Election Section

Berkeley City Council Candidate Statements, Betty Olds

District 6
Friday October 08, 2004

District 6 starts at the northern side of Hearst Avenue and the eastern edge of Oxford Street and runs north to Cedar Street. It jogs up Cedar to Spruce Street and then continues along the eastern edge of Spruce all the way up to Tilden Park. District 6 has a diverse population that includes students, professors, homeowners and tenants.  

I moved to California with my husband Walter, an architect who trained with Frank Lloyd Wright and settled in Berkeley more than 50 years ago. I raised three children who all went to Berkeley public schools. I was a teacher at Willard Junior High School and spent many years as a troop leader for Girl Scouts and assisted with many Boy Scouts activities. I joined the Sierra Club in 1958 and led and co-led many trips around the world for them. I got my first taste of community service when I served on the Zoning Adjustments Board. After six years, I served on the Rent Stabilization Board. Eight years later, I decided to run for City Council. I have been on the City Council since 1992  

Because part of the terrain of District 6 is steep and is situated adjacent to the heavily wooded areas of Tilden Park, I am very concerned about fire safety. One of the most vulnerable areas to a wildfire, we have heavy vegetation and densely developed steep lots, making fires difficult to fight. That is why I am committed to building a new, state of the art fire house on the ridge at Shasta and Grizzly which will be jointly staffed by both Berkeley firefighters and East Bay Regional Parks Fire Department on high hazard fire days. Fire danger is also what drives my dedication to the clearing and maintenance of our pathways, so that in the event of an emergency our residents have an alternate route out of the hills. 

The views of the bay from the hills need to be protected, not just for us, but also for generations to come. Recognizing this, I am working on new legislation that will limit the ability of neighbors to block each other’s views. 

I am very proud of my record on the environment. I am a founding member of Save the Bay and have been endorsed by the Sierra Club. I have worked hard to retrofit our parks with safeplay equipment, protect the Rose Garden from deer, and preserve the open space at the waterfront.  

I think that I have done a good job and have gotten results for my constituents. I am a “hands on” person. If there is a drainage problem, I personally go out into the field and look at it. If there are neighbor complaints, I speak to each neighbor. My office is very responsive and we always return calls or e-mails promptly. I am honest and hardworking and everyone knows exactly where I stand.  

My goals for the next four years include the following: 

The City of Berkeley needs to concentrate energy on economic development in our downtown and along commercial corridors. We have an Arts District, a main library and downtown businesses that we need to support with additional parking. The city needs to increase its commercial tax revenues, and encouraging independently owned businesses should be a priority. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to buy something you need, like underwear, in the downtown instead of having to drive to Emeryville or Walnut Creek? 

I support the construction of new housing close to major transit corridors because they provide much needed housing, and as a result, rents have been reduced. However, I do no support bad architecture that is insensitive to the adjacent neighbors. I believe we can work harder to find solutions to the tensions and conflicts between developers and neighbors. 

The city also needs to tighten its spending and be fiscally accountable. We pay very high taxes and we deserve to know that our money is being spent wisely. 

Berkeley is a wonderful city of terrific people. I believe I can continue to represent my constituents at City Hall and make many improvements during these challenging years ahead. 


—Betty Olds 

District 6 City Council incumbent