December 7

I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving. Several things have happened at Council that I wanted to make you aware of:

This week Council finalized and passed an ordinance to improve conditions on our community sidewalks, which I emailed you about several weeks ago. Thank you to all of those people that responded with their experiences, and those who came to Council to express your opinion. I know many of you have been frustrated with regard to this issue, and these new ordinances should help alleviate your concerns.

In early November, Council approved a new minimum wage policy that Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli, Darryl Moore, Linda Maio, and I put forward. As approved, Berkeley will be one of only a handful of cities to lead the nation in providing higher wages for its low wage workers. This policy continues increases to the minimum wage after the currently scheduled rate increases through 2016. It increases the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018 and offers a slightly slower phase-in for small businesses. Our policy mirrors approaches from Emeryville, Los Angeles, and Seattle in that it utilizes a tiered approach to minimum wage rates. See the table below for details on the timeline.


Current Berkeley wage schedule

Small business wage schedule

Yearly increase

Large business wage schedule (>55 Full Time Employees)

Yearly increase





























+ local CPI






+ local CPI


We have two Council meetings before winter recess. Our next meeting, 12/8 is a public hearing about a proposed tall building in Berkeley’s Downtown, and on 12/15 we’ll be reviewing reports of BPD activities during the December 6th, 2014 protests, discussing a housing action plan, and reviewing the City’s five year paving plan. The full agenda is available here.

Lori Droste

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Elmwood Commercial District Holiday Hunt

Join us for a scavenger hunt adventure from December 1st - December 31st. Visit your local Elmwood businesses for more information on how to play.


Parents Day Off: Shop While Your Kids Play

Parents—Do you need to finish some holiday shopping or prepare for out of town guests? Bring your kids to the James Kenney Community Center for the day! We will have fun holiday activities planned including holiday arts and crafts, games and activities and more! Pre-registration is required. Registration deadline: Thursday, December 10, 2015. Register online, at a Recreation Hub or at James Kenney. When: 12/12, 9AM - 2PM, Cost: $15-18, James Kenney Recreation Center, 1720 8th St.


Visit from Santa

Meet and greet Santa before he zooms away on his sleigh! There will be gifts, snacks, and singing. Call 981-6640 for more information. When: 12/23, 11AM - 1PM, Frances Albrier Community Center - San Pablo Park, 2800 Park St. @ Oregon St. Event is free.

Other holiday events can be found at


December 10 Workshop: Get Prepared for El Niño
You’re invited to a workshop hosted by the City of Berkeley and Berkeley Unified School District to learn about how to prepare your home and family for the potential high winds, rain and flooding from El Nino storms. When: Thursday December 10, 6:30-8:30pm, Berkeley Unified School District Boardroom. 1231 Addison St. in Berkeley (Easy and free parking at Browning and Addison St.) Wheelchair accessible.


Writer Coach Connection is looking for volunteers to help teens in public schools

Do you want to listen to what our local public school students have to say and help them articulate it in writing? Train to be a writing coach at King Middle School, Longfellow Middle School, Willard Middle School, or Berkeley High. It is a very satisfying volunteer opportunity that involves 2-3 times a month of 1-2 hour sessions in which you have one-on-one conferences with students on their writing assignments. Go to and watch the short video, and then click on Volunteers to sign up for a school and a training.


Office Hours

My next office hours will be on on the first Thursday of January (1/7) from 9:30-11am at Cafe Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave (on the corner of College and Ashby). No appointment necessary - just stop by!


Commissioner Spotlight

I’d like to introduce my new Housing Advisory Commissioner, Diego Aguilar-Canabal.

Diego Aguilar-Canabal Diego received his B.A. in English Literature from Stanford University in 2014 and has written for a variety of independent music publications. A native of Washington, D.C., he is drawn to the intersections of culture, commerce, and urbanism. In addition to his urban policy interests, he currently plays guitar in Berkeley-based free jazz quartet The Noriegas. His commitment to tackling the housing affordability crisis draws from a deep reverence for the Bay Area’s cultural legacy, which has influenced him since before he could find California on a map. During his time on the HAC, he hopes to see major increases in public funds for affordable housing and apply frequent community input on tenants’ needs.