Councilmember Susan Wengraf
Newsletter #84

December 27, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

==As 2020 ends, I am reflecting on how challenging this year has been. What a year! But on a positive note, there are a few things that have happened that are so wonderful, that they give me hope for the future.

==First, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election to lead our country as President and Vice President for the next four years. Second, in a very short amount of time a vaccine against Covid-19 has been developed, approved, and is already in distribution. These two things are, for me, worthy of celebration.

==As we head in to 2021, I am optimistic that we will be able to overcome COVID-19 and its devastation, and start to rebuild our lives and our communities.

==I wish you all health, peace, and a fulfilling recovery in the new year.

==Be safe,
If You Have More Than You Need
==Berkeley is a very caring and compassionate city. If at this time, you have more than you need, please consider giving to these grass roots community efforts to help those most impacted by the pandemic. Even a small donation will help!

Berkeley Relief Fund

==In response to the critical needs of small businesses, non- profit organizations, and at-risk tenants, the Mayor launched The Berkeley Relief Fund with a $3 million contribution from the City. We reached out to the community to match the $3 million. Through the generous donations of our residents we have raised $1.7 towards this goal. It is my hope that by the end of January, we will have successfully matched the entire $3 million.

==While this pandemic surges, our small businesses, arts organizations and tenants need our continued support. Donations to the Berkeley Relief Fund have already supported 700 small businesses, 63 arts organizations and kept 214 families in their homes.

==Can you make a donation to the Berkeley Relief Fund?

Berkeley Mutual Aid

==Berkeley Mutual Aid pairs lower-risk volunteers with higher-risk neighbors who need essential supplies (e.g., food, toiletries, and prescriptions), help navigating social services, or connecting to overcome social isolation. It was developed by volunteers in the community who were eager to help those who were in most need, with the goal of ensuring that the most vulnerable have someone to turn to for help throughout the pandemic.

Berkeley Mutual Aid is part of the Berkeley Disaster Prep Neighborhood Network, which is a 501(c)3 all-volunteer nonprofit.

==In March of 2020, the day after the first Stay at Home Order was issued, a group of Berkeley residents formed The goal was to provide meal delivery from local restaurants to vulnerable residents, including seniors and people with health conditions, using volunteer drivers and dispatchers.

==By offering a dinner and a lunch for $10.00 and partnering with local restaurants, businesses are also being supported to keep their operations up and running.

==To date, has delivered more than 25,000 meals, all by volunteers. Amazing! If you qualify to receive this service and want to sign up, or if you want to make a donation, or if you want to get involved as a volunteer, click here.

==For more information, read the article in Berkeleyside.
About the Vaccine
==I've received several inquiries asking about when people will be able to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Our Health Officer is following CDC and State guidelines for the administration of vaccinations. It is a complex process and there are many factors that we cannot predict and that are beyond our control.

==My understanding to date is that the State of California has created a four phase plan that will provide the framework for distribution:

  • Phase 1 – health care workers, first responders and residents and staff at long term care facilities.
  • Phase 2 – essential and critical infrastructure workers, people with underlying health conditions, older adults, prisoners, others living in congregate facilities.
  • Phase 3 – children, young adults and people working in lower risk settings
  • Phase 4 – everyone not included in first three phases

==The City of Berkeley is currently in the beginning of Phase 1. As I learn more about vaccine distribution, I will keep you informed. The City has an extraordinary team of dedicated staff, working on this extremely complex program.

==Until we are all vaccinated, please wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently. We can do this. There is an end in sight.
Holiday Tree Disposal
Curbside collection

==When you're ready to dispose of your holiday tree, remove all lights, decorations, tinsel, plastic bags, and plastic tree stands. Cut your tree up so it fits into your green plant debris cart with the lid closed. Whole trees can damage the City's collection trucks and will not be picked up if left on the curb. Flocked, or "snow-covered" trees are not compostable. If you have a flocked tree, cut it up and place it in your grey refuse cart.
Tree drop off

==You may also drop off holiday trees at the City's Transfer Station at 1201 2nd Street (off Gilman). Remember to remove all lights and decorations before bringing in your tree.

==The Transfer Station will take compostable trees for free through the end of January. There is a $29 fee to drop off flocked or plastic trees.
The Transfer Station is open 8am-4:30pm Monday-Saturday, and will be closed on New Year's day.
Get Tested For COVID-19
==If you're concerned you've been exposed to COVID-19, get tested. The City coordinates two COVID-19 testing sites, which are available to all community members by appointment.

==If you have a health care provider, call them first. Most providers are able to provide tests quickly to anyone with symptoms.

Curative Test Kiosk

==Testing is available by appointment at the Curative test kiosk at 1701 San Pablo, the Berkeley Adult School parking lot. Appointment scheduling for the week ahead generally opens on Saturday afternoon. The kiosk is generally open Monday-Saturday, but days and hours of operation may change without notice. The kiosk will be closed December 23-25 and December 30-January 2. You do not need to have symptoms.

Optum Test Site

==You can also get tested at the State of California's testing site at 1730 Oregon St. Tests are by appointment only.

Small Business Relief Grant Program
==Do you own a small business? The California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) has announced a $500 million California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program that supports small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.

==Review information at so that you can learn about eligibility, prepare your business documents, and get ready to apply.

==Applications for Round 1 will open on Wednesday, December 30th, 2020, and close end of day on Friday, January 8th, 2021. Round 2 will be announced in the near future. Eligible small businesses and nonprofits may apply during these times, directly, at
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