August 21, 2019

Dear Neighbor,

Happy August!

Thank you to the hundreds of people who attended our Rally for Children in Migrant Detention Centers last month.

Together, we raised nearly $5,000 from our t-shirt and poster sales for organizations fighting for immigrant rights, including Kids in Need of Defense, the American Civil Liberties Union, and The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).
Larissa Martinez, an undergraduate student at Yale and a member of the undocumented community, speaks at the rally as Councilwoman Rashi looks on. Photo: Eric Panzer.
I encourage you to consider donating to one (or all) of these organizations, if you can. I also want to thank School Board Member Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, City Auditor Jenny Wong, my legislative aide Beth Gerstein, along with all of our speakers and musicians, for their help in organizing and participating in this protest event.

Together, we raised awareness and educated our community about what we can do to be allies to our immigrant communities—including right here in the East Bay—some of whom are feeling scared and threatened by the words of our president and the actions of our federal government.

I want everyone—from the day laborers who stand on our street corners to the descendants of enslaved Africans, first brought to Jamestown 400 years ago this month—to know that they are valued members of our community. The data show that white supremacist violence is on the rise, and is being fueled I would argue by the words of our president. The grief of yet another mass shooting—this time at a Walmart in El Paso on an ordinary Saturday as families shopped for back to school—was compounded when we learned that the shooter was a white supremacist targeting Mexicans.

In these times, we are reminded that it is not enough to simply not engage in racist behavior, but we must strive to be anti-racist—to use our positions at work, at home, and in our community to question, challenge, and ultimately break down the ideas that define others as inferior and the policies that fail to advance equity.

Our community must stand united against hate, and I stand right there with you. 
Save the Date: Office Hours, Solano Stroll & Gilman Art Walk
Please SAVE THE DATE for my August Office Hours:

Sat., Aug. 24th, 3-5 p.m.
Good Shepherd Church (1823 Ninth St.)

This is an informal opportunity to have a conversation about any neighborhood issues on your mind—from the N. Berkeley BART development process to concerns about crime. 
Solano Stroll : Sun., Sept. 8th, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gilman Art Walk : Sun., Sept. 22, 12-5 p.m., 1313 Ninth St.
Investing in Our Marina
I often hear our marina described as a diamond in the rough. After decades of under-investment, the waterfront is in critical need of repair and upgrades to realize its full potential.

Specifically, we’re facing a total of $109 million in unfunded infrastructure needs at the waterfront and the marina fund is projected to enter into a structural deficit by FY2021-22 absent further action.

Here’s what is planned in the immediate term and over the long run to invest in our marina: 
The City is exploring restoration of the Berkeley pier for public recreation and a possible high-capacity ferry service. Photo: "Berkeley Pier and Wake" by   jeffmgrandy .  ( License .)  
  • Emergency Infrastructure Repairs. In June, the City Council approved a two-year budget that allocates $3.5 million over two years from excess property transfer tax and/or excess equity (to be finalized in November) to address emergency infrastructure repairs at the marina, including finger dock and piling replacement, electrical upgrades at O & K docks, and restroom upgrades. These actions will forestall the marina fund insolvency until FY21-22.

  • Design and Reconstruction of University Ave. (West Frontage Rd. to Marina Blvd.) funded primarily by Measure T1 City Infrastructure Bond. A total of about $5 million ($3.9 million from T1) has been allocated to design and reconstruct University Ave. leading into the marina to finally repair the bumpy road. Construction is expected to take place in 2020.

  • Design, Feasibility Study, and Public Engagement Process for Restoration of Berkeley Pier With High-Capacity Ferry Service. A total of nearly $900,000 has been allocated for a conceptual design, feasibility study, and public engagement process related to restoration of the pier for public recreation and a possible high-capacity ferry service. The total cost to repair the pier would run in the tens of millions, so a dual use for public recreation and ferry service could be an avenue to make it financially viable. Earlier this year, the City Council authorized the City Manager to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority to explore the feasibility of a ferry service at the Berkeley marina and to undertake a public engagement process.

  • Marina Area Specific Plan to Restore Long-Term Fiscal Health. In May, the City Council authorized the City Manager to enter into a $1.1 million contract with a consulting firm to develop a Marina Area Specific Plan that will provide a vision and plan for a financially self‐sustaining marina with amenities that meet the needs of the community. The plan will include a public engagement process.

Finally, at our last Council meeting on July 23rd, a Council majority voted to seek guidance from the California State Lands Commission on whether a temporary safe RV parking site at the Berkeley waterfront “may be permissible” and “the process to make an official request.” I did not support this action because of my concerns about the fiscal risks to our marina fund. At the Council meeting, our Parks Director shared that the city is in negotiations with marina businesses over renewing their leases, and an RV site at the waterfront could lead to a significant revenue loss for the City.

I strive to make honest, data-driven, and fiscally responsible decisions. The vote on July 23rd to explore the use of the waterfront as a safe RV parking site did not meet my threshold for fiscal responsibility, given the information I was presented. I regret that the Council majority's decision may have serious financial consequences for the City.

You can share your opinion about the Council's stewardship of the marina by e-mailing You can also contact me directly at or 510-981-7110.
West Berkeley Homelessness Town Hall Meeting
Please Save the Date for a Town Hall Meeting on Homelessness :

Sun., Sept. 22, 4-5:30 p.m.
Berkeley Repertory Theater Administrative Office (999 Harrison St.)

I will provide an update on what the City is doing to address homelessness, and I'll be joined by City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley to listen to your concerns.
Pathways Homeless Navigation Center is located on Second St. in West Berkeley.
I will address the following issues:
  • A status update on managing RV parking
  • The City’s policy for addressing encampments
  • Overview of the sidewalk ordinance
  • Plans to address illegal dumping that occurs at or near homeless encampments
  • Options for addressing the condition of the CalTrans parcels at our freeway on- and off-ramps
  • Mid-range and long-term goals for mental health services and housing 

If you’re unable to attend this meeting, please feel free to share your input by contacting my office: or 510-981-7110. If you would like to request a neighborhood meeting where I can provide the homelessness update to you and your neighbors and listen to your specific concerns, please contact my office.    
N. Berkeley BART: Memorandum of Understanding Between City of Berkeley and BART
City and BART staff are currently in the early stages of developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will spell out our process for working together to develop homes—including affordable below-market-rate homes—at the N. Berkeley BART station, in accordance with state law AB 2923
N. Berkeley BART station. Photo:  Pi.1415926535 ( License ).
There is much to be determined, and I will be championing a community-driven design process

As you know, state law AB 2923 has taken away some of our local control when it comes to the transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning standards, including minimum height, minimum density (residential units/acre), minimum floor area ratio (the building’s floor area in relation to the size of the lot), and maximum parking allowances.

In light of the Goals and Objectives for Development document unanimously passed by the City Council in May, I want to ensure that our design process helps to achieve our community’s expectations as described in that document:

“The site should create a visual and physical connection with the neighborhood through its architectural design, height, and scale. In particular, 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. Such a design honors a common theme of many of the designs submitted as part of the October 2018 visioning event. We also seek reasonable spacing between buildings, setbacks, and plantings at the perimeter of the station.”

In order to achieve these design goals and objectives, I believe we need to establish a process whereby a wide-range of community voices are heard, a feasible consensus design is reached, and then codified in some way in order to ensure that our vision and plan can be faithfully executed by a developer. In this regard, we can learn from the development experience at the Pleasant Hill BART station, where—for many years—agreement could not be reached until a public participation charrette process was used to arrive at a consensus design that was then translated into something known as a " form-based code." A form-based code is more prescriptive than conventional zoning (i.e., the TOD zoning standards) in order to give a developer more detailed guidance for building the community's vision and plan. I believe that the complementary tools of a public participation charrette process and a form-based code would lead to a positive outcome for N. Berkeley BART.   

Public Participation Charrette Process. A design charrette is an intense period of all-day design and planning that takes place with all interested parties in the room—in this case, City staff, BART staff, members of the public, a developer, and a team of design consultants. Working within the confines of the TOD zoning standards required under AB 2923 as well as the limits of financial feasibility, this process would allow all interested members of our community the opportunity to provide input on all aspects of the building and site design. In this way, members of the public would have an opportunity to engage with professional designers in an iterative process that balances our various community wants with legal and financial constraints.

Form-Based Code. The design established through a charrette process would be codified through a form-based code. Such a code could include illustrations and descriptions that speak to the architectural style and other design features of the buildings, the design of green open space, and the form of stepped-down buildings at the perimeter of the station. These are all elements that I strongly believe should be specified in order to ensure that our community vision can be successfully executed by a developer.

I will be advocating for these approaches as we continue our MOU discussions, and I invite you to share your input: or 510-981-7110.   
Emergency Preparedness Reminders
PG&E has instituted a new policy to shut off electricity during times of extreme wildfire risk.  The policy known as the  P ublic Safety Power Shut Off  program is intended to help prevent power lines from igniting dry vegetation during high fire risk situations.

  • If you haven’t already, I want to encourage you to put together your emergency preparedness kit in the event of an extended electricity shutoff, earthquake, or wildfire. Please click HERE for a checklist for what to include in your safety kit.

  • And for those who live in the hills, the City is sponsoring emergency evacuation drills this month. The next and final drill will take place this Sun., Aug. 25th; you can learn more HERE.  

  • AC Alert is the mass notification system used by City and County agencies throughout Alameda County to rapidly disseminate emergency alerts. Click HERE to sign up.

  • Finally, please Save the Date for the East Bay Community Emergency Prep Fair on Sat., Oct. 12th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at James Kenney Park (1720 Eighth St.). I'll share more details in my September newsletter.
My Website
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.

To sign up to receive future newsletters, please click  HERE.
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.