Write to the City

Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO)

The AHO would allow more 100% affordable projects like the 35-unit senior housing building behind a church at 1601 Oxford Street that is currently being built. By giving a density bonus that only applies to 100% affordable projects, the AHO would allow nonprofits build more affordable housing on R-1 or R-2 zones that prohibit projects with sufficient density to receive Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the state of California. The added density and ministerial approval would give them an advantage over private developers in purchasing land and prioritize much-needed affordable housing.

Social Housing Pilot Study

In urban areas throughout the world, other nations with lower rates of homelessness and housing insecurity provide adequate housing for their citizens through various policies that address housing as a municipal service. The cities of Vienna and Singapore own and operate public housing development corporations that retain some amount of land title in the public trust in order to stabilize the housing market—either by restricting ownership to leases, or encouraging low-cost rentals and developing on public land holdings. Both also retain a “reserve supply” of land and/or development rights to stabilize housing affordability through recessionary demand shocks. These cities are able to provide housing to any citizen at an affordable cost regardless of their income, effectively reinvesting revenues from higher-income households to subsidize housing for lower incomes. In the United States, disinvestment and segregation of public housing exclusively as a social service for the poor virtually guaranteed its collapse. We should no longer be tinkering around the edges and assume that some of us will face permanent housing insecurity. Berkeley can lead the way by studying how to replicate more effective models of public housing as practiced around the world, and work toward long-lasting housing justice.

Vision Zero in West Berkeley

West Berkeley’s infrastructure is historically underfunded and is home to an outsized number of traffic injuries and deaths. While the City Council has voted in the past to prioritize Berkeley’s paving budget for bike routes and arterials, there are also many residential streets in historically disinvested neighborhoods with extremely low Pavement Condition Index (PCI) ratings. Slowing down traffic and encouraging a modal shift to more sustainable, less polluting modes of travel also improves safety and reduces automobile traffic for those who can only make certain trips with a car. A genuine commitment to fully funding Vision Zero improvements can sustain a virtuous cycle of increasingly healthier, safer, more convenient streets for all road users.

Automated Plate Readers

Berkeley is experiencing a disturbing rise in violent crime, property crime, and traffic violence. South Berkeley has experienced numerous hit-and-runs this year, including one that killed local business owner in front of her children on Ashby Avenue. In 2020, vehicle thefts were up by 66%, and grand theft was up by 45%, largely driven by catalytic converter thefts. State law does not permit local governments to civilianize or automate traffic enforcement (i.e. with speeding cameras), but Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) are a proven tool that can be used to investigate and deter traffic violations and other crimes. Our community needs all available resources to keep each other safe while respecting privacy and civil liberties. We are not truly safe without our freedoms, and by the same token, our communities must know peace to have true freedom.

Public Security Cameras

Berkeley has seen a sharp uptick in shootings this year, particularly in South and West Berkeley. Footage from privately-owned security cameras have helped the Berkeley Police Department identify suspects and get dangerous guns off our streets, and public security cameras at San Pablo Park have reduced shootings in the park itself. Currently, many residents and business owners purchase security cameras and register them with BPD. Without more city-owned security cameras in the public right-of-way, this valuable resource will be largely reserved for private citizens with the means to purchase the technology themselves. But nobody, regardless of their background, deserves to live in fear of violence in their community. We must act now to end this public safety crisis and bring peace to our streets.