Councilmember Susan Wengraf
Newsletter #76

May 5, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
== Thank you for caring for your family, friends and neighbors by wearing masks, keeping your six foot distance, and continuing to wash your hands often. Your focus and discipline on following the advice of our Health Officer is making a difference.

== Due to our success, the Governor will be announcing the additional relaxation of a few rules at the end of this week. But we must continue to be vigilant and we must continue to be responsible about our actions. Otherwise, I fear we will suffer a setback and many more people will become ill. So please continue to follow the protocols to protect yourself and your loved ones from the ravages of this monster virus.

== This global pandemic has given us opportunities to show our humanity and care for one another. As a community, the generosity and commitment to helping one another has been exceptional and very comforting to me. So keep pushing onward, friends. This has been difficult for everyone, but it won't last forever. We need to stay the course for a while longer in order to keep everyone safe.

== Looking to the next few weeks, I want to remind everyone that fire season will soon be upon us. Now that gardening and landscaping work is an allowed activity, it is time to take action and clear your property!

Please stay safe,
Prepare for Fire Season
== Fire season will soon be here. It is time to take action and weed your yards, clean gutters and trim up your tree limbs. This type of work is allowed under our Shelter in Place Order, as long as workers wear masks and respect the six foot rule.

== The Debris Bin and Chipper Program will begin on June 1 st . In mid-May you will receive the printed version of the schedule via postal service mail, but for your convenience, I am sharing it here with you now (pdf available here ).

== Please schedule your gardening and landscaping activities so that you can take advantage of this program
== Starting May 15, extra debris bags will be available at fire stations for your use. Each household can pick up a roll of 15 bags. Please do not ring the doorbell or disturb the fire staff. This year, we need to take special precautions to protect our first responders. The bags will be left outside the fire house so that you can pick them up without interacting with fire personnel. Instructions are on the flyer.
Crime During the Pandemic – Heads up!

== Every Friday during the Shelter in Place Order, the City Council receives a briefing from the City Manager about different aspects of Covid-19 and its impact on city operations. Last Friday, Police Chief Greenwood gave us some information about crime since the Shelter In Place Order went into effect.
=== The good news is that violent crimes are significantly down. The areas where we have seen an increase in crime are catalytic converter thefts and package thefts.

Catalytic converter thefts

== Thieves are targeting Toyota Prius vehicles because they can quickly remove the converters in a matter of minutes, usually in the darkness of night. The converters contain precious metals, especially Platinum, which can be sold to metal recyclers.

== Berkeley Police offer the following ideas to help prevent your vehicle’s catalytic converter from being stolen:

  • Consider parking your vehicle inside a garage, if available.
  • Park in well-lit areas during darkness.
  • Park in areas where others will frequently see or be nearby your vehicle. For example, parking near a busy sidewalk or the windows of a busy business.
  • Park near security cameras, if possible.
  • Your local vehicle repair shop has options available to make your vehicle’s catalytic converter more difficult to steal. Call them to find out more.
  • Call 911 to report anyone working underneath a vehicle with a flashlight in the middle of the night—especially if you hear the grinding sound of a power saw as well.

Package Thefts

== During the Shelter in Place, many of us are relying on receiving many of our needed household items via Fedex, UPS, Amazon or other delivery services. As a result, "porch pirates" are seizing the moment to steal packages delivered to your home.

== Paying attention to schedules and checking the front door frequently during those delivery windows can help to deter these thefts. You can also request that when the package is delivered the service either texts you or rings your doorbell, so packages aren't sitting in full view for lengthy periods of time. Police suspect that some brazen thieves are following the delivery trucks and waiting for a good situation to grab your boxes. Please report all stolen packages by calling 911.
Renters Protected From Eviction
Are You a Renter? Emergency regulations protect you from eviction.

== Notify your landlord immediately if you're struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19. You may be protected by Berkeley's emergency eviction moratorium - but you must notify your landlord no more than 7 days after your rent is due.

== A simple written notification via email or mail is sufficient, but you may be required to provide details at a later date. The Berkeley Rent Board has created a template you can use for this letter .

== Renters who notify landlords on time would be allowed to pay back their rent within six months after the local State of Emergency expires. Landlords are not able to charge late fees on the deferred rent and cannot evict for unpaid rent.

== In the future, you may need to prove how you were financially impacted by COVID-19. Make sure to keep documentation showing why you can't pay the full rent.

== Common ways people have been impacted include:
  • Decrease in household income due to layoffs or reduction of hours
  • Decrease in household income due to caregiving responsibilities, including child care needs arising from school closures
  • Substantial material out-of-pocket medical expenses

== Examples of supporting documentation include:
  • termination notices
  • payroll checks or pay stubs
  • bank statements
  • letters, emails, or texts from an employers or supervisor
  • documentation of caregiving responsibilities, including those related to school closures
  • medical bills

== A landlord may request that the City Manager or their designee waive or modify the prohibition on evictions if they can prove hardship or that not being able to evict would be an unconstitutional taking, under guidelines developed by the City Manager's Office .

== For questions, contact the Rent Board at 510-981-7368 (RENT) or email at . You can also see their COVID-19 page  and sign up for their email list , which is being used to contact people directly.
Newsletter Archive
== Over the years, in my efforts to keep you informed, I have published more than 80 newsletters. I have tried to respect your capacity for email fatigue by being prudent about when I send you updates, so I have reserved my newsletters for timely matters that I think are of import and interest to you.
== During the current pandemic, I have increased my frequency, as news is developing daily. If you are new to my mailing list or curious about past issues, and would like to read any of the previous newsletters, they are all archived here . Click on the desired year under "Newsletters" in the sidebar on the left.
Berkeley Relief Fund
== The City Council unanimously voted to create a Berkeley Relief Fund with $3 million in City funds to support low-income residents, small businesses, and non-profit arts organizations impacted by COVID-19.

== The council is encouraging residents to contribute to this fund. I urge you to join me in making a donation of any amount to this important cause. To date, we have raised over $680,000 from the community. More than 1,000 small businesses applied for relief funds. The need is very great. I thank you for your generosity.
Emergency Notifications
== AC Alert  will be Berkeley's primary emergency alerting system for the public. It is one of the tools the City of Berkeley uses to communicate emergency information and instructions to the community. AC Alert can send:
  • Voice alerts to phones
  • SMS text messages
  • Email
  • TTY/TDD messages
   Listed AT&T "land lines" are automatically included to receive voice messages from AC Alert for emergency warnings. Community members must  sign up  to receive voice or text alerts on cell phones, VoIP phones, unlisted phones, TTY/TDDs or through email.

   If you want to receive emergency alerts and updates,  sign up  for AC Alert.
  • Need a new refuse can?
  • Have a favorite pothole you want filled?
  • Want to report illegal dumping?

CALL 311
Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6
(510) 981-7160