This page contains press releases from the Mayor's Office. You can see news from our office also in The Bates Update newsletters. 

 For more information about these press releases and other press-related inquiries, please contact Charles Burress at or at (510) 981-7100.

Posted March 25, 2015

Big Boost for Second Units Approved in Berkeley 

  Measure Aimed at Easing Severe Housing Shortage 

 The Berkeley City Council last night unanimously approved a groundbreaking measure proposed by Mayor Tom Bates to allow “by right” second units -- known also as “granny flats,” “in-law units” or “accessory dwelling units” (ADUs) – a move that opens the door to a substantial supply of badly needed new housing.

“I believe this will rank as one of the City’s major achievements in addressing our housing crisis,” Mayor Bates said. “I am deeply grateful for all the invaluable work and recommendations on this issue by our City staff, the Planning Commission, experts from UC Berkeley, my fellow Council members and Berkeley citizens.”

“The plan also will support the City’s efforts to combat global warming by increasing urban density, especially near mass transit,” Mayor Bates said.

The item approved by Council -- on an 8-0 vote with Councilmember Max Anderson absent – requested the City Manager to return to the Council with an ordinance to implement the new standards.

The new standards will make it much easier and less expensive to add second units in Berkeley. Second units are currently legal in Berkeley under certain strict conditions and often require an Administrative Use Permit, which costs $2,000 and can take several months for review by City staff. The new standards provide an expansive set of conditions where a second unit can be built “by right,” which means without an Administrative Use Permit. The new standards also reduce the situations in which accessory units are currently banned.

The new standards increase the maximum size of a second unit by allowing units up to 750 square feet or 75% of the size of the primary residence, whichever is less. Currently, accessory units cannot be larger than 640 square feet, or 25% of the main residence’s floor area, whichever is less. The increase in unit size under the new standards is restricted also by the requirement that the second unit and main residence combined cannot cover more than 40% of the lot.

Another major change would remove the current restriction that a second unit cannot be added on a lot that is smaller than 4,500 square feet unless the unit is within the existing building. The new standards allow second units on lots of any size and allow those units to be attached to the primary residence or added as a separate building, provided that the second unit meets the other requirements for size.

The new requirements also allow property owners to build accessory units that do not conform to the “by right” standards if they obtain an Administrative Use Permit.

Several other requirements are relaxed in the new rules. Currently, an accessory unit cannot be added within the 20-foot rear setback from the property line without an Administrative Use Permit. The new standards allow such units within 4 feet “by right.” The “by right” maximum height of the second unit would increase to 14 feet from the current 12 feet.

The new rules also ease parking requirements. Current law allows the parking requirement for accessory units to be met through tandem parking (vehicles lined up behind each other in a driveway) if an Administrative Use Permit is obtained. The new rules allow tandem parking “by right.” The new standards also change current law by allowing a waiver of the parking requirement for properties that are in a Residential Parking Permit zone within one-fourth mile of a BART station.

A state law passed in 2002 (AB 1866) mandated that California cities allow second units in single-family residential districts, subject to conditions set by the cities. Berkeley went beyond the state requirement when it implemented the state law into the City’s zoning code in 2003 by applying it to all zoning districts in the city.

In April of 2013, the Berkeley City Council asked the City’s Planning and Transportation commissions to initiate a review of expanding Berkeley’s conditions for adding accessory dwelling units in Berkeley.

 Posted Feb. 12, 2015


State of the City Address

Berkeley Mayor Proposes Initatives for 2015

Releases Two Reports

State of the City 2015

                                                 Photo by Berkeley Times

In his State of the City presentation tonight, Feb. 12, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates endorsed several new policy ideas for the City this year, including initiatives to improve police-community relations as well as measures intended to enhance equal access to housing, education and jobs.

Regarding police-community relations, the Mayor’s proposals included police body cameras and consideration of standardized police General Orders for mutual aid with the intent of having outside police departments harmonize with Berkeley police policies as far as possible when those departments are called in for mutual aid. In addition, he would like to explore ending the use of grand juries for determining whether to prosecute police officers accused in police shootings.

 In the area of housing, he proposed that non-profits, aided by tax credits, be able to purchase rental housing to be made available as affordable housing. He also supported an easing of requirements for adding second units, or Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU). In education, he plans to implement the “Berkeley Pathway to College” this year.

 Also among his proposals was having new developments make a one-percent contribution to fund arts in the city. He covered several other topics, including an overview of many of the economic successes and other positive changes in the various parts of the city. 

Coinciding with his State of the City address, the Mayor also released two reports:

You can access the reports at these links:

The two reports are intended not only to provide information but also to invite community suggestions on what the City can do to meet the challenges we face.


 Posted Feb. 4, 2015 

Tom at Ed Roberts 

Mayor's Annual State of the City Address

Feb. 12, 5:30 p.m.  

















 The public is invited to Mayor Tom Bates' annual State of the City address on Thursday, February 12, 2015, in South Berkeley. It will take place at the Shotgun Players Theater, 1901 Ashby Avenue, from 5:30-7 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30. Please note that seating will be limited and an RSVP is required to attend.  

To RSVP, please click on this link:   

If you have any questions about the event, please contact Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton at or 510.981.7101.  

WHAT            Mayor Tom Bates State of the City 

WHERE         Shotgun Players Theater, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley    

WHEN            Thursday, Feb.12, 2015, 5:30-7:00 p.m.    




 Posted Dec. 9, 2014 

Update Statement from Mayor Bates on Berkeley Protests

“We’re grateful that the third night of mass protests in Berkeley last night was non-violent and free of the attacks on police, damage to businesses and vandalism committed by a small minority of protesters on Saturday and Sunday nights.

“We have postponed tonight’s City Council meeting because the Council chambers, which hold about 125 people, could not accommodate the large turnout expected to attend. One estimate placed the number as high as 1,500 people. We will reschedule the meeting in the near future at a time and place to be announced.

“The Berkeley Police Department reports that 13 people were arrested during the three nights, and all but three of those arrested were from outside of Berkeley.

“In the wake of the protests, some citizens have voiced strong support and sympathy for police, while others have criticized police for using tear gas and allegedly excessive force. The protests began Saturday night, and as long as the demonstrators were peaceful, police assisted the demonstrators by diverting traffic away from them. When protesters staged peaceful civil disobedience, such as a ‘die-in’ in the middle of Shattuck Avenue, police again diverted traffic and did not interfere.

“It was at the Public Safety Building, when some individuals began throwing dangerous objects at police – including fist-sized rocks, bricks, an ice pick and metal bars  -- that the police took action and began to disperse the crowd. Twenty officers were injured that night, with two sent to the hospital.

“As for allegations of excessive force, I believe we have one of the best police departments in the nation, but I recognize that under great stress abuses can occur in even the best departments. I support a full review of our response to investigate any improper use of force and also to learn lessons we can apply in the future.

“I am asking the community to join with me in harnessing the energy and passion exhibited in the protests so that we can address the deeper issues of police-community relationships that underlie the tragic events in Ferguson and New York City. One idea is to convene a public teach-in early next year involving community leaders and experts in relevant fields to highlight the core issues and possible ways to address them. I also support holding a special session of the City Council to address the issues raised by the recent events, at which members of the public can appear to express their concerns and ideas.

“I believe that we can use the recent events as a foundation on which to build a better future, both in Berkeley and in the nation as a whole.”


Posted Dec. 8, 2014 

Mayor's Statement on Protests in Berkeley

 City Hall damage

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates this afternoon released the following statement about the recent protests in Berkeley: 

“I believe Berkeley citizens share in the nationwide concern over the events in Ferguson and New York City and recognize the need to address problems in police-community relations. I fully support the right of citizens to peacefully protest and exercise their First Amendment rights, but the violence we’ve seen the past two nights in Berkeley is unacceptable.

“While the overwhelming majority of the demonstrators were non-violent, we have had numerous reports of masked demonstrators as the main perpetrators of the damage and destruction. We don’t know who they are, but they are not welcome in Berkeley.

“We have also received accusations of police use of unnecessary force. Berkeley has one of the best police departments in the nation with an exemplary record of conduct. It’s possible that one or more officers may have exceeded what was required under the circumstances and could face discipline, but that determination requires an impartial review that we have not had an opportunity to complete yet.

“Free speech and public dialogue are the cornerstone of Berkeley history. I urge protest organizers to communicate with City officials, as we have successfully done in the past, so that police can play a supportive role in diverting traffic from the protest route and helping to avoid possible confrontations with peaceful demonstrators. I hope tonight’s protest will follow in this tradition of Berkeley and be non-violent.”



Posted Nov. 20, 2014


Berkeley Mayor Appoints City Council Subcommittee for New Sugar Tax 

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates today, Nov. 20, completed a key step in implementing Measure D, the sugar tax approved by 76 percent of Berkeley voters in the Nov. 4 election.  Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates today, Nov. 20, completed a key step in implementing Measure D, the sugar tax approved by 76 percent of Berkeley voters in the Nov. 4 election.



















































The measure, the first such tax in the nation, calls for a Panel of Experts to make recommendations to the City Council on how to allocate the tax revenues “to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages in Berkeley and to address the results of such consumption.”

On Tuesday night, Nov. 18, the City Council voted unanimously to authorize the Mayor to name a four-person subcommittee of the Council to develop the applications for the Panel of Experts. (The original agenda item called for a three-person subcommittee. It was amended at the Council meeting to increase the number to four.)

The Mayor today named the following Councilmembers to the subcommittee: Laurie Capitelli (chair), Max Anderson, Linda Maio and Darryl Moore.


Posted Sept. 30, 2014


Citywide Minimum Will Be $10  

Starting tomorrow, Oct. 1, Berkeley will belong to the pioneering cities with local minimum wages that exceed state and federal minimums.

Berkeley's new minimum wage goes into effect Wednesday with a citywide rate of $10 an hour (a dollar higher than the state's minimum). It’s the first step in a three-stage plan that begins with $10 and then increases a year later, on Oct. 1, 2015, to $11. A year after that, on Oct. 1, 2016, it rises again to $12.53, to match the amount expected in Oakland under an Oakland ballot measure likely to pass in November. The Berkeley plan received final approval in a unanimous City Council vote on June 24.    

  Minimum wage chart

“Tomorrow’s boost to $10 is an important milestone in our efforts to improve the conditions and rights of low-wage workers in Berkeley,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.  

In coordination with Berkeley’s plan, Mayor Bates has also proposed a regional approach.

“I have proposed that other East Bay cities join with us in adopting a regional minimum wage and am pleased that discussions for such an approach are underway in some of our neighbor cities,” Bates said. Berkeley's plan was the product of a year's study by the City's Commission on Labor, public hearings before the City Council and discussions with local businesses and labor unions.  

The City’s work on its minimum wage plan is still in progress. The agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting includes a proposal to ask the Commission on Labor to develop recommendations for adding sick leave, enhanced enforcement and other appropriate features.

The Mayor welcomes continued community-wide participation among City officials, labor, business and other interested groups and individuals in further developing our minimum wage program.


Applications Being Accepted for Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) Commissioner 

Opening on BHA Governing Board



















































Berkeley, CAMayor Tom Bates seeks to appoint a Berkeley resident to the Berkeley Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. Appointments are finalized upon confirmation by the City Council.

The Berkeley Housing Authority Board of Commissioners is the independent body responsible for carrying out the Housing Assistance Voucher (Section 8) and Public Housing Programs for low-income Berkeley residents. Commissioners determine BHA staffing and budget and provide oversight to ensure BHA programs are operated in accordance with federal guidelines.

 Required qualifications:

 For more information about the BHA, please go to

Applicants should send a resume and cover letter describing their interest by email, fax or mail to:  

Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton,, phone (510) 981-7100, fax (510) 981-7199.


City of Berkeley Mayor’s Office
Attn: Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton
2180 Milvia St. 5th Fl.
Berkeley, CA 94704

Deadline: Those interested should apply before Sept. 8, 2014.



For immediate release 

May 28, 2014 

Grant Launches Revitalization Plan 

For South Berkeley 

City Wins Critically Needed $750,000

For Adeline Corridor and Ashby BART Areas

Berkeley, CA – The City of Berkeley’s goal of revitalizing a section of South Berkeley took a major step toward realization today, May 28, with approval of a critically needed $750,000 planning grant for the effort.

The funding – awarded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) at its monthly meeting in Oakland – launches a comprehensive planning effort that will include extensive community input focused on the “Adeline Corridor” area along Adeline Street and the Ashby BART Station.

“The City Council intends to designate South Berkeley, especially the Adeline Corridor, as our top priority for planning and growth in the coming year,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who represents Alameda County Mayors on the MTC. 

“This grant means we’ll be able to bring our city and community resources together to design the improvements we need for more affordable housing, commercial vitality and mass transit as well as pedestrian-friendly and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods,” Bates said.

The MTC’s Priority Development Area grant will fund community meetings and other outreach efforts to gather input and ideas from residents, businesses and local groups and institutions. It will also include an Environmental Impact Report.

The project’s goals also include local jobs, improved safety, historic preservation, cohesive streetscape design, public art and assessing the role that the Ashby BART parking lot could play in achieving community goals while maintaining the Ashby BART flea market. Also on the agenda is better connectivity between the greater South Berkley neighborhood and Ashby BART, Downtown Berkeley and the East Bay corridor.

The Adeline Corridor is well poised for transformative planning -- building on several new developments in recent years, including the Ed Roberts Campus next to Ashby BART, the Tuesday Farmers’ Market, plans for a 46-unit affordable senior housing project and numerous unique shops, restaurants, galleries and performing arts venues.

Released May 14, 2014

 For immediate release


California Energy Commission Approves Six New Public

Charging Stations – Quadruples Current Number Hosted by City 

Berkeley, CA – There’s very good news for the growing number of electric-vehicle owners in Berkeley. The City will receive six new public charging stations, each with two charging ports, under funding approved by the California Energy Commission (CEC) today, May 14.

Three of the stations will be at the City’s Telegraph/Channing Garage, two at the Oxford Garage and one at the Berkeley Marina. They will quadruple the number of public charging stations hosted by the City of Berkeley to eight. (Two are already operating at the Center Street Garage.) 

The new charging stations will be funded by a $474,052 grant awarded by the CEC to the California EV Alliance to deploy a total of 37 dual-port EV charging stations in the Bay Area under the “Bay Area Charge Ahead Project.”

“We are excited to be accelerating EV adoption in Berkeley and throughout the region,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who serves as Co-Chair of the Bay Area EV Strategic Council, which oversees the Bay Area Charge Ahead Project.

“EVs are a big win for people to save money, improve air quality, and cut the pollution that’s causing global warming,” Bates said. “And when people experience electric they discover that these cars really are the better ride!”

All the charging stations will be 240-volt Level 2, which can give a vehicle a range of about 10-15 miles on an hour charge. They are expected to be operating in the summer of 2015.

“This project is a milestone in our joint work to help Bay Area municipalities build out the region’s EV infrastructure, and we look forward to advancing best practices that will make this region the national leader in mass EV adoption,” said Richard Schorske, executive director of the California EV Alliance, which worked closely with the Bay Area Climate Collaborative to develop the Bay Area Charge Ahead Project.

In addition to Berkeley, the new stations will be deployed in Benicia, Fremont, Hayward, Napa, Novato, Petaluma, San Leandro, St. Helena and Yountville. The stations will have credit-card access and will be supplied by San Jose-based ChargePoint, which has more 17,000 stations globally. ABM, a North American leader in charger-station installation, will install the facilities.

The Bay Area currently has more than 21,000 electric vehicles, more than a third of the state total. Plug-in EV sales in California last year (2013) amounted to 4 percent of all car sales in the state. Nationwide, sales of plug-in electric vehicles last year nearly doubled those of the 2012. U.S. buyers now have 16 mainstream plug-in models to choose from – up from 9 last year.

Last month, two electric-vehicle charging stations opened at the Telegraph Avenue Whole Foods in Berkeley -- marking the city's first installation of publicly accessible EV chargers operated by a private enterprise under a pilot city program that fast-tracks permits for EV charging stations.

Promoting public adoption of clean transportation is an integral part of Berkeley’s mission to contain climate change in line with the City’s Climate Action Plan.


(Posted April 29, 2014)


Press Conference and Award Presentation on Wednesday, April 30 

At West Branch Library, Berkeley’s First Net-Zero Energy Building 

Berkeley, CA – On behalf of the City, Mayor Tom Bates will accept a 2014 Solar Champion Award at a presentation event and press conference tomorrow, Wednesday, April 30. The award is being presented by the Environment California Research & Policy Center, a statewide nonprofit environmental advocacy organization working to protect California’s air, water and open spaces.

The presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the city’s first net-zero energy building, the new, solar-powered West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library at 1125 University Ave. (near San Pablo Avenue). The library’s energy dashboard is accessible online at

The event will include information about Berkeley’s leading efforts in advancing solar energy. The city has seen more than 1,200 solar installations since the year 2000 and has the highest per capita number of solar installations of any large city in Northern California. "We are delighted to receive this recognition of Berkeley's solar policies from the Environment California Research & Policy Center," Bates said. "Our expedited solar-permitting process, work on a regional solar permitting system for the East Bay Green Corridor and other solar initiatives constitute an integral part of our broader mission to contain climate change."

Berkeley's Climate Action Plan also entails increasing numbers of energy-efficient buildings, charging stations for electric vehicles and other measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Just last Wednesday, April 23, Berkeley was approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to be one of the two primary hosts for the introduction of bike sharing in the East Bay, along with Oakland.

 (Posted April 22, 2014)


Mayor Tom Bates is proposing that several East Bay cities, including Berkeley, join together to adopt a regional minimum wage. 

The proposal comes as a number of cities in the East Bay are looking at local minimum wage proposals. A minimum-wage initiative is being circulated for the November ballot in Oakland. Richmond has passed the first reading of its own ordinance. And the Berkeley City Council has called a special meeting on May 1 to consider the issue. 

There is considerable variation in the amounts and increases in the different city plans, as well as whether health benefits and sick leave are included.  

“Instead of a potential hodgepodge or patchwork quilt of differing minimum wages among a cluster of nearby cities, I believe a uniform minimum wage across our city borders could alleviate complex, confusing and expensive burdens for local businesses and prove administratively advantageous for city staffs,” Bates said.

Bates proposes that Oakland’s ballot measure – which would rise to $12.25 next year and reach an estimated $12.53 by 2016 -- serve as the basic model. However, he recommends one significant difference: instead of a big, 36% jump in the first year as proposed in Oakland, he recommends a more gradual series of increases with a smaller boost in the first year. The latter method, he believes, would offer a smoother financial transition for employers and a more appealing route for the public as a whole. Under Bates’ plan, the minimum wage beginning in 2017 would rise annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Under the Oakland plan, CPI-determined increases would begin in 2016.

The following tables illustrate the two paths to the estimated $12.53 wage in 2016:


East Bay Region




Percent Increase












11.9 %






Oakland Ballot





Percent Increase













*Assumes a 2.3% CPI yearly increase.

Mayor Bates’ proposal rises from $9 on July 1 this year (the state minimum wage on that date) to $10.04 in October this year, an increase of 11.6 percent, followed by a boost to $11.20 in April of 2015. Oakland’s minimum wage would jump from the $9 state minimum on July 1 this year to $12.25 in May of 2015.  

“I realize that each city may have different needs and different preferences for how to stagger increases until all reach the common target wage,” Bates said. “I recommend a graduated step-up as shown on the chart so that the impact is buffered by time. At the same time, I think there’s room for flexibility in individual cities having different ramp-up approaches in the first couple of years.”

Bates said he is not proposing that the regional minimum wage include provisions for health benefits or sick leave. “Those are certainly important components of compensation, but I believe they should be handled separately,” he said.


(Posted April 14, 2014)


Mayor Tom Bates will highlight important changes and initiatives that are transforming Berkeley in his annual State of the City address on April 30 at Berkeley City College.

Topics will include

Seating is limited. Please RSVP and print your confirmation at

What: Mayor Tom Bates State of the City Address
Where: Berkeley City College Auditorium, 2050 Center Street
When: Wednesday April 30, 2014. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Program begins at 6 p.m.


 What's New: Berkeley Awarded Innovation Grant

The City of Berkeley has been awarded a $2 million "Innovation Grant" to implement a pilot program for dynamic pricing of parking spaces in the Southside and Elmwood districts, to manage non-resident parking in adjacent residential neighborhoods by enhancing parking enforcement, and to help reduce the number of auto trips in the city by implementing various transportation demand-management (TDM) strategies. 

The Climate Initiatives Program of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) approved 17 grants totaling $33 million to promote breakthrough techniques for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle-miles traveled around the Bay Area.

For more information about the grant program and Berkeley's pilot click here: 




Berkeley, California (Friday, October 15, 2010) - Berkeley residents now have extra protection from fire with the introduction of an above-ground water system that can pump water from San Francisco Bay up to Berkeley’s steep hillsides. This is the first use of this system to protect an entire city in the United States.  [Read the entire press release here]

Do You Have the Most Sustainable Block?

Does Your Neighborhood Have Block Power? During the months of August and September 2010, single city blocks in Berkeley will form teams and compete with one another to earn the title: 'The City's Most Sustainable Block!'  Teams will collectively earn points for their positive contributions to their neighborhood's carbon footprint, environmental aesthetic, and social currency and share the results on-line via Go Game’s interactive game engine. 

The winning team will be crowned “The Most Sustainable Block in Berkeley” and win a blow-out block party to celebrate the victory. Don’t miss out - sign up your block here: 

Money for Energy Efficiency (ME2)

Federal stimulus funding is available for whole-house energy retrofit programs!  The City of Berkeley will be offering cash incentives to increase the energy efficiency of your home, apartment building or business.  Funding is provided by the US Dept. of Energy and is available for all types of buildings and income levels! Energy retrofits help you save money, improve building comfort, safety and durability as well as reduce your carbon footprint! 

- Up to $8,500 for single-family & duplex homes (including rebates through PG&E)
- Up to $30,000 for commercial & multifamily properties
- Includes $200 rebate for home energy audit and $1,200 rebate for home improvements that reduce energy use by 20%
Come to a public workshop to learn how you can qualify for this funding!

North Berkeley Senior Center
Tuesday, June 15th 6-8pm
1901 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley CA 94709

South Berkeley Senior Center
Thursday, June 17th 6-8pm 
2939 Ellis Street, Berkeley CA 94703

For those who cannot attend, presentations will be available on the website below after June 15th.
For more information, please see or call 510-981-7438
Subscribe here  to receive email updates as more information becomes available. (


Funding Secured for New Bay Trail Extension at Berkeley Marina

I just returned from the state capitol after meeting with the Coastal Conservancy.  I am happy to report that I was able to secure $355,000 from the Conservancy as a match to a larger $2 million federal transportation grant.  The money will be used to construct an extension of the SF Bay Trail within the City of Berkeley's part of Eastshore State Park. In addition, the funding will enable the City to construct a water access ramp for wind surfers, kite surfers, kayakers and other water enthusiasts at the Berkeley Marina.
When completed, this multi-use trail will connect our Berkeley bike bridge to Adventure Playground, the Nature Center, Skates, H.S. Lordships and the Berkeley Pier.  This is a first segment of a larger project to improve bicycle/pedestrian access to and throughout the Berkeley waterfront and Eastshore State Park.

Climate Action Plan Wins APA California Northern Award

Our City of Berkeley Climate Action Plan has been selected as the winner of the The American Planning Association’s 2010 Outstanding Planning Award.  The award highlights innovation in green community planning.


Berkeley's Downtown Plan makes the New York Times. Read more here:

Berkeley’s Green Scorecard Website

The City of Berkeley launched an interactive web-based tool today that presents scorecards on local sustainability trends such as community energy use, waste disposal, and tree planting in Berkeley.  The website enables residents to, with a few clicks of a mouse, access relevant, up-to-date information about Berkeley’s progress toward its climate action goals.  In addition, the site provides a forum for questions and feedback regarding implementation of the City’s Climate Action Plan. 

The website is called the “Berkeley See-It.”  See-It is a performance management and communications software developed by Visible Strategies with support from the San Francisco Foundation and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. 

To view the Berkeley See-It website, please visit the City of Berkeley website at:


YMCA Teen Center Breaks Ground

Congrats to the new YMCA Teen Center at 2111 MLK Jr Way. Once completed, this LEED certified (proposed) center will be fantastic for our Berkeley youth. Read more here:


Studies Show Berkeley's 'Green' Efforts Could Assist Public Health

"A new series of research papers revealed that some measures designed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions may also benefit public health, which is an area that heavily influences many of Berkeley's energy-saving programs."  Read more from this Daily Cal article:


Our Berkeley FIRST program is highlighted in the most recent Scientific American as one of 20 "World Changing Ideas" (AKA 20 ways to build a cleaner, healthier, smarter world).

More info here:



City of Berkeley receives over 100k from the U.S. Department of Energy to encourage solar locally

The City of Berkeley recently received over $100K for two of its innovative solar programs (Berkeley Solar Map and Smart Solar). Read more here...

Biden to Model Solar Finance Plan on Berkeley FIRST

Since Berkeley adopted its solar financing plan last year, cities and states across the nation have adopted similar models.  Now, Vice President Biden says that Berkeley FIRST will serve as a national model.  Read more in this SF Chronicle article here:


Vote Now for Local Berekeley Start Up BTTR Ventures

Website to vote on (BBC Project Name:  FUNGI TOWN ):
Time:  It takes less than 10 seconds!
•  Cal grads Alex and Nikhil recently founded BTTR Ventures ( in Berkeley, CA -  a sustainable company that transforms a waste stream into three value-add products that sell at Whole Foods and local nurseries
•  Named among the top 12 finalists – and only American team – out of 1,500 int’l social ventures in the BBC / Newsweek 2009 World Challenge
• A brief video is up online (; a full documentary on our venture will air internationally on BBC World and/or PBS on October 10th (check local listings for exact times)

StopWaste Business Efficiency Awards Celebration

Help us celebrate the 2009 winners of the annual StopWaste Partnership Business Efficiency Awards, among them one top Berkeley employer! The annual awards honor medium and large Alameda County businesses whose continuous efforts to improve environmental performance and business efficiency have achieved outstanding results. The event will also feature the release of the 2009 East Bay Indicators Report, an analysis of the region's economic, environmental and social developments; and a panel discussion on "Competitive Advantage through a Sustainable Supply Chain" with panelists from Kaiser Permanente and Give Something Back. 

 Date: Friday October 16, 2009
8:00-10:00 AM
(7:30 AM – Registration, free continental breakfast and networking)

Midtown Event Center, 420 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
(Between Broadway and Franklin, near 12th Street BART)

Free event but RSVP required:


 510ARTS.COM Launches!

The cities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Richmond will come together in an unprecedented partnership to promote the arts in a new East Bay Culture Corridor (EBCC). The EBCC will formally launch on October 2nd and will kick-start a month of public events celebrating the collaboration.



510 Arts

The four-city arts collaboration is believed to be the first of its kind in the US and is designed to serve as a model of forward-thinking partnerships that put the arts forward as a proven catalyst for economic development, quality of life and community sustainability. The EBCC will foster relationships between the diverse arts communities of each city, leverage new audiences and resources for the arts, increase the visibility, accessibility and sustainability of arts communities, leverage new resources for each partner city and benefit local businesses through partnerships with the arts.


Biofuels Oasis Grand Opening!

July 18, 2009: Dubbed the "most sustainable filling station in the nation", the Biofuel Oasis hosted its grand opening ceremony on Saturday, July 18th.  The refurbished historic gas station located at 1441 Ashby St. (@ Sacramento), will be open from 7am to 8pm daily (in 6 months they will be open until midnight). 

Their biodiesel is made from recycled vegetable oil, their pumps are powered by solar panels, and their store sells urban farming supplies. See the Biofuel Oasis website for more information. 

Berkeley Ranked One of Greenest Cities in the Country

Ranked number seven, Mother Nature Network recognized Berkeley "as being a leader in the incubation of clean technology for wind power, solar power, biofuels and hydropower."  For more information click here (Mother Nature Network).

The 2009 Berkeley Family Festival and Bike Rodeo Delivers Fun For the Whole Family

WHAT: Berkeley Family Festival and Bike Rodeo: a community fair and bike safety festival

WHEN: Saturday June 20, 2009, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: San Pablo Park & Frances Albrier Community Center
              2800 Park St (at Oregon) Berkeley, CA

WHO: Kids and their families

As in previous years, each child will be fitted and given a free bike helmet after participation in a fun and interactive safety seminar.

"The festival was a great opportunity for my daughter to practice her bike safety skills," said Lysa Samuel, mother of a kindergartener at Malcolm X. "Plus, we got to ride the bike blender, eat healthy snacks and watch the clowns perform-- what a fun day in the park!"

In addition to prizes and games, the event includes a mock-city obstacle course for kids to improve their bike riding skills, face painting, bike maintenance stations, The Prescott Circus and games from the Conscious Carnival. For parents, the City of Berkeley will offer free blood pressure screenings and nutrition and safety information for their children.

The Annual Bike Rodeo first debuted in 2003 to promote children's health and bike safety. Last year almost 200 kids were fitted with new helmets and participated in educational games. That number is expected to double this year, and there will still be enough helmets for all kids who participate.

Mayor Tom Bates Presents the 2009 State of the City At the New David Brower Center

When:Monday, June 1st at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Goldman Theater, David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Downtown Berkeley

RSVP by May 27th!

Due to the limited seating, please RSVP by 5:00 p.m. May 27th at (510) 981-7100 or e-mail

Enjoy the award winning David Brower Center <> and tour the Sebastiao Salgado <> exhibit in the Hazel Wolf Gallery after the presentation.


David Brower Center Grand Opening, Sunday May 10th

Celebrate the Brower Center’s grand opening with a day of lectures, documentaries, family activities and live music. Tour the Center, meet our nonprofit resident organizations, and learn how to engage with a variety of environmental and social issues. It's the perfect Mother’s Day activity.

Sunday, May 10, 2009 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Full Schedule for the Day


 Josh Kornbluth Video Promotes Berkeley’s “Get Off Your Gas” Contest 

Josh Kornbluth, local comedian, actor and Energy Commissioner, stars in new video promoting Berkeley’s “Get Off Your Gas" Contest. Kornbluth takes on the role of Benjamin Franklin to promote a contest that educates and rewards Berkeley residents who reduce their a natural gas consumption. Watch the video and enter the contest right here! Applications are due April 10, 2009.

City of Berkeley Partnership Establishes a $100,000 Fund for Local Independent Filmmakers

Berkeley local filmmakers have a new funding source- The Berkeley FILM Foundation.  The application for the first funding cycle totaling $100,000 is available today at Eligibility requirements include filmmakers who live or work in Berkeley and who are in the production, post-production, and distributions stages of feature-length or short-form narratives or documentaries.

The deadline for grant applications is April 14, 2009.    The complete guidelines and application may be found at  For more information on the grant guidelines contact Barbara Hillman at (510) 549-7040.

First Two Berkeley Homes Go Solar with Berkeley’s Innovative Financing Program 

Mayor Tom Bates hand delivers the first check and recognizes property owners that financed their solar systems through the Berkeley FIRST program.

[Continue reading...]


Buy Local Berkeley

The Buy Local Berkeley campaign is a partnership of the City's diverse shopping district and business organizations that is working to inspire and encourage local residents to shift their spending to Berkeley businesses whenever possible. Purchases at locally-owned Berkeley businesses have a very positive economic impact on the local economy -- much more than buying at out of town merchants, at non-local chain stores or on the internet. Local business suppliers and services firms are also a beneficiary of this effort.

The Office of Economic Development has contract with Buy Local Berkeley to help them educate residents about the economic, environmental, community, and cultural benefits of shopping locally. For more information, please visit their website at

American Public Media's Marketplace Features Berkeley's Solar Financing Program

Listen to report here.  "Financing green projects can be expensive, so cities are rethinking the economic model to fund renewable energy. A pilot project in Berkeley, Calif., will use city bonds to pay for the costs of installing solar panels, with money being recouped later through a surcharge on property taxes." Sam Eaton reports.

MTC Honors City of Berkeley for its Contributions to Bay Area Transportation

City CarShare and the city of Berkeley’s AccessMobile will receive the Doris Kahn Accessible Transportation Award for providing the nation’s first wheelchair-accessible car-share van. The AccessMobile, funded by a $25,000 award won by the city of Berkeley and matched by City CarShare, provides a new mobility option for wheelchair users. The van can transport two individuals using wheelchairs, plus three additional passengers and a driver. The AccessMobile launched in Berkeley on Earth Day, April 22.

(October 21, 2008)


Click here to subscribe to future updates to this page.

Berkeley Mayor Bates Receives United Nations Americas Award for Excellence 2008

Berkeley, California (September 17, 2008) -The same day the Berkeley City Council unanimously approved the first-in-the-nation Energy Efficiency and Solar Financing District, Mayor Bates was selected as the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) 2008 Americas Award Laureate for Excellence in Environmental Sustainability. The UNITAR Selection Committee recognized Mayor Bates because of his “efforts and outstanding work in implementing climate protection strategies”. The Berkeley Climate Action Campaign is cited as “a best practice on how a community-based effort has served to identify and implement strategies that achieve Berkeley’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target”.




Berkeley FIRST Clears Important Hurdles

New York Times: Berkeley Approves City-Backed Loans for Solar Panels 
September 16, 2008
"The Berkeley City Council late Tuesday unanimously approved a program to give city-backed loans to property owners who install rooftop solar-power systems. The loans, likely to total up to $22,000 apiece, would be paid off over 20 years as part of the owners’ property-tax bills."

KGO News Video: Berkeley Encourages Residents to Go Solar 
September 16, 2008
A unanimous vote in Berkeley on Tuesday night lights the way for that city to be the first in the nation to make solar panels affordable. The mayor says San Francisco, San Jose, even cities as far away as Annapolis, Maryland are interested in following Berkeley's lead.

The Guardian (UK): Berkeley, California approves city-backed solar loans
September 18, 2008
The California city of Berkeley has approved a new financing scheme for loans to homeowners who install rooftop solar panels, a landmark programme that could inspire other US cities to follow suit.


This is Berkeley? Via Article Celebrates Berkeley's Treasures
September, 2008



This is Berkeley?

In a recent article in VIA Magazine's September 2008 edition Josh Sens writes that the city of Berkeley has emerged "in its full dimension as a destination brimming with outdoor beauty and activities, cultural attractions, and some of the West’s finest cuisine."  He goes on to write that "[b]eyond its premier university, Berkeley brims with colorful boutiques, haute cuisine, and a sense of humor."

Read the full article



Mayor Bates Kicks-Off 5th Annual Reading and Health Program for 1,000 Low-Income Berkeley Kids
June 26, 2008


Project Build 2008

“Project BUILD is a wonderful program that provides nearly 1,000 low-income children with the opportunity to read, learn, and be active over the summer,” said Mayor Tom Bates, who created the program in 2004. “We are helping these kids maintain their literacy skills at a time when they are most and risk, while also promoting healthy eating and exercise habits.” 

More about Project BUILD




City of Berkeley Awarded $300,000 MTC Grant to Improve Downtown
June 25, 2008



berkeley collage

 On Wednesday, June 25, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) awarded the City of Berkeley $300,000 from the Station Area Planning Grants to help actualize our new Downtown Area Plan within months rather than years. The Plan envisions a more beautiful, livable and thriving mixed-use district.



City of Berkeley and Berkeley Unified School District Join Forces to Eliminate the Achievement Gap
June 25, 2008

“Success in school is not the sole responsibility of the School District – it is all of our responsibility. Kids are in their homes and the community
more hours a day than they are in school”, said Mayor Tom Bates. “The disparity in educational outcomes between African American and Latino Students and their White and Asian peers cannot be tolerated in our community. We want all of our youth to graduate high school with a high quality education and clear pathways to college and/or careers.” 



Carbon Fee – First of its Kind!

Earth in Hand

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District's board of directors on Wednesday approved new rules to charge businesses a fee for the pollution they emit. As a board member of BAAQMD, I first proposed the idea of a carbon fee last September. These unprecedented new rules will impose fees on factories, power plants, oil refineries and other businesses that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. The agency, which regulates air pollution in the nine-county Bay Area, will be the first in the country to charge companies a fee based on their greenhouse gas emissions. The new rules will take effect July 1.


Study Ranks Berkeley Second ’Greenest’ City In California

berkeley collage

A recent study by researchers at UCLA has affirmed Berkeley’s reputation as being one of the country’s most environmentally conscious cities.   The report, titled "Green Market Geography," ranks Berkeley as one of California’s "greenest" cities, second only to its northern neighbor, Albany.   The report, authored by UCLA economics professor Matthew Kahn and graduate student Ryan Vaughn, was based largely on political data comparing California cities’ voting records on environmental issues. 




Sustainable Industries Magazine: New breed of leaders go far, fast
June 9, 2008

Mayor Tom Bates, who began his term as mayor of Berkeley in 2002, formed a sustainable business team dedicated to building the city’s “green” economy. The team includes more than 200 green businesses. Mayor Bates also reached beyond his electoral base and engaged with other municipal leaders to initiate a region-wide plan. Mayor Bates created a special assessment district to provide financing to citizens and businesses that install solar photovoltaic panels, which would then be paid back from slight increases to the property taxes of participating landowners. Mayor Bates proves that leadership can help grow an economy, support local businesses and improve community well-being.



New Athletic Fields Opening Soon!
April 11, 2008

gilman field

Mark your calendars! The $7 million Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex
 for soccer, baseball and softball will hold its grand opening on September 6th. The complex, which includes two high tech artificial turf fields, will draw about 250,000 players and spectators a year.


City Car Share AccessMobile 
April 1, 2008

Access City Car Share

Berkeley now has the nation's first wheelchair-accessible van available for use by any City CarShare member. The van, known as the AccessMobile, will increase travel options among those with disabilities.  In 2007, Berkeley won the National Organization on Disability's Accessible America contest and received a $25,000 prize. City CarShare matched that, and then some, to finance the AccessMobile.


36 Hours in Berkeley
March 30, 2008

The New York Times turned their spotlight on the treasures of Berkeley with a full page spread in the March 30, 2008 Travel section. Joshua Kurlantzick takes readers on a tour with photos and eloquent descriptions of Berkeley's diverse attractions including
 Telegraph Avenue, Fourth Street, Indian Rock and the Farmers' Market. Read the article 36 Hours in Berkeley.