Vision 2050 task force aims to develop sustainable infrastructure in Berkeley

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Vision 2050, a citizen-led effort in Berkeley launched by Mayor Jesse Arreguín to develop sustainable infrastructure in the city, spoke about its goals during its second information night Monday evening at the North Berkeley Senior Center.

At the information night, community members heard from Vision 2050 task force chair Ray Yep, senior managing consultant at the Center for Transportation and the Environment Jaimie Levin, and Berkeley Transportation Commissioner Anthony Bruzzone. They talked about ideas to promote sustainability, such as lessening traffic flow and improving street conditions.

Yep said at the event that Berkeley needs a revised infrastructure plan, because many of Berkeley’s streets and structures were built during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and are beginning to “show their age.”

“If you’re in transportation in Berkeley, it’s a pretty hard drive,” said South Berkeley resident Matthew Lewis. “The streets crumble. … If it’s a vision, it needs a lot of work so it’s not more of the same.”

The project is an 18-month effort to create an infrastructure report that will be completed by the end of 2019 and then considered by the City Council.

The Vision 2050 task force includes faculty members from UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and about 40 volunteers. They plan to incorporate new technologies, propose sustainable funding strategies, and improve Berkeley citizens’ quality of life, according to Yep.

In order to improve the condition of Berkeley’s sidewalks and streets, Yep said at the event that the task force is looking into permeable pavement, which allows rainwater to pass through the pavement into the ground below. According to Yep, permeable pavement can last for 50-100 years, while standard asphalt lasts about 25 years.

During the event’s question and answer session, several attendees said the plan should be more extensive and needs to consider how these changes could impact lower-income members of the Berkeley community.

Event attendee Kathy Dervin, who works at environmental organization 350 Bay Area, said Vision 2050 needs to be more creative in its outreach, because the information nights only garner input from a limited demographic. Dervin also said Vision 2050 needs to be bolder in its mission.

“By 2050, we will be deep in the impacts of climate change,” Dervin said. “Things are moving rapidly.”

The speakers urged attendees to vote in favor of Measure R in the upcoming November elections, which would ensure that the city integrates Vision 2050’s infrastructure recommendations into city plans. The next Vision 2050 information night, focusing on energy, will be held this October.

“I found it very informative, and I really appreciate that they do these information sessions,” said event attendee and UC Berkeley alumna Michaela Ballek. “It’s difficult to get everyone’s question answered. So, I think it’s important to continue to think about the bigger picture.”


Contact Mallika Seshadri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.