Richmond Community Working Group proposes recommendations for Berkeley Global Campus developments

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Campus leadership and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory held a meeting Thursday to hear the concerns of the city of Richmond — represented by the Community Working Group, or CWG – regarding the development effects of the Berkeley Global Campus, or BGC.

The Richmond Community Working Group was jointly established by the chancellor of the University of California and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The group is responsible for maintaining a committed partnership between UC Berkeley and the Richmond community during the development of the BGC.

“The University is committed to working in partnership with the City of Richmond,” said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in an open letter to the Richmond community.

Last year in June, the Richmond community expressed its concerns with the development of the BGC and demanded that the university sign a community benefit agreement to ensure the hiring of local workers and prevention of rising rents. Many community members, however, remain worried about the BGC coming to area.

“I already see the gentrification happening here in Richmond, and if they (BGC) come here, it’s going to be even worse,” said Sasha Graham, a Richmond resident and a member of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE.

Eli Moore, a program manager with the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, analyzed how the BGC would affect marginalized communities. According to Moore, the BGC could increase the cost of living without creating economic opportunities for low-income residents.

“(Low-income residents) will be the hardest hit by those increases,” Moore said. “(Richmond’s) historic residents are the ones who have the most to gain and the most at stake.”

The CWG presented a collaborative set of recommendations aimed at alleviating the community’s concerns. The recommendations are targeted in four major areas — which include local hiring and workforce training, housing and displacement, education and procurement.

One such recommendation, presented during the meeting by ACCE community organizer Edith Pastrano, seeks to establish an anti-displacement fund used to combat the displacement of Richmond residents and to build and preserve affordable housing.

In addition, the CWG recommends “setting percentage goals for the numbers of local and disadvantaged residents that are employed,” said CWG member Aram Hodess at the meeting.

Hordess added that the CWG would also like to see an expansion of workforce training programs, as well as the adopting of “labor standards that support union employment.”

Giovanni D’Ambrosio, a campus freshman and a liaison for the Raise Up Richmond Campaign — whose father works for independent contractors — also expressed concern at the meeting that BGC construction firms will hire non-contract workers.

Ruben Lizardo, director of local government and community relations at the chancellor’s office, said the campus will review all recommendations the working group submitted in its final report, and that Dirks has committed to ensuring that local residents will be prioritized in hiring and workers engaged in BGC construction or in maintenance of BGC facilities will be union-represented employees.

The campus and Berkeley Lab will announce the Richmond Compact — an outline detailing which CWG recommendations the campus accepted — at the next scheduled meeting in August.

Contact Roann Pao at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @roann_pao.

Correction(s):
The photo attached to a previous version of this article incorrectly depicted a picture of a Medical Cannabis Commission meeting. In fact, the Community Working Group met at the site of the Berkeley Global Campus.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Ruben Lizardo said he wants the Berkeley Global Campus to be built by local resident contract workers. In fact, Lizardo did not state a position on the Richmond Community Working Group’s local hire recommendations.