January News: San Pablo Ave Community Mtg & Coat Drive

Hi Neighbor,

I wish you my best as we begin a new year. 

Earlier this month, the Mayor lamented the deterioration of civil discourse among a subset of activists in the Council chambers. The loss of life, suffering, and destruction in Gaza is hard to witness, and I pray everyday for a sustainable lasting peace. My heart breaks for victims of this war on both sides, and for their loved ones here and around the world. Still, it is deeply regrettable that some find it acceptable to shout down those with whom they disagree. I pray that we seek kindness over vitriol, empathy over self-righteousness, and unity over division.  

All of us who serve in elected office have at times been on the receiving end of uncivil behavior, often an expression of pain over events and circumstances that are beyond our control. But nobody should experience the harassment, stalking, and threats that former Councilmember Rigel Robinson endured, and I am deeply saddened by the circumstances surrounding his recent resignation. Rigel treated everyone with kindness and civility, even when he disagreed, and his character will remain an inspiration to me. His absence from the Council is a major loss for our city. I am grateful for his five years of honorable service, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors. A special election has been scheduled for April 16 to fill the District 7 vacant seat.

Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any matters you would like to discuss (rkesarwani@berkeleyca.gov or 510-981-7110).

In this newsletter:

TOMORROW: San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan Public Workshop

Please join me TOMORROW, Wed., Jan. 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Adult School (1701 San Pablo Avenue) for the first public workshop of the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan to create more homes (in compliance with our Housing Element Plan), promote safety, and encourage economic vibrancy.This effort will culminate in the development of a specific plan and zoning amendments for the corridor, and is funded by a Metropolitan Transportation Commission planning grant for priority development areas. You can read more HERE.

Coat Drive for Formerly Homeless Residents

It is my wish for the new year that we all find ways to treat each other with kindness.

I’m inspired by the kindness of CC Miksza, a neighbor on Tenth Street who organized a holiday drive last month for her neighbors at Golden Bear Homes (formerly Golden Bear Inn)—a permanent supportive housing site for formerly homeless people located at the corner of Cedar and San Pablo.

Volunteers at Golden Bear Homes (Photo: CC Miksza)

CC took time out of her life to be in service of neighbors who experience daily struggles stemming from the trauma of unsheltered homelessness. And other neighbors, including myself, followed CC’s lead, making donations and showing up to serve a meal and provide groceries.

During our visit to Golden Bear, we asked if there are other ways that the community can support residents. We learned that there is a need for new and gently used winter coats. If you have a coat to donate, here are more details:

Golden Bear Homes, 1620 San Pablo Avenue
Please drop off new and gently used winter coats Monday to Friday anytime from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the main office. If no one is in the office when you arrive, please call Resident Manager De’Anthony (510-776-7664) for assistance. Please do not leave items outside. Requested sizes for men: small, medium, large, XL, 2XL, and 3XL

Beyond the Horizon at the Berkeley Inn, 1720 San Pablo Avenue
Please drop off new and gently used winter coats Monday to Friday anytime from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the main office. Please do not leave items outside. Requested sizes: medium (men and women), large (men and women), XL (men and women), 2XL (men), 3XL (men), 4XL (men)