Vision 2050

Key System streetcar at University & San Pablo Avenues, circa 1925. California Digital Library


Berkeley Mayor Jesse ArreguĂ­n launched Vision 2050 to begin long-term planning for climate resilience and environmental justice in our infrastructure, with the Vision 2050 Task Force forming in the spring of 2018. Berkeley voters supported Vision 2050 with the passage of Measure R in the November 2018 election, which asked: Shall the measure, advising the Mayor to engage citizens and experts in the development of Vision 2050, a 30-year plan to identify and guide implementation of climate-smart, technologically-advanced, integrated and efficient infrastructure to support a safe, vibrant and resilient future for Berkeley, be adopted?

Read the City Council’s adopted Vision 2050 Framework, and the Draft Vision 2050 Program Plan.

Berkeley is blessed to be a central node of public scholarship and private sector innovation within the Bay Area’s dynamic regional economy. As home to the world’s top public university, along with thriving life sciences and renewable energy industries, our community can be a global leader in environmental justice and economic mobility. Vision 2050 calls for long-range investment in capital improvements to provide the sustainable infrastructure that our growing, diverse community’s needs, and manage our public resources on a “cradle-to-grave” timeline. The Vision 2050 Framework aligns funding needs with long-term plans under four core values:

  • Equity: ensuring that the benefits of improved infrastructure are fairly distributed, prioritizing the most disadvantaged in our community and redressing the injustices of environmental racism while improving quality of life for all.
  • Strong Local Economy: enabling local residents to enjoy greater employment opportunities, develop skills, and contribute to the needs of our community.
  • Public Health and Safety: providing access to green spaces, recreation, social support networks, health services, safe streets and clean air so that all bodies in Berkeley can thrive.
  • Resilience and Sustainability: maintaining core services that can respond effectively to natural disasters and mitigate the harms of climate change.

Safe Streets

Berkeley’s average street pavement condition is currently rated “at-risk” and would cost more to repave in the future without near-term investments in our deferred maintenance needs. In 2019, the deferred maintenance needs of Berkeley’s streets exceeded $251 million. Berkeley’s City Auditor reported that the city’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) rating had fallen to 59 out of 100 in 2018, and would reach an estimated low of 52 by 2023 without significant increases in funding. Further, the Auditor’s report recommended increased funding as soon as possible, estimating that the level of funding in 2020 risked increasing deferred maintenance costs to $328 million by 2023.

Why is it so important to fix and maintain our roads?

Even though the City Council roughly doubled the annual operating budget for street paving, making our streets more resilient will continue to be a Sisyphean challenge for our infrastructure without a major capital investment to bring paving quality back to adequate condition. Otherwise, it is likely that the operating costs of maintaining our streets would continue to grow beyond Berkeley’s short-term fiscal capacity. As the Auditor’s report illustrates, these investments are critical for making regular maintenance more fiscally sustainable.

While everyone stands to benefit from better street paving in the short term, we also recognize that a sustainable future necessitates a major modal shift away from private automobiles to cycling, walking, and public transit. According to a 2018 Progress Report on greenhouse gas emissions by the California Air Resources Board (CARB): “California cannot meet its climate goals without curbing growth in single-occupancy vehicle activity. Even if the share of new car sales that are [electric vehicles] grows nearly 10-fold from [2018], California would still need to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled per capita 25 percent to achieve the necessary reductions for 2030.” Yet anyone who has biked or walked around Berkeley lately knows we need safer streets with reliable pavement conditions to encourage car-free living.

This has major implications for racial equity, particularly in the midst of a nationwide traffic violence crisis that is disproportionately killing Black and Indigenous pedestrians, and pedestrians in lower-income neighborhoods. In California alone, we lost 4,258 lives to vehicle crashes in 2021, which the US Department of Transportation estimated to be a 10.7% annual increase in traffic fatalities. Locally, 2021 was the deadliest year on Berkeley roads since 1984.

Source: Dangerous By Design (2022). Smart Growth America

By investing in sustainable street repair projects, Berkeley can lead the way in decarbonization and environmental justice. While 60% of our emissions come from transportation, Berkeley also has the second-highest share of bicycle commuters in the nation. Reducing auto dependence is thus critical for our decarbonization efforts, but to enable this modal shift, we need significant investments in road safety identified in our Bicycle Plan and Pedestrian Plan. The Vision 2050 Draft Program Plan recommends a “Dig Once” strategy to ensure that utility work, street repair, safety improvements, and other infrastructure projects are aligned and integrated efficiently.

Berkeley’s Street Rehabilitation and Maintenance Policy adheres to various City policies with respect to safety and sustainability, including:

Infrastructure and Facilities

In 2016, Berkeley voters approved $100 million in bonds under Measure T1 to provide improvements to city parks, facilities, street paving and sidewalk repair.

During the first phase of T1 projects, from 2017-2022, the City spent $42.7 million on 40 different projects. Combined with funding from grants and special funds, the City was able to invest $65.7 million in infrastructure improvements. Highlights include: 

  • Facility improvements: Frances Albrier Community Center planning & design for upgrades; Strawberry Creek Park restroom replacement; seismic safety and accessibility improvements to Live Oak Community Center, North Berkeley Senior Center.
  • Park improvements: tennis courts and slide at San Pablo Park; play structures at George Florence Park; cleaning Aquatic Park tide tubes; Tom Bates Fields turf replacement.
  • Green infrastructure: Bioswales and stormwater infrastructure
  • Street paving: Ward St, University Ave, Marina Blvd.

During the second phase of T1 projects, from 2021-2026, the City plans to spend $60 million on 30 different projects. Highlights include: 

  • Facility improvements: upgrades to African American Holistic Resource Center, Martin Luther King Youth Services Center, Willard Clubhouse, and the South Berkeley Senior Center; energy efficiency improvements at Firehouses 2, 6.
  • Park improvements: repairs for King Pool, John Hinkle Playground and Amphitheater; new restrooms planned for Ohlone Park, Marina, Cesar Chavez Park; dock repairs at Marina.
  • Green infrastructure: conversion of bollards to planters and landscaping.
  • 9 new public restrooms across the city.

Our community needs significant investments to continue the important work begun under Measure T1.

More info coming soon!