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City Council District 3
City Council District 3

News from Councilmember Ben Bartlett, March 2017

Dear Neighbors --

Join me in congratulating Kate Harrison on joining the City Council! We look forward to working with her.

Since I last wrote, we have been working hard to bring Equitable Development and public safety to the City of Berkeley. Below are some recent successes, upcoming news, and neighborhood events. Many more in the works!

Recent Successes

“Step Up Housing” Initiative. In light of the housing crisis and anticipated funding cuts from the Trump administration, we are actively working to develop innovative solutions to support our homeless population. On February 14, the Council considered our “Step Up Housing” initiative to house up to 100 members of the homeless population in prefabricated micro-units with onsite healthcare, social services, and assisted living services. It passed unanimously. We hope that this will provide a road map for future supportive housing developments that can be replicated in other affected communities.

Community Meeting on Armed Robberies. We held a community meeting to discuss the neighborhood's concerns about armed robberies and other community violence. 150 people attended. Mayor Arreguin, Officer Spencer Fomby, and I spoke on the Berkeley Police Department's work to improve public safety, including recruiting more officers, and forming a unit to focus on violent crime. Special thanks to the Krav Maga experts who provided instruction on tactics for self-defense!

Small Sites Acquisition Program and Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act. We co-sponsored this initiative of the Mayor. The small sites program will assist non-profits with acquiring properties to create permanently affordable units. The Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act will offer existing tenants the first right of refusal when property owners place rental property on the sales market, which can be transferred to a qualifying affordable housing provider. This passed unanimously.

Supporting HR5 and SR9 in Support of Planned Parenthood. We co-sponsored Councilmember Wengraf’s initiative to send a letter in support of House Resolution No. 5 and Senate Resolution No. 9, pledging to oppose any plans to defund Planned Parenthood by the federal administration. This passed unanimously.

Ben_TrumpRallyPro-Trump Rally on March 4. Last Saturday, Trump supporters gathered outside City Hall in downtown Berkeley. I was on scene working with Mayor Arreguin to assist in peacekeeping and First Amendment protections.

Coming Up

2902 Adeline St. For over a year, the East Bay Community Law Center has worked diligently with South Berkeley residents to ensure that the developer of 2902 Adeline St. would be responsive to South Berkeley community needs especially surrounding displacement and housing affordability issues. We had a roller coaster hearing on Tuesday night. The Mayor and I are working hard with the neighbors, EBCLC, and the developer to achieve the best possible result for our community. We want to ensure that this project will serve as a model for Equitable Development in South Berkeley and the community at large. Come support our efforts on April 4!

Anti-Displacement Public Advocate. We are at the convergence of a housing and racial equity crisis -- the Berkeley African American population has declined by 37% since 2000. Existing legal aid service providers are massively under resourced. In response to this crisis, we are introducing an initiative to create an Anti-Displacement Public Advocate, which is the first of its kind in the nation. The Advocate will be responsible for providing legal representation; coordinating housing counselling and financial literacy training; conducting community stakeholder meetings; and providing outreach to community members at-risk of displacement. Come speak in support of this matter on March 28! The photo below is by Emilie Raguso from Berkeleyside.

Berkeleyside_Anti-Displacement

Border Wall Divestment. In keeping with the ethical vision of government and its finances, we proposed a resolution for the City of Berkeley to divest from all companies involved in the construction of Trump's border wall. We do not believe in demonizing people of Mexican and Latin American descent. Furthermore, the construction of a border wall would waste an enormous amount of taxpayer money, hurt the environment, contribute to climate change, divide ancestral native lands, disrupt tribal communities, increase international tensions, and reinforce failed Cold War policies of isolationism and exclusion. We must speak with our dollars. Come speak in support of this matter on March 14!

Anti-Dumping Initiative. We are working with BART Director Lateefah Simon to tackle the longstanding problem of illegal dumping that has been unaddressed until now. We are doing research into the causes of illegal dumping, and we are talking to other Cities that have tried out different policies and programs. We will keep you posted on our progress! Please reach out with ideas or suggestions!

Neighborhood Impact Meetings. Over the past few months, we have held several Neighborhood Impact Meetings (colloquially, NIM), to help community members mediate longstanding neighborhood disputes. During these meetings, we sit down with both sides of a neighborhood dispute, and over the course of an afternoon, hash things out and reach a resolution. Our most recent NIM was the community meeting on armed robberies. Our next NIM will be regarding the Shattuck Ave CBCB dispensary, and will be held at the Starry Plough on April 9. Save the date! Let us know if you need assistance with any neighborhood issues!

Tenant Protection Ordinance. We are co-sponsoring the Mayor's initiative to propose a Tenant Protection Ordinance. The Ordinance provides a civil remedy to tenants for cases of harassment. More than ever, renters are being subject to constant disruptive behavior as a means to constructively evict. Some have also received verbal or written threats of eviction, with no legal basis. It is imperative that we protect our tenants. This is being considered in the March 14 Council meeting. Come speak in support!

Escape to Alcatraz. We are working with local businesses on putting together a block party on Alcatraz Ave over the summer. Stay tuned for more!

In the Works. We are working to fast track the development of Backyard Cottages (Accessory Dwelling Units), and we are developing a South Berkeley community benefits overlay. 

Events

Ben In The Community
March 18, 12pm
Sweet Adeline's, 3350 Adeline St.
I am holding monthly office hours in a district 3 coffee shop. The photo below was from February’s office hours. Please stop by!

BenOfficeHours

City Council Meetings
March 14 and 28, 7pm
City Hall, 2134 MLK St.

Topics on the agenda include the Anti-Displacement Public Advocate, the Tenant Protection Ordinance, and the Resolution to Divest from Trump's Border Wall. Come voice your opinion!

Commissioner Spotlight

Disability CommissionerI am delighted to introduce Christine Schwartz as my appointee to the Disability Commission.

Christine has lived in Berkeley since 1991. She is a community leader and activist. In addition to serving on the Disability Commission, she is also an Interim Housing Advisory Commissioner, a member of the Berkeley Tenants Union, and a participant on the Alameda County Council on Disabilities. She also volunteers her time with numerous other City and County programs relating to disability rights, tenants’ rights, and public safety.

Christine’s advocacy began at an early age. Christine learned firsthand from watching her mother (an immigrant from Ecuador, widowed with six children), deal with the tragedies of homelessness, and the imbalance of power that exists between landlord and tenants. At the age of 25, Christine became the primary caregiver for her twin sister with disabilities. Christine has maintained this privilege and these responsibilities since.

Christine is driven with passion, commitment, and focus to advocate on behalf of the health and safety of everyone in our society, particularly those that are vulnerable, including individuals with disabilities, seniors, families, tenants, and low and moderate income residents.

Internship Opportunities

If you are interested in working with our office, please reach out. We need interns of all ages!

Lastly, happy birthday to Vicki Alexander, a South Berkeley legend.

HappyBirthdayVicki

 

Cheers,

Ben Bartlett Signature

Councilmember Ben Bartlett

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