June 8

We are at a watershed moment in our nation to demand change and continue to voice our support for Black lives. Alongside our neighbors, many of us broke a three month quarantine (at a masked social distance) and joined with the thousands of others in advocating for racial justice this past weekend. In my capacity as Budget Chair, I will continue to talk about how to reinvest in our community with an equity lens. Many of you have written in with suggestions on how to best achieve racial justice and with questions and commentary on our General Fund allocations. Thank you for your input and I look forward to hearing more at our budget subcommittee meeting and at City Council. You have my commitment to addressing these issues with an eye toward systemic change. City Council will be discussing the budget tomorrow at 4pm. The budget committee is also meeting weekly. Read the full budget agenda here. You can view the presentation by City staff here and find a detailed list of proposed budget deferrals by department here

“Black Lives Matter” Painting in Downtown Berkeley

After seeing beautiful images of Washington D.C. and Oakland streets painted with “Black Lives Matter,” our City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley and her team let me know today that they will paint “Black Lives Matter” in Downtown Berkeley. This work was slated to begin tomorrow morning but subsequent to this conversation, an urgency council item was introduced to add Ohlone recognition. Since this item will now most likely be on an official agenda tomorrow (upon 2/3rds vote), Council can officially weigh in and the City Manager wants to wait a day for Council direction on details. Thank you to Ms. Williams-Ridley and the City of Berkeley team for being a receptive and collaborative partner. It should go without saying that we understand that this gesture of placemaking and unity is symbolically important but it has to also complement the hard work we all need to do to undertake to address complex issues regarding racial disparities.

Credit: Executive Office Of The Mayor Via AP: Khalid Naji-Allah  

Council Items and Potential Ballot Measures 

Tomorrow (6/9) at 4pm, Council will be discussing many urgency items around policing and public safety.  Here is a run-down:

At the same meeting, Council will also discuss several potential ballot measures for the November 2020 ballot, including: 

  • A parcel tax, at varying levels per square foot, to address fire, emergency medical service, and public health needs. This tax requires a two-thirds vote for approval.
  • A parcel tax for wildfire prevention activities. This tax requires a two-thirds vote for approval.
  • An increase in the utility user tax by 2.5 percent to generate resources for a climate action fund. A special tax requires a two-thirds vote for approval and a general tax requires approval by a simple majority of voters.
  • A tax on wholesale distributors of gas and diesel fuel to generate resources for a climate action fund. A special tax requires a two-thirds vote for approval and a general tax requires approval by a simple majority of voters.
  • Council is also considering an amendment to the City’s Charter to designate the offices of Mayor and Councilmember as full-time positions. This amendment would designate the offices as full-time and task the Personnel Board with setting the salaries of Mayor and Council based on surveys of other full-time Mayors and City Councils.

As always, you can email [email protected] to share your thoughts on these agenda items.

New Public Health Order

The most recent health order alllows childcare and camps to provide services to all children, permits public libraries to offer curbside pickup services, and allows residential housecleaners, dog walkers, pet grooming, and clothing alteration businesses to resume operations. The order also allows outdoor gatherings between people who have collectively agreed to limit their in-person social activities to 12 people total for at least three weeks - a "social bubble." Read the order here

Social Bubbles

The new order permits small outdoor gatherings between people who have collectively agreed to limit their social activities to only each other for at least three weeks -- a "social bubble."

Social bubbles may include up to 12 people, including children, and must remain stable for at least three weeks. During this period, adults in the bubble may only socialize in-person outdoors with other members of this bubble.

All members of a single household must be part of the same bubble. A child in shared custody can be in a household bubble for each parent or guardian. In addition to their household bubble, children may be part of no more than one other stable group over at least three weeks that primarily includes other children - either in an official childcare setting or in a youth extracurricular activity, such as a sports team, club or summer camp, so long as these organizations abide by the childcare rules set by the regional public health officers. For more information, see here.

Members of a social bubble may gather together outdoors in public or private settings. During gatherings, everyone over 12 years old should still wear a face covering. After three weeks, if there is no concern about sickness, members can form a new bubble with different people to exclusively socialize with outdoors for the next three weeks.

If anyone in the social bubble is concerned about being sick, they should avoid socialization. If they are concerned about COVID-19 sickness, they should follow City and CDC recommendations to contact their doctor, stay home and avoid spreading illness in their own household. If anyone in the social bubble has COVID-19, everyone in the group should quarantine themselves and contact their health care providers.

For more information, please click here or email [email protected] if your questions aren’t answered on the webpage.

Stricter Face Masks Regulations

As more people mix, the risk of transmission is greater. A growing body of science supports the idea that use of the face coverings is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as Berkeley's Public Health Officer, Dr. Hernandez states in the second health order issued today. 

The new rules dictate that people must wear a face covering when: 

  • Outside and when anyone else is within 30 feet (or ten yards)
  • In the workplace, except in a private space not generally used by others
  • When preparing food or other items for sale or distribution to people who are not members of their household

The order has exceptions:

  • when eating or drinking if they are alone or with only members of their household or “Social Bubble”
  • Children between age 2 and 12 should wear a face covering are not required to wear one. If they do, they should be supervised
  • Children less than 2 years of age should not wear one
  • People with a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering, or others for whom face coverings would pose a health or safety risk

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets expelled when we speak, sneeze, and breathe. Without a vaccine or medical treatment and with so many asymptomatic carriers, this is a powerful, simple tool we can all use to protect our community.

Fire Safety Town Hall - Watch the Recording

Last week I participated in our annual Fire Safety Virtual Town Hall. If you weren’t able to join us virtually, you can watch the meeting online here: 


Many thanks to Councilmember Susan Wengraf for providing this vital fire safety information to members of our community.


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Lori Droste
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8