Healthy New Year

Councilmember Susan Wengraf   
Councilmember Susan Wengraf

Newsletter #46


January, 2016

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

    My very best wishes for a healthy and peaceful new year!

    City Council meetings were long and sometimes contentious in the last months of 2015 as we made decisions about: minimum wage, accessory dwelling units, affordable housing, homelessness, police protocol, and development.  We have made a lot of progress on many of these issues and will be continuing our discussions as we try to take some meaningful steps to alleviate the housing crisis and address the needs of the homeless.

    Looking back on 2015, I personally think that my initiative to create a plan to underground the utilities in the entire city was perhaps the most significant thing that I did on the council last year.  Overhead wires potentially create a huge public safety threat in the event of wildfires, earthquakes and heavy winds.  Downed power lines will block evacuation routes,and prevent emergency responders from reaching their destination. As a result of this proposal, there is a group of representatives from different commissions working together to develop a plan for how to proceed.  Identifying funding sources is a major part of their task.  Although there are many challenges to this proposal, my sense is that if San Diego figured out how to do it, Berkeley can too.  We need to keep our eye on this important goal and unite all neighborhoods and commercial districts to get it done.

    Looking forward to 2016, there are lots of exciting new arts and culture destinations opening in the downtown in January.  The newly renovated Berkeley Repertory PEETS Theater opens this week.   The  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive opens the last week January.  I recently had a preview tour of the building and found the interior light and space to be spectacular.  The UC Theater Taube Family Music Hall on University Ave will start programming concerts and shows in early March. The interior of the theater has been beautifully adapted and will be host to music groups and programs from across the nation.  I am looking forward to attending events at all of these venues, and foresee a downtown bustling with art, theater, music and cinema.

    We can also look forward to more streets being paved throughout the city in 2016.  We have close to 1,500 units of new housing in the construction pipeline, mostly along major corridors like Shattuck and Telegraph.  Although we face many controversial battles, I am optimistic that 2016 will be a great year!

Susan Wengraf
treesHoliday Tree Recycling
Tree Recycle 
    Holiday trees can be cut to fit in your green compost cart, or cut into sections no longer than 5 feet and left at the curb on your normal collection day from December 28th through January 29th.

    You may also choose to drop your holiday tree off at the City's Transfer Station at no charge during the month of January.  The Transfer Station is located at 1201 2nd St. (off Gilman), and is open Monday - Saturday 8:00am-4:30pm.

    Businesses and residents who normally do not have compost collection may call 311 (or 510-981-7270) to schedule curbside tree pick-up.
Before placing your tree curbside for collection,
  • Please remove all lights, decorations, tinsel, plastic bags and plastic tree stands.
  • Flocked trees will be collected, but they are not compostable so please avoid flocking if possible.
rainHeavy Rain and Wind in Forecast
Flooded underpass
    Storms forecast for January and February are expected to bring heavy rains and high winds to Berkeley. There are a few simple things that you can do to minimize damage to your property and improve your safety: 
  • Clear gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris.
  • Clear basement drains.
  • Check submersible pumps and sump pumps to make sure they are operating properly.
  • Keep flashlights or portable lamps and batteries on hand in case of a power failure.
  • Sandbags can be picked up at the Corporation Yard on 1326 Allston Way, Mon - Fri, 8am to 4pm. Residents must show I.D.
  • Report damaged power lines or electrical equipment immediately by calling 911. Then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
  • When there is a power outage, PG&E advises people to unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored.  Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.

Find Your Flood Risk:
Click here and enter your address in the red box to learn your flood risk, so that you will better understand how to prepare your home and family


Find Your Landslide Risk:
Click here to see if you are in a potential landslide area.

Landslide warning signs may include:
  • Water in areas that have not typically been wet before
  • New cracks or bulges in the ground, pavements or sidewalk
  • Decks and patios tilting or moving
  • Tilting or cracking concrete floors and foundations
  • Leaning telephone poles, trees, retaining walls or fences
  • Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together
  • Sudden decrease in creek water level, or increase in dirtiness of water
If you observe these signs, leave the area and contact 911.
For more information click here.

emergencyGet Emergency Notifications

    In an emergency, BENS ( Berkeley Emergency Notification System) is one of the systems that the City may use to send information and instructions to the community.

    To increase the likelihood that you will receive these emergency instructions, the City of Berkeley encourages all its residents and visitors to sign up to receive BENS alerts through their other contact devices, including: 
  • Mobile phone
  • Unlisted phone
  • VoIP (Voice over Internet) phone
  • Digital phone (cable/broadband)
  • SMS text messaging
  • Email

    Sign up or edit your account information on the BENS signup page.

    Or, call the Office of Emergency Services to sign up at 510-981-5544 or 510-981-5544 (TTY/TDD).

developmentEconomic Development in Berkeley
    Many residents have expressed concerns about Berkeley's economic development.  Empty storefronts and news that businesses have left Berkeley create the impression that Berkeley is not doing well.  Not so.  New reports recently created by the Office of Economic Development provide data and analysis for residents, businesses and others to better understand the economic life of Berkeley.

    The citywide findings are in the Berkeley Economic Dashboard, a six-month snapshot of economic performance and trends in employment, real estate, development, sales tax, and other key indicators.
  • The Commercial District Dashboards provide a more focused look at economic performance in nine of Berkeley's neighborhood commercial districts.  Businesses and community members can use this report to analyze the business mix, storefront vacancy, and sales tax trends in their district.  These reports will be updated annually.
  • The Berkeley Economic & Demographic Profile provides broad information on Berkeley's population, business sectors and amenities. The City Profile is a tool for businesses, commercial brokers, researchers, community stakeholders, and other people seeking more information about Berkeley.

    For further details, please see a staff report and presentation given to the City Council on December 15. These and other Economic Development reports are available here


spayFree Spay & Neuter Clinic
Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6
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