April 1, 2016

Since my last newsletter, several items have been introduced and will be debated by City Council next Tuesday (4/5) to tackle Berkeley’s affordability and housing crisis. I have authored and co-sponsored two pieces of legislation that I hope will address concerns that many of you share. If you are so inclined to support these items (details below), please feel free to email clerk@cityofberkeley.info so your comments will be received by the Council meeting.

The first item addresses the City of Berkeley’s massive shortfall in creating middle income housing. According to the Association of Bay Area Governments, Berkeley is only creating 4% of the housing that were needed to meet the needs of its middle income earners. Our most recent nexus study suggests that even households earning the Area Median Income can't afford to live in Berkeley. This type of housing is incredibly hard to create because very low-income housing units are often more economically feasible because the developer can access federal and state subsidies. This proposal also asks city staff to look at “affordability by design” standards (i.e. modular construction, etc.).

The second piece of legislation is a neighborhood preference proposal that mirrors legislation passed by my colleagues in San Francisco, Supervisors London Breed and Supervisor Malia Cohen with the intention to stabilize San Francisco’s African American population. This proposal would allow individuals living near a new development or those who have been subjected to an Ellis Act eviction a greater chance in accessing those new affordable units.

While there are many other housing proposals on the agenda on Tuesday night, you might also want to check out the Mayor’s Housing Omnibus package. His plan contains 13 action items to address the housing affordability crisis. I urge you to look at his package. It includes affordable housing mitigation fee updates, zoning updates in the South Side and along transit corridors, and a streamlined approval process for projects that meet specific criteria. I urge you to take a look at this extensive plan. I look forward to discussing and learning more about this plan on Tuesday night. 

In addition to housing, we also will be discussing potential ballot measures whether the City should conduct a second round of polling on these measures. The results of the City of Berkeley’s first survey of its residents are pretty fascinating and indicate that affordable housing, homelessness, and improving schools are the top priorities of respondents.

Caleb’s Law

Caleb Sears attended Monteverde Preschool in our district within St. John’s Church and tragically died last year after going to an oral surgeon who administered general anesthesia. Dentists and oral surgeons are the only medical providers who can administer anesthesia themselves without an anesthesiologist present and no indication was given to Caleb's parents that he would be receiving a lower level of care than allowed in any other medical setting where anesthesia is administered. Caleb’s parents have teamed up with Assemblymember Tony Thurmond to introduce AB2235 which would require tracking of adverse effects from dental sedation and require notice of the risks be given to parents. If you support this proposed legislation, please consider contacting the business and professions committee to voice your support.


Lori Droste

Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8
Check out my website: www.loridroste.com

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Office Hours - New April Date 

My next office hours will be on Thursday, 4/14 from 9am - 10:30am at at Cafe Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave. Feel free to drop by – no appointment necessary.

In Lieu of our Commissioner Spotlight: in memory of Caleb Sears
Caleb Sears