As we enter the summer season, I would like to give you some updates on several important issues affecting Berkeley and District 4.
Summer Street Paving
The 2012 passage of Measure M, which grants a $30 million bond for street paving and green infrastructure, has allowed the City of Berkeley to substantially increase its ability to maintain and improve street conditions. This summer, the City plans to pave 11 miles of roads, which is more than double the average in recent years.
The benefits are long-term, but there will be some short-term inconveniences. Temporary traffic delays, parking restrictions, and street closures should be expected during construction. Usual parking restrictions, including for street cleaning, will remain in effect. Driveway access may be restricted during work hours, which are 7:30am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Those sensitive to petroleum products should be aware that asphalt will be used in this project. Close your windows and doors. Park outside the construction area to avoid oil spray or other complications. Oil and asphalt used during construction is not easily removed from feet, shoes, floors, and rugs. While City street trees will be trimmed by the City's Forestry Division, property owners are responsible for trimming vegetation and trees growing from their property into the roadway.
Paving is expected to start this month and will last for four months. Below is a list of streets that will be paved in District 4 this summer.
Contact information for the contractor and City staff assigned to your particular street will be mailed to adjacent residents and businesses prior to the start of construction. Businesses should contact the City or the Contractor to coordinate deliveries. For general questions, comments or concerns about the City's paving program, contact Public Works Engineering at firstname.lastname@example.org. After work hours, please call Public Works Customer Service at (510) 981-6620. All of the City's construction updates are online, including those involving street paving. For a complete list of streets that will be affected this summer, click here.
Homeless Task Force Recommendations
In August 2013, our office initiated the Homeless Task Force in response to the many issues raised surrounding homelessness during the 2012 Measure S campaign. The Task Force has worked for nearly two years in finding solutions that can make a lasting impact, instead of relying on failed tactics such as criminalization of homelessness. A worksession will be held at the City Council on June 23rd at 5:30PM at 2134 MLK Jr Way, for the Task Force to present its recommendations to Council. The recommendations are split into two tiers. Tier one are recommendations that are for immediate implantation. Tier two requires further study or longer term implementation. Below is a list of the recommendations.
- Expand City Homeless Outreach Team
- Expand Mobile Crisis Team
- Increase Funds for Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)
- Provide More Public Restrooms
- Establish Storage Space for Homeless
- Provide Additional Warming Shelters
- Rehabilitating and Renting Vacant Homes for Homeless Housing
- Short Term Shelter/Navigation Center
- Explore Alternative Housing Options
Other recommendations are also provided in the report. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in the Homeless Task Force, especially to Co-Chairs Genevieve Wilson and David Stegman. This Task Force could not have happened without your support and dedication. The full report can be found here.
Policy on Airbnb/Short Term Rentals
Also on the June 23rd Council meeting is moving forward with a proposal to regulate short term rentals. While a decision has been postponed for the last two council meetings, I expect a vote to take place in the next meeting. The proposal would refer to the Planning and Housing Advisory Commissions to look into regulations of short term rentals, defined as rentals not exceeding fourteen days. Among other things, the proposal would require the occupant to live there at least 9 months of the year, require the host to have a business license and liability insurance, provide notices to abutting and confronting neighbors, including units above and below, and have the host or rental-platform company pay a transient occupancy tax to provide funding for enforcement. The full proposal can be found here.
Council Meeting on Community Benefits
On June 25, the City Council will be holding a special session solely to discuss what community benefits the five tallest buildings in Downtown Berkeley should provide under the Downtown Area Plan (DAP). The DAP says that three buildings at 180 feet and two buildings at 120 feet can be constructed within the central core, which is a one block radius from the Bart station. These buildings must provide “significant community benefits”, but this is not defined in the DAP.
I have proposed a process that will ensure that we get actual community benefits. There will be four categories of community benefits that these projects must fulfill. First, projects must provide an additional 10% of affordable housing on site or its equivalent in an in-lieu fee. Second, is an agreement stating that at least 50% of the labor workforce is local hires. The third category is providing on-site benefits relating to arts and culture, or pay an in-lieu fee to the Public Art Fund. The final category is a choice of additional Street and Open Space Improvement Project (SOSIP) funding, public restrooms, higher green building standards, restoring historic Civic Center buildings, or homeless/social support services. You can read the full proposal here.
The meeting will be held at Longfellow Middle School, 1500 Derby St, starting at 5PM. This issue will help define what our downtown will become. Will we have a Downtown that is a welcoming place that represents our communities, or will it become a private playground for developers? I encourage you to attend this crucial meeting and take part in the public comment. Your input in valuable in determining the course of action Council will take.
Farmers Market Office Hours
This Saturday, June 12, I will be having open office hours at the Farmers Market in Downtown Berkeley at Center St, between Milvia St and MLK Jr Way. While buying fresh, local produce at the market, be sure to stop by, even if it is just to say hi. Hope to see you there.
2180 Milvia Street, 5th Floor