Berkeley City Council asks public to vote on final name for reconfigured stretch of Shattuck Avenue

Josh Kahen/Staff

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Berkeley City Council narrowed down 913 submissions from the public to rename the reconfigured two-block stretch of Shattuck Avenue “East” and is asking community members to vote on the final submissions.

The council narrowed down the submissions to six finalists. Constituents were able to submit suggestions in an online survey, through email or by writing on a public chalkboard posted in an empty lot on Shattuck Avenue. Suggestions were overseen by a committee, which were then sent to the Transportation Commission to be finalized by the City Council.

The final name will ideally reflect Berkeley’s values by involving groups who typically lack recognition, according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko. Kieron Slaughter, the community development project coordinator for the city of Berkeley, added that renaming the block would increase civic pride and help create a new atmosphere around the area.

“Keep in mind that the goal was to increase civic engagement, increase civic pride,” Slaughter said. “This was an excellent opportunity to rebrand this section of Downtown that will have a totally new feel.”

The final six names are Kala Bagai, Maggie Gee, William Byron Rumford, Anna Saylor, Sitha Vemireddy and Ohlone, according to a city press release. The online survey will be available until Wednesday, the press release added.

The street’s reconfiguration has been aimed at making conditions safer for pedestrians, according to Chakko. He said the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street has been simplified so that northbound drivers have a more direct route.

Chakko added that this will increase efficiency for drivers, but the overarching aim is to be more inclusive for the many ways that people move through Downtown Berkeley.

“This is a changing city and a changing Downtown,” Chakko said. “The City Council is looking for a street name that best reflects our community.”

With fewer turns for drivers and a clearer path dedicated to pedestrian crossing, the area will better cater to all modes of transit. It will include a consolidation of AC Transit bus stops so that they are across from the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza. The city is also working toward creating more protected bike routes, which Chakko said has been in progress on Milvia Street.

According to Chakko, the crossing area between Shattuck Avenue and Center Street has been heightened to match the sidewalk, creating more accessible pathways for all types of transportation. This is aimed to increase safety for all traffic types, creating a more inclusive path.

“We want our streets to reflect all the people who use our streets,” Chakko said.

The press release also said the survey results will be shared with the City Council when it chooses the final name at its March 24 meeting.

Contact Aditya Katewa and Natalie Gott at [email protected].