October 4, 2019

The City of Berkeley has been hard at work to address fire safety in our community. As I updated you in a previous newsletter, we have been especially focused on fire safety in our community. Here is a brief update of the work Berkeley is doing to address the dangers of catastrophic fires:

  • Aligning vegetation programs throughout various city departments and conducting vegetation management through the City’s Fire Fuel Chipper and Debris Bin Program, ongoing vegetation removal in parks and public land, and supplementing existing programs with the creation of a new fire department vegetation management crew (see newsletter link above for more information)
  • Updating the City’s Fire Code to make it more clear and achievable for residents to properly manage vegetation on their property
  • Collaborating with neighboring jurisdictions by participating in monthly meetings with the Hills Emergency Forum
  • Pursuing ongoing funding to support these programs through:
    • Grants through Cal Fire and others to provide ongoing funding for these efforts through collaboration with neighboring municipalities, UC Berkeley, and East Bay Regional Parks
    • Exploring the creation of a special Fire Assessment District to provide additional funding and
  • Preparing the public for evacuating in a fire through multiple evacuation exercises and implementing the Safe Passages Program - see update below 

The Berkeley Fire Department will begin to implement a Safe Passages Program this fall focusing on various streets in fire zones throughout the City to assess emergency vehicle accessibility and evacuation needs. Narrow streets pose particular challenges for emergency vehicles and evacuation routes.The Safe Passages Program will be carried out on several streets throughout the City, starting with a select few. 

The Berkeley Fire Department and Transportation Division of Public Works have evaluated Alvarado, Bridge, and Vicente Roads in our district and will be extending parking restrictions to ensure 20’ of travel way at all times by putting red zones on one side of the street along with “No Stopping Fire Lane” signs. Recognizing that full adherence to the City’s fire code would result in no parking along both sides of many streets and would pose significant daily challenges to residents, the Safe Passages program will evaluate individual blocks to implement customized treatments that improve access and egress while maintaining some parking for the neighborhoods.

Removing parking on one side of narrow streets will preserve resident parking while accommodating the needs of first responders to protect lives in the event of another fire like the 1991 Hills fire. The Fire Department will be reaching out to affected neighbors in the coming weeks with more information, detailed maps, etc. There will be a comment period following neighborhood notifications so your questions can be addressed. If you live on Alvarado, Bridge, or Vicente Road, keep an eye out for additional information from BFD. 

Emergency Prep Fair, Saturday, October 12th 

Join City staff, community groups, and volunteers from around Berkeley to learn how to prepare yourself and your household for emergencies at our Emergency Prep Fair.

October 12th, 10am—3pm, James Kenney Park, 1720 Eighth Street

Early Bird Office Hours

Since Monday October 14th is Indigenous People’s Day, my office hours for October will now take place on October 24th from 7:30am - 9am. I’ll be at Espresso Roma on the corner of College Ave. and Ashby Ave.Sincerely, 

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.