Berkeley is famous for its high rate of civic involvement and lively democratic process. Most city councils don’t have to worry about overflow crowds at meetings, but it happens here— even when meetings last until 1 a.m.
Politics aren’t the only way residents get involved. Community members are actively involved in neighborhood issues such as crime prevention and disaster readiness, and they work with teams of city staff on problems like graffiti, neighborhood crime, and earthquake preparedness.
Berkeley has more than 35 boards and commissions that allow about 350 residents to advise the Council on topics from aging to zoning.
Meeting notices, agendas and meeting-related documents are online, and many audio and videotapes are also available.
Council meetings are streamed live on the web and broadcast by KPFB, 89.3 FM and cable channel 33.
Records Online is an exciting new web feature that enables anyone with access to the Internet to search and access City documents as far back as 1905.
The Citizens' Guide to Obtaining Information and Records from the City
Berkeley neighbors are active in fostering good relationships with the police department and preparing for disasters. There are many ways to get involved in either crime prevention or disaster preparedness, including:
Berkeley has 80,963 registered voters.
- Democratic Party: 65 percent
- Republican Party: 4 percent
- Green Party: 3 percent
- Decline to state: 17 percent
- Other: 11 percent
(Alameda County Registrar of Voters, 2013)
Even though Berkeley is geographically small, it is one of the most densely populated in the Bay Area. From the beautiful views of the Berkeley hills to the art and industry of West Berkeley lies a fascinating mix of distinct, flavorful and constantly evolving neighborhoods.
According to the Census Bureau, Berkeley has about 49,000 housing units (2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates):
Housing Units Distribution
1-unit (detached) 46 percent
1-unit attached 4 percent
2-4 unit structure 19 percent
5+ units/structure 31 percent
Average sale price of new and existing single-family homes: $659,000
Average sale price of new and existing condos: $434,750
2010 Median Rental Market Rates
1 Bedroom $1,250
2 Bedroom $1,660
3 Bedroom $2,395
(Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board)
In a region as bustling as the Bay Area, transportation is practically an obsession. Berkeley works hard to make mass transit easy and accessible to all, which includes services such as taxi and van service for the elderly and the disabled.
- Berkeley makes up only 8 percent of Alameda County’s population, but more than 37 percent of the county’s population of people who walk and ride bikes to work.
- Every Berkeley resident is within a quarter mile of a bus stop.
- All AC Transit local bus lines connect with a BART station.
- There are more than 36 miles of designated bike routes, including 10 miles of bike lanes and 6 mils of bike paths.
- The City of Berkeley partners with City CarShare to enable employees to take public transit to work. The number of CarShare locations increased from 5 in 2002 to more than 50 now.
In order to be a strong community, we need to be a healthy community. That’s why Berkeley is one of the only cities in the state to have its own public health division. Berkeley also offers mental health services and environmental health services.
Public Works and the Environment
Improving our natural environment is another important aspect of how we live in Berkeley. Our innovations in recycling and waste reduction are a model for communities across the country, and we’ll continue to find ways to keep our streets, streams and Bay clean.
When it comes to “Think Global/Act Local,” Berkeley is leading the pack. Globally, we are working to reduce energy consumption, slow global warming, and create technologies that will help business and industry do more with less (see our Measure G page for more information about reducing greenhouse gases in Berkeley).
Locally, we are working to reduce waste, increase recycling and build energy-efficient buildings. Every year:
- City crews remove an average of 150,000 square feet of graffiti;
- We conduct 10 free neighborhood cleanups;
- We sweep up 3,000 tons of debris that otherwise would have polluted the bay;
- We pick up more than 3,500 tons of litter;
- Berkeley residents are some of the best recyclers in Alameda County, according to a new report by StopWaste.org. The report covers the years 1995-2010 and shows that Berkeley diverts 76 percent of our waste away from landfills and towards recycling, composting and re-use (read more here).