Jan. News: Staying Safe Amidst Omicron Surge, Community Mtg on Public Safety & More

Dear Neighbor,

Happy New Year! As we ring in another year marked by the pandemic, I want to update you on where we are: We are currently seeing the highest rate of new cases than at any previous point in the pandemic, with Monday’s Covid dashboard showing 176 daily cases in the last seven days.

It’s understandable to feel worried about your loved ones who may be at high risk. But we also know how to protect ourselves.

Vaccination and booster doses along with masking offer strong protection and will keep our regional hospitals from being overwhelmed with people who are severely ill because of Covid-19. Protecting our hospitals’ capacity is a top priority; it’s important that everyone who needs to go to the hospital for any reason can access care in a timely manner.

Here are some helpful reminders:

  • VACCINATION. Get vaccinated and boosted. Right now, 91 percent of all Berkeley residents are vaccinated and of those, 41 percent have received their booster.
  • MASKING. Double mask with a multilayered cloth mask tightly on top of a surgical mask; or, better, use an N95 (or KN95, KF94, or FFPP2, certified in China, South Korea and Europe respectively) in all indoor settings.
  • VENTILATION. Meet outdoors with others and keep indoor spaces well ventilated. You can improve ventilation by opening doors and windows.
  • ISOLATION & QUARANTINE. Once you feel symptoms, isolate until you can get tested. Click HERE for the latest isolation and quarantine guidance.
  • MINIMIZE YOUR RISK. High risk individuals, including older adults, people with compromised immune systems and children too young to be vaccinated, should take greater precaution by avoiding crowded indoor gatherings with poor ventilation. For now, everyone should strive to choose safer activities and prioritize what’s important depending on your household’s risk level.

Here’s a graphic I came across in the Wall Street Journal that helps to illustrate the importance of using a high-quality mask:

Please SAVE THE DATE for my January Office Hours on Zoom:

Sun., Jan. 23, 4-5:30 p.m.

Zoom Link: https://bit.ly/3q6ggTn

Meeting ID: 850 2085 3412 | Passcode: 116590

Phone Number: 1-669-900-6833

In this newsletter:

REMINDER: Submit Community of Interest Forms to Independent Redistricting Commission

The Independent Redistricting Commission is continuing its work to redraw Council district boundaries by March 2022 for use in the November 2022 election. It’s important that they hear from you about your community of interest. Fill out the online form HERE or the PDF HERE.

According to the form, a community of interest is a group of people in the same geographic area who share common social and economic interests

Are there things that make your community unique when compared to surrounding areas? What characteristics do you share with your neighbors? How would you describe the area to a friend?  

For example, some characteristics a community can share are:

  • Identity
  • Business districts
  • Education
  • Ancestry
  • Shared transportation
  • Cultural centers
  • History
  • Economic interests
  • Language
  • Neighborhoods

Finally, please SAVE THE DATES for public hearings on Thurs., Jan. 27; Thurs., Feb. 17; and a final public hearing on Mon., Feb. 28, when the Independent Redistricting Commission will select the final map to be adopted on Wed., March 16. More information will be posted here: https://www.cityofberkeley.info/IRC/. Complete redistricting information, maps, and data is available at the Redistricting Hub.

Complete Infrastructure Survey by Wed., Jan. 12

The City is currently gathering input on a possible ballot measure to fund infrastructure needs, such as street paving, sidewalk repair, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and climate resiliency, among other possible priorities. The potential ballot measure builds on the Mayor’s initiative known as “Vision 2050” to plan for our City’s long-term infrastructure needs.

Please take 10 minutes to complete the survey by TOMORROW, Wed., Jan. 12 to let the City know which needs you consider most important.

University Avenue to the marina is in the process of being repaved. Photo: Councilmember Rigel Robinson

Community Meeting on Public Safety

During the summer of 2020, the police murder of George Floyd compelled cities across the country to re-evaluate and reimagine the role that policing can and should play in communities. 

Please SAVE THE DATE for a Community Meeting on Reimagining Public Safety this Thurs., Jan. 13 for Districts 1 and 2.

If you can’t attend the Jan. 13th meeting, you may participate in the meetings scheduled for Jan. 20 or 26 or Feb. 3, as shown below.

The community meeting is an opportunity to provide input on the concepts presented in a report prepared by the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform on reimagining public safety.

One key concept proposed in the report is a tiered dispatch system in order to facilitate an alternative response for certain calls for service.

  • Under the proposed pilot model, Community Emergency Response Network (CERN) responders staffed by local community-based organizations would respond to 13 service call types, such as calls for noise or other disturbances. The CERN is described as “community safety and problem solving responders who have expertise in community engagement, crisis response, de-escalation, and conflict mediation and resolution skills.”
  • The City has also initiated the concept of a Specialized Care Unit (SCU) to respond to mental health and substance abuse calls for service.

For more on the tiered dispatch system and other concepts proposed, please access the full report HERE, with additional resources available at the following website: https://berkeley-rps.org/.

Housing Element Public Workshop #2

The Housing Element is a plan developed every eight years that includes goals, policies, and programs that guide the City’s decision-making on the development and rehabilitation of housing.

Public Workshop #2 on Thurs., Jan. 27 will focus on housing types and locations as well as housing programs. The format will include a presentation on public input and analysis completed to date, live polling, and breakout group discussions.

Registration link: https://bit.ly/BerkeleyHousing
Also, take the West Berkeley self-guided residential walking tour to explore the range of multi-unit and mixed-use residential development in our West Berkeley neighborhood. Then share your feedback using the City’s survey HERE.