March 4, 2019

Happy March! I wanted to update you on some policies Council has adopted or are considering.

1000 Person Homeless Plan

City staff have outlined useful background information and several strategies to address Berkeley’s rising homelessness. As you likely know, Berkeley invests significant resources into helping as many people as possible to find stability and housing. Voters also overwhelmingly passed Measure P which will provide approximately $6-8 million of additional funding per year to address homelessness in Berkeley. This plan (link will download) concludes that “To end homelessness for 1000 people in Berkeley, the original referral directive from City Council, the city will need up-front investments in targeted homelessness prevention, light-touch housing problem-solving, rapid rehousing, and permanent subsidies, with a cost of $16 - $19.5 million up front and an annual ongoing expense of between roughly $12 – 15 million.”

Clean and Livable Commons Initiative

Council unanimously passed guidance to the City Manager regarding restroom access, locker storage, and illegal dumping that occurs around homeless encampments. Our vote authorizes the City Manager to use roughly $4 million in state funds to address homelessness by providing four additional restrooms near encampments, provide trash removal at encampments, expand the city’s locker storage program, and add lighting/cameras/signs to prevent future illegal dumping.

Policy Managing Recreational Vehicle Parking

As you may know, the number of Berkeley’s RV dwellers has expanded in recent months. At last count, nearly 200 vehicles were parked in Berkeley. Over half of those vehicles were located in West Berkeley. To address the impacts of some of those vehicle dwellers - including illegal dumping and improper human waste disposal - Council looked at neighboring City policies to see how they address similar issues.  At the last Council meeting, Council voted to prohibit RV parking from 2am - 5am after outreach, and create a permit system allowing RVs to stay on city streets for a maximum of 14 days.

Initial Discussion of “Missing Middle Report”

Together with Council members Kesarwani, Robinson, and Bartlett, I am requesting that City staff work with housing experts to produce a report/analysisof strategies that we as a city can take to allow more “Missing Middle” housing. Missing middle housing is often defined as duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, which typically provide housing to accommodate middle income earners such as teachers, city employees, etc. Right now, the the vast majority of new multi family  housing in Berkeley are taller midrises, as opposed to subtler forms that are affordable by design.

Discriminatory lending/zoning practices in the 1950’s laid the foundation for our current neighborhood makeup by permitting costlier, single family homes in caucasian neighborhoods and banning more affordable duplexes, triplexes in those areas to keep people of color from moving in. As a result, homeowners today lack flexibility to split their house into separate units to accommodate aging parents or children moving back home. Quite a few state bills are pursuing zoning reform to address this issue as well. I think it is imperative that we have full information before we embark on any changes OR if the state mandates that we pursue zoning changes.

I am requesting more information on where missing middle housing might be appropriate within our current housing stock. My referral is a request for an informational report NOT a request for zoning revisions. Any actual proposals to modify our zoning code should come after significant community engagement and informed discussion.

Council will vote on whether we want information on March 26th.

Approval of Sixth Cannabis Dispensary Location

The Apothecarium, which currently runs a few dispensaries in San Francisco, will be opening on Telegraph Ave. at Bancroft. At our next Council meeting, we will discuss additional components of the City’s cannabis ordinance, including discussion of expanded buffer zones near schools and quotas on different cannabis business types. You can provide input on this topic through Berkeley Considers.

Our next Council meeting will take place on March 12th, agenda here. As always, you can email thoughts and questions to [email protected].

One final note: my office hours for this month are Monday, March 18th (9:30-10:30am) at Cafe Espresso Roma on the corner of College Ave. and Ashby Ave.

Lori Droste
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8

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Citywide Traffic Enforcement

Over the next month, members of the Berkeley Police Department will be conducting increased traffic enforcement throughout the city.  Officers will be looking for violations made by drivers that put the community at risk. These violations include drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and failing to stop for signs/signals.  In addition to this enforcement, officers will also be looking for impaired and/or distracted drivers.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 45 collisions throughout the city where people have been injured. Our hope is that this increased enforcement will make our community and roadways safer. 

Funding for this enforcement is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety and the City of Berkeley.

The Berkeley Police Department Conducts Traffic Enforcement In Memory Of Zachary Cruz

February 27, 2019 marked the 10 year anniversary of the death of Zachary Cruz.  Zachary was only 5 years old when he was struck and killed while crossing the street at the intersection of Warring Street and Derby Streets on February 27th 2009.  The following year, the Berkeley City Council issued a proclamation declaring March as Zachary Cruz Pedestrian Safety Month.

This enforcement, which is funded by a grant provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, focused on education and enforcement of stop sign, seatbelt, and right of way violations. The Traffic Bureau conducted traffic enforcement in the area of Warring and Derby Streets—educating numerous drivers about traffic safety and issuing 15 citations.  

These efforts, made in his memory are intended to help safeguard our community through education on traffic safety and enforcement.