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We made it to July!

June was a turbulent month with tragedies here in Berkeley, with the balcony collapse, and in South Carolina, with the Charleston church shooting. My heart goes out to everyone in these communities, especially the family and friends of those who lost a loved one.

There was also cause for great celebration: the Supreme Court guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage, upheld President Obama’s healthcare law to provide subsidies to poor and middle class people to buy health insurance, and bolstered laws to fight housing discrimination.

The Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage has so many implications for my family and many others as well. First of all, our country recognizes our love. More importantly, my family can now feel safe to travel to my home state of Ohio with our children and not feel as if we put our family in legal jeopardy. I acknowledge there are many more hurdles to overcome for LGBTQ citizens but this is one big happy step. To celebrate, my office participated in the San Francisco Pride parade:

Pride 2015

Update: Development in Berkeley’s Downtown

I’m pleased to say that a proposal which I cosponsored with Councilmember Moore passed by an 8-1 vote on June 25th. The proposal defines what a “community benefit” is and how community benefits should be provided to the City as new, taller buildings are built in our downtown (per Berkeley’s Downtown Plan). The proposal ensures that every development in the downtown area that exceeds 75 feet must either:

  • include significant affordable housing units on-site, use local labor, and contribute to some combination of arts and culture, street and open space improvements, green building standards, restoration of historic buildings, or supportive social services or

  • pay a square footage fee that will go into City funds to support the aforementioned benefits.

Additionally, the community benefits amount must be independently verified to ensure that projects provide adequate community benefits while also remaining financially viable. This proposal acknowledges the growth and development that Berkeley voters have indicated they want to see in our downtown, while at the same time ensuring that the growth also contributes to our community in a meaningful way. Read the details of the proposal here - the item is coming up for review at our July 14th meeting.  

The full July 14th meeting agenda is available here, and includes items on building safety, affordable housing, and undergrounding of utility wires, etc. After that, Council breaks until September.

More updates and announcements:

Movies in the Park!  
Join us for a FREE outdoor movie series on Friday nights brought to you by Berkeley’s Parks, Recreation and Waterfront department.  The featured films are:

  • July 10th, The Lego Movie at Cedar Rose Park,1300 Rose St., 8:45pm – 10:45 pm
  • July 31st, Despicable Me at Willard Park, 2730 Hillegass Ave., 8:30pm – 10:30 pm
  • August 28th, Big Hero 6 at Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck Ave., 8:00pm – 10:00 pm

Enjoy all the fun of a drive in movie at your local park.  Please arrive at least 30 minutes before the movie begins.  Bring blankets, sleeping bags and/or low-back beach chairs with a maximum height of 9 inches off the ground, so the view of other patrons is not blocked.  A flashlight or headlamp makes walking out at the end of the night easier.  Limited street parking is available.  This is an alcohol free event.  Visit www.cityofberkeley.info or call 510-981-5150 for more information.  We’ll see you at the movies! 

Surge of Summer Street Paving - Measure M Update
The City of Berkeley will soon pave 40 streets that account for 11 miles of Berkeley roads, an amount that is more than double the typical pace of recent years. The increased paving and installation of green infrastructure throughout the City is made possible by the passage of Measure M, the $30 million streets and watershed bond passed by Berkeley voters in 2012. The paving is also funded by Alameda County Measure B Sales Tax, Capital Improvement Fund, and Gas Tax revenues.

The paving is expected to be completed within four months, with the first streets to be paved starting in June. Individual streets, which are listed at the bottom of this message, have already been sent mailers. They will be given further notice about timing roughly one to two weeks in advance with mailers or notices hung on door handles. Read more here.

Free Automatic Gas Shutoff Valves Available to Berkeley Residents
Details here.

Office Hours - Evening Hours in August
My next office hours will be on August 11th, 6:30-8pm, at Cafe Espresso Roma. No appointment is necessary. 

Commissioner Spotlight  
I’m happy to introduce Noemí Gallardo as my recent appointee to the Berkeley Energy Commission. Noemí is a District 3 resident working at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, a private foundation in San Francisco. 

Noemi Gallardo

Noemí Gallardo is a licensed attorney with a JD from UC Hastings and an MPP from the University of Southern California. As the daughter of immigrants, she has pursued social justice in all her work. Her passion for energy and environmental issues ignited during her fellowship at The Greenlining Institute, where she focused on helping ensure that fundamental resources like energy are affordable and accessible for low-income communities of color. Noemí is also a certified Spanish interpreter and advocate for language access. She is currently a fellow at the Haas Jr. Fund focusing on grantmaking that advances the rights of immigrants and creates opportunities for them to participate in the democratic process. She is grateful to have the opportunity to serve her local community by contributing to solving Berkeley's energy needs.

 

Sincerely,

Lori Droste

Check out my website: www.loridroste.com  

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