August 19, 2020

With air quality and energy advisories in effect, stay inside, stay informed, and take precautions 

With smoke from fires around the Bay Area affecting air quality and a statewide heat wave threatening rolling blackouts, stay inside and take steps to conserve energy.

Stay inside when air quality is poor

Air quality levels are rated “moderate” at the Berkeley air monitor in Aquatic Park as of 1pm on Wednesday, August 19. Be aware that conditions can change quickly depending on the wind and other factors.

Use an interactive map, which is updated hourly, to monitor local air quality status throughout the day. The City’s air quality webpage has recommendations about what precautions to take at different Air Quality Index (AQI) levels.

Everyone can protect their health by reducing physical activity and staying indoors with doors and windows closed. You should also:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
  • Set air conditioning units to re-circulate so you don’t bring outside air in.
  • Don’t smoke, burn candles, or use incense.
  • Don’t use gas, propane or wood burning stoves. Avoid frying or broiling meat.
  • Avoid vacuuming.

Do not use N-95s

Do not use an N-95s respirator unless you have been specifically instructed by a medical professional to do so and have been properly fitted.

N-95 respirators are not meant everyone and can be dangerous for certain people. There is currently a shortage of N-95s due to COVID-19, which means that it is especially important to reserve the supply for the situations they are designed for, including healthcare providers and emergency workers in active fire zones.

Conserve energy to help prevent power outages

Berkeley residents could experience rolling blackouts this evening due to statewide energy demand exceeding our electric grid’s capacity. These outages are initiated by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the organization that manages the state’s grid.

Similar warnings were issued the past two nights, but outages were averted thanks to the efforts residents took to conserve energy. As the statewide heat wave continues, it is important to continue limiting energy use today:

  • Set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher. When you’re not at home, turn thermostats to 85 degrees.
  • Close drapes and blinds to keep rooms cool.
  • Don’t turn on your oven.
  • Use ceiling fans to keep rooms cool, even if you have air conditioning. Keeping a ceiling fan running allows you to raise the thermostat by 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort.
  • Turn off lights and fans when you leave a room.
  • Limit use of energy-intensive appliances like washing machines and dishwashers during peak hours. Clean clothes and dishes early in the morning or after 10pm at night.
  • Prepare for a possible outage by fully charging your essential devices and backup power sources, check your emergency supplies to confirm you have flashlights and batteries for everyone in the household, and make a paper list of emergency contacts.

Stay informed by signing up for outage alerts from PG&E and emergency notifications from the City of Berkeley at

COVID-19 Update

Get tested: self-administered COVID-19 test kiosk through Aug. 23.  Results expected within 24-48 hours

Sign up now to be tested for COVID-19 at a walk-up kiosk where people can swab their own mouth and place it in a receptacle -- all while under supervision. The kiosk will be at Berkeley Adult School parking lot at 1701 San Pablo for a full week. Testing is available Tuesday Aug. 18 through Sunday Aug. 23, from 9am to 12pm and from 1pm to 5:30.

Make an appointment online. Test results are expected within 24-48 hours.

Kiosk pilot expands access to testing

Curative, Inc is a California-based company supplying the self-administered oral fluid COVID-19 test. The Curative test is widely used for drive-up and walk-up testing across the country, processing approximately 70,000 COVID-19 samples per day. 

This pilot, which offers the same test in a walk-up kiosk, is part of the City’s efforts to expand access to testing for everyone in our community. Over the eight previous days, the kiosk has led to testing of about 300 people a day in Berkeley.

The Curative kiosk tests are free to those without insurance, as are the two other Berkeley sites coordinated through the City.

People with insurance should always coordinate with their provider, as your primary physician would be important for any follow-up care. For those with insurance, be prepared to provide that information. Federal and state rules mandate that all patients with full-service Medi-Cal or commercial insurance in California will have copays, coinsurance, and deductibles waived for COVID-19 testing and screening.

Testing is at the core of Berkeley’s COVID-19 response

Testing is a crucial part of the City’s public health response -- one element in a public health infrastructure that partners closely with Alameda County and the state and is more effective when supported on a national level.

For every positive test of a Berkeley resident, City of Berkeley Public Health staff investigate and trace to identify others potentially exposed. The quicker people get tested, the quicker that response begins.

To provide increased testing for vulnerable populations, the City has sent a mobile testing unit to senior housing complexes, organizations with connections to Latinx and Black people, and skilled nursing facilities. The City has also provided testing to hundreds of people working in the City, such as essential workers in grocery stores.

Lori Droste
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8

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.  

City of Berkeley COVID-19 Resources


Our friends at Rialto Cinemas/Elmwood Theater have asked for your support in the #saveyourcinema campaign.  Please visit to voice your support.

Cal Move-In

In keeping with public health guidance, the number of students who will be living in our residence halls this year was reduced drastically and occupancy in each room is limited to one student. As today, we are expecting to house a total of 2, 250 students.    

To allow for a safe, social-distanced Move-In this process will be staggered over a four-day period—Thursday August 20th through Sunday August 23rd, 2020.   Approximately 600 students will move in each of the four days.

The Move-In Team is coordinating with Transportation, BPD and other city offices to manage traffic flow throughout the four days.  With the reduced number of students moving in over a longer period we anticipate the impact on the adjacent neighborhoods will be minimized.  There will be no road closures.  However, traffic may be heavier than usual near the corner of Bancroft Way and Fulton street; as students make their way through our COVID-19 Testing Site which is located in the parking lot between the Spiker Pool and the Public Affairs Building at 2200 Bancroft. 

Once students are tested they will proceed to the registration tables just outside their assigned residence on the Southside.  Move-In appointments for students in our Residence Halls will be between 10 AM and 7PM Thursday (8/20) through Saturday (8/22); the Move-In on Sunday (8/23) is expected to end at 6:30 PM. 

Student Move-In to apartments are scheduled to take place on Friday (8/21) from 10 AM to 7PM.   Three of the apartment buildings are on or adjacent to Telegraph Avenue: Panoramic Apartments (2539 Telegraph), the New Sequoia (2441 Haste at the corner of Telegraph), and the Enclave Apartments (2503 Haste at the corner of Telegraph).  The fourth, Garden Village, is located at the corner of Dwight Way and Fulton.

For details on the COVID-19 related measures and supports UC Berkeley will provide students living in university housing during the Move-In and the Fall Semester, please review the information at the link below:

Legal support for lease negotiations

Berkeley’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Ordinance allows both residential and commercial tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19 to defer rent payments during the local state of emergency.

Although this ordinance enables renters to defer rent for twelve months after the emergency ends, State of CA law requires commercial tenants to abide by the terms stipulated by their commercial lease, regardless of local ordinances, and thus they still owe all the deferred rent to their landlord unless they are able to negotiate new lease terms.

See Commercial leases during COVID-19 on the City of Berkeley website for more information about the eviction moratorium and for resources that can help you with commercial lease negotiations. Note: legal resources listed can also be used to access pro bono or reduced rate counsel on other issues.

Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report: University of California, Berkeley Clark Kerr Campus Beach Volleyball Complex

UC Berkeley will prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Clark Kerr Campus Beach Volleyball Complex project. The proposed project would include two components: 1) development of the beach volleyball complex for the women’s Intercollegiate Athletic beach volleyball program and other recreational uses; and 2) partial demolition of Building 21. Currently, there are two beach volleyball courts located on Clark Kerr Campus, approximately 800 feet from the proposed project site. These courts do not meet Title IX requirements.

The proposed project would involve the construction of an Intercollegiate Athletics and recreational beach volleyball facility with four courts, a support building with team rooms, locker rooms, restrooms, coaches’ offices and storage, new lighting and scoreboard, a public address system, and a lawn area for spectators attending matches, to support UC Berkeley’s ongoing compliance with Title IX. The facility would be primarily used by female student athletes who participate in the Intercollegiate Athletics beach volleyball program. The new facility would be constructed on the site of the existing CKC recreational softball field.

Learn more about the environmental review, public comment opportunities, and scoping session here.  

Download: Notice of Preparation (PDF)

Project Inquiries: (510) 495-5786 or [email protected]

Volunteers needed to help shape Berkeley’s future elections – join the Independent Redistricting Commission 

Every ten years following the federal census, Berkeley reviews its eight City Council district boundaries to ensure districts are balanced with the same number of residents. The City of Berkeley needs 13 dedicated residents from Berkeley’s diverse population to join an Independent Redistricting Commission in 2021-2022. 

Commissioners will hold public meetings, review draft maps, and decide the final district boundaries. Support and training will be provided. No experience or technical knowledge is needed – but there are some eligibility requirements. The application period will be open September 8, 2020 through October 9, 2020. To be added to our interest list or for questions, email the City Clerk Department at [email protected] or call (510) 981-6908.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation Grants for Small Businesses

Through a program we’re calling Neighborhood Business Grants, funded by our partner Lowe’s, LISC will award $20,000 grants to 750 businesses in 15 cities nationwide, including the Bay Area. Designed to help small business owners meet their most immediate needs, grant funds may be used to:

  •       Pay rent and utilities
  •       Meet payroll
  •       Pay outstanding debt to vendors
  •       Upgrade technology infrastructure
  •       Take care of other immediate operational costs

The application window is August 18-23, the application will open on Tuesday, 8/18 @ 6am PT and close on Sunday, 8/23 @ 8:59pm PT. The Neighborhood Business Grants program will focus on underserved communities that often lack access to flexible, affordable capital. This includes businesses owned and led by minorities and women. We will also prioritize businesses in these sectors: Construction, Manufacturing, Retail, Transportation, Warehousing, Real Estate Renting or Leasing. Note that small businesses in other sectors may still apply, though we will prioritize the sectors listed above.