District 2 Berkeley City Council candidates discuss People’s Park housing, climate change

Photo of District 2 candidates
From left to right: Timothy Carter, Alex Sharenko, Terry Taplin.

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On Friday, three of the four candidates in the District 2 Berkeley City Council race discussed their platforms during a town hall hosted by BridgeUSA at Berkeley and the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President.

Candidates Terry Taplin, Alex Sharenko and Timothy Carter attended the event and answered questions from the moderators on the topics of infrastructure, climate change, housing and public safety. Incumbent and candidate Cheryl Davila did not attend the event.

“Leadership matters a lot,” Sharenko said during the event. “Being able to speak up and speak to facts, speak to power and represent your community, that’s an incredibly important job that I don’t think current leadership has done enough of.”

For the majority of the issues discussed, the candidates agreed and had similar policy platforms, with the exception of UC Berkeley’s plan to build on People’s Park.

Sharenko said he would leave the decision up to campus and students, while Taplin said he supported the project as a “great place” for permanent supportive housing and more student housing close to campus.

“Folks in the community will push back, but sometimes they just need to yell at somebody for weeks and then they calm down,” Taplin said during the event. “I’m happy for them to yell at me.”

Carter, however, disagreed and said the “iconic park” should be protected. He added that People’s Park should be the last place campus should look to increase housing.

The candidates largely agreed on issues regarding infrastructure, saying the city has under-invested in their district, which has led to spaces such as Aquatic Park becoming a “public safety hazard,” Sharenko alleged. He said if he were elected he would build coalitions to solve these problems.

Taplin said he would invest in bicycle and safety infrastructure and fund improvements to the stormwater system to mitigate flooding. Carter added he would ensure that people feel that the city is walkable by investing in open space.

The candidates also said they would like to see investment in climate change mitigation, advocating less reliance on cars.

Carter said he would start a public education campaign to inform people about the environmental consequences of driving, while Sharenko said he wanted to see bus lanes prioritized.

Taplin suggested an electric shuttle system and increased access to bike and scooter sharing. Sharenko said he would promote housing near public transit, such as BART stations.

The candidates also discussed how they will address rising sea levels, which will affect District 2 since it borders the Berkeley Marina. Sharenko and Taplin suggested building a seawall.

“Climate adaptation is a must when moving forward,” Carter said during the event. “We need to keep in mind what the future is going to hold. I don’t think Berkeley can do it alone; it’s a worldwide issue.”

Contact Kate Finman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.