april 24, 2018

There has been a lot happening lately. First, I want to update you on important policy issues Council will be debating over the next couple of weeks.

Sidewalk Ordinance

At Thursday’s special meeting, Council will revisit sidewalk regulations. Many of you have written to me about the state of our public spaces and sidewalk accessibility. I’m pleased the Mayor is committed to addressing the issue of sidewalk accessibility and obstructions while respecting the constitutional rights of our community.

Because this discussion will take place at a special Council meeting on Thursday at the Longfellow School Auditorium, please share your thoughts with me or Council at council@cityofberkeley.info before Wednesday 4/25 at noon.

Encampment Policy

One of the fundamental issues that Council has discussed over the past several years is the presence of encampments throughout the City. On Thursday, we will discuss an encampment policy (p.12) that defines encampments as individuals inhabiting a public location for three consecutive days. It lists various considerations for either a) abatement b) moving or c) immediate removal.

It is important to me that we clarify the following questions:

  • If encampments abate conditions or move locations, should encampments be allowed to stay? The City currently does not allow encampments to remedy negative impacts.
  • Are there any other provisions that would warrant immediate removal of encampments outside of health & safety, failure to abate, and failure to move?
  • Is three days adequate/too much/too little time for an encampment to exist before it is abated or moved?

This is also part of Thursday's special meeting so please share your thoughts with me or Council at council@cityofberkeley.info before Wednesday 4/25 at noon. Please keep in mind that the encampment policy may be continued to a later meeting for a final vote.

Regional Disaster Training

On May 1, The Disaster and Fire Safety Commission has recommended to Council that Fire and Health city staff continue training in regional disaster preparedness exercises. I discussed this issue at length in my June newsletterfrom last year when Council voted on the City’s participation in regional trainings.

Outdoor Shelter for Homeless Individuals

Related to the encampment ordinance, the Peace and Justice Commission is attempting to address encampments by recommending the designation of locations for sanctioned encampments and immediately providing storage.

Digital currency

At Tuesday’s Council worksession, Councilmember Bartlett will be introducing a proposal for a microbond blockchain initiative to invest in public projects. We will be voting on the item on next week.

To provide feedback on any of these items, please contact council@cityofberkeley.info

Supporting Small Businesses

Since my last newsletter, I authored and City Council passed legislation setting up a Council subcommittee addressing challenges small businesses face. Please feel free to come to these worksessions. We are having the next meeting on May 10th at 10am (Magnolia Conference Room, 3rd Floor, 1947 Center St.) where we will be discussing the Office of Economic Development’s report on small businesses. You can view the full agenda here.  

The Elmwood District has seen the closures of many beloved retail stores and restaurants. I want to assure you that I am in regular communication with our OED staff, property owners, and potential tenants to try and fill those spaces as soon as possible. In the meantime, our office is working with staff to move forward with some permitting changes that may dramatically help retail.

On that note, it is incredibly important to support our local businesses. This weekend is a perfect opportunity with the Elmwood Wine Walk on April 29th. You can support the Berkeley Schools Fund by buying tickets.

April 29th Elmwood Wine Walk to Support the Schools Fund - Buy Your Tickets!

What better way to spend your last Sunday in April? Sample over 70 wines and browse over 50 local businesses while supporting the Schools Fund! Join us for the Elmwood Wine Walk on Sunday, April 29 from 1-5pm. You can buy your ticket online and sample over 70 wines for a discount price of $25! Small bites, too!

Office Hours

I’ll be hosting office hours on Thursday, May 3rd from 9:30 - 11am at Cafe Espresso Roma on College @ Ashby. Feel free to stop by and say hello - no appointment necessary.

Sincerely, 
Lori Droste
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8
www.LoriDroste.com

Need a street or sidewalk repair? Want to request a City service?

Use Berkeley's online 311 form (either through the General Request form or a specific topic) or call 311 from a landline, or 510-981-2489. Please note that my office routes all the service requests we receive through this customer service center, so your request will be handled most efficiently by directly contacting 311.

Sign up for emergency notifications on AC Alert  and crime prevention/updates on Nixle.  


Street Lights and Stormwater Funding

Since Berkeley’s storm drainage rate has not increased since 1991, and the street lighting rate has not increased since 1982, there is not enough funding available for needed system improvements, new infrastructure, or even for annual maintenance costs. The City recognizes it cannot responsibly go forward without investing in the future safety and reliability of this critical infrastructure we all rely on. As such, the City has proposed an increase in street light and stormwater fees. Per State law, property owners must approve a ballot measure before the City can raise fees or assessments. You should have received your ballot in the mail.   

At the May 29th Council meeting, the City will tally votes from property owners about the proposed fees. You can learn more about the proposed fees, etc. here.


Bay Area Book Festival

Please consider joining hundreds of authors and attendees at the  Bay Area Book Festival. It takes place April 28–29. See the schedule for details.


Berkeley Commencement

Berkeley Commencement is on Saturday, May 12th at Memorial Stadium, and
individual departmental ceremonies will take place from May 13th to 19th. Find information about commencement here.


Cal Move Out

Cal Move Out is coming in mid May/early June. The city is partnering with UC and students to decrease environmental and social impacts of illegal dumping and waste at the end of semester. Here is more information: Cal Move Out Flyer. If you need extra trash service, please contact customer service. More resource are available online at
CalMoveOut.berkeley.edu


City/UC Student Relations Committee- meeting location CHANGED

Wednesday, April 25, from 3:30 PM to 5 PM, Wada Hall, Room LO8 (2650 haste Street). The agenda includes an update from UC Berkeley on student and faculty housing efforts. Full agenda here.