Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín will hold his first-ever state of the city address July 10 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Downtown Berkeley.
In an address that is open to the public, Arreguín is expected to cover the accomplishments of his new administration — which took office last December — and address future strategies for various city issues, including affordable housing, homelessness and environmental sustainability, according to the mayor’s office.
City Councilmember Kriss Worthington said Arreguín has put forward a “bold, visionary” budget and ambitious agendas to address homelessness and affordable housing while also succeeding at “building bridges” between people with different perspectives. “In a way, I see him as the opposite of Donald Trump,” Worthington said. “In a time when there’s a great partisan divide … he’s really bringing people together and taking a stance of strong resistance to the negativity on the national level.”
Worthington highlighted the unanimous vote Arreguín’s fiscal year 2018 budget received as an example of one of many “stunning” accomplishments the mayor has achieved during his short time in office. Worthington said he expects a significant amount of Arreguín’s speech to inform people about the major issues he’s been working on, adding that he hopes Arreguín continues to lay out his vision for other issues. “It’s been 30 years since we’ve had a mayor with so many accomplishments in such a short time,” Worthington said. “I thought he would make a really good mayor but I think he’s exceeding expectations.”
Guy “Mike” Lee, a homeless community activist who ran against Arreguín for mayor last year, said he has no expectations for the mayor’s address, adding that the speech is “all hype.” When asked what he wanted to see from Arreguín’s state of the city address, Lee said he hoped the mayor would honestly discuss creative solutions to fund his new programs.
“The stuff they’re proposing right now — they can’t pay for,” Lee alleged. “I know what they’re going to do: very little. His handlers are going to cover all the main issues and make lots of nice promises. But the thing is they can’t pay for it.”
Lee also expressed disappointment in recent decisions the administration has made regarding different community issues, such as City Council’s recent decision to “militarize police” by continuing Urban Shield. Lee stressed that homelessness — an issue he has been adamantly focused on and which he calls the city’s “biggest problem” — was something for which the administration had “nice hopes but no strategic plan.”
As this is Arreguín’s first state of the city address, some community members are looking to the upcoming speech as a way of feeling out the new administration.
Matthew Jervis, the director of vitality at the Downtown Berkeley Association, likened the address to a first “glimpse behind the curtain.”
“Obviously the homeless situation, street behavior and the enforcement of ordinances would be the topics I would like to see addressed (by Arreguín),” Jervis said. “It would (be) nice to hear an outline of his various solutions that I’m sure he has assembled project teams around. … I’m kind of in a wait-and-see.”
Jervis added that he was glad to see more work being done by Arreguín and his administration “on a lot of different projects.”
He said he looks forward to having achievements to celebrate in the upcoming address and complimented the city’s efforts in addressing complex issues.
“I’m just looking for things we can celebrate.” Jervis said. “I think Downtown (Berkeley) is in a really great place. (There are) a lot of growth issues — there’s a lot of emotion behind these issues and I think Berkeley has been really good about allowing all those voices to be heard. (My) expectation is for that to continue.”