City Council to talk housing report, sanctuary contracting ordinance, Traffic Circle Task Force

A group of people sit at a semi circular wooden desk and discuss amongst each other.
Maya Valluru/Staff

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Berkeley City Council will convene at its regular Tuesday meeting to discuss recommendations for the Missing Middle Report on housing, a sanctuary contracting ordinance and the establishment of a Traffic Circle Policy Task Force.

Item 18 on the action calendar involves a proposed version of the Sanctuary Contracting Ordinance. The ordinance, proposed by the Peace and Justice Commission, would ban the city from awarding contracts to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, workers disguised as “data brokers — people who collect information for the purpose of reselling it — and people who provide data mining and other “extreme vetting” services.

Once City Council adopts the ordinance, members of the Berkeley community, especially “targeted immigrants and religious minorities,” will have their “privacy, safety, dignity and quality of life” protected, according to the item.

Item 21 on the action calendar discusses the Missing Middle Report and works toward dealing with the extreme shortage of homes that are affordable for working-class families in the nine-county Bay Area region. According to the item, a family has to earn $200,000 every year to afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments for a median-priced home in the Bay Area, meaning that many city employees are not able to afford to live near their own workplaces.

Item 21 also includes a recommendation to re-evaluate a report on potential revisions to the zoning code that will foster a wider range of housing types in Berkeley, such as missing middle housing — multi-unit housing types that are compatible with single-family homes and affordable for people who earn 80 to 120 percent of the area’s median income.

These homes can include duplexes, triplexes, courtyard apartments, bungalow courts and multiplexes and generally have three stories or fewer. Because about half of Berkeley’s housing stocks are single-family units, “only wealthy households can afford homes in Berkeley,” as stated in the item.

Item 12, which addresses the establishment of a Traffic Circle Policy Task Force, will also be discussed Tuesday, when the mayor will appoint members to the task force to maintain traffic circles.

In 2018, the Department of Public Works gave a notice to all residents responsible for the maintenance of traffic circle vegetation that the city would remove large vegetation that obscured the line of sight and posed potential risks to drivers. In response, residents asked for the traffic circle volunteers to participate in more “outreach and engagement,” especially on the decisions regarding the removal of vegetation and updates to the current policy on traffic circle planting and maintenance.

The task force will be responsible for evaluating Berkeley’s current traffic circle vegetation policy, finding a solution that addresses environmental policy and safety standards and delivering a updated policy to the City Council for adoption before Aug. 9.

Bella An covers city government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @BellaAn_dc.