Mayor’s Budget Prioritizes Public Safety, Housing, Sustainability, and Equity
Our City Budget is a reflection of our values and priorities. That is why over the past few months while developing my proposed Budget Recommendations, I have been listening to the needs and concerns of our community. Digging through hundreds of emails, phone calls, and public comment, patterns begin to emerge over what our focus should be. From addressing our housing and homeless crisis, to ensuring the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, we are making a bigger investment in our community than ever before. This budget is a reflection of what the community has been asking for.
Addressing Public Safety
Our community has made it clear that safety must be prioritized. From recent high profile vehicular crashes involving pedestrians to the growing threat of wildfires, we have listened to the community’s concerns and agree that these safety threats must be addressed proactively. My budget is allocating approximately $2.5 million over the next two years on traffic calming, street improvements, and Vision Zero with the goal of eliminating pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. In regards to fire safety, we know that urban wildfires are commonplace in California as a result of climate change. That is why we are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in vegetation management and training, along with recommending consideration of $1.1 million for an outdoor emergency warning system. We are also working with our Fire Department to identify safety improvements and upgrades to our ambulance fleet and our Police Department on improving its communications and vehicles.
Creating a Sustainable Community
With climate change dominating headlines, we know that time is running out if we are to stop the catastrophic impacts of environmental degradation. We need a budget that reflects our commitment to green and sustainable growth. We are investing in expanding EV charging stations for both the public and the City’s fleet. We are continuously working to upgrading our aging infrastructure with 21st century technology to create long-lasting and environmentally friendly streets and facilities. Our Zero Waste division will be expanding with the construction of a state-of-the-art transfer station and the implementation of our groundbreaking Single Use Disposable Food ware Ordinance.
Maintaining a Diverse and Equitable City
Our diversity is part of what makes Berkeley the city that we all love. All residents deserve access to the same quality of services, regardless of whether they live in the hills or the flatlands. My budget recommendations aims to level the playing field to allow all of us the opportunities we need to succeed. This includes funding for keeping the West Campus Pool open year-round and providing new paid internship opportunities in the City. Additionally, we are doubling down on our worker cooperatives, funding incentives and opportunities for employees to buy businesses from retiring business owners.
Focus on Housing, Anti-Displacement, and Homeless Services
The people of Berkeley have made it clear at the ballot box that the biggest priorities are housing and homelessness. With the passage of Measure O and P in 2018, we now have millions of dollars we can use for the development of affordable housing, anti-displacement, and homeless services. Recommendations for spending funds from those measures will be made by independent, citizen-run commissions, and on top of that I am proposing funding for various programs to lift up the most vulnerable members of our community. This includes $900,000 towards various anti-displacement initiatives and expansion of various homeless services. We will also move forward with funding a study for Missing Middle housing, to identify appropriate locations for urban infill.
Supporting the Arts and Recreation
There are over 150 arts organizations that call Berkeley home. They play an instrumental role in our economy, bringing in new visitors to our City and more revenue to local businesses. As a source of civic pride, I want to make sure that our arts community is getting the support from the City they need to thrive. That is why I am budgeting $500,000 for the Civic Arts Grants program plus support for various events such as the Bay Area Book Festival. In addition to the arts, another Berkeley treasure is our vibrant collection of parks, which Berkeley voters continue to generously support. Over the next two years, I propose investing almost $3.5 million towards major improvements to the Marina for generations to come to enjoy.
Council will be voting on the City Budget on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at the BUSD Board Room, 1231 Addison Street. Show up to express your support for this community driven budget, and/or send an email to Council@cityofberkeley.info.
You can read a further description of my budget priorities here: https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2019/06_June/Documents/2019-06-25_Supp_2_Reports_Item_39_Supp_Mayor_pdf.aspx