Encampments, Preventing Hep A, New Transparency Measures and More City of Berkeley News

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If you have lived in Berkeley any amount of time, you've likely noticed the growth in homeless encampments, a direct correlation of the region’s lack of affordable housing. Over the past 30 years, 80 percent of government funding for homeless and mental health services has been cut and the homeless population has grown exponentially.

While my administration is taking steps to open a new shelter in West Berkeley and build new units of below market housing and emergency shelter in the downtown area, we know that we don’t have the resources to shelter for everyone who needs it. As a result, people will continue to live on our streets.

That’s why I have long believed that the HERE/THERE encampment should be allowed to remain. Unlike many homeless encampments, it has set rules, including a noise curfew, prohibits alcohol and drugs and keeps the area clear of debris. It functions like a well-run tent village and provides shelter for people who would otherwise be sleeping in doorways and park benches. In other words, it is a model we could potentially replicate in other camps --perhaps with some around the clock security -- moving forward.

I am saddened that BART is not willing to let the HERE/THERE encampment stay, but am committed to helping members find a new location.

We are also pushing ahead with the Pathways Project, which includes a low barrier, year-round shelter at Second and Cedar streets slated to open this winter. With that in mind, the city has recently set up a way residents and others can donate to this and other homeless initiatives. All donations are tax deductible. To learn more, visit here.

Finally, we are continuing our effort to save Alta Bates Hospital, "the Birthplace of the East Bay" from closure, slated to occur by 2030. Alta Bates is Berkeley’s only acute care hospital, and a mother and infant care center of excellence for more than a century. This Sunday, the California Nurses Association is organizing a Stroller Brigade march and rally outside of the hospital, located at 2450 Ashby Avenue, starting 11:30 am. Bring friends, families and neighbors --and all available strollers -- to show your support.

Proactive Response to Statewide Hepatitis A Outbreak

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At the October 17 meeting, the City Council voted to set up temporary hand washing and sanitation stations, along with a number of other measures meant to prevent a Hepatitis A outbreak. These steps include increasing the number of publicly accessible restroom facilities throughout Berkeley, stepping up maintenance and cleaning of new and existing public restrooms and facilities, increasing needle disposal and/or exchange facilities and providing voluntary vaccines to vulnerable populations such as the homeless.

There have not been any Hepatitis A cases in Berkeley, and we hope that being proactive will help us avoid the type of outbreaks seen in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. 

Reporting City Expenses Associated with Event and Protest Activity

I believe in transparency and know that many of our residents do too. Now Berkeley residents will be able to see the steep costs of public events such as protests, six weeks after the event, thanks to a new item approved by Council on October 17.

Berkeley has a long and proud history of facilitating free speech and protest, but the recent events, most of which were not permitted, are costly to manage, whether or not they originate in the City or on the UC Berkeley campus. The reports will be included in the council agenda packets so that residents see how much the city is spending on security. This new step won’t make unwanted rallies go away. But we think that releasing the information is good for democracy and will help residents understand the difficult choices the city deals with every day.

Sister City Bond Remains Strong

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Last month, I had the honor of traveling to our Sister City of Sakai, Japan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our partnership, a trip that did not use any taxpayer monies. Sakai Mayor Osami Takeyama and residents were gracious hosts to me and our Berkeley delegation as we commemorated this incredible occasion. During my visit, I learned about Sakai's rich cultural heritage, and of the many programs and projects they are working on to address energy and water usage, environmental issues, disaster preparedness and transportation.

Berkeley and Sakai have a special bond. We both value the importance of culture, history, innovation, and community. Not only is our relationship between our cities the longest of our sister cities, but it is also our strongest. In a world where it may seem nations are becoming increasingly isolated, it is important for cities to continue the spirit of international comradery. We may be our own country, but we exist in relation to the world.

Green Your City and Honor Loved Ones Through New Commemorative Tree Program

The city of Berkeley has set up a commemorative program that will allow trees to be planted all over Berkeley to honor individuals or organizations while simultaneously reducing pollution and building Berkeley’s resilience to climate change. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront Department at 510-981-6700.

Group Asks Berkeley Residents to Open Homes to People in Need

 Photo: Courtesy of SafeTime

Photo: Courtesy of SafeTime

Like countless Bay Area residents, Chuck Grant wanted to do something to help the homeless. Inspired by the recent German effort to shelter Middle Eastern refugees streaming into the country, he launched SafeTime this spring. The nonprofit supports people impacted by the affordable housing crisis by finding them temporary homes --from a few days to a few months-- with volunteer hosts.

“I was aware that Airbnb and couch surfing sites were encouraging people to let people into their homes for money or companionship, and I thought maybe there were people who would do it out of the goodness of their hearts for people in need,” said Grant, a Kensington resident and UC Berkeley grad. Grant, who worked in technology research, teaching, and business in the East Bay before becoming SafeTime’s executive director, co-founded the organization with a physician, a high school teacher, and two nonprofit executives.

So far, approximately 15 hosts have opened their doors to homeless people, and Grant says most are happy with the relief they’ve provided and the relationships they’ve developed. Guests go through extensive reference and background checks, and are matched with hosts based on compatibility. Before beginning a stay, guests and hosts get to know each other through phone calls, coffee shop conversations, and a meeting at the host’s house. While it’s too early to evaluate outcomes, the feedback so far has been positive. Guests say they are grateful safe and peaceful shelter without fear of being robbed, beaten or just left in the elements.

The goal now is to continue growing SafeTime, and the organization is recruiting potential hosts through rotary clubs, churches, and schools. Recently, SafeTime worked with El Cerrito High School to create a way for families at the school to offer shelter to other students' families. This way, hosts can know that they are helping people from their community during a time of need.

To learn more about SafeTime, visit safetimehost.org

Berkeley Startup Blends Economic Modeling With Climate Science to Help Companies and Governments Prepare

 Photo: Courtesy of Emilie Mazzacurati

Photo: Courtesy of Emilie Mazzacurati

When people hear the word “start-up,” they often think Silicon Valley or San Francisco. But did you know that Berkeley is home to more than 150 start-up companies, working on everything from clean energy technology to new medical therapies? One of these is Four Twenty Seven, a Berkeley-based start-up that has developed an online application that uses climate science and economic modeling to help companies and cities understand climate risk. In doing so, local governments and businesses can better assess their vulnerability to things like wildfire, flooding and prolonged heat waves, and take the necessary precautions to mitigate impacts.

“Climate change is not getting any better,” said Emilie Mazzacurati, a native of France and a graduate of the Goldman School of Public Policy, who founded the company in 2012. “It will impact everything from water quality to bridges, roads and other infrastructure.”

Recently, Four Twenty Seven was hired by StopWaste in Alameda County to help eight cities do a climate hazard exposure analysis and propose a set of options for how to plan for future conditions. Other recent clients include the state of California, San Francisco Department of Public Health, Fortune 500 companies and large financial institutions. Last year, Four Twenty Seven, which takes its name from California’s target for reducing greenhouse gases by 2020, received the Berkeley Visionary Award, given by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. 

“Climate change threatens all the economic gains and social improvements of the past decades,” Mazzacurati said. “Understanding these risks is the first step to building resilience and protecting vulnerable communities and natural resources from these threats.”

SunShares makes it easier and more affordable to go solar or drive electric

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Looking for a way to green your footprint? SunShares, a program administered by the San Francisco Business Council on Climate Change, is offering discounts, free workshops and help for renters to learn more about their clean energy options. Sign-Up by November 10 to get no-cost solar bids from the three participating solar companies and/or discount codes for zero-emission vehicles.

You can then get a solar evaluation from up to three pre-vetted solar installers. Register by November 10th to receive a no-cost solar proposal. Once you receive a proposal, there is no obligation to move forward with your project. Sign your solar contract by December 31 to move forward with solar installation and take advantage of the discounted program pricing. Solar installations will happen in spring 2018. For more information, check out bayareasunshares.org

Volunteer Opportunity: Judges and Mentors Needed for Student Innovation Contest

The UC Berkeley’s Big Ideas Contest is an early-stage innovation competition that connects interdisciplinary teams of graduate and undergraduate students with mentorship, training, and resources needed to successfully conceptualize, deploy and scale social innovations. Since its launch in 2006, Big Ideas has inspired more than 5,000 students to propose 1,800+ high-impact projects aimed at solving the world’s most pressing problems. The success of the contest and the teams and ideas it produces is made possible by more than enthusiastic professionals who serve as judges and mentors each year.

The contest has grown tremendously in recent years and is actively seeking additional judges and mentors who aspire to support student innovators as they transform their early-stage ideas into real-world impact. Ideal judges and mentors will have a passion for innovation, 5+ years of relevant entrepreneurial or industry experience, and an interest in engaging with highly motivated and talented students.

If you are interested in serving as a judge or mentor, please fill out this application form. Contact francis.gonzales@berkeley.edu with any questions.

Upcoming Events

26th Annual Berkeley Film and Video Festival 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2 pm
East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison St.

Film geeks rejoice! Berkeley’s Film Festival is back and will be proudly screening documentaries, features, shorts, animations, music videos, experimental films, USC Film School shorts and more! Tickets available at www.berkeleyvideofilmfest.org

Quest the Movie

Sunday, November 5, 6 pm
East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison St.

The streets of Berkeley come alive in this intense, lyrical coming-of-age story based on real events by Berkeley High School grad Santiago Rizzo. The story begins in 1995 when a middle-school graffiti artist wanders around town with his friends, tagging anything he can reach. He meets Willard Middle School teacher and coach Tim Moellering who takes him in and turns his life around.

The drama, which recently screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival, that mixes penetrating scenes of heartbreak with funny, real moments of human connection. Tickets $10.

Berkeley Half Marathon

Sunday, November 19, 8 am-1 pm
Milvia St at Kittredge St

Join more than 10,000 runners at the fifth running of Berkeley Half Marathon (Half Marathon, 10K and 5K). Experience a running tour of our beautiful city starting with iconic Telegraph Avenue and Shattuck Avenue, winding through tree-lined North Berkeley, cruising along the waterfront near the Berkeley Marina and completing the loop course in the heart of Berkeley.

Whether you run the Half Marathon, 10K or 5K, all offer rewarding and fun experiences for runners of all types. Runners enjoy exclusive perks like a free shirt and finisher’s medal, exclusive details from partners, one free post-race beer, and a fantastic post-race celebration at the Finish Line Festival.

Alcatraz Indigenous People's Sunrise Gathering

Thursday, November 23, 4:45-8:45 am
Alcatraz Pier 33 Ferry Terminal, San Francisco

As a counterpoint to Thanksgiving celebrations that ignore the historic injustice by European colonization of the Americas, the annual sunrise ceremony honors the culture and history of indigenous people. Ferries to the island leave every fifteen minutes starting at 4:45 am, and the last ferry back to the mainland is at 8:45 am. If you're willing to brave the early morning commute, consider participating in this event to recognize perspectives ignored by American history books.

Contact Us

My office is here to serve you. Visit our website for frequently used phone numbers and to stay up to date with our blogs. You can also call or send us an email with questions or concerns.

Mayor Arreguin:
Mayor@cityofberkeley.info

Brandi Campbell, Chief of Staff:
BCampbell@cityofberkeley.info

Jac McCormick, Senior Advisor: 
JMcCormick@cityofberkeley.info

Karina Ioffee, Director of Communications:
Kioffee@cityofberkeley.info  

Stefan Elgstrand, Assistant to Mayor:  
SElgstrand@cityofberkeley.info 

 

Jesse Arreguin