The city of Berkeley announced in a press release Friday that the city will be renaming two blocks of Shattuck Avenue, or the old eastern leg, and is asking community members to help rename them.
The city is inviting community members to provide name suggestions for the old eastern leg through a public process. Suggestions can be sent by email to community development project coordinator Kieron Slaughter, written on a chalkboard wall located on 2023 Shattuck Avenue and discussed during public meetings, among other ways.
“These are just different ideas that we’ve been discussing and on how to engage the public and all these different ways came up,” said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.
The city plans to create a committee that will lead the public process. The committee will then relay the results to the Transportation Commission, a city online forum and the City Council.
Stefan Elgstrand, spokesperson for Mayor Jesse Arreguín, added that a community meeting will be held Oct. 24, where the online forum will be launched.
This renaming is a part of the Shattuck Reconfiguration and Pedestrian Safety Project, which will repair and reconfigure Shattuck Avenue. The west leg of Shattuck Avenue will be converted into a four-lane, two-way street. The city decided to reconfigure the blocks of Shattuck Avenue because there is “a lot of confusion for two blocks and it diminishes safety,” according to the press release.
Renaming this stretch of Shattuck Avenue downtown “will take on a new life as (the city reconfigures) the street to improve pedestrian safety, access to transit and the flow of traffic,” according to the press release.
In addition, the reconfiguration would make the west leg of Shattuck Avenue the preferred route for vehicular traffic in the downtown area, making the intersection safer for pedestrians and reducing traffic congestion, according to the city’s Pedestrian Master Plan.
Construction for the project began in January and is anticipated to be completed mid-2020.
The chalkboard is currently hanging against a metal fence and is filled with potential name suggestions, such as Angela Davis Boulevard, Ida B. Wells Way, Greta Thunberg Way, Malcolm X and Barack Obama.
“It’s great, I’m for it. It is confusing to have the streets like that. They’re picking it from the community ideas, I’d go for Barack Obama. I haven’t seen too much of that,” said community member Sinki Kuznick.
Another community member, Beraki Ghev, also thought the renaming of Shattuck Avenue was a good idea. Ghev added that the new names should be traffic and business friendly.
According to a flier on the “Rename Shattuck” chalkboard, the Berkeley City Council will choose a winner and according to the press release, the final name recommendation will be presented in February 2020.
“We are looking for suggestions that reflect the values, history, and future of Berkeley,” Elgstrand said in an email.