For press-related inquiries, please contact Stefan Elgstrand, at or at (510) 981-7100. 

 29 Days in Office

Dear Neighbor:

It’s been a busy first four weeks in the Mayor’s office. In addition to hiring staff and chairing my first City Council meeting, we immediately began addressing one of Berkeley’s most pressing issues – homelessness.

Over the past year, I have talked to many of you about the need to expand housing and services for the homeless. My staff and I are exploring a number of policies and proposals to move toward a Housing First strategy by expanding permanent housing. We will also be working with leaders in other cities on developing regional approaches since this issue is bigger than Berkeley. Until we get there, interim and emergency measures are needed; the cold and rainy nights have brought the need for shelter front and center. A few homeless people have sadly died in the cold on our streets in recent weeks.

Since taking office on December 1, 2016, I have been working diligently to address the immediate needs of Berkeley’s homeless population with the ultimate goal of permanent supportive housing.

At the first regular meeting of the new City Council on December 13, 2016 the council voted to activate an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The idea was the result of my conversations with the City Manager about the urgency of expanding shelters. The next dayon December 14, the City augmented its homeless services by:

In addition, on December 13th the City Council:

On Friday, December 23rd, the City opened a new 45-bed shelter at 1231 Second Street that includes pet kennels, storage and locked facilities for bicycles. This shelter will evolve to provide 24-hour access and include showers and daily visits from Berkeley Mental Health and/or community agencies.

Often times we see that change takes time within government bureaucracies. But the commitment of the new Council and staff to immediately expand shelter and emergency services for the homelessness have resulted in swift action. As a result of these incredible efforts, homeless residents will now have safe and warm spaces and we can engage and connect people to services and housing. While there is certainly more work to be done, I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.

The work continues. The City Council’s Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Homelessness will meet in the coming weeks to discuss creating a 24/7 shelter and moving towards a Navigation Center. In addition, we will be working on expanding permanent supportive housing.

Regarding the “First They Came for the Homeless” Encampment

I have received many emails from neighbors throughout Berkeley regarding the ongoing protest tent encampment which has moved throughout Berkeley. These encampments have not been sanctioned by the City and staff have taken enforcement action based on complaints from residents. Camping on public property, including medians, is illegal under the Berkeley Municipal Code. City staff can take complaint driven enforcement action regarding any violations of the Municipal Code. Unlike other cities, Berkeley’s Charter does not give the Mayor executive authority to hire or direct staff. As Mayor, my role is to shape city policy and work with the City Manager to implement city policies and initiatives. I do not alone have the unilateral power to direct staff to enforce, or not enforce, violations of the Berkeley Municipal Code.

My staff, and others, are working during this holiday season to connect these campers and others throughout the city to resources and the new 60-day shelter. It is our hope that people living in encampments will choose to live indoors.

In 2017, I look forward to continuing my work on addressing homelessness in addition to many other critical challenges facing our city. For now, best wishes to you and your family for a safe and prosperous New Year. Thank you for the honor of serving as your Mayor.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin



 City of Berkeley logo

 For immediate release: December 8, 2016    


In an Address to the City, Berkeley's First Latino Mayor and Its Youngest in a Century Says "the Light from Our Progressive City Must Shine Brighter Than Ever"  

(Berkeley, CA) - Last night, at Old Berkeley City Hall, Jesse Arreguin was inaugurated as Berkeley's 22nd Mayor. Arreguin, 32, is Berkeley's youngest Mayor in over 100 years, and the first Latino to lead the city.

Arreguin ran for Mayor on a progressive platform, with a commitment to tackle the city's affordability crisis. He was elected on November 8.

During Mayor Arreguin's inaugural speech, he addressed the outcome of the national election and spoke of the pressing need for Berkeley's progressive leadership in the years ahead.

Mayor Arreguin said: "Election Night was bittersweet. While we celebrated a great progressive victory in Berkeley, our nation took a troubling turn. In the coming months and years, while we may face dark times, the light from our progressive city must shine brighter than ever. It is essential for Berkeley to lead, for our city to be a bold, progressive beacon amongst the darkness, for other cities throughout our country and our world."

Mayor Arreguin particularly addressed the importance of building more affordable housing, raising local wages, and alleviating homelessness.

"Together, let us put all of our energy towards tackling our growing affordability crisis," the Mayor said. "Let's build more affordable housing so our working families don't get pushed out of our great city. Let's raise the minimum wage to a truly living wage, so that nobody who works full time in Berkeley lives in poverty. Let us show real compassion for our brothers and sisters who are sleeping on our streets, and work together to provide a pathway out of homelessness."

Arreguin was joined on the dais by a new progressive City Council majority, and after the swearing in, led his first Council meeting as Mayor.