Voter’s Edge California
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Presentado por
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
California Common Cause@CommonCauseCA
November 8, 2016 — Elección General de California

Ciudad de BerkeleyCandidato para Consejo Municipal, Distrito 5

Photo de Sophie Hahn

Sophie Hahn

Zoning Board Commissioner
5,821 votos (62.4%)Winning
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Mis 3 prioridades principales

  • Address the Affordable Housing, Displacement and Homeless crises by preserving, protecting and expanding affordable and workforce housing and implementing a Housing First model with supportive services for the Homeless
  • Revitalizing our Downtown and Civic Center as a lively, attractive, arts-centric heart for the community. Transforming Solano Avenue into a vibrant "Main Street" for North Berkeley. Supporting our small and independent businesses.
  • Continuing my work to achieve Berkeley's Climate Action Goals, by enacting impactful measures to address climate change.



Profesión:City of Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board Member
Senior board member, City of Berkeley, Zoning Adjustments Board — Cargo designado (2009–current)
Member, Solano Avenue Business Improvement District Board — Cargo designado (2016–current)
Chair, City of Berkeley Commission on the Status of Women — Cargo designado (2009–2011)
Chair, School Governance Council, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School — Cargo elegido (2008–2010)
Partner & Co-CEO, Signia Fine Papers (1996–2002)


Stanford Law School JD, Law (1988)
UC Berkeley BA, History with Honors, High Distinction & Phi Beta Kappa (1983)

Actividades comunitarias

Member, Executive Committee, Sierra Club Northern Alameda County Group (2013–current)
Co-Chair, 15th CA Assembly District Environmental Task Force (2014–current)
PTA President, Martin Luther King Jr Middle School (2006–2012)
Chair, North Branch Capital Campaign Committee and Member, Board of Dir's, Berkeley Public Library Foundation (2005–2012)
Member, Board of Directors, Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo (2002–2008)


My parents moved to Berkeley from a neighboring town when I was a young girl. Berkeley citizens had just voted to integrate the public schools, and my parents wanted our family to be part of what was then a groundbreaking movement.  Attending “experimental” programs, I was steeped in Free SpeechCivil Rights and the Farmworkers’ struggle, participating in marches, protests and boycotts. Thus began my life as an activist in Berkeley - and beyond. My commitment to this community, and to our shared values, has been expressed through continuous leadership, advocacy and service since that time.

I had the privilege of attending Cragmont, Columbus (now Rosa Parks), King, West Campus and Berkeley High School.  My Berkeley public education continued at UC Berkeley, where I received a BA in American History, focusing on civil rights and labor.  Making a slight detour across the bay, I received a JD from Stanford Law School, where I was Co-Chair of the Women of Stanford Law and participated in immigration and human rights law clinics.  I went on to practice law for several years in New York City, where I also studied organizational behavior and labor relations at Rutgers University.

My husband Eric, raised in Norway, works for a company developing therapies to treat cancer.  Our three children, Emil, Simon and Sarah, have all attended Berkeley Public Schools, and have embraced the unique education and experiences Berkeley provides. 

My mother Ellen, the daughter of Ellis Island immigrants, still lives in the home I grew up in on Santa Barbara Road.  A classical singer who is passionate about music, she has been active in many local organizations, serving as President of the Berkeley Piano Club and UC Section Club, and on the Board of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.

My father, born in Paris, was a refugee whose family fled the Nazi occupation and settled in New York.  A devoted academic, he taught the History of Science for 50 years as a Professor at UC Berkeley, researching, writing and teaching about the intersection between science, religion and politics, and mentoring hundreds of students. 

I was raised to give back to the community that has provided so much for our family, and to champion equity, participation and opportunity for all.


¿Quién apoya a este candidato?

Featured Endorsements

  • The Sierra Club
  • California Nurses Association
  • Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte

Organizaciónes (10)

  • Berkeley Citizens Action (BCA)
  • Berkeley Democratic Caucus (BDC)
  • Cal Berkeley Democrats
  • East Bay Young Democrats
  • Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5
  • American Postal Workers Union, East Bay Area Local
  • SEIU Local 1021
  • Alameda Labor Council
  • The Green Party of Alameda

Individuos (121)

  • Karen Huster, Attorney
  • Jesse Townley, Berkeley Rent Board Chair
  • Janice Thomas, Clinical Psychologist, Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency
  • Jack Sawyer PhD, President, Parker Street Foundation
  • Pamela Drake, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Member
  • Kate Harrison, Berkeley Parks and Waterfront Commissioner, International Justice Consultant
  • Linda Schacht, Boardmember, Berkeley Public Library Foundation; Chair, Branch Librarires Capital Campaign
  • Paola Laverde-Levine, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner
  • Bonnie Hughes, Director, Berkeley Arts Festival
  • James Chang, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner
  • John Selawsky, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner, Berkeley School Board President
  • Jennifer Chatman, Director, Haas School of Business PhD Program; Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management,
  • Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner
  • Katherine Harr, Berkeley Rent Board Vice Chair
  • Caitlin Lempres Brostrom, Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commissioner
  • Erich Gruen, Professor Emeritus, History, UC Berkeley
  • Dan Knapp, Founder and Owner, Urban Ore
  • Toby McLeod, Project Director, Sacred Land Film Project
  • Yannick Phillips, Co-organizer, Sustainable Food and Agriculture Caucus, CA Democratic Party
  • Henry Gutman, Architect
  • Bill Roller, Film Maker
  • CindyLou Johnson, Writer
  • Kath Delaney, Founder & Principal, Madera Group
  • Rochelle Pardue, Nurse
  • Eric Bjerkholt, Healthcare Executive
  • Janet Farina, Owner, Freshly Cut
  • Maddy Dychtwald, Author; Co-Founder, Age Wave
  • David Socholitzky, Psychologist
  • Donald Arbitblit, Attorney
  • Martin Jay, Professor Emeritus, History, UC Berkeley
  • Donald MacDonald, Architect
  • Robert Oliver, Professor Emeritus, Engineering, UC Berkeley
  • Bob Archibald, Boardmember, The Hillside Club
  • Michael Katz, Writer
  • Dawn Morris, Nurse
  • Mary Stapleton, Financial Manager, UC Berkeley
  • Edwin M. Epstein, Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley
  • Janet Sluis, Neighborhood Advocate
  • Mark van Krieken, BHS PTA President
  • Tim Brice, Co-Founder, Clarify
  • Judith Gordon, UC Section Club
  • Brigette Hunley, Chair, Solano County Democratic Party Central Committee,
  • Anna Molander, Chair, Democratic Party of Sacramento County
  • Constance Sobczak, Co-Founder, The Body Positive
  • Richard Schwartz, Writer & Historian
  • Timothy Hansen, President, The Berkeley Hillside Club
  • Adolfo Cabral, West Berkeley Project Area Commissioner
  • Jenn Rader, Student Health Center Director
  • David Reiley, Principal Scientist, Pandora Media, Inc.
  • Sue Britson, Early Childhood Educator
  • Dorothée M. Mitrani, Owner, La Note Restaurant; Secretary, Downtown Berkeley Association
  • Willow Rosenthal, Founder and Executive Director, City Slicker Farms; Author, The Essential Urban Farmer
  • Jacque Ensign, First President, Berkeley Path Wanderers Association
  • Patricia Wall, Executive Director, Homeless Action Center; Attorney
  • Genevieve Wilson, Chair, Berkeley Homeless Task Force
  • boona cheema, Executive Director, Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS)
  • Arlene Blum PhD, Executive Director, Green Science Policy Institute
  • Margot Smith, Co-Convener, Berkeley East Bay Gray Panthers; Doctor of Public Health
  • Cynthia Papermaster, President, Berkeley PTA Council; Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Board; BFUU Social Justice Committee
  • Katie Rickliefs, Planned Parenthood Northern California, Board Chair
  • Melinda Robinson Mendelson, Planned Parenthood Northern California, Board Chair; President, Berkeley School Board
  • Frances Townes, Homeless Youth Advocate
  • Cindy Fulton, Senior Editor, University of California Press
  • Norman LaForce, Chair, Sierra Club East Bay Public Lands Committee
  • Christian Mammen, J.D.; D.Phil; Attorney
  • Betsy Bigelow Teller, Co-President, Berkeley High School Development Group
  • Karen Middleton, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, President, Emerge America
  • Vincent Casalaina, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club Coordinating Committee member; N. Vice Chair, Progressive Caucus CD
  • Alla Efimova, Director, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley
  • Beth Feingold, Boardmember Emeritus, North East Berkeley Association (NEBA)
  • Thomas G. Kelly, JD, Executive Director, KyotoUSA
  • Janet Maestre, Vice President, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra Board
  • Jane Tierney, President, Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association (TONA)
  • Isabelle Gaston, President, North East Berkeley Association (NEBA)
  • Leonard Pitt, Author & Mime
  • Alice Waters, Owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project
  • Lisa Stephens, Chair, Berkeley Rent Board; Chair, Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Jacquelyn McCormick, Berkeley Loan Administration Boardmember; President, Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association
  • Wendy Bloom, Chair, Berkeley Commission on Labor, RN
  • John Hitchen, Zero Waste Commissioner; East Bay Regional Parks Supervisor
  • Karen Kiyo Lowhurst, Berkeley Police Review Commissioner
  • Linda Franklin, Community Health Commissioner
  • Phoebe Sorgen, Berkeley Disaster and Fire Safety Commissioner
  • Arlene Silk, Chair, Landmarks Preservation Commission
  • Carrie Olson, Chair, Landmarks Preservation Commission; President, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA); M
  • Austene Hall, Chair, Landmarks Preservation Commission; President, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA); B
  • Nancy Carleton, Chair, Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board; Vice Chair, Parks and Recreation Commission; President & Found
  • Shoshana O'Keefe, Zoning Adjustments Board Commissioner; Vice-Chair, Children, Youth and Recreation Commission
  • Anna De Leon, President, Berkeley School Board; Small Business Owner
  • Rob Wrenn, Chair, Berkeley Planning Commission
  • Ben Bartlett, Berkeley Planning Commissioner
  • Patrick Sheahan, Berkeley Planning Commissioner
  • Zelda Bronstein, Chair, Planning Commission; President, Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association (TONA)
  • Winston Burton, Berkeley Library Board Trustee
  • Judy Shelton, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner
  • Pamela Webster, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner
  • Asa Dodsworth, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner
  • Michael Barnett, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Member
  • Gabe Quinto, El Cerrito City Councilmember
  • Vinnie Bacon, City of Fremont Councilmember
  • Corina Lopez, Councilmember, City of San Leandro
  • Jim Prola, Councilmember, City of San Leandro
  • Diana Prola, Trustee, San Leandro Unified School District
  • Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Trustee, Peralta Community College Board
  • Lateefah Simon, California State University Trustee
  • Maxwell Anderson, Berkeley City Councilmember
  • Madeline Kellner, Novato Mayor and Councilmember
  • Dan Kalb, Oakland City Councilmember
  • Jane Kim, San Francisco Supervisor
  • Aaron Peskin, San Francisco Supervisor (and native of Berkeley District 5)
  • Dianne Martinez, Emeryville Mayor
  • Ying Lee, Berkeley City Councilmember, District Director for Congresswoman Barbara Lee
  • Carole Kennerly, Berkeley Vice Mayor & Councilmember
  • Shirley Dean, Berkeley Mayor and District 5 Councilmember
  • Sheila Jordan, Superintendent of Schools (Alameda County, Emerita)
  • L. Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools
  • Tony Thurmond, California State Assemblymember, 15th District
  • Isadore Hall, California State Senator & Black Caucus Chair
  • Delaine Eastin, CA State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Betty Yee, California State Controller
  • Mike Honda, US Congressman, 17th Dist CA

Preguntas y Respuestas

Preguntas de League of Women Voters—Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville (4)

If you are elected, what would you like to achieve during your term in office?
Respuesta de Sophie Hahn:

I grew up in District 5, and have raised my own family here.  A product of Berkeley’s public schools, I am deeply committed to Berkeley’s core values of equity, diversity, opportunity, education and environmental action. I have spent my life working for civil rights, human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, labor, the environment, choice, and more.  Passionate about all that makes Berkeley unique, I am running to forge a dynamic future that embodies our progressive values. I wish to take my talents, experience and love for this community to an office that will allow me to solve problems to achieve the broadest positive impact for Berkeley. 

The affordability and displacement crisis threaten to change the character of Berkeley forever.  I am running to ensure that Berkeley’s citizens are lifted up, not pushed out.  Affordable Housing and housing for families and long-term residents – as well as for our homeless citizens - must be the drivers of Berkeley’s housing policies.   We must ensure that our teachers, firefighters, city workers, nurses, police officers, artists, seniors, and single parent families are able to make their homes in Berkeley.

Sustainability, resilience and environmental concerns are equally pressing issues.  I am running to put sustainability at the center of everything we do in Berkeley.   I am co-Chair of Assemblymember Thurmond’s 15th District Environmental Task Force and have been endorsed by the Sierra Club for my environmental leadership. I have spent many years advocating for the greenest possible standards for Berkeley buildings and infrastructure, and I will continue to do so as on the City Council.  I am a leader in bringing Community Choice energy to Alameda County and Berkeley, the single most important thing we can do to reduce our GHG emissions and meet our Climate Action Goals.  I will continue to champion green buildings, clean energy, urban agriculture and environmental justice. 

In 2010, Berkeley citizens approved a Downtown Plan that promised tree-lined streets, parks and plazas, preservation of historic resources, green buildings, dynamic streetscapes, culture, arts, and transit-oriented housing for all income levels and family sizes.  I am running to ensure that all elements of Berkeley’s visionary Downtown Plan are implemented.  Our housing and development policies must put affordable housing – as well as housing for families and for the homeless - at the center of our efforts, not as an afterthought. 


Berkeley’s schools, libraries, parks, shopping districts and historic civic center require investment to become the dynamic, inviting, community-serving commons they should be.  I am running to ensure that our public spaces and institutions are enhanced and enlivened, and that Berkeley as a Place is as dynamic and engaging as the people who live here.

Question 2

What do you consider the most important issue facing the city?

No se proporcionó respuesta.
How do you plan to balance the regional Planned Bay Area (ABAG/MTC) goals of Priority Development Areas (PDAs) with local needs of property owners, traffic/parking/congestion problems, and other local concerns?
Respuesta de Sophie Hahn:

To address potential parking and traffic/congestion concerns, new development must be paired with additional investment in public and alternative transit.  I am committed to moving Berkeley forward with safe and complete bike infrastructure, to help us transition from a “car first” community to a “bike and pedestrian first” community.  Shuttles, improved AC transit service and other innovative transit options can also help.  I support implementing the Transit Impact Fee on newly constructed units, so that developments play their fair share to improve transit.  

Considering the disintegration of local infrastructure, how can the city upgrade to meet the current regulatory requirements for clean air and for clean water discharge into the Bay?
Respuesta de Sophie Hahn:

I urge voters to vote yes on the $100M infrastructure bond on the November ballot, Measure T1.  Berkeley has over a half billion dollars in identified infrastructure needs, and these monies will get us started on a variety of critically important projects. 

One critical need is for upgrades to our stormwater system.  Runoff from storm drains routinely floods South West Berkeley, especially when drain outlets are filled with bay water at high tides.  In addition to flooding streets, the back-up fills Aquatic Park with polluted runoff, changing the salinity levels of the water and affecting wildlife and vegetation. Reducing non-permeable surfaces, restoring creek habitats and implementing green stormwater management practices are key to reducing runoff and ensuring less polluted water flowing to the Bay. Pumps should be installed to push excess water into the Bay, as is done in many Bay Area communities. We should avoid using Aquatic Park as back-up for stormwater overflows which occur when discharge pipes are backed up with seawater.  The current drainage system is both inadequate to protect residents from flooding, and compromises the Aquatic Park basin.  Alameda County’s Clean Water Program provides excellent resources for homeowners and businesses and the many measures highlighted on this website should be more actively promoted by the City and put to use in the Community.

Clean air is also a high priority.  West Berkeley in particular has bad air quality, due to the freeway and Pacific Steel Casting.  Trees are the lungs of the community, and we should continually increase the number of trees planted.  I have been a member of the Sierra Club Tree Team and will continue my work to ensure that communities most impacted by air pollution are greened.  We must also continue working with PSC to further limit toxic emissions, and transition away from vehicles powered by fossil fuels and towards clean energy vehicles.

Creencias poliza

Filosofía política

The United States has seen enormous growth in wealth and GDP over the last 30 years – so clearly something is working.   Few of us would say that we aren’t better off with many of the new technologies we all enjoy.   

The main problem has been the failure to distribute the huge benefits of this growth equitably, through higher wages and benefits, progressive taxation and public investment in schools, infrastructure, healthcare (including mental health), affordable housing and other public goods.

As a result, we have a shameful, widening gap between rich and poor, and an erosion of the middle class, coupled with the inordinate and dangerous concentration of wealth and power among a very few individuals.

In Berkeley, we often think that our DESIRE to see a more equitable world shields our community from the reality of an unequitable world – a world we know exists elsewhere, but magically hope does not exist here. 

Unfortunately, Berkeley has the widest income gap and educational achievement gap of any community in California, and gaps in health, mortality and other indicators of inequality – that fall along economic as well as racial lines.   

These are issues of great concern to me nationally, regionally, and right here at home. 

While my job on the Council is to make sure our City is addressing the day to day, local needs of District 5 and of all Berkeley citizens, this basic worldview informs my work and aspirations for our community.

Documentos sobre determinadas posturas

Addressing the Housing, Displacement and Homeless crises


For the past ten years, the conversation about housing in Berkeley has been dominated by for-profit developers, who have successfully changed our zoning laws and policies to support the development of market rate and luxury units, with affordable housing as an afterthought.  As a result, Berkeley has permitted or built over 200% of ABAG’s (Association of Bay Area Governments) market rate housing target, but less than 15% of our target for affordable housing. I will work to put affordable housing at the center of our housing and development policies, and ensure that Berkeley retains its economic, racial and cultural diversity. 

Addressing the affordability and displacement crisis will be my top priority on the City Council.  For the past ten years, the conversation about housing in Berkeley has been dominated by for-profit developers, who have successfully changed our zoning laws and policies to support the development of market rate and luxury units, with affordable housing as an afterthought.  As a result, Berkeley has permitted or built over 200% of ABAG’s (Association of Bay Area Governments) market rate housing target, but less than 15% of our target for affordable housing. 

It’s time to bring the affordable housing experts to the table, and turn our focus to the important task of building housing for the majority of people in Berkeley and the Bay Area, who simply cannot afford apartments renting for over $6,000 for a three bedroom and $3,000 for a tiny studio.  I will work to put affordable housing at the center of our housing and development policies, and ensure that Berkeley retains its economic, racial and cultural diversity.  A report by Just Cause/Causa Justa, entitled Development Without Displacement, outlines proven strategies to develop housing without displacing existing communities.  I will fight to ensure that Berkeley remains a place that teachers, nurses, public safety workers, artists, activists and other working families can call home. 

As a member of the Zoning Adjustments Board, I have approved over 2,500 units of housing in Berkeley. I always push for the highest Green building and transit standards, as much affordable housing as possible, and accommodations for residents of a diversity of life stages and abilities.  I will continue to champion the creation of additional housing, with an emphasis on finding solutions to support affordable, green and accessible housing.    

There is no single, simple solution to increasing affordable housing in Berkeley.  In addition to focusing on affordable housing in all development and housing policy considerations, I support all of the following measures, and more, to increase affordable housing and housing for the homeless in Berkeley:

  • I strongly support the Alameda County housing bond (Measure A1 – please vote YES), and would happily take the lead on the creation of a Berkeley-based housing bond in the future;

  • I have long supported adopting the highest Affordable Housing mitigation fee recommended by a current Nexus Study, and believe Nexus studies should be redone, and fees reconsidered, on a regular basis, so that the City does not miss out on any feasible fees. 

  • I support requiring at least 20% affordable housing in all large developments in Berkeley, as an alternative to payment of the Mitigation Fee.  The “Green Pathway” permitting scheme that currently exists requires 30%, but no developer has elected to permit under this scheme.  It is possible that 25% might be feasible, or more, on certain projects.

  • I support Measure U1, the Landlord Windfall profits tax, as proposed by the Community/City Council, that will result in increased funding flowing into our Affordable Housing fund. I oppose the deceptive, landlord-sponsored Measure DD, which would raise less money for Affordable Housing.

  • I will consider adoption of an alternative local Density Bonus scheme, similar to legislation adopted in Emeryville, to further incentivize the production of affordable housing. 

  • Other features of our Zoning Code may tend to hinder the building of affordable projects, and so we must be open to refining our zoning code to better support the building of affordable housing. 

  • I will seek to create a regional commercial linkage fee that results in a pool of affordable housing monies available to all Bay Area cities

  • I will approach technology and other industries that have expanded in the past several years and inadvertently contributed to this housing crisis.  I welcome the new jobs and prosperity for our region, but believe local companies that are experiencing rapid growth and soaring profits should help mitigate the “unintended consequence” of extreme housing shortages, displacement, and overextended transit systems.  

An Arts Focused Vision for Downtown Berkeley


Berkeley residents have significant buying power and want to shop, dine and be entertained in Berkeley.  They yearn for an engaging, accessible, aesthetically pleasing and community-serving downtown, with public transit connecting them to their neighborhoods and parking for those times when public transit, walking or biking are not feasible.

Berkeley residents have significant buying power and want to shop, dine and be entertained in Berkeley.  They yearn for an engaging, accessible, aesthetically pleasing and community-serving downtown, with public transit connecting them to their neighborhoods and parking for those times when public transit, walking or biking are not feasible. 

Growing up in Berkeley I used to shop with my mother downtown.  She would run into friends from other parts of town, and was able to find products and services that met our family’s needs.  Remaking our downtown into a place that invites and unites all of Berkeley requires vision and sustained action on behalf of the City, in partnership with all stakeholders.  Our downtown can and must be a place that serves all of Berkeley and draws us together as one community – not a place that pushes us towards separate neighborhoods and out to bordering communities.  This is the vision I will work for!

This year, the Berkeley Cultural Trust asked Candidates to fill out a questionnaire outlining their vision for the Arts in Berkeley.  This was my reply (edited for brevity – to see full questionnaire click here):

Every community needs to decide what it wants to be, and to pursue that vision with clarity and commitment, implementing supportive zoning, policies, funding and other initiatives consistently over time. 

My choice for Berkeley, and my vision for the Downtown, is for Berkeley to be the Bay Area’s multicultural center for the arts, intellect and creativity, with an emphasis on celebration, innovation, experimentation and inclusiveness.  Underlying and driving the entire concept should be Berkeley’s progressive values of diversity, equity and multiculturalism. 

This may sound ambitious, but Berkeley already has many of the elements necessary to make this vision a reality.  We are home to thousands of arts organizations, artists, authors, chefs, thinkers, innovators and visionaries.  We have an increasing number of fairs, forums and events and many cultural and arts opportunities every week of the year.  The next step is to clarify, articulate, plan for and realize this vision in a more comprehensive manner, and ensure that our policies, investments, funding, marketing and all other factors are in alignment. 

I am very proud to have co-authored the zoning overlay for Berkeley’s Historic Civic Center that reserves our Old City Hall, Veterans Building, Post Office and other buildings in the Civic Center for civic- and public-serving uses including museums, nonprofit cultural and arts, libraries and live performance venues.  This legislation was put forward when Berkeley’s Historic Downtown Post Office was threatened with sale for commercial development.  At the time, developers were eyeing the property for a potential high-rise apartment building or a shopping mall, and the Old City Hall building had been discussed as a possible hotel.

The award winning Addison Arts District is another example of how polices to support the arts in a concentrated manner, through zoning and investments, can yield a critical mass that turns a regular street into a destination.  The new University Art Museum, the Book Fair, Berkeleyside’s “Uncharted” Festival of Ideas, the Shotgun Players, Chez Panisse, Berkeley Art Center and the Cheese Board to the North, our revitalized Main Library,  the Black Repertory Group to the South, the new Habitot (which provides creative play-space for our youngest citizens), and many more destinations create an arts “spine” that reaches across Berkeley, encompassing the entire downtown and also reaching towards northern and southern neighborhoods. The task is to connect these in a meaningful manner.  Enhancing our streetscapes and public spaces is key to creating a lively and inviting arts corridor. Berkeley’s Streets and Open Spaces Improvement Plan for the downtown (SOSIP) includes many elements that will enhance the public experience of our downtown. I would like to update the plan with a focus on creating public spaces for art and performance, and consider how we can extend an arts corridor that will connect us across the City.

Walnut Creek’s downtown is a good example of a community “deciding what it wants to be” and pursing that vision over time.  Walnut Creek wanted to be a shopping destination, and adapted its land use and other incentives to achieve that goal, expanding over many years to become a regional destination.  While Walnut Creek’s vision is far from what I would ever advocate for Berkeley, their model of transformation proves that a community can remake itself around a central theme.  Downtown Berkeley should more clearly, holistically and intentionally embrace its special place as a destination for culture, arts, creativity and learning, and align all necessary resources to elevate, coordinate and fully realize that vision. 

If we don’t decide up front who we want to be and invest in that vision, we will find ourselves looking back twenty years from now, asking “what have we become?”    

Supporting Small Businesses in Berkeley


Small and local businesses are what make Berkeley unique, give our shopping districts character, provide neighborhood services, and build community through personal relationships with shop owners and employees.  They are the antidote to generic big box, fast food and chain stores that our community has rightly sought to limit.

Small and local businesses are what make Berkeley unique, give our shopping districts character, provide neighborhood services, and build community through personal relationships with shop owners and employees.  They are the antidote to generic big box, fast food and chain stores that our community has rightly sought to limit.  As the former co-owner of a small manufacturing and wholesale business that was built from the ground up, I know that owning and operating a small business isn’t easy.  Owners invest their money, vision and energy to create and maintain the businesses we treasure, and they need our City and citizens’ support. 

Addressing the needs of Berkeley’s small business is one of my top priorities for Berkeley. The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ISLR), an organization with excellent resources to support thriving local commerce, has done research that confirms what we all know intuitively:  “places that are home to numerous locally owned businesses are more prosperous, sustainable, and resilient than those in which much of the economy is controlled by a few big corporations.”  The ISLR, an important resource, helps communities with innovative strategies, models and information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. 

Serving on the Solano Avenue Business Improvement District Board, I have spoken with many small business owners – including former owners who have chosen to close or move away - and am aware of the many challenges they face.  I will work to create a Small Business Service Center for Berkeley: San Francisco has its own small business agency – a model we should study and consider.  Working with the City, small merchants, customers, residents, property owners and existing business associations, I will undertake an audit of barriers to the establishment and success of small businesses in Berkeley, and propose comprehensive solutions.

Buy-Local preferences are also an important tool to encourage patronage of local businesses.  UC Berkeley, in its Settlement Agreement with the City of Berkeley, agreed to implement a local-purchasing program “for prioritizing the purchase of goods and services in Berkeley.”  I will work with UC Berkeley to ensure that its local-purchasing program is in full force, and urge the City to reach out to organizations of all sizes to and encourage them to prioritize sourcing and purchasing from within Berkeley. The City of Berkeley itself has a Buy-Local preference that was established many years ago.  We must review and strengthen this preference to ensure that the City’s local purchasing is robust, and that the funds we provide to the City in the form of taxes and fees are reinvested in our local economy. Finally, I will encourage the City to actively support Buy Local Berkeley and similar groups that encourage residents to Shop Local.

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