I live at the center of Downtown Berkeley, and I love my neighborhood. Our vibrant Arts District continues to thrive, with the UC Theater recently reopening its doors; restaurants old and new contribute to a burgeoning culture of food and nightlife; and fledgling startups and businesses attract new workers and visitors to Downtown every day.
Downtown Berkeley is the heart of our city and continues to enjoy a spectacular renaissance. With the second busiest BART station in the East Bay and UC Berkeley mere steps away, Downtown Berkeley is increasingly a hub of art, commerce, and innovation. But we can’t take this amazing progress for granted; instead, we must continue the hard work of cultivating Downtown as a fully-realized neighborhood that is both exciting and welcoming for all.
- Continue to support the revitalization that is occuring and the Downtown Area Plan.
- Work with the City’s Economic Development Department to both attract new retail and ensure that beloved, long-time businesses are able to stay in Downtown Berkeley.
- Partner with merchants and local businesses to build on Downtown’s successes, manage our public spaces, and bring additional activities, culture, and public events to our downtown.
- Collaborate to ensure Downtown’s extraordinary public buildings can be preserved and adaptively reused, including the Main Post Office and Old City Hall.
Berkeley needs to engage in regional efforts that focus on housing first and address the root causes of homelessness. We should never criminalize homelessness - we can provide compassionate care for our homeless residents, while still expecting everyone in Berkeley to treat our public spaces with care and respect.
- Work to keep our public commons clean, safe, and welcoming by relying on outreach, supportive services, and treatment for addiction and other mental health issues.
- Expand access to restrooms, shelters, and warming centers.
- Collaborate with neighboring cities and regional governments, with the goal of ensuring that no one is homeless in Alameda County.
- Pursue creative solutions to address homelessness, including micro-units, tiny homes, and public partnerships.
Parks & Public Infrastructure
Berkeley’s breathtaking parks and open spaces are the pride of our city, but many of these public resources have unfortunately fallen into disrepair. Some of our most treasured spaces, like the Marina pier, the Rose Garden trellis, or Willard Pool, have been forced to close due to neglect and a lack of funding.
At the same time, many elements of our vital public infrastructure are also failing. Berkeley’s streets recently received an “at risk” rating, indicating a prevalence of dangerous conditions. Dangling utility lines pose potential hazards in face of an earthquake. Uneven sidewalks present dangers to pedestrians and obstacles to access for those with mobility challenges.
Fortunately, with the recent passing of Measure T1, we have an opportunity to begin tackling many of these challenges. I want to build on that success by pursuing revenue and spending policies that ensure taxpayer money for reinvestment efforts are allocated in an effective, efficient, and equitable fashion. I will:
- Partner with other City councilmembers and City staff to ensure that funding decisions account both for community input and cost-effectiveness.
- Pursue new sources of revenue that provide consistent funds for ongoing, preventive maintenance for our parks and infrastructure.
- Prioritize fixes to the city’s most critical public assets, such as ensuring eathquake shelters are retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.
- Improve Berkeley's roads, improving safety and comfort for drivers, cyclists, and transit riders alike.
- Work to ensure that funds are spent fairly and equitably across all areas of Berkeley.
- Continue the work being done to underground utility lines, to minimize hazards and delays following a natural disaster.
Berkeley is in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis. For students, seniors, teachers, nurses, and too many others, finding housing they can afford is next to impossible. Rapid job creation throughout the Bay Area is bringing new workers faster than we are building housing. The resulting housing shortage enables landlords to rent or sell only to the very highest bidders, leaving everyone else struggling to find homes they can afford.
There’s no silver bullet to this problem - we have to build more housing for people at all levels of income, to preserve our values of diversity, inclusiveness, and opportunity.
At the same time, we cannot sacrifice what makes Berkeley such an incredible place to live. We must continue to protect our diverse range of neighborhoods and architectural heritage, and to ensure that new housing helps us achieve our affordable housing goals. Fortunately, our major commercial and transit corridors offer ample opportunities for new housing without disrupting Berkeley’s community fabric.
- Advocate for on-site affordable housing requirements, to ensure new construction fosters socioeconomic diversity and combats gentrification.
- Develop a local density bonus program to encourage the creation of more units of affordable housing.
- Reduce unnecessary obstacles to construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).
- Explore public and cooperative ownership models for affordable housing.
- Support new housing construction along major commercial thoroughfares and near public transit.
- Evaluate new sources of revenue for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, to ensure steady funding for affordable housing even in the event of an economic downturn.
- Allow homeowners to subdivide their single-family homes into duplexes or triplexes, so seniors can downsize without relocating, and families can stay together as children become adults.
- Implement a Neighborhood Preference program, to ensure displaced residents can receive preference for affordable units.
- Enable low-income students with significant financial need to apply for inclusionary below-market-rate units.
- Collaborate with neighborhoods and the UC to identify specific sites and design proposals to increase student housing.
Berkeley has a well-earned reputation for being at the forefront of environmental sustainability. Our city’s accomplishments range from being the first to ban Styrofoam in restaurants, to our award-winning Climate Action Plan, which sets an ambitious goal of an 80% reduction in citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 - a goal set by 81% of voters in 2006.
As Chair of the Environmental Advisory Commission, I have been a strong advocate for environmental sustainability, addressing issues ranging from indoor air quality, to CO2 emissions from natural gas, to lead paint hazards in older buildings. On Council, I'll continue to advocate for strong environmental and climate policies, to address our emissions and plan for a sustainable future.
- Reduce barriers to installing electric vehicle charging stations, and support addition of public electric vehicle charging stations throughout Berkeley.
- Require new construction to install either solar panels, solar thermal, or green roofs, to reduce our emissions and increase access to sustainable energy and food.
- Propose new standards for on-site bicycle parking in new construction.
- Require new construction citywide to meet minimum levels of green building standards, comparable to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements.
- Develop requirements to ensure Net Zero Energy buildings meet their low-carbon promises, including the phasing out of natural gas in new construction.
- Advocate for new housing near transit, campus, and employment destinations, to help reduce vehicle use, congestion, and transportation emissions.
- Develop policies for new buildings near BART to provide community benefits, like affordable housing and transit funding, in lieu of stringent parking requirements.
- Develop a Climate Adaptation Plan, building upon recommendations in the Climate Action Plan, to prepare Berkeley for a changing future, including strategies to plan for and mitigate sea level rise, handle increased stormwater in El Niño years, manage extreme heat and increased fire risks, and develop drought resilience.
- Bring Berkeley’s bicycle infrastructure into the twenty-first century, with buffered and striped bike lanes, separated bike paths, and additional secure bike parking throughout the city.
- Expand bike sharing throughout the East Bay, and encourage the placement of bike-share stations in commercial areas and near major transit stops.
- Work closely with BART and AC Transit to increase access to and frequency of public transit throughout Berkeley, including the 6, 51B, 52, 7, 18, and 72/R/M.
- Improve transit service in Berkeley by partnering with AC Transit to enhance transit infrastructure and increase service frequency.
Public Safety and Disaster Resilience
Everyone deserves to feel safe in Berkeley. As an inclusive, welcoming community, I believe we do not have to sacrifice our values of openness for security. We can work with our highly trained officers to ensure they are able to meet community needs while respecting all individuals.
In a region prone to earthquakes, fires, landslides, and more, we can also work to ensure that our community will be prepared and resilient in the face of natural disaster.
- Work to ensure police accountability and oversight through body cameras and dash cams.
- Ensure emergency mental health services are available and sufficient to address community needs, freeing up police resources to focus on serious crime.
- Support the hiring of additional officers and expanding patrols to address property and violent crime. Maintain our existing high standards for police candidates and training.
- Review the existing police oversight system and explore opportunities for reform. Work to ensure Berkeley’s police meet Berkeley’s community needs - both in terms of preventing crime and serving Berkeley residents.
- Ensure Berkeley’s earthquake shelters are appropriately retrofitted for earthquake safety.
- Continue the progress made on undergrounding of power lines.
As an alum of Berkeley schools, from kindergarten through Berkeley High School, I know how important it is to ensure a quality education for all children in Berkeley. Furthermore, as a UC student, I strongly believe in equal access to education and in the ideals of the public university system.
- Strive to make universal preschool available for every child in Berkeley.
- Work with state leaders to advocate for keeping university and community college tuition from rising.
- Collaborate with BUSD to address classroom facilities needs.
- Develop and implement strategies to address the shortage of affordable housing for teachers and school administrators.
I have been a lifelong advocate for sustainability: the idea that economic prosperity, environmental protection, and social justice can - and must - be achieved together. I don't think the status quo is acceptable - we must continually work to make social progress in achieving a more just, equitable society.
- Advocate for ensuring the minimum wage is a living wage, based on and indexed to cost of living data. Work with businesses, nonprofits, unions, and City Council to identify a path to reaching a living wage in a timely fashion (no later than 2022).
- Work with elected officials in neighboring cities to reach a regional minimum wage standard, based on cost of living, by 2025.
- Lead efforts to ensure environmental justice by fighting public health hazards that disproportionately affect low-income residents, like air pollution and lead paint poisoning.
- Remain firmly committed to Berkeley’s status as a sanctuary city.
- Strive to protect our social safety net from federal cuts. Work with elected leaders at the local, state, and national level to protect current programs, or identify funding sources for substitute measures in the event of major cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8, UI, or other anti-poverty programs.
Budget Priorities and Fiscal Responsibility
Effective management of Berkeley’s $430 million annual budget is critical for ensuring the City can provide adequate and effective services. Right now, however, the City lacks resources for many programs, such as addressing pension liabilities, building affordable housing, providing homeless services and housing, addressing deferred infrastructure needs, and ensuring fiscal stability in event of an economic downturn.
(Want to learn more? Check out my budget visualization page to see where taxpayer money goes.)
On Council, I will work to help move our city towards a more sustainable budget and spend our resources better to invest in the future
- Increase our minimum reserve fund level to 12%, from 8%, to ensure financial resilience in the face of an economic downturn or natural disaster. Develop and implement a plan to move towards the 16.7% minimum reserve level recommended by the City Auditor, with the long-term goal of reaching the recommended target of 30%.
- Identify and invest in opportunities to improve the City’s fiscal efficiency. Invest in modernized technology to streamline City processes, like payroll processing.
- Ensure resources are allocated efficiently. Work with the City Manager and staff to identify opportunities to improve service without increasing costs, e.g. hiring mental health staff to respond to mental health emergencies, in place of police.
- Explore opportunities for participatory budgeting, to give voters a direct say in how their taxes are allocated.