Here is my 12-point plan for changing Telegraph Avenue as part of my campaign for Berkeley City Council, District 7. I believe Telegraph should be safe, drug-free, clean, diverse, vibrant and prosperous. It should be dominated by independent stores. It should honor its history and encourage its mix of eclectic shops and restaurants. It should be a regional draw and also have stores that serve the neighborhood. Here’s how we get there from here:
1. Establish a Telegraph Avenue Commission
The Telegraph Commission, led by the Telegraph Czar/Czarina would be a joint committee of the city, the university, merchants, students, and neighbors to proposals through the city and university bureaucracies. The Telegraph Commission will consider proposals to:
2. Increase drug and alcohol addiction outreach
Many people on the street are hurting. It’s our duty to help them with treatment that is free and available to all.
3. Increase drug enforcement
Sometimes people need a “nudge from the judge” to get into recovery. Let’s also review the effectiveness of existing ordinances regulating urban quality of life issues including graffiti, litter, loitering, and vandalism.
4. Completely re-think the quota system
It’s been much harder to get a Peet’s Coffee (which requires a variance) than a tattoo parlor. That doesn’t make any sense.
5. Celebrate the relationship between the city and the University of California
Let’s start from scratch and construct inclusive processes to build trust, commerce, understanding, and respect. Working together we can build a world class street for our world class university.
6. Build long-term affordable rental housing and affordable condominiums
Housing is very expensive in Berkeley—how can, say, a teacher afford to buy a home here? We’ve got opportunities to build affordable rental and condominium housing above some of our retail. First-time buyer programs will create homeowners on Telegraph who will commit to the neighborhood.
7. Study how shoppers get here
Let’s promote alternatives to the car: walking, biking, riding the bus. Let’s also consider additional short-term and long-term parking to help the merchants.
8. Shepherd the mayor’s proposals
Mayor Bates has proposed a plan for façade improvements, permit prioritization, improved street lighting, and other improvements. Let’s ensure that these proposals get followed up on.
9. Get Cal Debit Cards for the Avenue
We need to get the Cal cards used on the Avenue in addition to the university.
10. Defeat the dedicated lane/transit mall proposal by AC Transit
Removing two car lanes on each direction south of Dwight and removing cars altogether north of Dwight will cripple our struggling district.
11. Put the “People’s Café” in People’s Park
More usage of the park makes it safer. Let’s re-landscape the park and put in a memorabilia-laden café to celebrate the park’s history and to make it a safer, more inviting place.
12. Consider the “Free Speech Trail”
Let’s create an urban walking trail to highlight historic places on the Avenue—let’s honor our history! The university has thousands of students take tours and they end up in Sproul Plaza. Let’s give them a brochure that marks the trail. And tell them to go shopping!
George Beier is a District 7 candidate for Berkeley City Council.