Please join me in formally welcoming Mayor Jesse Arreguin, City Council members Sophie Hahn, Ben Bartlett, and Cheryl Davila to Council! I also want to congratulate Councilmember Susan Wengraf on her re-election. I look forward to working with all of them in the coming years. Photo ℅ Daily Cal.
I would also like to take a moment to introduce you to the Mayor’s team: former District 4 staffers Brandi Campbell and Stefan Elgstrand, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, former legislative aide to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, and our very own District 8 resident Jacquelyn McCormick. I look forward to working with the Mayor’s team and the Mayor.
Next Tuesday, 12/13, is our final City Council meeting of the year. You can find the complete agenda here, which includes a package of items to address Berkeley’s homeless crisis from Mayor Arreguín and an item from our last meeting about the City’s reserve policy. Details on both of these items are included below (along with hyperlinked reports).
Mayor Arreguin’s Package on Homelessness: Since so many of you have expressed concern about recent incidents and interest in the City’s policies on homelessness, I have included an outline of the package below. If passed, Mayor Arreguín’s item would:
Direct the City Manager and Chief of Police to permit camping on designated public property unless camping poses a threat to health and safety.
Form a sub-committee to explore emergency solutions to homelessness, including short-term navigation centers.
Develop a formal policy regarding the removal of encampments which requests a 7 day notice before the removal of an encampment.
Repeal a component of the Sidewalk Ordinance from last year that limits the amount of physical space personal belongings can take up on the sidewalk.
Redirect funding formally allocated to the Homeless Locker Program to the following: $5,722 for Berkeley Drop-In Center, $50,000 Youth Spirit Artworks, and up to $25,000 for three Tiny Homes Pilot Projects (up to $10,000 each for proposals from First They Came for the Homeless, Youth Spirit Artworks, and up to $5,000 to Vehicles for Change).
If Council repeals the sidewalk ordinance provision, the funding needed to create the City’s Locker Storage Program would be reallocated. To be clear, limits on personal belongings or encampments on the sidewalks have not yet been enforced because the Council previously said that locker storage for belongings must be in place before enforcement.
The larger question then becomes how do we reallocate that money to resources that will best help people off the street? In 2015, City staff presented detailed evaluations of community agencies. You can find those recommendations here and here. Given this information, and the fact that we have an annual competitive process for funding community agencies, I have several questions regarding those evaluations and I share others’ concern about the fairness of funding any community agencies outside a competitive, evaluative process.
Given the complexity of homelessness, I believe a multifaceted approach to policy solutions is warranted. I think short-term navigation centers based on San Francisco is a great idea. I also have a lot of questions about the Mayor Arreguín’s proposal around tent encampments. Regardless of the outcome of our Council meeting, I believe it is imperative that we involve our staff in this conversation given that they are on the front lines in evaluating and providing services. You can read a summary of what homeless services the City currently provides in this report.
City Reserves: The City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan has written extensively on the need to increase our reserves to a Government Finance Officers Association-recommended minimum of 16.7%. Our current policy is 8% which would fund City operations for 30 days in case of an unexpected emergency. Also, a risk assessment conducted by the City of Berkeley recommends a 30% reserve level for many reasons, one of which is the City’s vulnerability to extreme events and public safety concerns (i.e. earthquakes).
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8
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.
Registration now open for Echo Lake family camp
Berkeley residents can start registering Monday December 5 for Echo Lake family camp, which continues traditions built through generations of campers amidst the beauty of the High Sierras.
The six weeks of 2017 family camp, which blends camp culture of both Echo Lake and Berkeley Tuolumne family camps, are from June 17 to July 16 and from July 21 to July 31. The registration form, registration schedules, the calendar, and program fees are on the Family Camp website. For more information see the family camp welcome packet or the page about all camps at Echo Lake.Other campsat Echo Lake include Fish Camp, Work Weekend, Youth Residential Camp, Counselor-In-Training (CIT) programs, and 50+ camps. There will also be the return of our Artist-In-Residence and Guest Chef programs. Read more at CityofBerkeley.info