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Councilmember Susan Wengraf   
Councilmember Susan Wengraf

Newsletter #45


September, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

   City Council is ready to get back to work after a long break.  This fall, we will be grappling with new minimum wage proposals, policies on short term rentals, accessory dwelling units, restrictions of tobacco sales, and the ongoing tensions of new development, especially in the downtown.

    The summer has resulted in an increased number of homeless encampments throughout the city.  When I returned from vacation, I walked around the heart of our city with a new and refreshed perspective.  Frankly, I was shocked at what I saw.  For the first time, I also felt vulnerable to the unpredictability of the behavior that I witnessed.  How can we help these people?  How can we make our streets safe for everyone?  How can we maintain the health of our commercial corridors?  I welcome a serious discussion on this situation.  The problem is complex and I do not believe there are simple answers.  Are there new solutions?  Please send me an email with your thoughts.

    Most of this September Newsletter is dedicated to Safety Fire Safety, Crime Increases, and Hazardous Waste.  Please pay attention to the information on Fire Safety.  California is literally on fire, and all of us living in the Berkeley hills are very much at risk.  Try to come to the Fire Safety Community Meeting on October 1st to learn more about what the City is doing and how you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property.
Susan Wengraf
Oakland Fire


    How can we protect ourselves and each other from the severe threat of wildfire that we face in the Berkeley hills in this extreme drought?

    With record low rainfall, the grass and brush is tinder dry and fires are raging throughout the state.

    As we learned from the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley Hills fire, a wildfire, fueled by Diablo winds, presents a situation that requires thoughtful planning and proactive strategies.  With this idea in mind, I am hosting an evening to discuss ways to diminish our risks and improve our safety.

Thursday, October 1st at 7pm
Northbrae Church
141 The Alameda

    At this meeting you will have an opportunity to learn about: lessons learned from the 1991 firestorm;  protocols that are being implemented currently;  and things that are not being done that need to happen in the future. Our panel will include representatives from Fire, Police, Transportation and our Resilience office.  Also featured will be an extraordinary photo exhibit of the aftermath of the Hills Fire by Harold Adler.

    Although twenty four years have passed, I am still haunted by vivid memories of the fire in 1991.  25 people died, 150 people were injured, and more than 3,000 homes were destroyed.  If you are not familiar with that horrendous fire, you can watch a video here.

    The reality is that we are currently very ripe for another conflagration.  CAL FIRE has rated Berkeley as "extremely severe" in terms of our vulnerability.

    We need to all face the facts and work together as a community so that we will have a better chance of avoiding the ravages of a wild fire.  Please come to the meeting on October 1st and learn what the City is doing and what you can be doing to help to avoid another catastrophe.

    If you cannot attend, please take a look at these very useful tips from FEMA. Doing just a few of these things will help.

    For more information call 981-7160 or email me.

Hazardous waste

    Many common products we use in our homes or at work contain hazardous components.  If these products are handled or disposed of incorrectly, they can pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment.  When these products are discarded, they become "household hazardous waste" or HHW.  In California, it is illegal to dispose of household hazardous waste in the trash, down the drain, or by abandonment.  Household hazardous waste needs to be disposed of through the Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Program.  The county facilities will attempt to reuse, recycle, treat, or dispose of the HHW. There are 500 appointments available.  Register now so that you get a spot.

One Day Hazardous Waste Drop Off - No Charge!

October 11th    9a.m. - 1:00p.m.   Golden Gate Fields

Register now before they fill up!

The following will be accepted at the drop-off location:
Stain, Shellac, Solvents, Thinners, Additives, Oil Paint, Latex Pain
Fuel, Waxes, Batteries, Additives, Motor Oil, Oil Filters, Antifreeze
Sprays, Fertilizers, Ant Traps, Pesticides, Herbicides, Rat Poison, Gopher Bait
Putty, Caulk, Epoxy, Mortar, Stucco, Uncured Cement Powder, Wood Glue
Televisions, Computers, Telephones, Stereo Equipment, Microwaves, Thermostats, Ballasts for Fluorescent Lamps, Digital Clocks & MP3 Players, Digital Cameras, Cathode Ray Tubes
Fluorescent Bulbs,  Household BatteriesNeedles & Other SharpsMost Prescription Medicine & Drugs, Acids & Caustics, Bleach & Cleaners, Photo Chemicals, Pool Chemicals, Propane
Items that require special packaging:
  • Needles & Other Sharps - must be packaged in FDA-approved sharps disposal containers that are made with puncture and leak-resistant plastic. 
  • Medicine & Drugs -  old, expired or unneeded prescription and non prescription drugs (Due to legal restrictions WE CANNOT ACCEPT CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES). Pills should be poured out into Ziploc bags (it protects your privacy and lowers our cost ). It's OK to mix all your pills in one bag (except for controlled substances - leave them in the original containers with the drug name visible - see below). Liquids and creams: leave in their original container and secure caps/lids, black out any personally identifying information.
What's NOT OK to bring:
  • Explosives, radioactives, most compressed gases.
  • Asbestos, railroad ties or treated wood. For disposal options search  Recycle Where? or call Altamont Landfill (925) 449-6349.
  • Due to legal restrictions WE CANNOT ACCEPT CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES. These can be taken to the Alameda County Sheriff's Eden Township Substation at 15001 Foothill Blvd, San Leandro (self-service drop box in lobby)  MAP.
Questions? Call 800-606-6606.

Crime watch 

    In the first six months of 2015, reported Part One crime in Berkeley increased by 23% overall.  Part One crime includes: homicides, burglaries, robberies, rapes, arson, aggravated assault, and larceny/theft.  With the exception of a decrease in homicides, Part One crimes increased in all categories with the largest numerical increase found in larceny/theft.  Increases in serious crime are being reported throughout the state.  Read the full report here.
Crime graph  

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Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6
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