April News: San Pablo Safety Upgrades, Gilman District Street Fair, Bike Race & More

Hi neighbor,

Happy Spring! I’m honored to share that the City of Berkeley has earned a “Pro-Housing” Designation from the state’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCD). By earning the Pro-housing Designation, Berkeley will now be eligible to receive exclusive access to pro-housing grants and additional points in the scoring of competitive housing, community development, and infrastructure funding programs administered by HCD. Among our housing policy achievements, the state highlighted our Planning Department’s work to simplify the permit application process for backyard cottages, or Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs):

…the city facilitates Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) production by prioritizing ADU permit applications, having one dedicated ADU planner, and providing a website with FAQs and links to ease ADU planning.

These important process improvements, which follow best practices proven to be effective in other local jurisdictions, were implemented following a Council item I authored in 2021. Combined with our work to ease development standards for ADUs, we are empowering families to create a home for aging parents, an adult child with a family of their own, or for rental income. It gives me great satisfaction when I hear from people who have taken advantage of this option to address their housing needs and remain in our community. If you are thinking about creating an ADU and need advice on how to get started; are in the design, permitting, or construction phase; or have a finished ADU on your property, I would love to hear from you about your experience (you can reach me at rkesarwani@berkeleyca.gov – pictures welcomed!).  

In this newsletter:

San Pablo Avenue is a high-injury corridor in Berkeley, according to our Vision Zero Action Plan. It also has the third highest number of traffic crashes in Alameda County, and is the second busiest bus corridor across the county. The Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) has received a total of $44 million in state and federal sources (along with $19 million in local Measure BB funds) to make significant safety improvements throughout the San Pablo Corridor

Earlier this month, ACTC published concept designs for bus lanes and bike lanes that will extend from Oakland, through Emeryville, up to Heinz Avenue in Berkeley. (For information about safety upgrades planned in Berkeley north of Heinz, please click HERE.) 

Through ACTC’s community input website, you can share your thoughts on the bus lanes and bikes lanes project (south of Heinz Avenue) in two steps:

(1) Give feedback about specific changes using the community feedback tool; and(2) Complete a brief anonymous questionnaire on how you use San Pablo Avenue.

My office and a team of incredible Gilman District stakeholders have been hard at work to bring you the second annual Gilman District Street Fair this Sun., April 28. Please join us to celebrate and support our eclectic range of Gilman District businesses. For more info, please visit gilmandistrict.org and click HERE to sign up to volunteer on Sunday.

Sun., April 28: Gilman District Street Fair

Organized by U.C. Berkeley’s collegiate cycling team Cal Cycling and the Berkeley Bicycle Club, the Berkeley Streets Criterium is an annual biking race (hosted for the third time in Berkeley) that combines amateur, collegiate, and juniors racing, along with a community/family fun race (see flier below). Since 2017, the Berkeley Bicycle Club has raised more than $150,000 for Berkeley High School’s mountain bike team and other local mountain bike teams.

This year, racing will start and finish at Hearst and McGee, with the route going eastbound to Grant, turning right on Berkeley Way to California—as shown on the map. Road closures and set-up is scheduled to begin at 5:30 a.m., with all roads reopening at 6:30 p.m.

The following street segments will be fully closed to car traffic:

  • Hearst between California and Grant
  • Berkeley Way between California and Grant
  • California between Hearst and Berkeley Way
  • Grant between Hearst and Berkeley Way
  • McGee between Hearst and Berkeley Way

The following “valve” times will allow residents to move vehicles in and out of the closed, barricaded course: 10-10:10 a.m., 11:55 a.m.-12:15 p.m., 1:55-2:05 p.m., and 3:50-4 p.m.

And these street segments will be closed to through traffic but open to local traffic:

  • Hearst between Sacramento and California
  • Hearst between Grant and MLK
  • Berkeley Way between Sacramento and California
  • California between University and Berkeley Way
  • McGee between University and Berkeley Way
  • Grant between University and Berkeley Way

Please contact me (rkesarwani@berkeleyca.gov or 510-981-7110) if you have any questions.

Please SAVE THE DATE for a community meeting on Thurs., May 30 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Adult School (1701 San Pablo Ave.) with the property owner of Golden Bear Homes and the operator Bay Area Community Services. The meeting will also be attended by the Head of Neighborhood Services Peter Radu and other relevant City staff.VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: We are seeking volunteers who can set-up e-mail addresses and teach basic cell phone skills to formerly homeless residents.

Please contact me (rkesarwani@berkeleyca.gov or 510-981-7110) if you’re interested in joining us to help out.