Please SAVE THE DATE for my June Office Hours for families with kids:
Sat., June 22 from 10-11:30 a.m. Ohlone Park near the McGee play area
Now that summer’s almost here, let’s enjoy a conversation outside. Please feel welcome to bring a picnic blanket or outdoor chairs as well as toys and snacks for yourself and the kids. All are welcome to attend.
I always appreciate hearing from you. If you’re unable to attend my Office Hours or would like to schedule an appointment to discuss a specific neighborhood issue, please contact:email@example.com 510-981-7110.
Update on N. Berkeley BART Special Council Meeting
I want to update you on the
Special Council Meeting that took place on May 9
th, where the City Council unanimously voted to proceed with the effort to create homes at the N. Berkeley BART station, as required by
state law AB 2923.
At the meeting, the Council passed the following recommendations:
N. Berkeley BART station. Photo: Pi.1415926535 (License).
2. Direct the City Manager to engage with BART to develop an MOU that outlines the project planning process including feasibility analysis, project goals, and roles and responsibilities and direct that the MOU return to Council for adoption;
3. Refer to the Planning Commission to study development of zoning for the site, including feedback on the conceptual land-use scenarios developed by City staff (as per direction of the January 15 Worksession).
Goals and Objectives for Development of the N. Berkeley BART Station
A Community Advisory Committee shall be created for the purposes of providing input to the City’s Planning Commission as it considers City and BART transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning standards.
The planning process will engage the community in order to ensure that the site reflects the community’s values for equity, sustainability, and sense of place.
Community input should be considered for the number/percentage of affordable housing units and populations to be served; the size, height, scale, spacing, and setbacks of buildings; among other areas.
The state law AB 2923 requires BART—in cases in which commuter parking is reduced as a result of a TOD project—to develop and fund an access plan that maintains station access for at least the number of customers affected by the reduced number of commuter parking spaces, with specific consideration for customers who live further than one-half mile from the station.
We intend to conduct a traffic study to help determine the number of parking spaces that are needed at the site, including reserved spaces for people with disabilities.
A station access plan for implementation will seek to explore feasible and effective alternatives to individuals driving to and parking at the station, such as reserved parking spaces for carpools and car-share vehicles, rideshare, enhanced bus/shuttle service, additional electric-assist bikes and scooters, among other alternatives.
We seek to maximize the number of affordable below-market-rate units that are available to low-income households of diverse types and sizes, including affordable live/work units for artists.
We seek to exceed BART’s 35% system-wide affordability goal by aiming for a high number of affordable units.
In order to ensure housing for a range of income levels, we will consider inclusionary below-market-rate units and engagement of an affordable housing developer to develop a fully affordable building.
We seek a development that considers the character and context of the neighborhood and steps down in height around the perimeter of the station (with consideration for the varying width of streets around the station) in order to blend in visually and physically with the residential neighborhood.
The inclusion of green open space should serve as an amenity that enhances the neighborhood’s sense of place.
The streetscape design should strive to minimize neighborhood traffic and congestion impacts and support safe access to the station for bicyclists and pedestrians.
We seek to reduce our carbon footprint in every possible way.
All buildings should strive to: incorporate all-electric designs, achieve Zero Net Energy, and reduce parking for residents and retail to the maximum extent possible.
“We [are] seeking clarification on the flexibility afforded by AB 2923 on the building height for each place-type designation specified in the TOD Guidelines staff report. We note that the TOD Guidelines report only created three place-type designations for 48 BART stations and did so without public input. Therefore, it is our strong belief that local jurisdictions and BART should be granted some flexibility in adhering to these development standards. It is our desire to meet or exceed the minimum density requirement specified in the report (minimum of 75 units per developable acre) in a manner that provides for flexibility in the height of the approved development.”
We recently received a response from Assemblymembers Chiu and Grayson (co-authors of AB 2923) on our request, which you can read in full
HERE. While the letter did not grant us the specific flexibility we were seeking, it does note the “rigorous engagement” required by AB 2923 among BART, local jurisdictions like the City of Berkeley, and the community.
Because of the actions we took at our May 9th Special Council Meeting, the City of Berkeley is in a strong position to enter into an MOU with BART that prioritizes community input. I look forward to being an advocate for our community’s interests as we hammer out the details of our MOU with BART.
If you’d like to learn more about where we are in the process of developing the N. Berkeley BART station parking lots, please feel free to contact my office:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-981-7110.
I always welcome requests to meet with neighbors, either in your living room for a neighborhood meeting or in my office at City Hall.
Measles Case Reported in South Berkeley
Earlier this month, a measles case was reported at Berkeley Bowl, according to
Berkeleyside. Measles is a highly contagious serious disease.
Before the introduction of a measles vaccine in 1963 and widespread vaccination, major epidemics occurred approximately every two to three years, causing an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization.
The measles rash starts on the head and face and spreads to cover most of the body. Photo: "Measles" by Teseum(License).
The disease still kills more than 100,000 people worldwide annually, with most under the age of five.
We are currently experiencing a global measles outbreak, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, causing many deaths—mostly among young children. In recent months, spikes in cases have occurred in countries with high overall vaccination rates, including in the U.S. (as well as in Israel, Thailand, and Tunisia), with the disease quickly spreading among clusters of unvaccinated people.
The disease is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine. I want to urge everyone—particularly those planning international travel—to get vaccinated if you haven’t received two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. If you’re unvaccinated, unsure of your immunization status or if you’ve had contact with someone with measles, please consult with your health care provider.
Someone with measles will not show symptoms for the first four days of their most contagious period, but they can still infect about 90 percent of unvaccinated people close to them. Measles patients develop high fevers, red and watery eyes, and a rash that starts on the head and face and spreads to cover most of the body.
Sat., June 1: 50th Anniversary Celebration for Ohlone Park
Please join the Friends of Ohlone Park (FOOP) in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the park’s creation this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with food, music, activities for kids, and a celebration of Native American culture.
The festivities begin at 11 a.m. with a Rededication Ceremony for the Ohlone Mural (between Bonita and Milvia on Hearst), with all other activities happening from 12-4 p.m.
My friend Phyllis and me at Ohlone Park.
FOOP is still seeking volunteers who can help out on Saturday. To sign up for a one-hour shift, please click HERE or e-mail email@example.com.
And here’s a rundown of the day’s activities at the park:
Between Grant and Hearst, there will be two areas -
History Pavilion and Speakers Corner featuring exhibits of photos, news stories and other archival materials from the 1969 protests that led to the creation of the park
Native California Indian Arts and Culture Festival featuring over 20 prominent Native American artists and demonstrators sharing their skills in basket weaving, hemp string making, jewelry making, and many other traditional crafts
Farther west in the block between California and Sacramento, the following events and activities will be available -
The City’s Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department will be hosting a Kids Fun Fest and Movement Classes, with a schedule of performers and classes ranging from jugglers and martial arts to Zumba and salsa lessons
A jam session hosted by Old Time Acoustic Musicians will take place
A range of food trucks will be on hand
Visitors are encouraged to walk, run, bike, scoot, BART, bus, or get dropped off at the event. Bike valet parking will be available in the 1500 block of Delaware, near the food trucks, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Planning Department Customer Service Improvements
I’ve heard from some of you about your concerns related to the time involved in obtaining a permit from our City’s Planning Department. I’m pleased to share that the Planning Department formed a Customer Service working group and developed a two-year action plan for FY17-18 and FY18-19 to prioritize the following service improvements:
The City's Planning Department is located at 1947 Center St. Photo: City of Berkeley.
CLEAR AND CONSISTENT COMMUNICATION
Improved guidance - New permit submittal checklists and guides
Welcoming environment – “Open House” and “Coffee with Inspectors” events
Customer Service Survey – Survey to be offered to all who use Planning services
Clear Permit Timelines – Performance standards and timelines for Building Permits, Administrative Use Permits (AUPs) and Use Permits (UPs)
Effective Enforcement of Use Permit Conditions – New procedures to ensure compliance
New software to improve access to information:
BuildingEye tool provides easy, online access to permit history for any address
NemoQ helps improve Permit Center customer service, and provides data on wait times (launched in Nov. 2018)
New digital permitting software – New tool will better meet needs of community members and staff
Zoning Ordinance amendments for small businesses - Package of 6 amendments was passed by Council in Dec. 2018
Zoning Ordinance Revision Project – Designed to better organize and clarify the Zoning rules
Consistent interpretation and communication by staff – Improved internal procedures and decision-trees being developed to guide staff interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance
STAFF DEVELOPMENT & TRAINING
Tailored Customer Service training – Designed to help staff with communication and problem-solving skills
Keeping staff informed – Weekly newsletter distributed to staff, and monthly training opportunities newsletter
Performance evaluations – Incorporating performance targets into employee performance evaluations
EFFECTIVE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Department workplan guides action on Council priorities – New workplan is useful communication and resource management tool
More staff capacity in design review function – Added a planner position to help review project design submittals
Performance management – Establishing performance metrics to measure and report progress
If you’d like to learn more about these service improvements, please click HERE(scroll to Item #2). If you’d like to request a neighborhood meeting to learn more about these service improvements from our Planning Director Timothy Burroughs, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-981-7110.
If you have a question or concern about a permit application or any of the other areas handled by our Planning Department, including rental housing inspection and safety programs, seismic safety programs, and environmental sustainability and toxics management programs, please feel free to be in touch.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
We live in a culture that glorifies overwork. For many of us, technology enables the expectation that we’re “always on.” It’s no wonder that levels of loneliness, stress, and exhaustion are on the rise.
This month is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I wanted to take a moment to talk about the importance of mental health care.
A family visit to King Park playground.
Mental illness is extremely common, and we can reduce stigma by sharing our stories and talking about just how common it is:
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.
An estimated 31% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
Among the 20 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder in 2014, 51%—10 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.
Prioritizing our mental well-being is just as important as our daily routines to maintain our personal hygiene and physical fitness; no different from taking a multivitamin, brushing our teeth and showering, eating right, and exercising. This month reminds us to consider: What are the routines that we can incorporate into our lives to nourish our mental well-being?
We all face challenges—whether it’s related to work, personal and family relationships, physical or mental illness, loss, abuse or trauma, or other painful life experiences. Sometimes welcome life changes—like the birth of a baby—can lead to challenges like postpartum depression or feeling overwhelmed. At times, social media comparison culture can lead us to believe that others are excelling where we are struggling or even failing. But it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, having the courage to face challenges with the help of a mental health professional, prescribed medication, a twelve-step program or support group, or some other support system is a sign of strength, not weakness.
This past year, I went through an intense period of becoming a new mom, running for City Council as a first-time candidate, and returning to work with two new roles as a mom and Councilmember. It has been challenging to say the least. I was very fortunate to have the help and support of my family during the campaign, especially my husband George. Over the past six months, I have reflected on my own mental health and the well-being of my family, which has compelled me to make adjustments so that I can fulfill my new obligations in a way that is sustainable for myself and my family.
If you or someone you know is struggling with difficult life circumstances or uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, the Alameda County Crisis Line can help. You don’t need to be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings to call. Trained crisis intervention counselors are available to receive crisis calls and give supportive counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Translation is available in more than 140 languages. They also offer teletype (TDD) services for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals.The Alameda County Crisis Line is available at 1-800-309-2131.
For updates on community issues and links to City information resources, please visit my website:
This site is also where you can find an archive of all of my newsletters to date.
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Seeking Assistance from the City
Here are key City of Berkeley resources to keep handy:
For illegal dumping, potholes, missed garbage pickups, or graffiti...
Call 311 or (510) 981-2489
For a public works emergency, such as a sewer overflow, traffic signal outage, fallen tree, or toxic spill...
Call (510) 981-6620
For a homeless person who appears vulnerable and in need of services or is demonstrating concerning behavior...
Call the Homeless Outreach and Treatment Team (HOTT) (510) 981-5273
For non-urgent criminal activity with no suspect present...
Call the Berkeley Police Non-Emergency line(510) 981-5900
You can also download the SeeClickFix app to report an issue to the City.