September 11, 2017

Council will be back in session this week and tomorrow we are discussing a large agenda, including an item for a community visioning process for the Adeline Greenway, an update from the Office of Economic Development, and a Special Session item modifying current Council policy on the Berkeley Police Department’s use of pepper spray in specific circumstances when dealing with violent activity in crowd situations. You can find the full agenda here

The update from our Office of Economic Development provided some interesting and positive trends happening in Berkeley. A few highlights from the report are included here:

  • Berkeley’s economy has recovered to its pre-recession levels

  • Our unemployment rate is down to 3.2% (For comparison, California’s rate is 5.3% or Alameda’s rate is 4%).

  • Office vacancy rates increased slightly. They rose to 4.4% from a low of 1.5% in 2016, however Berkeley has lowest office availability in the East Bay

  • Annual sales tax performance increased from 2015 to 2016

  • Ground floor commercial vacancy rates decreased to 4.7% in 2017 from 6.5% in 2016

  • Housing development has showed signs of slowing

  • Housing costs for renters flattened in Q1 of 2017, consistent with other Bay Area regions

I am deeply committed to ensuring that Berkeley is able to provide homes for low and middle income earners. With regards to vacancy rates, while there are some new business vacancies in the Elmwood, there are plans underway to fill several open slots. With the changing nature of retail, it’s important to support our small businesses now more than ever. See the announcements below about an upcoming Wine Walk in the Elmwood.

I also wanted to provide a quick update about Willard Park construction. As you’ve likely noticed, the Willard Park play structure has been under construction. Due to unforeseen reasons, the construction has taken longer than expected, and is now set to open in October. Parks staff has provided a detailed update here.

Lori Droste
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8

Need a street or sidewalk repair? Want to report illegal dumping?
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.

Town Hall on Berkeley’s Paid Family Leave Proposal

The Commission on the Status of Women is hosting a town hall onSaturdaySeptember 30 from 2-4 PMat the Tarea Hall Pittman South Berkeley Library featuring several panelists speaking about paid family leave. Read an East Bay Express article for more background here.

New Regulations for Short Term Rentals

A new City of Berkeley ordinance requires individuals who rent out any portion of their dwelling for lodging for less than 14 consecutive days to enroll with the City. Short-term rentals are often rented by property owners or tenants ("Hosts") through online platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO. Rentals done informally and without an online platform must still register with the City. The new online application and other resources are now available on our Short Term Rental page. Hosts must enroll no later thanOctober 31, 2017 to be in compliance with the City ordinance.

Movies in the park

Join neighbors, bring friends, build community- watch some of your favorite movies under the stars!  The City of Berkeley's Recreation Division is hosting a FREE outdoor movie series on Friday nights in its beautiful parks, featuring some popular family films.  A large portable 20' x 12' inflatable movie screen and premium audio visual movie equipment for outdoor cinemas make Movies in the Park a spectacular event. It's not too late to catch one of our upcoming films: September 22nd, LEGO® Batman at Willard Park, 2730 Hillegass Ave., 7:30pm

Wine Walk in the Elmwood

Enjoy a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll in The Elmwood and sample over 70 wines!

Tickets are available in advance for $25 each and $30 on the day of the walk, Sept. 24 at the ticket table on the lawn next to Wells Fargo Bank on Ashby Ave. Here you will pick up your wine glass and program. The program has a map with the participating locations and information about the wines being poured.

For tickets, more information on wines, participating retailers and restaurants, transportation, parking suggestions and more, go to

All proceeds benefit beautification efforts right here in the Elmwood District.

Take to the Hills

Come see a slideshow at the Berkeley City Club Friday Sept. 2212:30-1:30pm about efforts to repair Clark Kerr Trail, sponsored by the City Commons Club. The public is invited, doors open 11:45am2315 Durant Ave.

Cal Bears Football Season

View the full Cal Bears football season schedule here.Cal Athletics and other campus departments are working cooperatively with the City of Berkeley (Police, Fire, Transportation & Parking, and Waste Management) to ensure that game day needs of attendees and our neighbors are accounted for. Read more here.     

International Shoreline Cleanup- September 16th, 9AM–12PM, Shorebird Park Nature Center, 160 University Avenue @ Seawall Dr

Come join this international effort to make a difference on our shoreline and in our oceans. We will collect data about what we find in order to help create laws that prohibit marine dumping. Bring gloves, sunscreen, water, and bags/buckets. Families welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult and have a waiver signed by their guardian. Only groups over 5 people need to pre-register, email:

Commissioner Spotlight

I’m happy to introduce Michael Cooper, a District 8 resident, and my Medical Cannabis Commissioner.

Michael CooperMichael was born and raised in San Francisco and moved to Berkeley in 1975. He has been practicing law since 1969, and now works on insolvency and corporate restructuring law for Wendel, Rosen, Black, and Dean LLP. As a commissioner on the Medical Cannabis Commission, Michael enjoys interacting with the public and listening to their input as well as working alongside his fellow commissioners. He admires the political engagement of Berkeley citizens and appreciates their willingness to thoughtfully contribute to a community dialogue about cannabis. Michael points out that while medical cannabis use and distribution are clearly defined, regulations for recreational cannabis are still evolving. He looks forward to working with the Medical Cannabis Commission to evaluate existing regulations and to make recommendations about recreational cannabis use in Berkeley. In his free time, Michael enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling. His wife, Sheila, is a retired English instructor from San Francisco State University and author of Writing Logically, Thinking Critically, an English text now in its 8th Edition. He has three brothers living in the Bay Area, a daughter living in Los Gatos, and a son working on game design in Sweden. Commissioner Cooper looks forward to tackling the new regulatory challenges that recreational cannabis will present and aims to continue collaborating with the public to benefit the Berkeley community.