Berkeley Crime Down, UC Population Increases, and more Berkeley News
Crime Down, Police Recruitment Up
Last month month, the Berkeley Police Department presented their 2018 Crime Report to the City Council, showing a reduction in crime in every category except arson (which remained flat). This year saw a 12% decrease in violent crime and a 10% decrease in property crimes. One noticeable statistic is that despite an increase in the number of people biking inBerkeley, bicycle thefts have dropped by 37% over the past three years. This is the result of the Police Department’s crackdown on bike thefts, leading to dozens of arrests, some of whom were prolific bicycle thieves. Yet while these statistics show that crime is going down overall, we can’t lose sight of the fact that nearly every week we read of a high profile crime. Our residents and businesses have been victims of crimes and do not feel safe. Our highest priority must be creating a city where everyone can feel safe to live and work. We must continue to prevent crimes from happening, solve crimes when they happen and make arrests so that everyone in our community feels safe and can enjoy a good quality of life.
It’s no secret that BPD, like police departments all over the country, is having recruitment and retention challenges, a trend that started about ten years ago. Fortunately, through an extensive recruitment campaign, staffing has been on the increase since May 2018. The low point was 153 officers in May 2018, which has since risen to 164 officers in March 2019. BPD estimates that they need to hire an additional 30-35 people to reach full capacity of 181 sworn officers (under the assumption 10-15 people will retire over the next year). Recently the City Council allocated additional funding to BPD for a robust outreach campaign to recruit officers throughout the state and country. Given the intensive outreach the Department has been doing, they are on track to reach this goal in the next year or two.
I want to thank Chief Andrew Greenwood and the Berkeley Police Department for the great work they have done in the past year to address crime trends and increase staffing. This includes their successful efforts to investigate and ultimately make arrests on high profile shootings that took place at San Pablo Park, and ongoing efforts to create a safe environment in that neighborhood. There has been great progress made in the past year and I look forward to supporting the Department with whatever it needs to continue to create a safer community.
Promoting an Age-Friendly Berkeley
By the year 2030, an estimated one in five Berkeley residents will be 65 years or older, nearly doubling the current senior population. To prepare for what is called the “Silver Tsunami” and create a safe and inclusive community for all seniors, the City, working with community partners embarked on a multi-year process to assess the needs of our senior population. The City conducted a survey of seniors, looked at existing services, how to make our streets and public facilities more safe and accessible, and what the long-term needs of seniors are with an expected population boom. Out of this process came the Berkeley Age-Friendly Action Plan. The Action Plan is a roadmap for what Berkeley can do to improve the current and future needs of seniors.
Based on feedback from community surveys and data from the World Health Organization, the Age-Friendly Action Plan focuses on eight domains. These are (1) housing, (2) health and community services, (3) transportation, (4) outdoor spaces and buildings, (5) social and civic participation, (6) employment and economic security, (7) respect and social inclusion, and (8) communication and information. These domains act as the building blocks for identifying the needs of our senior community by identifying social and environmental factors that influence how well we age and how long we live. Essentially, these are the categories that must be addressed to achieve the goals of the Action Plan.
Through using the lens of the eight domains, four priority areas were identified in the Action Plan. They are (1) housing and economic security, (2) transportation and mobility, (3) health and wellness, and (4) social participation and civic engagement. These priority areas have been identified as fundamental aspects that build upon the work that is already occurring in the community and will address current gaps. Each of the domains and priority areas have an expansive list of recommendations, which can be viewed in the Action Plan.
Read more about the Berkeley Age-Friendly Action Plan on my blog post.
City Seeks Input on Significant UC Population Increases
In 2005, UC Berkeley approved its 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) which set a population target for its student population of 33,450 by the year 2020. Today, it is expected that the population will rise to 44,735 by next year, a 33.7% increase from the original target. This is a result of significant enrollment growth throughout the UC system. It is expected that thousands more students will be coming to the UC Berkeleycampus in future years. This growth has real impacts on our city: damage to our roads, impacts on our sewer system, congestion on our streets, noise and other quality of life impacts, and increasing demands on our Fire and Police Departments. UC’s significant enrollment growth, and the impacts it has on our city, needs to be adequately mitigated.
UC Berkeley also committed to build 2,600 new beds, but only 1,119 have been created to date. We all know the student housing crisis has deepened, creating impacts on the availability of housing in our city. The LRDP and its Environmental Impact Report, studied the impacts of increased UC growth and what mitigations are needed to reduce those environmental impacts. It served as a guide to what the University would monetarily contribute to the City for the resources it consumes (such as usage of sewer lines, emergency services, etc). In 2005, the University and City ofBerkeley reached a settlement agreement on its LRDP which required roughly $1.4 million dollars in annual payments to the City to mitigate fiscal impacts. With a projected 33% increase in student population, it is time to look at renegotiating this agreement to require greater contributions from the University.
Last month, UC Berkeley released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for an expansion of the Goldman School of Police on Hearst Avenue. Included in that EIR was an analysis and amendment to the LRDP to increase the population baseline to 44,735. The EIR concludes that there are no significant and unavoidable impacts from a 33% increase in their student population. I have personally requested that the University sever the population issue from the Upper Hearst Project EIR.
On April 2, 2019, the City Council will have a discussion on providing formal comments on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for the Upper Hearst Development and Minor Amendment to the 2020 Long Range Development Plan, which included the new population baseline of 44,735. These documents go over the impacts of population increases on the campus environment, but fail to address the obvious impacts this has had on the greater Berkeley community.
It is important that the Berkeley community weighs in on this important issue. We must let the University know that it can’t wipe its hands clean of its significant growth. That it must mitigate the growing impacts on our city.
The University is requesting feedback on the draft SEIR, with comments due by April 8th. There are a couple of ways to submit comments:
Subject Header: Upper Hearst Development Project
Raphael Breines, Senior Planner
Physical & Environmental Planning
University of California, Berkeley
300 A&E Building, Berkeley, CA 94720-1382
Berkeley Housing Authority Board Seeks Applicants to Fill Vacancy
The Berkeley Housing Authority Board of Commissioners currently has two vacancies. The Housing Authority provides rental assistance to a total of 1,939 units through the Section 8 Voucher program and Moderate Rehabilitation Program. BHA is an independent agency from the City which is governed by a 7-member Board of Commissioners who are nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.
Mayor Arreguin is seeking qualified applicants with experience in finance, budgeting, public administration or housing to serve on the governing board of our local Housing Authority.
To apply, please send your resume and a cover letter to the Mayor’s Office at JMcCormick@cityofberkeley.info
Save the Date: North Berkeley BART Discussion at May 9 Council Meeting
WHAT: Council Meeting on the Future of North Berkeley BART
WHEN: Thursday, May 9, 2019, 6pm
WHERE: Longfellow Middle School Auditorium, 1500 Derby St
On May 9, the City Council will be reviewing land use scenarios based on feedback received at the January 15 Council Worksession and will consider moving forward with a memorandum of understanding with BART to clarify roles and responsibilities as we complete our visioning process for the North Berkeley BART Station.
This is a critical stage for community input as we make sure there is occasion for everyone to participate in this exciting opportunity to turn a parking lot into something great for our neighborhood.
We are also considering many different ways to get the community involved to ensure this community process is open and includes everyone’s input.
Come on May 9 to talk to the Council about what you want to see at the North Berkeley BART Station parking lots and your thoughts on the process moving forward. Read more about the Community Visioning Process for the North Berkeley BART Station.
Future of Pacific Steel Casting Site
On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, Mayor Arreguín and Councilmember Kesarwani held a community meeting to gather input on the future of the former Pacific Steel Casting site for possible twenty-first century manufacturing uses. A short presentation was given on the history of the location, current zoning, manufacturing trends, and sale timeline, followed by a community discussion on ideas for the site. It is likely that the site will change ownership in the next few months, and the City of Berkeley is closely monitoring the process and remediation efforts.
Watch video of the meeting, courtesy of Christine Schwartz.
New Initiatives Impacting Illegal Dumping
My office and the City Manager have taken several steps to address the increases in trash accumulation and illegal dumping. Our Public Works Department continues to send teams to the most impacted areas and has collected and removed dozens of tons of debris over the past few weeks. Since my last update, we have taken several additional steps to accelerate our efforts.
At the February 28th Council meeting, the Clean and Livable Commons Initiative was approved, providing new tools to tackle illegal dumping. Specifically, the City will be pursuing the following items:
Add lighting, cameras and signs at strategic locations in Berkeley to help deter illegal dumping.
Create a Livable Commons Action Team, made up of new staff in the Public Works, Parks, HHCS and City Manager’s office to increase the City’s ability to quickly address debris and other negative impacts related to homeless encampments.
Add portable toilets and a second homeless locker program near encampments.
Create a citizen awareness campaign to publicize these efforts and educate the public regarding illegal dumping and the best practices or ways to provide donations to homeless encampments.
Explore increasing the penalties for illegal dumping.
Address expanding the streets clean up employment program in the next budget process.
Explore short-term pump-out options.
Additionally, on March 12, Council allocated approximately $680,000 to fund encampment servicing and trash removal over the next two years. This money came from the recent $4 million in one-time Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) funding from the State to be used for a variety of homeless services.
Remembering Rob Browning
The City of Berkeley mourns the loss of Rob Browning, the husband of former Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio, who passed away on March 15. Rob was a respected community member and small business owner, whose business, Talavera Tile and Ceramics, brought the art and color of Mexico into the homes of Berkeley residents. Rob was a dedicated partner to Linda and supported her during her many years of service to the Berkeley community.
He will be dearly missed. Our heart goes out to our former colleague Linda and her family during this difficult time.
At this time, it is requested that rather than calling or sending emails, condolence cards can be sent to the Maio-Browning family c/o theMayor’s Office, 2180 Milvia Street, 5th Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704.
Upcoming Meetings and Events
Berkeley Bay Festival
Saturday, April 6, 11am-4pm
Berkeley Marina, 160 University Ave
Spend a day by the Bay listening to music, taking free sailboat and Dragon boat rides, eating tasty food, and exploring the Berkeley Marina. Visit booths sponsored by fun and educational organizations from throughout the Bay Area to learn about exciting things you and your family can do locally. Pick up a Passport to the Bay and get it stamped as you move from activity to activity in each booth. Education, entertainment, and fun for all ages. Click here for more information.
April Office Hours
Sunday, April 7, 3:30pm-5pm
Mo' Joe Cafe, 2517 Sacramento St
Join me and Councilmember Ben Bartlett for a coffee chat. Come by any time between 3:30-5:00pm to share your thoughts, grab a drink, or even just say hello.
Spring Egg Hunt Extravaganza
Saturday, April 20, 9:30-1pm.
Willard Park, 2720 Hillegass Ave
The day will be filled with tons of fun activities, including a petting zoo, a visit with the Spring Bunny, spring-themed arts and crafts, an interactive kid's carnival with fun prizes, and Bunny Hop dance lessons!
Youth participants will receive a basket to collect all their spring goodies. Youth ages 11+ can participate in a fun scavenger hunt for prizes! Call 981-5150 for more information. Pre-register online or register on-site day of event. Tickets are $10 per youth.
A Conversation on Race
Saturday, April 27, 12pm-1:30pm
Black Repertory Group Theater, 3201 Adeline St
Join Congressmembers Barbara Lee and Mark DeSaulnier for an open and honest discussion series about race in America and our own backyard. RSVP online. For more information or ADA accommodations, contact 925-933-2660.
Jesse Arreguin, Mayor
Jacquelyn McCormick, Chief of Staff
Stefan Elgstrand, Legislative Aide
Tano Trachtenberg, Legislative Aide
Molly Jones, Assistant to the Mayor