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Councilmember Susan Wengraf   
Councilmember Susan Wengraf

Newsletter #59


July, 2017

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

    With the end of June comes the approval of a new two year budget.  We are spending more on homeless services and programs than ever before.  I am cautious and skeptical that this will make a difference, although my colleagues on the City Council are mostly enthusiastic.  My thinking is that we have to put significant resources into creating permanent housing with supportive services, and that doing anything else is neither a sustainable nor permanent solution to the problem.  I am, however, in the minority on the council on this subject.

    I am pleased to report that The Rose Garden allocation of $2 million from Bond Measure T1 was approved by the Council.  This will include completion of the pergola, new walkways, new drainage, new tennis courts, and new disabled access.  I am thrilled that we will finally be able to make the Rose Garden beautiful again and accessible to all.  For an interactive story map of proposed Phase 1 T1 projects, click here.

    In addition, my request for increased funds for neighborhood traffic calming and increased street lighting has been postponed until November, when we will have a better idea of how much the new revenue streams are bringing into the City.  I am hopeful that these requests will also be funded, because the traffic speeds are out of control and our city, in general, is poorly lit.

Happy Summer and Happy 4th!

My best regards,

Susan Wengraf
waterWater Quality Follow-up
Water into glass
   This is a follow-up to my previous message to you regarding water quality.

    I have been spending a lot of time educating myself about water quality issues.  Last week I spent the morning at the EBMUD's Orinda reservoir discussing the contamination issue with Alison Kastama, Special Assistant to the General Manager, along with a Water Quality Supervisor, and the City Manager of Orinda.  I think I now have an elementary understanding of how the water system works and how EBMUD is trying to mitigate the rising levels of trihalomethane (THMs) contaminants in our water. 

    This is what I learned:

    The contaminant THMs are created as a result of interaction between organic matter and the chlorine which is added to the water.  Chlorine is required by regulations to protect our public water supply from bacterial contaminants.  Our water comes from the Pardee reservoir, which has experienced increasing algae growth during the drought.  The water comes down to the Orinda reservoir where it is treated and then pumped to various tanks in many different locations.

    The specific geographic area of the Berkeley hills that is currently receiving water that has higher than acceptable THM levels is very small.  I was not given a very detailed map, but it looks like most of the area generally runs south of Marin and east of Euclid.  This area is served by the Berkeley View Tap Pumping Plant.  The dark shaded section on this map shows this area.
(click on map for a higher resolution image)

    In response to high levels, EBMUD is implementing short term measures that include flushing the tanks and changing the chemical balance of the water. They are also working on long term strategies, but these are expensive and will take several years to implement.  Apparently there is no dependable, easy, or quick fix to the problem.

    New measurements will be taken in early July and reported to the EBMUD Board in late July.  At that time, we will be able to see if there has been a positive result to the flushing and chemical additions.  Since the trend for the past years has been increasing THM levels, it is very possible that other areas will also see high contaminants in July.

    My message to EBMUD was strong and clear:  they must be more transparent, more timely, and more pro-active in alerting their customers to the facts about the water that they are delivering for drinking and bathing, so that we can all make informed decisions about what we want to do.

    EBMUD staff told me told that activated carbon filters do filter out THMs. However, they also filter out the chlorine.  So, in order to prevent microbial growth, you must use the water quickly and change the filter monthly.  Filters certified by NSA or NSF are best.  I cannot tell you which filter system to purchase.  Please use your judgment and do the research if you decide to buy.
    I will be monitoring the July results from EBMUD and will report back to you after I have evaluated them.

    Please communicate your questions directly to EBMUD:
Call 866-403-2683 to report a water quality concern
Andy Katz - EBMUD Board Member -  
Allison Kastama - Manager of Public Affairs -

    Additional Contacts:
State Water Resources Board : 510-620-3463
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: 800-426-4791
Alameda County Health Department : 510-567-8000
Berkeley Health Department: 510-981-5300

meetingOn Urban Shield
Urban shield meeting 
    On Tuesday, June 20th, The Berkeley City Council held a special meeting at Longfellow School to hear public testimony and vote on three issues pertaining to public safety.  All three items receive funding from federal programs under the Department of Homeland Security.  The City Council listened to 5 hours of public comment. Then we started our discussion:
  1. Armored van Should the City of Berkeley accept funds to purchase a bullet-proof van?  The van looks like a delivery van, not a military tank.  It is lined with interior steel plates to protect our police when responding to an active shooter situation.  The van has no portals for rifles or other weaponry.  Its sole purpose is to protect our police officers in a dangerous situation.  I voted YES.
  2. Should we continue Berkeley's contract with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC)?  This will allow Berkeley Police to participate in the partial license plate reader information database.  Why is this important?  Frequently, victims of crime or witnesses to a crime can only remember a few of the letters or numbers of a license plate.  This program allows us to get back complete information.
    People opposed expressed concern that privacy would be violated and that the information would be abused by law enforcement.  But our regulations specifically prohibit the exchange of information.  Our department can only request information;  we give no information to NCRIC.  Participation does not undermine our commitment as a sanctuary city.  I decided that this is an important tool in fighting crime and apprehending criminals.  I voted YES.
  3. Should the City of Berkeley continue to allow police officers, fire fighters, public health staff, emergency services, civilian staff and volunteer citizens to be trained in various coordinated disaster response scenarios sponsored by "Urban Shield"?  Speakers who are opposed to this program feel that this training militarizes our police.  I agree that the marketing of the program is objectionable, and we should try to change it.  However, after speaking with first responders who have participated in the trainings, I was convinced that as a community, we would benefit from having our officers complete the training.  For example, one firefighter I spoke to told me that our fire department would not have had the skills to respond to the balcony collapse, had they not participated in the training.  Another firefighter told me that he had received excellent Hazardous Materials training and was able to deal with a recent chemical leak at Bayer.

    My commitment is to your safety.  Our area of the city is very vulnerable to natural disasters like wildland fire and severe damage from earthquake. In addition, we are neighbors to the Lawrence Lab and the UC Campus.  We have activists who live and work in the district who have been targeted by extremist groups.  We would be na├»ve to think that we are immune to a terrorist attack.  I believe our public safety officers and citizen volunteers need the best training possible, so that they will be better able to help all of you in the event of an emergency.  I do not believe that our values as a community are compromised by our participation.
    The motion that I introduced as an amendment was to form an ad-hoc committee to explore the possibility of finding an alternative to Urban Shield and to allow our officers, staff and volunteers to continue to participate in the Urban Shield program for another six months while we study the program and alternatives.  In September there is a scheduled training on sheltering communities after a catastrophe, and I thought it was important for our police and fire to get the benefits of that instruction.  I voted YES.
    When it was clear that there was support for the motion, members of the audience rushed the stage, climbed on top of it and blocked public view with a banner.  It felt threatening to me.  I packed up my things and exited the room where I was met by a police escort and taken to my car.  I have never attended such a hostile and intimidating meeting in all my years of civic engagement.

    If you disagree with my votes, I welcome a civil and reasonable dialogue.  If you c an convince me that I am wrong, I am open to changing my thinking.  But I will not be convinced by threats or bullying.  I welcome your thoughts and comments. Write to:
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wasteHousehold Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Event
Hazardous waste
    The Household Hazardous Waste program is sponsoring a drop-off event in Albany on Sunday, July 16th for residents of Alameda County. Please click on the link below to make an appointment and then you will receive a confirmation e-mail with the event's address.  

Sunday, July 16 9:00am
Location:    Golden Gate Fields
                 North Parking Lot
                 Albany ,  CA 94706
                 (510) 891-6542

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eventsChief of Police to Host Community Events
Andrew Greenwood
    Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood will be hosting a series of four Community Forums over the summer and into early September.

    The first Community Forum will be in West Berkeley on July 17, 2017 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the Berkeley Adult School (1701 San Pablo Avenue).

    The remaining three meetings will be in other parts of the city

    "These community forums will give us the opportunity to converse with our community; to hear our community's perspective on what we're doing well, where we can improve, and what priorities and concerns our community members have for our Department." said Chief Greenwood.  "While these meetings will take place in different parts of the City, anyone may attend any of the meetings, all are invited." The forums will be structured to give attendees an opportunity to engage with Officers, Detectives and Professional Staff from throughout the department, including the Chief, Command Staff, Detectives, Dispatchers, Area Coordinators, Beat Officers, Special Response Team members, Personnel and Training, Motor Officers, and Parking Enforcement Officers.

    These meetings come as the result of Chief Greenwood's commitment to proactively seek community feedback to inform the Department's planning for the future, and to focus on enhancing trust and understanding between the community and its police department.

     In addition to the July date, please mark your calendars for our future forums. The locations have yet to be determined but those dates and times are:

August 8, 2017, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm (location TBD - North Berkeley)

August 24, 2017, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm (location TBD - East/South Berkeley)

September 7, 2017, from 6:00pm-9:00pm (location TBD - South Berkeley)

    If you have questions about the events, please feel free to contact the Community Services Bureau at (510) 981-5806. We look forward to meeting you at one of the events.
Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6
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