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Councilmember Susan Wengraf   
Councilmember Susan Wengraf

Newsletter #48


May, 2016

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

     The semester is coming to an end, the country is abuzz with presidential possibilities, and here in California we have a primary election on June 7th.  Berkeley candidates are lining up for races for council and mayor in the November election.  Feeling a deep commitment to all of Berkeley and especially to the residents of the Berkeley hills, I want to let you know that I have decided to run for re-election in 2016.

     The California Primary election is just weeks away and your vote-by-mail ballots should have been delivered.  Since t his newsletter is issued as a public service to the community regarding local issues and events of interest, it does not contain any discussion of state or local campaign issues, endorsements, etc.  If you would like my views on candidates or measures on the June 7 ballot, please send me an email, including your contact information.

    The vote-by-mail ballot needs 2 first class stamps, or you can drop it without postage in a special box on the lawn of 2180 Milvia St. near the corner of Allston and Milvia streets.

     The news about the wildfire in Alberta Canada reminded me of how vulnerable we are to wildfire here in the Berkeley hills.  The drought in California has exacerbated our fire danger and puts us all at greater risk.  One small act of carelessness or negligence can cause great harm and destruction.

     Now is the time to take steps to prepare an emergency list, trim your vegetation away from your home, and clear your gutters of debris.  Be sure to report any sign of smoke by calling 911 immediately.  If you are calling from a cell phone, please call 981-5911.

     Not that long ago, danger from wildfires was highest in very late Summer and early Fall.  With shifts in our weather patterns due to climate change, this is no longer the case.  As a result of drought and increased temperatures, the high danger fire season has been extended to start earlier and end later.  With your safety in mind, I am getting an early start and have planned an inter-jurisdictional panel and Town Hall Meeting on Wildfire Safety and Climate Change on June 9th at 7 pm. I hope that you will mark your calendars and try to attend.

     I am convinced that increasing our knowledge and taking proactive steps to be prepared are our best defenses against the enormous destruction of a wildfire.  I recommend that you read this very compelling first hand account from Fort McMurray, Canada
Susan Wengraf
climateWildfires & Climate Change
Wildfires increasing

    The Union of Concerned Scientists has produced an infographic showing the relation between the frequency of wildfires in the western US and climate change.  Please take a look at this very informative presentation.

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fireWildfire Safety Forum
chipperChipper Program
Plan Now to Use the Chipper Program
      Defensible space is the first line of defense against wildfire.  Creating and maintaining an open space around your house free of dead plants, grass, weeds, and overhanging branches can dramatically increase your safety.  Please clear your property and take advantage of the chipper program to dispose of your yard debris and the dry leaves and needles that may have settled on your roof and in your rain gutters.
Chipper map
Chipper Schedule
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I80I-80 SMART Corridor Project
I80 Smart Corridor  
     Have you seen the big electronic signs on westbound Interstate 80 between Richmond and the Bay Bridge?  The I-80 SMART Corridor Project, one of the most sophisticated Intelligent Transportation Systems in the state, is implementing a network of integrated electronic signs, ramp meters and other state-of-the-art elements between the Carquinez Bridge and the Bay Bridge to enhance motorist safety, improve travel time reliability and reduce accidents and associated congestion.  As many as 270,000 vehicles per day use the I-80 corridor, one of the busiest in the Bay Area.

     Real-time traffic information, such as variable speed signs and blocked lane signs, will allow drivers to make informed decisions in the event of an incident. Additional improvements include real-time ramp metering on 44 on-ramps to reduce merging conflicts and manage traffic volumes on I-80.  Once activated in mid-2016, these ramp meters and real-time message signs along the corridor will contribute to optimized roadway operations and improved safety, and will be integrated with, and managed from, the Traffic Management Center at the Caltrans Bay Area headquarters in Oakland.

    To learn more about the new signs for freeway drivers that will provide real-time recommended speed limit, traffic accident and other information, as well as the new smart ramp-meters along the corridor, download the project fact sheet.
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CCACommunity Choice Aggregation (CCA)

    I want to give you a heads up that Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is something for you to start thinking about, because Alameda County, including Berkeley, is studying the potential of implementing CCA.  Community Choice Aggregation allows public agencies to purchase electricity on behalf of customers, instead of relying completely on investor owned utilities (like PG&E) to both procure and deliver power.  The goal of CCA is to provide cleaner, greener, and more local electricity to customers.

   One of the key objectives of the Alameda County analysis would be to determine whether CCA can help Berkeley achieve its climate action goals.  Under the proposed plan, PG&E would continue to maintain the power grid, respond to outages, and send monthly bills.  Customers would have a choice to continue to purchase power directly from PG&E by opting out of CCA.

Other Local CCA districts: 
  • Marin Clean Energy (MCE) was launched in May 2010 as California's first Community Choice Aggregation program. It serves Marin County, unincorporated Napa County, Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, and Benicia customers.
  • Sonoma Clean Power serves Sonoma County
  • CleanPowerSF serves San Francisco starting in 2016
Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6
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