Berkeley considers adding ‘community value’ messages to city limit signs

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Berkeley City Council and the city Transportation Commission will consider adding certain phrases onto city limit signs as a method to promote city pride.

Councilmember Cheryl Davila first made the proposal at the Jan. 23 City Council meeting. The commission held multiple meetings on Davila’s proposal before officially considering the recommendation and placing it on its agenda, according to Transportation Commission secretary Farid Javandel.

“Berkeley has City limit signs that don’t reflect who we are as a City,” the agenda item stated.

Davila’s recommendations include the replacement of the 12 existing city limit signs with these specific new messages: “Love Life!,” “Sanctuary City” and “Ohlone Territory.” Davila adds in the item that these new signs will encourage “love, security and reverence” within the Berkeley community.

“Love Life!” alludes to LoEsha Lacy, a 16-year-old who died from gun violence in Oakland on Oct. 20, 1997. The phrase was adopted as a motto in her honor by the city of Oakland in October 2017. Davila said she wants Berkeley to join with Oakland, a neighboring city, and follow the same message.

“ ‘Love Life!’ is a positive message,” Davila said. “It means to be united against hate, and at least you’re united against something.”

As a sanctuary city, Berkeley is committed to not operating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Davila said she wishes to reaffirm the city’s status, because Berkeley’s status as a sanctuary city is “not always known by people who enter our city.”

The purpose of adding “Ohlone Territory” is to acknowledge the history behind the land, according to Davila. The item language added that as the first city to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the phrase honors this legacy.

Davila presented two fiscal impact options during the initial City Council meeting. The first option was to replace the 12 existing city limit signs with signs made with the same material. The second option was to replace the signs with completely new signs similar to the current signs at local parks and community centers, which would cost more.

“Including a community value on city limit signs can send a powerful message. However, we would encourage the city to only include values that are backed up by actions that reflect the city’s commitment to upholding those values,” the Transportation Commission said in a letter to the City Council. “For example, the ‘Nuclear Free Zone’ signs are in accordance with the 1986 Nuclear Free Berkeley Act.”

Discussion and re-evaluation of the agenda will be continued in Tuesday’s City Council meeting, according to Davila.

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.