Berkeley community members crowded City Council’s regular virtual meeting Tuesday, awaiting the council’s resolution concerning single-family zoning, a point of contention among the community.
The resolution would state Berkeley’s intent to end single-family zoning or “exclusionary zoning” by December 2022. In the council’s discussion of the resolution, both Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Councilmember Lori Droste said single-family housing zones have led to the exclusion of groups based on race and class.
According to Droste, the resolution is a necessary step to accomplish state-mandated housing goals. Expressing similar sentiments, Arreguín called the resolution a “tool” the city should use to create more opportunities within the city.
“We do need to recognize how patterns of exclusionary zoning are proven to increase racial and economic exclusion,” Droste said during the meeting. “Neither the Berkeley City Council nor our community is responsible for the history of this racial segregation in our zoning codes but we do have the ability to remedy it.”
Arreguín added that the resolution is “largely symbolic,” and the debate over the resolution had become “too heated.” After public comment and discussion, the council unanimously passed the resolution.
At the beginning of the meeting, the council passed the consent calendar, which included an item that would allocate Measure P funds to support the lease and operation of a new permanent supportive housing project. The council then added an urgency item to the action calendar, passing an ordinance that would guarantee hazard pay for grocery store workers.
“Grocery store workers are going to work every day making sure that our families, our loved ones, have food to eat. Unlike us, who are fortunate to be able to work at home, these workers cannot,” said Councilmember Terry Taplin during the meeting. “I think it’s really important for us, in particular, to show our support for workers — for essential workers — by providing hazard pay as we face this unprecedented crisis.”
The ordinance will provide grocery workers, with the exclusion of managerial staff, an additional $5 an hour during the pandemic. The ordinance only applies to grocery workers employed by entities with more than 300 employees and will end when the weekly average of COVID-19 cases drops below 2% in Alameda County.
Though Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani expressed fears that the cost of hazard pay may be passed on to consumers by grocery stores, she said the city should pass the ordinance.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve gone into work. We’ve faced the risks to ourselves, our health and our family’s health,” said grocery worker John Gomez during public comment. “We come across anti-maskers, we get spat at, we get coughed at, cussed at. We get sick. Some of us have died. ”