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Councilmember Susan Wengraf   
Councilmember Susan Wengraf

Newsletter #47


April, 2016

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

    City Council is in recess now, but we have been having intense discussions about housing affordability and availability, and the situation of people living on the streets of Berkeley. These two issues have been the focus of our most recent meetings.

    We live in one of the most expensive areas for housing in the country. Even middle income folks are facing a very difficult time finding a home to rent. Buying a home is virtually out of the question for most, as the average sales price of a home in our city has escalated to more than $1 million.

    It seems that more people are living on our streets. Our community is very compassionate and generous, and the city provides excellent services. But our resources are limited. As we face increasing demands on our budget, it will be a challenge to address all our needs. Each council member has to try to balance the needs of the entire community with the city's available finances. These decisions are very difficult.

    I welcome your thoughts on these matters. I take my charge as your council person very seriously and try to represent your interests and values when it comes time to cast my vote. Please take a minute to let me know what you think. And if you need more information, please don't hesitate to ask. You can reach me at 981-7160 or

Susan Wengraf
Crime watch
    At the request of the City Council, the City Manager provides regular reports on crime trends in Berkeley.  The attached report provides information on reported Part I crime in 2015 and compares those statistics with crime rates from the previous four years (2011
through 2015).  Part I crime is defined as including: homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

    I am sharing this report with you so that you are informed about crime in our city and can take steps to protect yourself and your family.

    In 2015, Part One Violent Crime in Berkeley increased 12.5%, and Part One Property Crime increased 15.7%, resulting in an overall increase of Total Part One Crime of 15.3% for the year. These trends appear to be consistent with trends regionally and nationally.

    Read the report here .
   Here are some facts about home burglaries and simple things that residents can do to make their homes safer, courtesy of the Berkeley Police Department. BPD Crime Prevention

    We live in a beautiful place but also in a very vulnerable one. Preparing in advance of an emergency is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones. Join us at the Berkeley Emergency Prep Fair to learn more about how to be ready! CERT Fair

Zika Map
    With summer approaching and people making plans to travel, Berkeley's Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman issued the following remarks regarding the Zika virus outbreak:

    As foreign travelers return to the Bay Area infected with the Zika virus, our region's climate makes the risk of a local outbreak extremely low. However, travelers need to be careful about where they visit.

    Use travel advisories to guide where you travel when planning your trip. That's especially true if you are pregnant or intending to be. Although Zika results in mild, if any, symptoms in the vast majority of infected people, it has raised concerns due to links to birth defects or temporary paralysis.

    Those who cannot avoid travel should take precautions, such as approved mosquito repellents, screens, mosquito nets, and clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.

    There is evidence Zika can be sexually transmitted from men to women, posing a risk to a developing fetus. Men who have recently traveled to Zika-affected regions should use condoms. If their partner is pregnant, condoms should be used for the entire pregnancy.

    There has been no local transmission of the disease in California.  All cases of Zika virus infection in California have been related to travel to Zika-affected regions, and travel-related cases are certain to continue.  The mosquitos transmitting Zika abroad are not native to the Bay Area, have no established population here, and make local transmission risk extremely low.

    The Zika virus has been confirmed in twelve Californians so far in 2016, as of March 18. All contracted the virus after traveling to Zika-affected areas.
If an individual is concerned about Zika virus, he or she should talk to his/her medical provider. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus infection. When traveling to a Zika-affected area, the only way to prevent infection is to take precautions against mosquito bites.

    For more information, visit:
    *   CDC
    *   Report mosquito biting, breeding or standing water here
     Warm weather has arrived and even though the Zika virus is not a direct threat here, everyone is concerned about mosquitoes breeding in our neighborhoods. Mosquitoes need stagnant water in order to lay their eggs. What most people don't realize is the surprising number of areas around their own house where mosquitoes can find the stagnant water they need. The main rule: If it can hold water for more than a few days, it can breed mosquitoes.

    Residents of Alameda County have access to the services of the Alameda Mosquito Abatement program. You already pay for this service on your property taxes, so if you think you may have a problem that you cannot solve on your own, please report the problem and request an inspection by clicking here.

    The following checklist will help you identify sources around your house.  

    Those most delightful of water features can be home to more than just your fish. Mosquitoes find this to be an ideal breeding ground, especially if the pond is in a state of disuse. This can not only increase the local mosquito population, but it also makes you very unpopular with your neighbors.

    The mosquito abatement district can provide you with mosquitofish free of charge. Make sure you remove excess vegetation, as that can provide a place for mosquitoes to hide from fish.

Tree hole
    Surprise, surprise. There is actually a species of mosquito that specializes in laying its eggs in treeholes! That means that tree your kids like to climb in the backyard is at risk of being a breeding ground, if treeholes are present.

    Unless you plan to get rid of the tree, your best plan of action is to call the  mosquito abatement district, or a licensed tree service.

Leaky tap  
Leaky spigots
    Aside from being a waste of water, leaks can become a mosquito problem. It doesn't take much water to support the development of mosquitoes, and even a small leak can create a big puddle.

    This is a no-brainer. Fix the leaky faucet. Not only will it stop the mosquito breeding problem, it'll do wonders for your water bill.

     Unfortunately there are sometimes dips in the tarps that can trap stagnant water. And all it takes is a little water to breed mosquitoes.

    If you can't remove the tarp, shake it off and replace it every few days or so during the rainy season or if it is contact with sprinklers.

Street gutter
Street gutters
    That little area that divides the sidewalk from the street. It channels water away after rainstorms and from your car washing to the nearest storm drain.    On occasion, these gutters don't work properly. For various reasons (like a tree lifts the pavement, pavement sinks), the street gutters pool the water instead of draining it away, and they become the perfect environment for mosquitoes.

    If the gutter is simply blocked by debris, sweeping it regularly can keep water moving on its way.  If there is consistently standing water, contact   mosquito abatement for treatment.

Water pails  
    Kids leave them out, and so do you. Whether it's your child's dump truck, empty flower pots, wheelbarrows, or plastic buckets, the rule is the same: If it can hold water for more than a few days, it can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

    Drain them, put a lid on them, turn them upside-down, or just get rid of them.

Bird baths
Bird baths
    They're pretty, they attract birds...and mosquitoes, unfortunately. This is a big source of mosquito problems that most people overlook, especially if they don't pay much attention to it. Because it's often in the sun, and it's a shallow source of water, the water is warmed, and it actually encourages mosquitoes to grow faster!

    Clean the bird bath out by thoroughly changing the water at least once a week.  If there are any mosquito larvae, they will die once they are out of the water.

    If you want more information about mosquito control, click here.

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Pedestrians crossing     How people move through a community has a powerful impact. The design of a community's transportation systems can strengthen neighborhoods, spur economic vitality, and can help achieve environmental goals, such as reducing greenhouse gases.

    Think about your values and your goals for what Berkeley should be, and let us know through our transportation survey.

     To look at transportation comprehensively, we compiled a single list of all the transportation-related projects in the City's adopted plans. That includes the Pedestrian Master Plan, Bicycle Plan, and plans for different areas of town.
We then grouped every proposed transportation project geographically as well as by theme, such as for bicycle or pedestrian crossings. This allows us to compare one set of improvements to another.

    We have already begun to evaluate these improvements to the City's infrastructure, including roads, sidewalks and intersections. Now, we need your help figuring out how to prioritize

*    Mobility and access for all modes of transportation
*    Transportation safety
*    Access to commercial districts
*    Transportation choices for diverse communities
*    Environmental sustainability and resiliency

    Let us know what's most important to you.

    With your input, we can evaluate and prioritize those projects that address these essential needs. Plans are the critical first step, helping establish goals and a vision. To implement them, many projects require environmental review, public processes, council approval or outside funding. Once plans are complete, we can move forward to fund, design, and construct new transportation improvements that benefit our whole community.

Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6
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