Community members meet to discuss Telegraph area improvement

Eugene W. Lau/File

Southside community members met in the basement of Moe’s Books Thursday night for the first meeting of the Telegraph Livability Coalition to suggest possible changes to improve the Telegraph Avenue atmosphere in terms of business, cleanliness, safety and tourism.

UC Berkeley juniors and ASUC Senators Andrew Albright and Anthony Galace facilitated the meeting attended by about 25 community members from the surrounding area, who raised concerns ranging from drug problems associated with People’s Park to consistent store vacancies. Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington was also present to share his ideas and show support for the coalition’s goals.

Doris Moskowitz, owner of Moe’s Books, suggested the idea for the meeting to Worthington and asked him to recommend people who might be interested.

She cited dwindling foot traffic and declining sales for Telegraph businesses as her primary concern.

“We need help getting people to come here,” Moskowitz said. “Our stores are empty, and we’re terrified.”

Worthington suggested Albright and Galace, who are both active in Southside-related issues like student housing and pedestrian safety — Albright has advocated for the development of the perpetually vacant lot on the corner of Haste Street and Telegraph, while Galace has held demonstrations trying to encourage that a stop sign be installed at the “slip lane” on Dwight Way and Telegraph.

“Everyone has their own ideas, but we needed to find a way to bring all of them together,” Galace said.

Worthington said he supports a stronger police presence on Telegraph as a way of decreasing crime and making people feel safer.

He also mentioned that the city is already applying for grants to install more pedestrian lighting, something that many agree would greatly improve the nighttime atmosphere. A suggestion that the Telegraph area between Bancroft and Dwight Ways be turned into a historical district was met with enthusiasm.

After public discussion of the many issues facing Telegraph for business owners and residents alike, the facilitators asked for positive suggestions to be consolidated into an action plan, which they eventually hope to submit to City Council.

Albright and Galace said they would formulate the plan within 10 days and email it to the people who attended the meeting, adding that they hope to publicize it to more of the community.

Adelyn Baxter covers city government.