Translation Disclaimer

Department of Planning & Development
Department of Planning & Development

Public Safety 

I.  Strategic Statement

While a concern for public safety has informed the policies of the other elements of the Southside Plan, a  Public Safety Element not only provides further background information about public safety programs and community safety resources in the Southside, but also provides general policy direction to the many agencies concerned with the safety of the area’s residents and visitors. 

The Southside Plan addresses the three major public safety concerns in the Southside area:

  • crime, public health, and personal safety;

  • environmental hazards such as earthquakes and fires; and

  • traffic and transportation hazards.

Safety issues related to transportation and traffic are addressed in the Transportation Element.

The Public Safety Element focuses on safety  issues that are unique to the Southside and its population, such as a highly transient population of residents and visitors, a large population residing in a vulnerable housing stock, the unique health needs of the large visitor population and the resident homeless population, and the physical interface of a major institution with a residential community.

The Element provides policy guidance regarding the following goals:

  • Maintain a coordinated community-based police presence in the area,

  • Target public health services and substance abuse programs and services to those in need in the area,

  • Make changes to the physical environment and to existing services to improve safety,

  • Establish special ordinances and regulations and enforce existing ordinances and regulations to minimize the loss of life and property in the event of a natural disaster , and

  • Support all efforts to coordinate City and University activities to improve community safety and prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

  • Establish a public monitoring process for implementation of health and safety improvements in the Southside.

Public policy about crime prevention is implemented by the City of Berkeley and UC Police Departments.  Disaster preparedness policies are implemented by the UC Emergency Preparedness Office and the City’s Office of Emergency Services, Fire, Police, Housing, and Building Departments.  This chapter of the Southside Plan will summarize the existing programs of these City and UC departments and recommend ways that the programs of these agencies can work in concert with the goals of the Southside Plan. 

II. Existing Conditions 

Addressing public safety is a challenge in any neighborhood or commercial area.  Public safety in the Southside is complicated by several factors: the area’s transitory residential population; the area’s large visitor population, a dense concentration of students, merchants, shoppers, homeless people, street youth and visitors; the large volumes of pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars that use the roadways and sidewalks; the history and reputation of People’s Park and Telegraph Avenue;  and the nearby location of known earthquake and fire hazards.

In the last ten years, the City and the University have increased their collaboration and efforts towards improving public safety in the Southside.  After the Telegraph area riots in 1991 and 1992, then Mayor Loni Hancock appointed a Task Force to study the Telegraph area and make specific recommendations about improving safety.

The Task Force recommended several short-term improvements, most of which have been implemented.  These include: focused regular bicycle police patrols, increased trash pickups, expanded homeless outreach programs such as the City’s mental health mobile crisis team, increased police presence, and increased graffiti abatement programs. 

The Telegraph Area Association (TAA), a non-profit community organization, was formed in  1993 as a result of the City and University’s collaboration of the early 1990s.  TAA was formed to create a forum for on-going broad-based community input, to provide an agency to implement many of the Task Force recommendations, and to provide a vehicle for determining and implementing improvements in the Telegraph area. TAA works to reach consensus among residents, students, merchants, property owners, street artists, and others so that they can work with the City and the University to improve the Southside. 

As the result of increased collaboration between the University, the City, local merchants, and property owners, the Southside has benefited from: improved and better coordinated service from the University and City Police Departments, improved street lighting; safety improvements in public garages; increased street cleaning; new regulations regarding problematic behavior; increased public health services through the Health Safety Team; and creation of the Southside Community Safety Partnership, a neighborhood watch umbrella organization, and the Greek Living Group Committee.

Improving public safety in the Southside will take a continued, cooperative effort from the City, the University, TAA and the citizens of Berkeley.  The efforts of these groups currently underway are described in the following sections. 

A.  Crime Trends 


Historically, the Southside has one of the highest crime rates in Berkeley.  Other high crime areas include the Downtown area and the residential neighborhoods bordered by Dwight Way, Ashby Avenue, College Avenue, and Fulton Street


 As the charts and Table PS-1 illustrate, crime throughout the City, including the Southside, has been dropping since 1992.  Major crimes, referred to as “Part 1” crimes which include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, burglary, theft, and auto theft decreased by 36% in Berkeley from 1992 to 1998.  As shown in Table PS-2 on the next page, crime in the Southside has also been decreasing: from 1992 to 1998, the total number of major crimes (Part 1) has decreased by 25%.  As Table PS-1 indicates, the most common major crimes in the Southside are crimes against property, including robberies, burglaries, and thefts.  Crimes against people, including homicide, rape and aggravated assault are a low percentage of total major crimes in the Southside.  Robberies, while infrequent, are a major concern, and considerable efforts are made towards prevention and investigating these crimes.


While the Part I crime rate in the Southside has dropped significantly during the past decade, the rate has risen slightly over the last two years because of an increase in robberies and burglaries. The Berkeley Police Department and UCPD recognize this fact and are targeting their patrol and enforcement strategies to address these crimes.

Although many crimes show no geographic patterns, robberies, which include street muggings and commercial hold-ups, often occur along major streets.  For example, roughly 25% of the 1998 robberies in the Southside occurred on Telegraph Avenue.  One cannot assume, however, that major streets are less safe simply because more crimes occur on them.  More people walk along Telegraph Avenue; consequently there is more opportunity for crime to take place on that street.  Per capita, major streets may actually see less crime than smaller side roads such as Bowditch Street or Dana Street.

The City Council made a targeted effort to reduce Part II crimes in mid-1998 because many people complained that Part II crimes significantly affect the perception of safety.  The City made a commitment to maintaining an increased, visible police presence in the Telegraph Area until Part II crimes were brought down, The Berkeley Police Department and UCPD initiated a joint “Directed Patrol Effort” at the end of 1998.  The Directed Patrol Effort targets both major and Part II Crimes, including vandalism, liquor law violations, public drunkenness, disturbance of the peace, drug and weapon offences and trespassing.

As a result of the joint Directed Patrol Effort, the number of Part II arrests in the Southside has increased significantly.  For example, there were 7 arrests for liquor law violations in 1996, and 118 arrests in 1998.  Trespassing arrests increased from 46 in 1996 to 173 in 1998.

(The Berkeley Police Department maintains an extensive database of crime statistics, which may be accessed by visiting the Department or its website at


The Southside is served by the City of Berkeley Police Department and the University of California Police Department.  The two departments coordinate their efforts closely, and share jurisdiction over the area extending one mile from the outer campus boundaries.

The City and University Police Departments each have jurisdictional authority in the Southside and both employ community-policing strategies.  Community policing is based, in part, on increased daily contact with the community, usually by foot or bicycle patrol, and on developing a problem-solving approach to crime in partnership with the community. Community policing has been in place in the Southside since the mid-1990s.

A.  City of Berkeley Police Department

Map PS-1 


The Berkeley Police Department’s service on the Southside is divided into Beats 6 & 7. Beat 6 is  bounded by Bancroft Way, Derby Street, Fulton Street and Telegraph Avenue and Beat 7 is bounded by Bancroft Way, Derby Street (West of College Avenue), Dwight Way (east of College), Telegraph Avenue, and  (on the east) to the City limit.

A full-time sergeant is currently assigned to coordinate all Berkeley Police efforts on the Southside and Downtown.  A total of 12 beat officers patrol the Southside and Downtown areas in squad cars, totaling 273 officer hours a week, along with 80 bicycle officer hours each week in Beats 6 and 7. 

Roughly 20% of the Berkeley Police Department’s officer hours are spent in the Southside, an area with approximately 10% of the City population and only 2.5% of the city’s land area, but with a historically high crime rate and a higher concentration of visitors than other Berkeley neighborhoods. 

B.  University of California Police Department 

The UC campus is divided into three beats, with one to two officers on a beat at any given time.  Two of these beats extend beyond the campus and into the Southside.  Officers on these beats spend approximately 25-30% of their time in the Southside, which equates to 42-84 officer hours per week. 

In addition to regular beat officers, four bicycle officers and four Telegraph Avenue officers are assigned to Southside Patrol seven days a week, for a total of 320 officer hours per week.  A total commitment of UC patrol officers to the Southside is up to 404 officer hours per week, or approximately 26% of all available patrol officer hours.[1] 

C.  Joint Police Patrols 

To improve coordination between the two departments, the UC and Berkeley Police Departments conduct a series of joint patrols. UCPD and City of Berkeley bicycle officers operate a Telegraph Area Joint Patrol seven days a week.  The Joint Patrol operates in two shifts: noon to 10 PM and 2 PM to midnight. On weekend nights, a UCPD and a Berkeley officer are assigned to “Party Patrol,” and respond to complaints about noise and other similar disturbances.

D.  University Safety Services and Features 

The University offers a number of safety services for its students.  These include: 

The Night Escort Service

Trained student employees of the UCPD provide a walking escort from the campus and the south campus area to nearby residences, public transportation, and parking facilities during the evening hours.

The Night Safety Shuttle

The Night Safety Shuttle which provided over 200,000 rides last year, runs a route including the residence halls, BART, and the Undergraduate Library, and provides door-to-door service in the Southside within a prescribed area for a nominal fee (currently 25 cents).  Berkeley residents may also use the UC Shuttles.

Night Owl Service

The Night Owl Service functions as a continuance of the Night Escort and Safety Shuttle Services and provides door to door transportation between the hours of 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Building and Residence Hall Watch 

The UCPD has established a “Building Watch” program in which UCPD officers meet with off-campus University building occupants. The UC Police Department has also established a Residence Hall security program.

Safety Counts Booklet

A detailed booklet is published by the UCPD which contains information about UC safety programs and provisions, crime prevention strategies and many other safety related topics. 

Campus Phones/Emergency Call Boxes

Campus phones/emergency call boxes are located on University property throughout the Southside and are marked with a blue light.  Call boxes provide free calls to numbers in the University phone system, and have a direct link to the UC Police Department in case of emergency.  The University is adding additional blue light telephones adjacent to city streets and sidewalks as part of new construction and major renovations to university facilities in the Southside.

E.  Other Public Safety Efforts 

The Southside Community Safety Partnership

The Southside Community Safety Partnership, sponsored by the Telegraph Area Association (TAA) and the UC Office of Community Relations, works with the City and UC Police Departments, and the City’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and UC’s Emergency Preparedness Office to provide outreach and encourage cooperation in the areas of crime prevention and emergency preparedness.  The Partnership brings students, residents, merchants, street artists, and visitors together as part of a neighborhood watch program and offers public information about disaster planning.  The Partnership sponsors quarterly public safety meetings and newsletters, works with the Police Departments on a Crime Alert System in the Southside which provides rapid public notification via fax and e-mail about criminal activity, and offers technical assistance to individuals and organizations involved in crime prevention and disaster preparedness.

ASUC Safety Task Force

The ASUC Safety Task Force is a seven-member group from the office of External Affairs formed during fall of 2001 to address a recent robbery and riots.  Moreover, safety has always been an important concern for many students at Berkeley.  The ASUC Safety Task Force works with the Office of the Chancellor, Office of the City Manager, University of California Police Department, and the Berkeley Police Department to address the safety concerns of students at the University of California, Berkeley.  The issues addressed by the Safety Task Force vary from adding more lighting and blue safety lights, to publicizing and trying to make more accessible the safety services that are available.

Pedestrian Lighting Improvements

In response to a general concern about nighttime public safety in the Southside, the University committed $250,000 as an initial sum to improve pedestrian lighting in the area.  In 1996 a study of existing lighting in the Southside was commissioned by the University and the City to determine the most effective and efficient strategy to improve sidewalk lighting.  As a result of the study, the following improvements to the area have been made:

a.   An upgrade in wattage for all existing street light fixtures

b.   Replacement of street lights on Piedmont Avenue with higher wattage fixtures and an extension of the lights to the west side of the street from Dwight Way to the Haas School of Business 

c.   Regular pruning of street trees to reduce shadows and inconsistent light levels 

The Telegraph Area Mobile Crisis Team

The Mobile Crisis Team, a program of Berkeley Mental Health and the Office of Health and Human Services, has been operating in the City for twenty years.  Team members are trained mental health professionals who intervene in mental health crises.  The Mobile Crisis Team provides daily services geared toward prevention and developing community networks, conflict resolution, and referrals to appropriate providers for emergency response and assessment.

A special Telegraph Area Mobile Crisis Team was formed in 1998 by the City of Berkeley, in partnership with area merchants and the Telegraph Area Association, to improve the general environment of the Telegraph area.  The Telegraph team, which operates daily and into the evening, has been adapted from the City-wide model to incorporate more on-the-street outreach, conflict mediation and informal counseling.  Telegraph team members walk the street in pairs and respond to merchants’ calls, personal observations, and police referrals to reduce disruptive and criminal behavior and to refer people to relevant services.

Neighborhood Partnership on Homelessness

The Neighborhood Partnership on Homelessness was created by the Telegraph Area Association in summer of 2001 to explore unmet needs and recommend steps to assist homeless and near homeless residents in gaining access to needed services.  The Partnership is comprised of volunteer community members- residents, merchants, students, homeless activists, and health care providers- who strive to explore, plan, advocate and develop projects that improve the quality of life for all who live or work in the community.  The NPH addresses the needs of the homeless community including alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs.

Iv. Public Safety through Urban Design 

Urban design, including the design of individual buildings, public spaces and landscaping can either enhance or detract from public safety.  Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a methodology that recognizes this connection and promotes public safety through the design of public and private spaces. 

Examples of CPTED guidelines include designing landscaping and streetscape to avoid hiding places, using large and easily visible addresses that assist police and fire services in locating specific buildings, and providing adequate lighting on streets, in parking lots and in parking garages.  A clean urban environment also significantly improves the perception of public safety.  Street cleaning, graffiti removal, regular trash pickup, and well-maintained street furniture all contribute to an overall sense of safety in an area. 

Awareness of the environment requires designing public spaces that are safe for pedestrians. Design features such as sidewalk lighting, exterior building lighting, clear lines of sight from sidewalks and parking to building entrances, and the elimination of dark, hidden spots around buildings, sidewalks and parking lots can significantly change the actual and perceived safety in the area.

Increasing the visibility of activities taking place and the number of people along the street increases the safety of the area.  More people looking onto a street and interacting with it provide “eyes on the street” that deter crime. Encouraging more pedestrians to use specific streets at night because these streets are well lit puts more people in one place, which deters crime from that street.

Improving the ability to locate assistance and help promptly can enhance the sense of public safety. Increasing the number of UC’s safety phones and expanding the system to non-University sites would greatly help the perception of the Southside as a safer place. 

The Berkeley Police Department is in the initial stages of upgrading the City’s Security Ordinance to incorporate CPTED methodology into building design.  Currently, the Security Ordinance regulates items such as installing dead bolts on exterior doors.  Revisions to the Ordinance are expected to address outdoor security lighting, visibility of address numbers, landscaping and other design issues related to safety.

(Safety through urban design is also addressed in the Community Character Element)

V.   Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness 

Berkeley and the region are situated in a seismically active area that includes the Hayward, Rogers Creek, Calaveras, San Andreas (16 miles to the west), and numerous other faults.  The Hayward Fault is the most prominent threat to Berkeley and the Southside community. Extending from Fremont through San Pablo it traverses the City through the Berkeley Hills and the University of California campus.  The Hayward Fault runs through Berkeley on the eastern side of the Southside study area and through the UC campus, as shown on map PS-1.

Map PS-2: Fault Location and Hazardous Fire Zone (PDF 170.42KB)

Seismologists[2] project a 70 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake along either the northern or southern segment of the Hayward Fault, and a 67 percent chance of a “large” earthquake occurring in the next 30 years.  While the San Andreas Fault is rated as having the potential of producing an earthquake of magnitude 8.3, with almost 30 times more destructive energy than a 7.5 earthquake, the Hayward Fault is considered the most likely location for the next major earthquake in the Bay Area (See discussion in City of Berkeley General Plan Disaster Preparedness and Public Safety Element).  An earthquake along the Hayward Fault would cause considerable damage and loss of life.  A magnitude 7.5 earthquake could trigger severe ground shaking, displacement, subsidence, ground swelling and sinking, flooding, and tsunamis. 

Older buildings constructed before building codes were in effect, and buildings built to earlier building codes are the most likely to suffer damage. Unreinforced masonry (URM) and soft story buildings, in particular, are highly vulnerable. As illustrated by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, even newer buildings are vulnerable where poor construction techniques were prevalent. 

Fire is often the major form of damage resulting from ground shaking, largely because of the great number of buildings constructed of combustible materials, damage to fire fighting facilities, numerous spontaneous ignitions, demands on fire personnel, and the rupture of water mains.  Most earthquake-induced fires start because of ruptured power lines, damage to wood, gas or electric stoves, and damage to other gas or electrical equipment.  The 1995 Kobe earthquake, and the experience of the San Francisco Marina District in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake,  demonstrated the fire vulnerability of urban areas and its consequent devastation. 

A. Vulnerability to Earthquakes and Fire 

Emergency response in Berkeley faces several ongoing challenges citywide which affect the City’s ability to respond to a disaster in the Southside, including 1) the age of the existing water supply system and its capacity during an emergency, 2) the inadequacy of fire fighting capabilities and evacuation routes in the hill areas, and 3) the current approach to staff engine companies with only three fire fighters (four is considered optimum). 

Vulnerability to the hazards of earthquake and fire are increased in the Southside as the result of several factors unique to the area:

·        High Residential Density. The Southside has the highest residential population density within the City, so for each structure damaged or destroyed there will be a larger number of people harmed or displaced.

·        Vulnerable Housing Stock. The majority of the housing stock is over 50 years old and the majority of the areas housing units are in vulnerable structures, such as  soft story structures,  un-reinforced masonry buildings, or un-reinforced wood frame buildings.  Buildings constructed before building codes were in effect, and buildings built to earlier building codes are the most likely to suffer serious damage.  In a disaster, the most vulnerable buildings include: unreinforced masonry (URM), concrete frames, tilt-up buildings built before the mid 1970s, and buildings with soft stories.  Additionally, buildings with termite damage, dry rot, poor construction quality or other structural conditions can further exacerbate seismic vulnerability, even if the structure was properly designed. 

·        Tall Buildings. The top floors of the tallest dormitory buildings are beyond the reach of the Berkeley Fire Department’s tallest ladders.

·        Transient Population. The Southside population is a highly transient and predominately young population.  Encouraging individual preparedness for earthquakes and other disasters presents a challenge in the Southside because of the changing population and the large number of group living accommodations.

·        Code Enforcement. While there is a program for annual inspections of all commercial buildings (which includes apartments and hotels) to enforce fire, safety, and health codes, there is no systematic program for informing the transient student population in the area about their rights and obligations regarding safe housing conditions and the City’s resources and processes for correcting building and fire safety code violations.

The Southside is located between the residential hill areas and the lower part of the City. In the event of a mass hillside evacuation, Southside streets will become critical evacuation routes, which will cause additional congestion and confusion in the area

B. Prepared for Earthquake and Fire Hazards 

Alquist-Priolo Special Studies Zone Act of 1972 

The Alquist-Priolo Special Studies Act of 1972 required the mapping of potential and active fault traces and (along them) special study zones.  In Berkeley, an Alquist-Priolo zone surrounding the Hayward Fault trace runs through the Berkeley hills and the University of California campus.  The Act requires geologic investigation for proposed residential development within the zone to ensure that development is not sited on or across the traces of an active fault. 

Utilizing authority granted under the Act, the City of Berkeley has adopted a stricter set of regulations beyond the minimum state requirement.  A licensed geologist’s report is required in addition to a soils report for housing proposed within 50 feet of a fault trace.  Additional reporting is required where proposed construction exceeds two stories.  The Act does not require retrofit or removal of pre-existing structures in the hazard zone.

Multi-Hazard Functional Plan 

Berkeley’s Multi-Hazard Functional Plan identifies the potential vulnerability of emergency services buildings (e.g., hospitals), utilities and transportation systems.  The Emergency Management Organization defined in the plan establishes a formal structure detailing the functions and responsibilities of each city department in an emergency. 

Seismic Retrofit Incentive Programs

To encourage residential property owners to undertake seismic upgrading of their buildings, the City of Berkeley offers several incentive program.

The Residential Seismic Retrofitting Incentive Program provides two types of financial incentives to homeowners to retrofit their homes.

The City will waive permit fees for seismic retrofitting of non-strengthened homes and un-reinforced masonry structures.  Between 1992 and 1999, approximately $1,079,000 in permit fees has been waived for 4,100 permits under the Residential Seismic Retrofitting Incentive Program

The City will waive up to one third (1/3) of the transfer tax on a home sale, if the funds are used for seismic upgrades of the property.  Between fiscal year 1992/93 and fiscal year 1997/98, approximately $3,589,400 in property transfer tax for approximately 7,641 properties has been waived under the Residential Seismic Retrofitting Incentive Program.

The Berkeley Home Repair Program provides free repairs to homes of low-income seniors and people who are permanently disabled.

The Senior and Disabled Rehabilitation Loan Program provides loans up to $15,000 to qualified homeowners.  Payments on the loan are deferred until sale or transfer of the property. 

The Rental Rehabilitation Program provides deferred loans for property improvements including earthquake strengthening to rental property owners in South and West Berkeley who are renting to low-income tenants for the period of the loan.

The Tool Lending Library loans tools and instructional videos regarding home maintenance and repair.

Unreinforced Masonry Building (URM) Ordinance 

An unreinforced masonry (URM) building is typically a block or brick building that lacks adequate reinforcement in the load bearing walls or the connections between the walls and the ceilings to withstand earthquake induced ground shaking.  Berkeley adopted a URM Ordinance in 1991 in response to SB 547 (1986), which required cities to create an inventory of  URM buildings.  The ordinance established deadlines for owners of buildings on the inventory to seismically strengthen their buildings.  As of January 2000, all of the deadlines had passed, except for owners of non-residential buildings used less than 20 hours a week. 

Since 1991, over 30 URM buildings (51%) in the Southside have been reinforced in compliance with the ordinance.  The remaining 27 buildings include 11 multi-unit residential structures, 13 commercial structures and 3 other structures.

To ensure compliance with the ordinance for the remaining 27 unreinforced buildings in the Southside will require a focused enforcement effort by the City.  In 2000 the City began a systematic program of contacting the remaining property owners of URMs citywide and working with them to upgrade the buildings and notify or inform the occupants of the potential risks associated with the buildings. 

Soft Story and Other Vulnerable Buildings 

A soft story building is characterized by a first floor that does not have adequate lateral strength to support the upper stories in case of a significant earthquake.  This condition may be caused in buildings with residential units above parking or large, open commercial spaces on the first floor.  As an initial step in developing a program for reinforcement of these buildings, the City made a preliminary estimate of the number of vulnerable soft story buildings citywide.  It is estimated that approximately 50 buildings in the Southside may be vulnerable soft story buildings.  These buildings are estimated to contain over 1,000 housing units.  Owners of soft story buildings are eligible for the City’s retrofit incentive programs, but no City ordinance requiring strengthening of these buildings has been adopted.

In addition to unreinforced masonry and soft story structures, unreinforced wood frame structures, non-ductile concrete frame structures, and some tilt up structures are vulnerable to collapse in the event of severe ground shaking.  The City has not done an inventory of unreinforced wood frame, concrete frame or tilt-up structures either citywide or in the Southside.  However, it is expected that such a survey would show that concrete frame and tilt up buildings are generally found in the Downtown and West Berkeley and are not a major public safety priority in the Southside.  As with most of the City’s Retrofit Programs, it is expected that any future citywide program or regulation addressing these building types would also apply in the Southside. 

The University SAFER Plan 

The University recently completed its analysis of the seismic condition of its buildings, referred to as the SAFER plan.  In recent years, the University has completed seismic upgrades of all its vulnerable residential facilities, other than the dining facilities for residence hall Units 1 and 2, which are in the construction phase for replacement as part of the Underhill Area Master Plan.  The University is in the process of undertaking a major seismic improvement program for many buildings on the central campus and for many off-campus facilities.

Fire and Safety Zones 

A hazardous fire zone overlaps the eastern side of the Southside study area, encompassing the area east of College Avenue, as shown on map PS-1.  Property owners in this area must comply with specific requirements for vegetation management in order to provide defensible space and to prevent the spread of fire.  The City of Berkeley Hillside Ordinance imposes specific building code requirements for new construction, major remodels and repairs in this area.  This Ordinance requires fire prevention features on the exterior of the building including one hour siding, non-combustible heavy timber decks and Class A non-combustible roofs. 

Just outside the Southside study area east of Prospect Avenue and Hillside Way is the Panoramic Hill neighborhood.  This area contains a zoning overlay designation called the ES-R zone (Environmental Safety Residential Zone).  This area has substandard vehicular access; only one road leads into or out of this area.  The area is also located in close proximity to known fire and earthquake hazards. The ES-R zone contains development regulations which seek to protect the lives and property of residents by limiting the uses of land to those necessary to serve the housing and access needs of residents and limiting the developable lots and the size and occupancy of residential structures. The University is currently implementing a “fuel management” program in the hill area above Panoramic Hill to reduce fire hazards and create a defensible space for City fire emergency vehicles. 

The City has designated all the east-west streets in the Southside as emergency evacuation routes, which can be used to move people and equipment across Berkeley in the event of a major disaster.

C. Coordination between the City, the University and the Community 

The City and the University coordinate on earthquake and disaster safety planning and response.  The two agencies develop their own preparation and action plans and then coordinate in areas where the plans overlap.  The two agencies share expertise and response equipment as needed when disasters occur.

Coordination between the University, the City, and the Southside community prior to and immediately after a major disaster will be essential to minimize the loss of life and property in the Southside.  With a residential population of over 11,000, a daytime population of over 35,000, many unreinforced masonry buildings, and approximately 1,000 housing units in potentially hazardous soft story buildings in the Southside the number of people hurt or displaced by a major disaster could exceed several thousand.

To minimize the loss of life and property, it will be essential for the University, the City and the community to be well prepared and well coordinated to respond to a major disaster.  Preparing the area’s highly transient residential and visitor community poses a particularly difficult communication problem that will require continued, coordinated, and focused efforts by the City and the University.

The City of Berkeley Office of Emergency Services (OES) 

The Berkeley Office of Emergency Services (OES) is responsible for preparing the City’s response to major emergencies such as earthquakes and fires.  The OES organizes and trains City staff to respond to large-scale disasters and offers technical assistance to neighborhood groups organizing their own disaster response programs.

The City has initiated the Disaster Resistant Berkeley Program (DRBP), a partnership between the City of Berkeley, local businesses, and civic leaders that aims to make communities disaster resistant.  Public, private and non-profit sectors work together to identify potential hazards and to minmize the danger they pose before disaster strikes.

The City launched DRBP as a major effort to educate the Berkeley community about the threat of natural disasters and how to prepare for them.  The DRBP’s goal is to help every individual, family, local official, employee and employer become aware of the importance of effective preparedness planning and safety efforts through community wide collaboration and partnerships.  The program highlights the City’s permit fee waivers and transfer tax rebate programs for seismic retrofits, free repairs and a rehabilitation loan program to low income seniors and permanently disabled homeowners, and free use of tools and basic instructional advice and for the repair and improvement of property through the Tool Lending Library.

Teams of volunteers are formed from local and other sources to assist neighborhoods, businesses and community agencies to ready themselves to become self sufficient for five to seven days following a major disaster.  In addition, the Disaster Resistant Berkeley Program fosters the education and cooperation of business owners, residents and community leaders in order to provide a comprehensive system of preventative disaster preparedness methods.

In the event of a disaster, the City’s organizational structure changes into a SEMS system (Standard Emergency Management System) in which all City employees become disaster workers.  The City trains its employees to respond to disasters with prompt damage assessment, provision of temporary shelter, and coordination with FEMA and Alameda County to ensure rapid recovery efforts.

The OES also offers Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) classes to help neighborhood residents organize, share resources, and support one another in case of a major emergency.

University of California Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) 

Like the City’s Office of Emergency Services, the University OEP is responsible for implementing and coordinating programs for emergency planning.  The OEP’s Campus Disaster Response Plan establishes policies, procedures and an organizational structure for the University’s response to a major emergency.  The Plan describes in detail the role of University departments and specific personnel during an emergency.

In addition, the OEP manages an ongoing outreach and education program to prepare students and University staff for an emergency.  In addition to general outreach and education, the OEP also trains students and staff to become part of the HOME Team (Helping Our Campus Manage Emergencies), a campus-wide network of professionally trained disaster volunteers.

The Southside Community Safety Partnership 

The newly formed Southside Community Safety Partnership is taking the lead in coordinating outreach efforts related to disaster preparedness and earthquake safety in the Southside.  The Partnership will inform the community of existing programs and services offered by both the City and the University, and encourage public participation in disaster preparedness efforts. These efforts will complement the existing City and University emergency programs.

The Partnership will provide referrals and direct technical assistance to individuals, neighborhood groups and other organizations that wish to become involved in emergency preparedness efforts, or to participate in emergency preparedness training.

VI.  Objectives and Policies 

The following public safety objectives and policies recommend ways for a broad coalition of community members to work together to protect the safety of the Southside's residents and visitors.

Objective PS-A:  Reduce the number of Part I and Part II crimes in the Southside by maintaining  a visible and community-oriented police presence in the Southside,  promoting collaborative public safety problem- solving, and providing health, safety, drug, and alcohol abuse education, treatment and rehabilitation services.

Policy PS-A1:  Continue the collaboration between the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) and University of California Berkeley Police Department (UCPD) in their crime prevention efforts in the Southside.


A.    The City and the University should continue to give high priority to providing police patrols and crime prevention services in the Southside at appropriate levels.

B.     The City and the University should continue to support and collaborate on community-based initiatives such as the Southside Community Safety Partnership and the People’s Park Advisory Board.

C.    The BPD and the UCPD should continue their collaborative efforts at eliminating illegal activities in People’s Park and throughout the Southside.

D.    The BPD and the UCPD should continue to identify “hot spots” within the Southside which require targeted patrols and resources.

E.     The City and the University should expand their crime prevention outreach to the business and student communities.

F.     The BPD and the UCPD should regularly publish combined crime statistics and provide information about crime trends in the Southside. 

Policy PS-A2:  Continue to provide public health and safety services in the Southside to reduce alcohol and drug abuse-related crimes, problematic behavior problems, and public health problems, and to divert appropriate offenders from the criminal justice system. 

A.    Increase the number of public bathrooms for area visitors.

B.    Target alcohol and drug education, treatment and rehabilitation services to  residents in need of such services.

C.      Regularly evaluate the health and safety needs of Southside residents and modify City programs acccordingly.

D.      Convene and attend meetings with community stakeholders to ensure health and safety in the Southside community.

E.      Recommend the City of Berkeley establish a detox center that will be accessible to the Southside community and responsive to the Southside’s substance abuse treatment needs.

F.       Pilot a workshop to educate local bars and liquor stores.  Encourage them to take responsibility and not to sell to intoxicated individuals and ensure that they are not selling to underage youth. 

Policy PS-A3:  Maintain continuous outreach to ensure that information is provided to residents, students and visitors.  Make public safety information widely available. 

A.     Establish kiosks that contain maps, transit information, information on evening safety escort services and emergency telephones. 

B.     Distribute information to new students through the new student orientation programs.

C.    Encourage area merchants to make information available to customers.

D.    Continue to work with local title companies and real estate companies to distribute program information to new property owners as part of the property transfer process.

Policy PS-A4:  Expand the installation of emergency call boxes throughout the Southside on both UC property and other public property.

A.    Establish a streamlined process to allow the University to install emergency call boxes on City streets.

B.      Ensure that a minimum number of pay phones are available throughout the Southside.

C.     Ensure that call boxes and pay phones are accessible to persons who require TTY, Braille signage and access from wheelchairs.

Policy PS-A5:  Improve night lighting throughout the Southside, along sidewalks, in parking lots and parking garages.  (See Community Character Element for more policies regarding lighting) 

A.    When ever possible, use low glare, pedestrian-scale lighting

B.    To ensure continued street light effectiveness, regularly maintain street lights and prune adjacent trees.

Policy PS-A6:  Encourage property owners to provide outdoor lighting around their buildings, to maintain and prune landscaping as needed for safety and visibility, and to reduce the number of dark, underutilized areas on their sites. 

Policy PS-A7:  Encourage businesses to provide well lighted storefronts and maintain evening hours. 

A.    Consider revisions to Section 23E.56.060.A. of the Zoning Ordinance which limits hours of operation on Telegraph Avenue to 10:00 p.m. (unless a use permit for later operation is granted).  Consider adopting a midnight limit for weekdays and 2:00 a.m. limit for weekends that would be similar to what Section 23E.52.060 provides for Shattuck Avenue south of Durant.

Policy PS-A8:  The City and the University should develop a pedestrian safety plan, including the creation of “Safety Corridors,” to identify which streets are most heavily used by pedestrians and should be prioritized for safety improvements such as:

  • Sidewalk lighting

  • UC emergency telephones

  • Signs to encourage the use of these streets at night

  • Increased police attention at night

  • Regular street tree pruning

  • Sidewalk widening or bulb-outs at intersections

  • Improved outreach to property owners for regular tree and landscape pruning

Policy PS-A9:  Enhance the painted striping of crosswalks throughout the Southside, using bold striping patterns to accentuate the pedestrian crossing areas. 

Policy PS-A10:  Ensure adequate maintenance of public spaces, streets, and infrastructure. 

A.    Continue to coordinate City  maintenance efforts with the Telegraph Property and Business Improvement District (TPBID), property owners, and merchants  to ensure that the streets, sidewalks, and public infrastructure  in the Telegraph commercial area are regularly cleaned to an established high standard.

Policy PS-A11:  The City and University Police Departments and Planning Departments should work together to develop a collaborative Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) program.

A.    The City should consider revising the City’s Security Ordinance as needed based on CPTED guidelines. 

Policy PS-A12:  The University should continue to provide funding for night escort services and the night safety shuttle and should ensure extensive marketing and promotion of these services to students and residents.

Policy PS-A13:  The City and the University should consider offering self-defense and public safety training to individuals who live in or work in the Southside.

Objective PS-B: Reduce the loss of life and property in the Southside from disasters by improving  coordination, enforcement, and outreach about earthquake and disaster preparedness.  

Policy PS-B1:  Create and maintain a coordinated Disaster Reponse Plan for the University and the City. 

A.    Ensure through joint training, joint drills, and regular areawide coordinating meetings, that City personnel, University personnel, the Southside community, local merchants,  community leaders, and visitors are prepared to respond effectively to a major disaster and act as a single community to protect residents, students, merchants, and the homeless population of the area.

B.    Conduct an annual joint City/University Disaster Drill in the Southside.

C.    Ensure that City staff and Departments are adequately trained for their role and responsibilities in the event of a major disaster according to the City of Berkeley’s Multi Hazard Functional Plan for Emergency Operations.

D.    Continue ongoing training of UC departments and personnel per UC’s Campus Disaster Response Plan.

E.     Continue to fund and implement the outreach and training of UC staff, faculty and students through programs like UC’s HOME Team.

F.     Provide training to students who live in large group living situations including the residence halls, co-ops, fraternities and sororities.  Ensure that the City and the University plan for peak attendance hours and days at Southside area venues, such as the Haas Pavilion.

Policy PS-B2:  The City and the University should support community-based organizations such as the Southside Community Safety Partnership as they coordinate outreach efforts related to disaster preparedness and earthquake safety in the Southside. 

Policy PS-B3:  Increase public awareness regarding the need for seismic upgrades to existing buildings and disaster preparedness.

A.      Promote and advertise the City’s existing upgrade assistance programs which encourage private property owners to retrofit their buildings.

B.      Increase outreach to privately-owned group living quarters in the Southside, such as the fraternities, sororities, and co-ops, to encourage the seismic retrofitting of these structures.

C.      Establish a program that requires property owners and/or property managers to inform tenants of basic disaster preparedness precautions, non-structural hazards, whether the property is listed on the City’s Unreinforced Masonry Building Inventory, and the tenant’s code enforcement rights and obligations.

Policy PS-B4: Enforce the Unreinforced Masonry Building (URM) Ordinance. 

A.    Require owners of unreinforced masonry buildings to eliminate life and safety hazards in buildings on the City’s inventory.

B.     Require owners of unreinforced masonry buildings to post a sign at the main entrance of the building notifying tenants and visitors that the Building is an un-reinforce masonry building and may pose a threat to the life and safety of the occupants during a seismic event.

Policy PS-B5:  Adopt a Hazardous Soft Story Building Ordinance similar to the URM Ordinance. 

A.    Require owners of hazardous soft story buildings to eliminate life and safety hazards in buildings subject to the ordinance.

B.     Require owners of hazardous soft story buildings to post a sign at the main entrance of the building notifying tenants and visitors that the building may pose a threat to the life and safety of the occupants during a seismic event. 

Policy PS-B6:  Establish a proactive code enforcement program for multi-unit residential buildings in the Southside.

Policy PS-B7:  Ensure that the City allocates adequate and ongoing funding for disaster and safety response, earthquake planning and preparedness programs. 

A.    Prior to approving Zoning Ordinance regulations that would increase the density of the area ensure that existing emergency response personnel are adequate to serve the new residents in the event of a disaster.  If it is found that existing disaster response personnel or facilities are inadequate, require that the impact be mitigated by increases in personnel or facilities.

B.     Establish a standard fire and safety services impact fee for all new residential and commercial development in the Southside area to fund fire and safety service needs resulting from increased population and commercial activities.

C.     Increase outreach and training for neighborhood preparedness programs in order to revitalize these efforts.

Policy PS-B8:  Encourage business owners and managers and multi-unit residential building owners and managers to develop and implement earthquake preparedness plans.

Objective PS-C Ensure implementation of Southside safety improvements. 

Policy PS-C1. Establish a public monitoring and evaluation process for Southside safety improvements. 

A.    The City shall annually prepare a progress report to the Planning Commission on the past year’s activities toward improvements in Southside public safety. The report will at minimum include:

  • Number of Part I and Part II crimes

  • Status of City public safety and public health programs

  • Number of city permits issued for seismic retrofit of vulnerable buildings

  • Status of disaster preparedness and education programs

  • Status of joint UC/City Coordinated Disaster Response Plan

  • The draft report should be made widely available to all Southside organizations and stakeholders for review.

B.     The Planning Commission will annually review implementation of the Southside Plan and shall consider the findings of the annual progress report in its annual recommendation to the City Council on implementation of the City’s General Plan.

[1]These figures are based upon UCPD’s ability to meet higher priorities on campus.

[2]Analyses by the US Geologic Survey (USGS) and California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council.  

[3]The traces represent the inferred location of a fault; because it can be difficult to identify the exact location, a fault may be anywhere within the zone. 


AdobeTo read PDF files, download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.  If you are unable to access .pdf documents online, please contact us via email (, telephone (981-7400), or TDD (981-7474) so that we can provide an alternate format.

Home | Web Policy | Text-Only Site Map | Contact Us
Department of Planning & Development, 1947 Center Street, 3rd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7400
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903