Mayoral Candidate Statement: Shirley Dean

Thursday October 09, 2008 - 09:44:00 AM

The first question that people usually ask me is after being Mayor (1994-2002) why would you want to do that again? Since leaving the Mayor’s Office I have talked with people across political lines all over this City. I find that Berkeley is a divided community; that people believe no one in City Hall is listening. That’s why I am running for Mayor. 

I would like to tell you about four things that I am especially proud of having accomplished when I was Mayor. First, there was a desperate need to bring people and vitality into our dying Downtown. I did that when I implemented the Arts and Theater District—the most successful Downtown program ever. Today, we need to build on that success. 

Second, people needed safe access from the City to our wonderful new waterfront park. You couldn’t get from here to there without danger of being killed. So I pieced together the funding and we built the I-80 Bicycle/Pedestrian Overpass. Today, we need to ensure that everyone in Berkeley has access to open space and parks that are so important in our hectic lives. 

Third, the lives of people, including a Berkeley child, were being cut short by guns. I worked hard to get Saturday Night Specials and Assault Rifles off our streets. I was only partly successful. Today, efforts to get guns off our streets need to be re-doubled. 

Fourth, I went to South Berkeley and worked long hours with people on problems they wanted solved in their neighborhoods. Today, you can see the decent housing that before were abandoned, falling down, blighted buildings and we worked successfully to close down public nuisances. Today, we need to do more because everyone deserves to live in a safe and pleasant neighborhood. 

I want to change the problems that I am seeing in Berkeley today. That’s why I am running for Mayor! 

Here are some things I will do as your next Mayor; In the Downtown I would build on the success of the Arts and Theater District by establishing a colorful, vibrant Arts and Crafts Street Market. I support the hotel/convention center in our General Plan. You can’t even buy a dish towel in our Downtown, so I would aggressively seek new retail. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. You can’t just leave it to staff, the Mayor, herself, must be involved. We need to improve Downtown parking for our merchants, balanced with the need to relieve congestion. I would build a garage near the freeway and run a free shuttle connecting our neighborhood commercial areas, Downtown, our three BART Stations and UC Berkeley. I would reject the Mayor’s proposal to extend parking meter times to 10:00 p.m.  

Berkeley should be the greenest City anywhere. We can start by requiring solar or solar hot water on new construction, and putting solar and/or other energy improvements on our City facilities—something no one has talked about. We need to save the irreplaceable watershed and woodlands of Strawberry Canyon from the massive development planned there, and stop dumping polluted storm water into Aquatic Park Lagoon, address the West Berkeley flood problem in a separate plan, and consider innovative ways to prevent flooding like those used in Portland. All residents can “live green” everyday and everywhere in Berkeley through programs that encourage pesticide free backyards and the Slow Food Movement.  

We can vote No on the Mayor’s sponsored Measure LL on the November ballot which makes it easier to demolish our older buildings. 48% of greenhouse gas emissions (more than from cars) come from the demolition, construction and operation of buildings which replace older ones. The greenest building is the building that is re-used.  

We must protect our neighborhoods, not only by re-using/re-cycling the very buildings that provide the unique charm of Berkeley, but by creating development standards that require new construction to respect its surroundings. Berkeley needs to grow, needs to provide for new affordable housing. It should do so by requiring these new buildings along our transit corridors and in other places to respect the light, air, space, size and appearance of its surrounding buildings. We are one community. We need to build as neighbors with quality design and livability for everyone. 

We need safe streets and neighborhoods. You know there is a crime problem when an innocent person is shot taking out the trash. We have high rates of shootings, assaults and property crimes throughout Berkeley. We need to improve Community Involved Policing and strengthen police resources, not just move police from one area to another. 

We need to work with our schools to close the achievement gap by restoring my Pre-Natal to Pre-School Program which focuses public resources where they are most effective, stopping the achievement gap before it ever begins—before the child enters kindergarten. Every dollar spent on prevention saves multiple dollars later on. 

We need to establish firm, fair and friendly relations with the University. The agreement signed in secret by the Mayor that costs Berkeley taxpayers $14 million needs to be re-negotiated. Simply put, the University should pay fairly for the costs of City services provided to the campus. I would seek a City/University “good neighbor” accord to improve the quality of life for students and neighbors in the areas surrounding the campus. Most importantly, I will work for long term solutions to University/City land use conflicts at the state and local level.  

I pledge to respect every member of the Council and enact a strong Sunshine Ordinance guaranteeing citizen participation and government transparency.  

We need an accessible Mayor. My phone number will continue to be in the phone book.  

We need a Mayor who will meet with and listen to people on a regular basis who will put the needs of Berkeley people first. I have shown I will do that. 

For more information, and to join the campaign go to, To speak directly to Shirley call 800-551-2616, and don’t forget, vote Shirley Dean on November 4th!