February 25, 2019
Dear friend,

I wanted to make sure you were aware of a number of upcoming important community meetings. On Thurs., Feb. 28th , there will be a Special Council Meeting to consider:

Limitations on RV parking

Resources for clean & livable commons
  • Adding additional staff in order to enhance the City’s ability to quickly clear bulky debris and litter from public spaces.
  • Adding additional portable toilets so that human waste doesn’t end up on our streets and sidewalks.
  • Deterring illegal dumping by adding lighting, security cameras, and signage in areas like West Berkeley that have become dumping grounds.

Special Council Meeting
Thurs., Feb. 28th
6 p.m., BUSD Board Room
1231 Addison St.

You can learn more about this Special Council Meeting by clicking HERE .

I encourage you to share your feedback on limiting RV parking and keeping streets clean by e-mailing council@cityofberkeley.info or by attending the meeting to give public comment. 
TOMORROW, Tues., Feb. 26th: Council Meeting to Consider 1,000 Person Plan to Address Homelessness 
I invite you to read the City’s 1,000 Person Plan to Address Homelessness, which provides a deeper understanding of Berkeley’s homeless population and offers strategies for getting more people into permanent housing. The report is available HERE (scroll down to Item #20) .
Pathways Homeless Shelter on Second St.
Here are some highlights from the report:

  • The homeless population is disproportionately African American. Whereas people identifying as black or African American comprise less than 10% of Berkeley’s general population, they represent 50% of the point-in-time homeless population count. Of those using Berkeley’s homeless services, 65% identify as black or African American.

  • Disability is a major risk factor for remaining homeless. Having any disability (physical, developmental, or mental-health-related) is by far the single biggest risk factor associated with a person remaining homeless or experiencing recurrent homelessness.

  • Shelters can become navigation centers. Berkeley’s shelter system can do more than simply provide respite. By adding staffing and flexible funding, the shelter system can utilize a navigation center model and help people find permanent housing.

  • Strategic approach to prevention. In order to ensure that we are targeting our scarce resources as effectively as possible, homelessness prevention services should focus on (1) previously homeless individuals receiving rapid rehousing assistance or permanent supportive housing, who are at risk of relapsing into homelessness; and/or (2) prioritizing individuals facing imminent homelessness and a relatively higher level of need.

  • Permanent housing subsidies require support from the county. As a mid-size city, Berkeley is not able to raise the revenue needed to fund permanent housing subsidies to fully meet the identified need. Berkeley is better positioned to provide low-barrier, service-rich navigation centers to help transition unsheltered residents into housing. Alameda County must take the lead in piloting permanent housing subsidies for the homeless population.
Here are some additional thoughts I want to share in response to reading this report:

Homelessness is a regional challenge , and I believe we must create momentum for a Bay Area-wide solution. The regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area—has spearheaded an effort to develop a regional plan to address the housing crisis known as the CASA (Committee to House the Bay Area) Compact . (The compact is a comprehensive plan that addresses increasing housing production at all levels of affordability, preserving existing affordable housing, and protecting vulnerable populations from housing instability and displacement.) The process undertaken by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for CASA provides a model for how we can bring together regional stakeholders to address the challenge of homelessness . We need a CASA-like process for homelessness, with the goal of giving us the capacity to resolve homelessness faster than the rate at which people are becoming homeless. Such a process could also address immediate and long-term needs:
  • Non-profit RV sites and safe parking locations for people sheltering in RVs and cars;
  • A policy to address the homeless encampments, trash, and debris on CalTrans propertya problem facing the entire Bay Area;
  • A funding mechanism to provide permanent housing subsidies for people who are homeless; and
  • A comprehensive look at what it would take to build the affordable housing units needed to meet the full need.
ALSO TOMORROW, Tues., Feb. 26th: Council Meeting to Consider Missing Middle Housing Report 
I’m proud to co-sponsor an item with Councilmembers Lori Droste, Rigel Robinson, and Ben Bartlett to take a first step in making it easier for our neighbors to turn their homes into duplexes, triplexes, or fourplexes if they choose. Here in District 1, we are fortunate to have a variety of housing types that were created before zoning rules became more restrictive.
A duplex in North Berkeley.
Our request for a Missing Middle Housing Report (see Item #21 HERE ) will explore what can be done to create more affordable housing options within single-family home neighborhoods while preserving tenant protections.

  • For instance, allowing conversion of a single-family home into a duplex could provide a way for aging homeowners to downsize, age in place, earn rental income, and give their adult children and grandkids the ability to live next door.
  • More triplexes and fourplexes could provide more affordable housing options for families and foster a greater sense of community or cooperative living among neighbors.
  • Overall, more housing options that are designed to blend into our single-family home neighborhoods could provide an opportunity for more of our workforce, such as teachers, nurses, and firefighters, the ability to live in Berkeley.

I encourage you to share your feedback on our Missing Middle Housing Report by e-mailing   council@cityofberkeley.info
Tues., March 5: Community Meeting on the Future of the Pacific Steel Casting Site
As many of you know, Pacific Steel Casting recently declared bankruptcy, and the site is currently being readied for sale.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín and I are hosting a Community Meeting to hear input from neighbors on the future of this West Berkeley site for possible twenty-first century manufacturing uses

Please save the date:
New Lab in the  Brooklyn Navy Yard is a manufacturing workspace.

Photo: Vincent Wedge - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62576079
Pacific Steel Casting Site Community Meeting
Berkeley Repertory Theater Administrative Offices
999 Harrison St.
Tues., March 5
6-8 p.m.

The meeting will include our City's Economic Development Manager Jordan Klein and Planning & Development Director Timothy Burroughs to provide further context on possible future uses of the site.

If you're unable to attend, please feel free to share your feedback by e-mailing rkesarwani@cityofberkeley.info or calling 510-981-7110.
Sun., March 10: Town Hall Meeting with Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani
In lieu of my monthly office hours, I will be holding a Town Hall Meeting with Mayor Arreguín in March. We look forward to answering your questions on the pressing issues facing our district and the city. 
Town Hall Meeting with Mayor Arreguín and Councilmember Kesarwani
Urban Adamah
1151 Sixth St.
Sun., March 10
4-6 p.m.
Sun., March 24: Gilman Art Walk
The Gilman Art Walk is an independent, community-oriented showcase of local artists in the Gilman District neighborhood. 

The event will feature vendors, food trucks, and an entertainment stage. Ninth St. between Gilman and Camelia will be closed for the duration of the event.
Gilman Art Walk
Ninth St. between Gilman and Camelia
Sun., March 24
12-5 p.m.
Mon., March 25: Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Workshop
Are you interested in creating a backyard cottage? I’m excited to team up with our City's ADU Taskforce to offer an ADU Workshop for District 1 residents.

Join us to learn more about how you can create additional living space in your backyard .
A backyard cottage on Berkeley Way.
ADU Workshop
Berkeley Repertory Theater Administrative Offices
999 Harrison St.
Mon., March 25
7-8:30 p.m.
My Reflections on Black History Month
As a newly elected official, I think often about the responsibility I have to be a champion for equity and inclusion in our community.

This monthBlack History Month—I am also reflecting on the history and contributions of African Americans to our country.
An iconic image from a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge (2016).
We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Civil Rights activists who sat-in, marched, and put their bodies in the path of police dogs and clubs because they believed that change was possible.

I think of the struggles of African Americans in very personal terms because of the way the actions and gains of the Civil Rights Movement transformed the lives of my parents. The Civil Rights Movement paved the way for the Immigration Act of 1965, which gave my parents and so many other immigrants an opportunity to become part of the American story. The idea that black people should be treated the same as whites created a pathway for immigrants like my parents, people who identify as LGBTQ, and women to dream of possibilities that were previously foreclosed.

Despite those gains, the struggle for equality and fairness continues. Here in Berkeley, we know that home deeds included racial covenants banning African Americans from renting or owning property and that the Federal Housing Administration would not insure mortgages in or near African American neighborhoods. In more recent history, we know that banks targeted black and brown people for subprime mortgages and that these families were more likely to lose their homes during the financial crisis. We also know that at least 50% of our homeless population is African American. It’s not hard to see that our history of housing discrimination drives the disproportionate share of our homeless population that is African American—right here in Berkeley to this day.

I believe that there is nothing more important than our work to advance the cause of equity, justice, and dignity for all people in our community. Our work continues.
My New Website
I've launched a new website where I will be sharing sharing information and resources with the community: www.rashikesarwani.com

This site is also where you can find an archive of all of my newsletters to date.

To sign up to receive future newsletters, 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.
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