Councilmember Susan Wengraf
Newsletter #79

July 3, 2020
Street Closures and Parks Monitoring for July 4 th
== Given the increase in illegal fireworks in recent weeks and significant concerns about fire danger, you should be aware of the following:

Street closures

== Grizzly Peak Blvd will be closed to all non-local access between Centennial Drive and Skyline Blvd in Oakland, from 5:00am July 4th through 5:00am July 5th . Only residents that live in the area will be allowed access to Grizzly Peak. Bicyclists and pedestrians as well as cars and motorcycles will not be allowed on this portion of Grizzly during the 24 hour period.

== In addition, University Ave will be closed to vehicles between Frontage Rd and Marina at 4:00pm on July 4 th . Only boat slipholders, hotel guests, and Marina tenants will be allowed access. Bicyclists and pedestrians will be allowed to walk through.

== In Albany, Buchanan Street west of Interstate 80 will be closed to all vehicular traffic. Also Hillside ave. and Taft St will be closed and only residents will be allowed to enter. Closure times are: 5:30pm – 10:00pm.

The following UC parking lots will be closed beginning on Friday, July 3, 2020 at 12:00pm, and will re-open on Sunday, July 5th at 5:00am:

  • Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) Lots
  • LHS Vista Lot
  • MSRI Terrace Lots
  • LHS East Lot
  • Space Sciences Lot
  • Botanical Gardens Lot

Fireworks and our parks

== Fireworks are illegal in Berkeley. This time of year, the fire danger is very high, and I learned that Oakland has already responded to five fires started by fireworks in the past weeks. With fire safety as a top priority, Parks Division staff will be monitoring the following local parks: Glendale/LaLoma, Cragmont, Remillard, John Hinkle, and Codornices, from 2:00pm – 10:00 pm. If you can confirm fireworks in any of these parks, please call the non-emergency police number at 510 981-5911
About the Budget
== On June 30 th , the City Council passed a balanced budget with all but one council member voting in favor. Due to the devastating financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on city revenues, we were faced with a 39 million dollar deficit. Luckily, in 2017, some of us on the City Council successfully pushed for the creation of two reserves, the Stability fund and the Catastrophic fund, and as a result of borrowing from those reserve funds, we now are able to weather this economic crisis better than many other cities.

== The current economic recession required that every city department propose expense deferrals of up to 15% so we could meet the budget shortfall. In addition to these deferrals, we were able to reduce or defer expenditures and reallocate monies from a variety of other sources.

== With these expenditure reductions and deferrals, the City Council voted to reinvest in areas where there is an immediate and critical need in Fiscal Year 2021, with our biggest investments directed towards Covid-19 response, fire safety, homelessness, health, and racial equity.

== I advocated for fire safety resources being included as an essential, necessary, and time critical expenditure. I was able to get support for $250,000 allocated for additional vegetation management, and was successful in getting support to fund a position in the Fire Department to oversee evacuation planning and fire preparedness implementation measures.

== I am grateful to Mayor Arreguin and my council colleagues for their collaboration and support of my insistence that Fire Safety must be a priority for the entire city. This budget also ensures our staff can continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by conducting extensive COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, case monitoring, and outbreak prevention management. Given our 39 million dollar deficit, I believe this budget is thoughtful and fair and addresses our most immediate needs as a community. The process was the most transparent in my experience.

==We were able to achieve a balanced budget without any layoffs, an important goal for me during these very stressful economic times. Although the media has been singularly focused on the reduction in the Police Department, it is important to know that all departments sustained significant reductions. A sizable amount of the cost savings that were realized in our balancing challenge came from eliminating unfilled positions, and projected attrition.

==If you are interested in learning more about the budget, please leave a message at my office at 510 981-7160 and I will return your call. There are lots of details that I am happy to discuss with you.
About the Police
== Across the country, cities are having important conversations about systemic racism and approaches to reforming policing to address these biases.

== A key element of our budget discussion centered on ways to reallocate a portion of the Berkeley Police Department’s budget to begin the process of transforming how public safety is achieved in all areas of Berkeley. I introduced an item that will be discussed on July 14 th , to begin a community engagement process so that all of us can begin to learn what Berkeley's communities of color want and need so that every person in Berkeley can feel safe.

== I am in a listening and learning mode and look forward to continue working with all members of our community to end racial disparities in Berkeley. I hope that you will join me as we move forward with this community engagement process.

== Community members and the Police Chief have all expressed interest in shifting the large number of mental health calls from the police department to mental health workers, so that they can focus on addressing serious crime in the City. The Council will also be discussing a proposal to transfer parking enforcement out of the Police Dept, perhaps to the Transportation division. Additionally, the Auditor's office will be conducting a police call audit so we can ensure that our police response is efficient, effective, and equitable.

== I think that we have one of the finest police departments in the country, but I also think that there is always room for improvement. It is essential that everyone feels safe in their home and in their city. If we can make changes to how we deliver public safety services, so that we can achieve those goals, then I support it!
New Mask Order
Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources
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