The City of Berkeley is soliciting public comment on the implementation of Vision 2050, their infrastructure improvement plan. This plan was approved by ballot measure in 2018 to refurbish and enhance the sustainability of Berkeley’s aging infrastructure. The city aims to improve its network of pipes, streets, utility wires, bikeways and transportation systems so that they will be resilient enough to handle future population growth and the effects of climate change including wildfires and sea-level rise.
The City Council is working through a public process to define financial resources and lead projects. Preliminary community surveys have already revealed the following infrastructure priorities:
- Increased electrified and affordable housing
- Improved climate change resiliency
- Repair of deteriorated streets and sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety and disability access
- Improved bicyclist and pedestrian traffic safety
- Upgraded storm drains, green infrastructure and watersheds to stop pollution from running into the Bay
Examples of ‘green infrastructure’ include rain gardens, swales and permeable paving which all function to increase groundwater retention and preserve the quality of water flowing into the Bay. Berkeley defines ‘sustainability’ as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage, an increase in open spaces and urban forestry, the use of long lasting, low impact building materials and the implementation of fossil-fuel-free public buildings with battery storage. Though the City Council has included these goals in the overall Vision 2050 plan, it has yet to specify the timing and budget for these projects.
Berkeley is considering two main funding mechanisms: A $600 million general obligation bond, or a $300 million general obligation bond plus a 30 cent per square foot parcel tax. Voters could also opt for a third smaller and/or alternate option. Any new revenue measure like a general obligation bond or parcel tax would require a 2/3rds voter approval.
Berkeley residents can voice their ideas and concerns about Vision 2050 via email at Vision2050@CityofBerkeley.info. A Program Plan draft is scheduled to be released for public comment on May 1st.
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