April 1, 2021
Dear Neighbor,
I wanted to make sure you heard the news:
Starting today, vaccinations are open to everyone who is at least 50-years-old, as well as people who are at least 16-years-old who have certain underlying health conditions or who work in certain workplace sectors. See the state vaccine guidelines for details.

If you haven't already, make sure you're signed up to be notified directly about vaccination opportunities coordinated through Berkeley Public Health. It's recommended that everyone sign up for as many lists as possible so you can maximize opportunities to receive a vaccine. The City recommends that Berkeley residents also sign up for:

No matter what list you are on, keep tabs on your e-mail and take immediate action when you receive a notification that you are eligible to make an appointment.

In this newsletter:
  • More Activities Now Permitted in Orange Tier
  • Send Your Input on Hopkins Corridor Traffic & Placemaking Study
  • Save The Date: BART Community Advisory Group Meeting #6 on April 29
The City of Berkeley issued the following news release on Tues., March 30:

As case rates and the percentage of positive tests continue to decline countywide, state rules allow more activities to reopen in the City of Berkeley and throughout Alameda County as long as Covid-19 precautions are used.
As rules relax, everyone should act to avoid and limit spread. Maintain daily habits like keeping distance, wearing a face covering and avoiding crowds. Choose activities based on lower risk. Limit your overall risk on a daily and weekly basis.

The rules under the state’s “orange tier” go into effect on March 31 in Berkeley and the rest of the county:  
  • Restaurants can have indoor dining of up to 50 percent of capacity or 200 people total, whichever is less
  • Retailers can open at full capacity
  • Offices can open indoors, though telework is encouraged whenever possible
  • Houses of worship, museums, and movie theaters can open at 50 percent capacity
  • Gyms, fitness centers and pools can open indoors at 25 percent capacity
  • Wineries, breweries and distilleries can open indoors at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Bars can open outdoors
  • Outdoor live events can have audiences up to 33 percent of capacity, or 25 percent of a suite starting April 1 - see details.

For more information on these Covid-19 restrictions, which are set by the California Department of Public Health across the entire county, see the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy, or the City's Covid-19 restrictions in Berkeley webpage. You can also look up the status of activities by sector on the state’s Covid-19 website.

When cases rise, people’s actions have led to the increase. The same holds true when there’s a decrease: diligence by thousands has a collective impact. Wearing face coverings, avoiding gatherings, and keeping physical distance from other households lessens spreadand opens up more possibilities.

Each person that gets vaccinated also increases our overall protection. Among all Berkeleyans over the age of 16, City of Berkeley data show that roughly 27 percent are fully vaccinatedan increase from 12 percent three weeks ago.

“Even as more activities open up, we must not forget that the virus is still circulating in our community, new variants are emerging and cases are rising in other parts of the country,” said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. “To navigate our way through the pandemic, we need to use all the tools availablefrom face coverings to physical distance and hand hygiene. And when it’s your turn, get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Budget risk, choose safer activities and maintain daily habits
As more activities open up, people should manage their risk. For each activity you choose, consider postponing another.

If this is the week you choose to go to the movies, you might postpone plans to go wine tasting. You might choose to alternate working out at a gym with at-home and outdoor fitness activities.

When leaving the safety of home, use three questions to help assess the risk of a particular activity: Where will you go? Who will attend? What will happen?

Those questions should guide you mostly to activities that are outside, shorter in duration and where people can safely stay six feet apart.

These questions should also help you avoid confined spaces, crowds and close contact with those outside of your household.

Everyone should always do the essentials: stay home when sick, wear face coverings, wash hands frequently, and keep physical distance from those not in your household.

“We are in a safer place thanks to the actions of so many, but the pandemic is not over,” said Dr. Hernandez. “Everyone doing their part will help continue to keep us all safe.”

Blueprint for a Safer Economy (California Department of Public Health)
Tiered framework flyer (California Department of Public Health)
Look up status of activities (covid19.ca.gov)
Vaccine Eligibility Guidelines (California Department of Public Health)
Send Your Input on Hopkins Corridor Traffic and Placemaking Study
The City held a second Virtual Community Workshop for its Hopkins Corridor Traffic and Placemaking Study on March 10. The purpose of the study is to enhance public spaces and improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians from Gilman to Sutter—the portion of Hopkins that's considered a high injury street, according to our Vision Zero Action Plan (see p. 13).
This study was requested by Councilmember Sophie Hahn and initiated prior to my time on the Council. It's a priority of mine to ensure that the community west of Gilman also has an opportunity to consider bike lane treatments for the portion of Hopkins from Gilman to San Pablo. Our Transportation Division Manager Farid Javandel has assured me that we could hold a community meeting to consider similar bike lane treatments west of Gilman for when Hopkins is repaved in FY 2022-23. Please find below more information about the three options that are currently under consideration for the Hopkins Corridor from Gilman to Sutter. You can also view these options as slides HERE. It's also my understanding that the City is planning for extra time for outreach directly to businesses and community facilities and to consider various project options (not pictured below) that balance the need for safety for bicyclists and pedestrians with the desire to retain some parking, delivery, and drop-off/pick-up space, such as angled paid parking on California. The City is currently in the process of compiling all comments and feedback in order to develop a proposal that balances the many needs along the corridor.

You can send your feedback to: Beth Thomas, Principal Planner for our Transportation Division (bathomas@cityofberkeley.info), and/or to me (rkesarwani@cityofberkeley.info) and/or the full Council (council@cityofberkeley.info).

For the images below:
  • Yellow portion is Gilman to McGee.
  • Blue portion is McGee to Josephine.
  • Green portion is Josephine to Sutter.
Save the Date: BART CAG on April 29
Save the Date for the BART Community Advisory Group Meeting #6 from 6-9 p.m. on Thurs., April 29. More info is available HERE. 
COVID-19 Resources
General Resources. The Mayor’s Office has created a resource guide, with information about parking enforcement, senior hours at local grocery stores and other information.

The state COVID-19 website is where you can get up to speed on what’s happening statewide, learn how you can safely help, and find out what resources and assistance may be available.

A Berkeley Mutual Aid website has been created for neighbors to offer and receive assistance, such as with grocery shopping or phone calls to neighbors.

Supporting Businesses. You can donate to the Berkeley Relief Fund to support low-income tenants, small businesses and non-profits, and non-profit arts organizations or donate directly to a local business. The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce has created a resource guide for businesses.

Eviction Protections. If you have any questions about our local residential and commercial eviction moratorium or housing retention grants for low-income tenants, more information is available HERE. The Council has also passed an urgency ordinance to prevent commercial landlords from increasing rent by more than 10% (see Item #8 HERE).

Tenant/Landlord Financial Relief. Tenants and landlords in Alameda County are able to apply for financial relief using Alameda County Housing Secure.

Price GougingAnyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or has information about potential price gouging, can file a complaint with the District Attorney's Office by emailing pricegouging@acgov.org or calling (510) 383-8600.

Donate Blood. You can donate blood at the Oakland Blood Donation Center (6230 Claremont Ave. in Oakland) where they are using physical distancing protocols, disinfecting between donors, and taking temperatures of donors and staff. Please visit the Red Cross website to make an appointment before visiting. 

Donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through the City or through my office.

Food Resources.
  • Double Helping Hands provides meals to the homeless from downtown Berkeley restaurants. You can make a donation HERE.

  • HelpBerkeley.org provides low-cost meals to individuals at high risk of developing complications from Covid-19, and they are in need of volunteers to help deliver meals.

  • Information on additional food resources, such as CalFresh, WIC, and school meals, is available HERE.

Resources for Mental Health and Wellness.

  • The Domestic Violence Resource Guide for Alameda County is available HERE.

If you have specific questions or concerns, please always feel free to reach out to me: rkesarwani@cityofberkeley.info or 510-981-7110.
My Website
For updates on community issues and links to City information resources, please visit my website: www.rashikesarwani.com.

This site is also where you can find an archive of all of my newsletters to date.

To sign up to receive future newsletters, please click HERE.
COVID-19 Information Sources