UPDATES ON IMPORTANT CITY ISSUES
Homeless Task Force Recommendations
Homeless Task Force Draft Recommendations are available for public review. Click here to download a draft of the recommendations. Email us your comments/questions to SElgstrand@cityofberkeley.info
"Significant Community Benefits" from Downtown High-Rises
The Berkeley City Council is currently developing a framework for significant community benefits required from high-rise buildings Downtown. My office held a workshop on April 15th to gather community input on benefit priorities. We will present the community comments to the City Council at the May 5th meeting and post the report here once its completed.
When the voters of Berkeley approved Measure R in November 2010 they gave property owners and developers overnight a significant increase in property values by upzoning the entire Downtown area, and allowed builders to significant exceed height limits, with the understanding that the community would get something back. Unfortunately, current city law is vague and does not specify what "significant community benefits" these projects must provide. As a result issues like affordable housing, green building and sustainability, arts and culture and other important community needs may not be addressed. In addition, the lack of specific community benefit requirements has raised concerns on the part of builders and the community as to what the city's expectations are. That is why throughout the ten year Downtown Plan process I repeatedly advocated for adopting a clear and specific community benefits policy, yet the majority of the City Council decided to leave the policy open ended and unclear.
As the City Council is deciding on what benefit requirements to adopt, its important that we hear from citizens about what priorities we should set. Please attend the May 5, 2015 special Council meeting at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and email the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
Statement from Councilmember Jesse Arreguin in response to the recent protests in Berkeley:
First, it is important that the message that black lives matter does not get lost in the unfortunate events of the last 48 hours.
I strongly support the overwhelming majority of protesters who are peacefully opposing the racial inequities in our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, there is very small and antagonistic fringe engaging in senseless destruction and violence that undermines the legitimate demands to reform our justice system. This fringe cares about mayhem, not the message.
I also support our officers to the extent that they have been working to keep our community safe and apprehending violent agitators. However, their indiscriminate reaction in such a stressful situation has not been perfect and may have added fuel to the fire by targeting both peaceful and non-peaceful protesters alike with tear gas and rubber bullets. Witnessing firsthand the protest at its early stages last night, it is unfortunate that many innocent participants and members of the media have been literally caught in the middle of a cycle of violence.
My heart goes out to those peaceful protesters who were injured by both aggressors and the police, and to the many businesses who were vandalized and whose property has been damaged. I hope going forward that the police will partner with peaceful protesters to proactively identify, isolate, and arrest those who have no respect for our community by committing violence and destruction.
Contact: Anthony Sanchez, Chief of Staff to Councilmember Arreguin at (650) 283-8507.