Berkeley City Council discusses Adeline Corridor housing developments, potential November ballot measures

lisi ludwig/Staff

Related Posts

At its Tuesday special meeting, the Berkeley City Council discussed development of the Adeline Corridor and potential ballot measures for the November 2020 elections.

During the meeting, City Council members discussed the Adeline Corridor Plan, which would continue the development of the area a section of Adeline Street that includes the Ashby BART station. The plan will be finalized and presented to the city once a draft is finalized in June or July. It will likely be implemented in 2020.

In a presentation to the City Council, there were several key issues it aimed to address including affordable housing and community character and history, as well as safety and mobility. The subcommittee also addressed its goal to make 50% of the housing in development “income-restricted” affordable homes.

City Councilmembers Cheryl Davila and Sophie Hahn, in particular, voiced support for 100% affordable housing. More specifically, Hahn said the goal of achieving 100% affordable housing is “feasible” and that the 100% goal “should be the assumption.”

City Councilmember Susan Wengraf, however, said the 100% affordable housing goal was unrealistic and that the city should instead focus on getting “as much affordability as feasible.”

Davila and City Councilmember Rigel Robinson said the Corridor’s past community needs to be considered when making future decisions.

Davila also mentioned that when she first came to Berkeley, businesses around the Corridor were owned by people of color and that “these things have changed.”

“I share that goal of wanting to see homes for people who are being priced out and who are being displaced,” said City Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani during the meeting. “For me, it is about racial justice.”

Council members then discussed potential ballot measures for the November 2020 elections and the possibility of issuing a community survey to gauge what issues are important to Berkeley residents. If administered, the survey would have a sample size of 500 likely November 2020 voters.

The survey’s proposal was met with little resistance during the meeting and garnered the support of Hahn and Mayor Jesse Arreguín.

In their discussion of possible ballot measures, Arreguín raised two ideas, both concerning the environment. One was a tax on people who use ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber, which would add 50 cents per personal ride and 25 cents per shared ride.

“We want to discourage people from using (ride-sharing) and encourage people using public transit,” Kesarwani said during the meeting in support of the potential ballot measure.

Arreguín also proposed a carbon tax on large businesses, stating that if adopted, Berkeley would be “the first city in the United States to adopt such a tax.”

During the meeting, Robinson introduced the idea that City Council members should be paid for a full-time position.

Davila, who voiced support for the change, listed the number of hours City Council members work, citing the load as “hella crazy.”

Adding to the discussion, City Councilmember Ben Bartlett said he was fearful that City Council members and mayors could be displaced due to their current pay. Councilmember Kate Harrison added that the current pay also disincentivizes people from running for City Council.

“Berkeley deserves to have Council members who can put all their time in this important role,” Robinson said during the meeting.

Robson Swift is a city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @swift_robson.