Below, I’ve included several timely updates to address recent public safety concerns in our community, particularly the pedestrian-car collision near John Muir Elementary, recent sexual assaults around Cal campus, and an update on the Sutter Health - Alta Bates Ashby campus. Please know that safety in our community is a top priority.
Pedestrian Safety at John Muir Elementary
On Tuesday evening, a student and mother were struck by a car on Claremont Ave. in front of John Muir Elementary School. The driver was at fault and was cited. This is a tragic incident, and fortunately the student and her mother will recover. I take pedestrian safety very seriously, and also desire overdue improvements to that particular intersection. I play often with my two young children at John Muir Elementary playground so I understand the urgency and concern. In the coming weeks, I’ll be meeting with the John Muir community and City staff to explore our options for improved safety measures around John Muir Elementary. I will also ask you for feedback regarding potential long-term solutions for improved safety along Claremont Avenue. Please know that we are working overtime on this issue to ensure that our children can walk to school safely.
The City has applied for four Safe Routes to School grants to make multiple changes around John Muir Elementary School to encourage bicycling and walking to the school. The proposed changes include sidewalk bulb-outs, crosswalk safety beacon improvements, an overhead mast, signs (including a speed-feedback sign), pavement striping and pedestrian lighting. The most recent application was for $392,000 in May 2015, which was rejected. We will continue to seek funding.
Some have inquired about reducing the speed limit on Claremont to less than 25 mph, but state law does not allow us to make that speed reduction on a four-lane street. In our future communications, we will ask you whether you might support a road diet on Claremont Avenue. This could include a lane reduction in order to include bike lanes and/or other pedestrian improvements.
Additional traffic improvements at Ashby and Claremont have been approved and we expect to start construction soon. Changes along Ashby Avenue and Tunnel Road should all have approved permits this spring and move towards construction immediately thereafter. This includes bike lanes and a rapid flashing beacon crossing on Tunnel Road, a pedestrian hybrid beacon signal at Ashby and Hillegass, a signal-controlled bike path crossing of Ashby at the 9th Street Path, and signal modifications at several other intersections to better serve pedestrian safety.
The pedestrian and bike master plans evaluate the history of crashes in the City in order to identify priority locations for improvements. With 1,013 reported crashes involving pedestrians and 1,290 crashes involving people riding bikes over the past 10 years, there are many areas at which the City seeks to make improvements. The City is developing a Strategic Transportation Plan which will not only prioritize projects but develop a strategy to fund and build them. While designing and building roadway improvements and traffic controls can’t absolutely guarantee bike and pedestrian safety, which is up to all of us, the City seeks to do everything we can to contribute to safer use of public streets. We want to hear your input on these plans and will update you on future meetings. It is important to be involved in these discussions (see “Help the City Prioritize Transportation Projects” below).
Important message from Berkeley Police: Community Crime Alert - Recent Sexual Assaults
The City of Berkeley Police Department Special Victims Unit is investigating four similar sexual assaults which occurred over the past month.
On February 11, 2016 at about 9:10 p.m., an unknown suspect sexually assaulted a woman in the 2500 block of Haste Street. On February 16, 2016 at about 1100: p.m., a second woman was assaulted near the intersection of Durant Avenue and Ellsworth Street. About twenty minutes later, a third woman was assaulted a short distance away, in the 2500 block of Benvenue Street. In that incident, the victim chased the suspect through UC Berkeley’s Unit 2 parking lot, and the suspect was last seen running west on Haste. On March 4, 2016 just before midnight a fourth woman was assaulted on Etna Street near Parker Street.
Detectives are seeking the community’s help in identifying a possible suspect in these cases. Video of the person can be viewed on BPD’s website here. If you have any information regarding these assaults, please call the BPD Special Victims Unit at 510-981-5735. For any crimes in progress, call 911. If a caller wishes to remain anonymous they can call Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Community members are reminded to employ crime prevention measures whenever possible. By taking a few precautions, you can reduce your risk as well as discourage those who commit crimes.
Be alert to your surroundings and people around you.
Whenever feasible, walk, jog or travel with a friend.
Walk confidently and at a steady pace.
Do not talk on cell phones or listen to devices when alone, as they limit awareness.
Be aware of locations and situations, which make you more vulnerable to crime such as alleys, doorways, parking lots and stairwells.
Stay in well-lighted areas as much as possible.
Call Berkeley PD at 981-5900 to report suspicious persons or activity
Sutter Health Alta Bates - Ashby Campus Update
Many of you have reached out to my office with concerns about the future of Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Ashby campus. As you may know, the campus on Ashby, like other hospitals around the state, is required by state law to seismically upgrade facilities by 2030. I’ve met with Sutter Health leadership who confirm that they are shifting services to other campuses, but stated that they intend to keep the campus for outpatient services and other uses. To address your concerns of changes to the Ashby Campus, I’ve joined with Councilmember Capitelli to request that the City’s Community Health Commission assess the impact and potential changes of this on our community. The referral is on the 3/29 Council agenda, will will be available here. If you have any comments to submit, please email email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep you all abreast of any updates/findings from the Commission and information regarding Sutter Health Alta Bates.
City Council Update
City Council met on Tuesday and approved the mid-program Measure M Paving Plan and moved forward on developing a system to prioritize Council referrals. As the author of this referral, I’m pleased that Council is taking a step to identify city priorities in an efficient manner. Last night’s agenda included 41 items, and my hope is that with a better sense of prioritization, CIty staff will be less inundated with so many referrals at once. I see this as a victory for good government.
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8
My next office hours will be on Thursday, 4/7 from 9:30 -11am at Cafe Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave. Feel free to drop by – no appointment necessary.
Update: New Area Coordinator, Officer Sean Tinney
Please join me in thanking Ofc. Jessyca Nabozny in her service to our neighborhoods over the past few years. Beginning on March 14, Ofc. Sean Tinney will begin as the new Area Coordinator. Ofc. Tinney has been an officer for 11 years. He worked 5 years with UCPD and 6 years with BPD. Ofc. Tinney has worked a lot of different assignments but his most recent assignment is working as a bike unit in the downtown Shattuck/Telegraph area. He can be reached via email at STinney@ci.berkeley.ca.us
Celebrate Meet Me Downtown Day
Meet friends and family in Downtown Berkeley on March 20 for an afternoon of theatre, music, art, film, live performances, food & drink featuring the new BAMPFA, UC Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Freight & Salvage, and more. For more details visit www.meetmedowntown.info
On Sunday March 20, from 12 noon to 5pm, six venues will feature free activities to give you a taste of their offerings, AND Downtown restaurants are offering food and drink specials for visitors. Explore the stunning architecture and collection of Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive at its new location on Center Street, and enjoy short films on their spectacular outdoor screen. Experience the newly reopened UC Theatre for drinks and snacks in its beautiful interior and be amazed by a demonstration of their Meyer Sound system. And rediscover classic venues with performance workshops at the Berkeley Rep, interactive bands at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, and live music at the California Jazz Conservatory. Start it all off with yoga, swimming, or a workout at the YMCA.
Help the City Prioritize Transportation Projects
Come out on March 16th and help the City build our transportation strategy, which will prioritize improvements to our streets, sidewalks, bikeways and intersections. How people move through a community has a powerful impact. The design of a community's transportation systems can strengthen neighborhoods. Better pedestrian spaces can spur economic vitality. Transportation design can help achieve environmental goals, such as reducing greenhouse gases. It can improve social equity by increasing mobility for low-income residents or underprivileged groups. Think about your values and your goals for what Berkeley should be, and bring them to our kick-off meeting. Berkeley Strategic Transportation Plan, South Berkeley Senior Center, Multi-purpose room, 2939 Ellis Street, Berkeley, Wednesday, March 16th, 2016, 5:00pm to 8:00pm, drop by anytime. Presentations at 6:00pm and 7pm. Read more here.
I’d like to introduce my Police Review Commissioner, Kad Smith:
Kad grew up in West Berkeley, raised by his grandmother, Dorothy Smith. It was through his grandmother that Kad received a deep appreciation for community involvement, education, and social equity. By fifth grade, Kad was questioning the why socio-economic differences existed between his classmates at Black Pine Circle and himself as a resident in West Berkeley, growing up in a fixed-income home. After a tumultuous and world-rocking high school experience, Kad was able to put himself through college, where he studied politics and philosophy at the University of San Francisco. He chose the University of San Francisco for its institutional commitment to social justice.
Kad brings 7 years of experience from the social justice professional arena and a unique perspective on community policing, based on his lived experience with the juvenile justice system and subsequent advocacy for criminal justice reform. Kad proudly remembers his grandfather's legacy as one of the first black deputies in the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and has a deep appreciation for the positive impact police can have in the community
Kad currently lives in Berkeley and works in Oakland, cultivating leadership cohorts within the nonprofit sector. He enjoys writing, playing basketball (Go Warriors!), analyzing hip-hop music, and learning about all the innovation happening in the world.