Berkeley City Council hears updates on city’s resilience strategy

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Berkeley City Council heard updates on the city’s resilience strategy at a special meeting Tuesday, after more than a year of community input and expert analysis that sought to determine an appropriate response to a variety of interconnected challenges.

The plan, which was developed with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program, aims to help Berkeley prepare for a variety of both short- and long-term physical, social and economic challenges, including natural disaster and climate change preparedness, vulnerable public infrastructure and racial inequity.

“It’s a high-level strategy, but there are a lot of specific actions that will have a benefit for residents in our community,” said Timothy Burroughs, the city’s chief resilience officer and assistant to the city manager, who delivered the updates on Berkeley’s resilience strategy to the council Tuesday.

The 100 Resilient Cities program emphasizes a view of resilience that looks at both shocks and stresses — shocks are immediate concerns such as earthquakes, floods and civil unrest, while stresses include long-term issues such as homelessness and a lack of affordable housing, according to Corinne LeTourneau, associate director of city relationships at the program.

Members of a variety of city departments — including the Office of Emergency Services, the Office of Economic Development and the Department of Public Works — collaborated with various stakeholders and more than 1,000 community members to develop the plan.

The plan focuses on six resilience goals — building a connected and prepared community, accelerating access to reliable and clean energy, adapting to the changing climate, advancing racial equity, excelling at working together within city government to better serve the community and building regional resilience — according to Burroughs.

“There are obvious gaps in the plan,” said Moni Law, a Berkeley resident and community activist. “It’s a good step forward, but as you take a step, you don’t want to trip before you start walking.”

Each aspect of the plan must be voted on and passed by City Council before it is implemented. Some aspects of the plan have already been approved, Burroughs said, including the Community Resilience Centers, or CRC, program approved last month.

The CRC program will provide free disaster supply caches to community organizations, which will then allow neighborhood residents to access a variety of typically underused health and disaster-preparedness services, information and support.

According to LeTourneau, Berkeley will be the sixth city in the 100 Resilient Cities program to release its program.

“Berkeley was an obvious city from the get-go, given its track record in environmental innovation and in partnering with the community, and given its presence,” LeTourneau said.

The finalized strategy will be released at a public event at the city’s La Pena Cultural Center on April 1.

Contact Adam Iscoe at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @iscoe_dc.