low-income communities of color. Noemí is also a certified Spanish interpreter and advocate for language access. She is currently a fellow at the Haas Jr. Fund focusing on grantmaking that advances the rights of immigrants and creates opportunities for them to participate in the democratic process. She is grateful to have the opportunity to serve her local community by contributing to solving Berkeley’s energy needs.
July 21, 2015
I hope you’re enjoying this incredible weather. City Council is currently on summer recess throughSeptember 14th, when our next City Council meeting is scheduled. Many of you wrote to me about an item on our last agenda, the undergrounding of utility wires, which is an important and large long-term project. I wanted to let you know that the item was postponed for discussion until our September meeting.
Feedback Requested: Elmwood Commercial District Quotas
My office is revisiting the topic of retail quotas in the Elmwood Commercial District. The retail quotas were designed many years ago to ensure diversity in the merchant district by identifying an variety of stores in the district. Currently the Elmwood quotas permit 12 arts and crafts stores, 7 barber/beauty stores, 4 bookstores, 10 clothing/shoe stores,2 financial services stores, 2 photocopy stores, 3 carry out food stores, 7 quick service food stores, and 7 full service restaurants. My predecessor, Gordon Wozniak, previously proposed a change to the quota system and I want to keep those conversations going.
My goal in revisiting the quota system is to identify a simpler policy around commercial space in the Elmwood. I want to preserve the diversity of the stores currently in business, and at the same time be open to new businesses that might strengthen our community.
My office is seeking community feedback on what this new plan should look like. We want to hear from you: What are your favorite aspects of the Elmwood? What would you like to see more of in the Elmwood District? Please email [email protected] with your feedback.
For more information on the quota system and its challenges, click here.
Office Hours – Evening Hours in August
My next office hours will be on August 11th, 6:30-8pm, at Cafe Espresso Roma at 2960 College Ave, Berkeley. No appointment is necessary.
‘Sundays on Telegraph’ Returns July 19 – August 30, 2015
Come spend a Sunday afternoon this summer on Telegraph Avenue and enjoy a variety of music,crafts and other family-friendly activities. The popular Sundays on Telegraph event series goes from 12pm to 5pm every Sunday from July 19 through August 30. Read more here.
September 9, 2015
Dear Neighbor —
I hope you’ve had a great summer; it was certainly wonderful to have a week of vacation with my family to rest and recharge, and I hope you had a similar break. As the school year begins (remember to drive safely around schools) and Council gears up for a new session, I’m excited to get back into action.
My appointee to the Planning Commission, Karen Chapple, just released a study on the important issue of displacement and gentrification. This week I have met with affordable housing policy experts Carol Galante (Distinguished Professor in Affordable Housing and Urban Policy and former Obama Ass’t Secretary on Housing) and Jeff Vincent (Deputy Director for Center of Cities and Schools) on what we can do to ensure that Berkeley and the Bay Area remains affordable for all! I’ll be sharing more pieces and updates through my new Facebook page.
City Council meets on 9/15 and we’re kicking off the new session with some incredibly timely topics, including Berkeley’s minimum wage ordinance, restrictions on tobacco retailers, an update on crime in Berkeley, and more. See the full agenda here. At our second meeting in September (9/29), we’ll likely be discussing group living accommodations/mini dorms. The agenda for that meeting has not yet been posted.
I also want to take a moment to highlight the City’s 311 customer service line, which you can reach by phone (by calling 311 on a landline, or 510-981-2489 on a cell phone) or online for City service requests like sidewalk repair, trash removal, tree removal, etc. Many of the requests my office receives can be more quickly addressed through 311 so I encourage you to use it.
I have included several updates below.
September 24 2015
Council is in full swing, and next Tuesday we’ll be discussing some important issues includingundergrounding utility lines, which I know is important to many of you, and amendments to the ADU (in-law unit) ordinance that we passed this year. My office is proposing amendments to make it less cost-prohibitive and bureaucratically cumbersome to build a backyard cottage.
Prior to the regular Council meeting, at 5:30pm, there will be a work session on developing a Mini-Dorm and Group Living Accommodation Ordinance. City staff has met with a variety of stakeholders over the last several months to come up with a proposal to ensure that residents of mini-dorms and group living arrangements are responsible neighbors. I know that some of you live near mini-dorms and have reported excessive noise and trash to our office. I also understand that there are several cooperatives and group living accommodations that have never been a problem and ensure affordable living spaces for students and young adults. I am mindful of both of these situations in District 8. No votes are taken at a worksession; it’s primarily a time for dialogue.
At our last council meeting, we discussed Berkeley’s Minimum Wage Ordinance and a proposal from the City’s Labor Commission. While the Labor Commission proposal inspired good discussion and public comment, we voted to revisit minimum wage increases in November. I have some unanswered questions that I want to ask City staff and the Commission before voting on specific increases, and I didn’t have time to ask those questions at our last meeting. Current policy says that on October 1, 2015, the minimum wage be raised to $11/hr (which is the same wage increase that the Labor Commission proposed). In October 2016, it will be raised again to $12.53/hr. Council has not yet determined what should happen after 2016. In the meantime, I’m meeting with several economists to discuss next steps.
I’m also thrilled to announce that my friend Angela Porter has agreed to be the new appointee to the Homeless Commission. You can find her biography below. I would also encourage you to read about her story in this East Bay Express article examining long-term drug rehab.
October 30th 2015
As you know, one of my priorities is to address housing affordability in Berkeley. Consequently, I wanted to share a Housing 101 page on my website. It covers basic questions like how affordable housing is built and funded, and I encourage you to check it out. City policies tend to support either very low-income or market rate units but not much in between. Since there is often a disconnect between the actual salaries/income levels of our public servants and everyday workers, this 101 document gives several scenarios demonstrating who we’re squeezing out – janitors, teachers, and firefighters who make up the median and moderate income brackets. When we talk about housing, I’d like to see us incentivize units for low, median, and moderate income earners too. If you’re interested in learning more, the City is also offering a learning session on affordable housing. Please see the updates section below. Council will also discuss several housing items at our December 1st meeting.
Speaking of housing, on Tuesday night, Council unanimously passed my Green Affordable Housing Package proposal! Read about it on Berkeleyside. My goals for this proposal are twofold: to create a revenue stream for the Housing Trust Fund by prioritizing housing over underutilized parking spaces in new developments, and to streamline the multi-year bureaucratic process that housing projects go through in Berkeley. While this is no silver bullet to solving the housing crisis, I do believe it’s an innovative way to find funding for affordable housing. I’m pleased to say my proposal had the backing of several housing and urban planning experts and organizations, including the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, TransForm, Livable Berkeley, Bike East Bay, East Bay Housing Organizations, SF Bay Area Renters Federation, Karen Chapple- Head of the Urban Displacement Project, Donald Shoup, Carol Galante, etc. Check out my FAQs and website to help explain the proposal.
In other news, here’s highlights from the past 3 Council meetings:
- Amendments to ADU (in-law unit) ordinance were held over until the November 3 meeting.
- With regard to undergrounding utility lines, the City Manager will put together a budget and staffing analysis to present to Council in the fall.
- Council heard a Measure M update from City Staff
One final note–my office has heard several complaints regarding gas leaf blowers, so I’d like to remind everyone that gas leaf blowers are banned in Berkeley. Please check that you or any gardeners/contractors you employ are not using them. Click the above link to contact our Environmental Health Department, which enforces this ordinance.
December 7, 2015
I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving. Several things have happened at Council that I wanted to make you aware of:
This week Council finalized and passed an ordinance to improve conditions on our community sidewalks, which I emailed you about several weeks ago. Thank you to all of those people that responded with their experiences, and those who came to Council to express your opinion. I know many of you have been frustrated with regard to this issue, and these new ordinances should help alleviate your concerns.
In early November, Council approved a new minimum wage policy that Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli, Darryl Moore, Linda Maio, and I put forward. As approved, Berkeley will be one of only a handful of cities to lead the nation in providing higher wages for its low wage workers. This policy continues increases to the minimum wage after the currently scheduled rate increases through 2016. It increases the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018 and offers a slightly slower phase-in for small businesses. Our policy mirrors approaches from Emeryville, Los Angeles, and Seattle in that it utilizes a tiered approach to minimum wage rates. See the table below for details on the timeline.
|Year||Current Berkeley wage schedule||Small business wage schedule||Yearly increase||Large business wage schedule (>55 Full Time Employees)||Yearly increase|
|2019||$12.53||$14.25||4.8%||+ local CPI||
+ local CPI
We have two Council meetings before winter recess. Our next meeting, 12/8 is a public hearing about a proposed tall building in Berkeley’s Downtown, and on 12/15 we’ll be reviewing reports of BPD activities during the December 6th, 2014 protests, discussing a housing action plan, and reviewing the City’s five year paving plan. The full agenda is available here.
Elmwood Commercial District Holiday Hunt
Join us for a scavenger hunt adventure from December 1st – December 31st. Visit your local Elmwood businesses for more information on how to play.
Parents Day Off: Shop While Your Kids Play
Parents—Do you need to finish some holiday shopping or prepare for out of town guests? Bring your kids to the James Kenney Community Center for the day! We will have fun holiday activities planned including holiday arts and crafts, games and activities and more! Pre-registration is required. Registration deadline: Thursday, December 10, 2015. Register online, at a Recreation Hub or at James Kenney. When: 12/12, 9AM – 2PM, Cost: $15-18, James Kenney Recreation Center, 1720 8th St.
Visit from Santa
Meet and greet Santa before he zooms away on his sleigh! There will be gifts, snacks, and singing. Call 981-6640 for more information. When: 12/23, 11AM – 1PM, Frances Albrier Community Center – San Pablo Park, 2800 Park St. @ Oregon St. Event is free.
Other holiday events can be found at http://www.visitberkeley.com/events
December 10 Workshop: Get Prepared for El Niño
You’re invited to a workshop hosted by the City of Berkeley and Berkeley Unified School District to learn about how to prepare your home and family for the potential high winds, rain and flooding from El Nino storms. When: Thursday December 10, 6:30-8:30pm, Berkeley Unified School District Boardroom. 1231 Addison St. in Berkeley (Easy and free parking at Browning and Addison St.) Wheelchair accessible.
Writer Coach Connection is looking for volunteers to help teens in public schools
Do you want to listen to what our local public school students have to say and help them articulate it in writing? Train to be a writing coach at King Middle School, Longfellow Middle School, Willard Middle School, or Berkeley High. It is a very satisfying volunteer opportunity that involves 2-3 times a month of 1-2 hour sessions in which you have one-on-one conferences with students on their writing assignments. Go to www.writercoachconnection.org and watch the short video, and then click on Volunteers to sign up for a school and a training.
My next office hours will be on on the first Thursday of January (1/7) from 9:30-11am at Cafe Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave (on the corner of College and Ashby). No appointment necessary – just stop by!
I’d like to introduce my new Housing Advisory Commissioner, Diego Aguilar-Canabal.
Diego Aguilar-Canabal Diego received his B.A. in English Literature from Stanford University in 2014 and has written for a variety of independent music publications. A native of Washington, D.C., he is drawn to the intersections of culture, commerce, and urbanism. In addition to his urban policy interests, he currently plays guitar in Berkeley-based free jazz quartet The Noriegas. His commitment to tackling the housing affordability crisis draws from a deep reverence for the Bay Area’s cultural legacy, which has influenced him since before he could find California on a map. During his time on the HAC, he hopes to see major increases in public funds for affordable housing and apply frequent community input on tenants’ needs.