Write!

Here's a sample letter and some pointers for crafting communications to Berkeley City Council

Use this email template to write your elected officials


Dear Mayor Arreguin and Berkeley City Council,

At North Berkeley BART I strongly support affordability, a mix of housing types, and a high-quality urban design, all to make our neighborhood more inclusive, verdant, walkable, and bikeable. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape the way our community lives.

Our city is a national model for inclusivity, equity, and sustainability. If we don’t act boldly to make living here attainable for all, we threaten that reputation. We must build the neighborhood demanded by our Berkeley values, so I urge you to continue an open and urgent process that supports BART’s transit-oriented design goals.

As a supporter of building at North Berkeley BART, I ask that you show the vision and leadership that we need to build a sustainable neighborhood for the future.


Sincerely,


[your name]

[your address or street name]

You can also build your own letter using talking points below:


Vision

  • I urge you to conduct an inclusive and open visioning process to ensure that the best ideas shape the site.
  • Please do not allow special interests to impose limitations or extract promises about the project out of public view.
  • Please reach out to the people you don’t usually hear from, who don’t have time to lobby City Council. Their voices matter too.


Sustainability

  • I feel strongly that putting more housing near to mass transit can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.
  • Please emphasize walking, biking and public transportation in any vision for the site.
  • This project could be a model of sustainability by including green roofs, solar power, stormwater features.
  • Structured parking spaces in the Bay Area cost upwards of $75,000 each to build. This is money we could better spend on neighborhood amenities, better quality home construction, and sustainability features. I support reducing on-site parking and rethinking access strategies to the station. We should not be designing parking garages that will last decades for car needs that are rapidly changing today.


Affordability

  • We need to ensure that a maximum feasible number of homes in the project are affordable to low-income families of diverse household types and sizes.
  • I had the privilege of growing up in Berkeley, and I want future generations to have the same chance.
  • Berkeley is at risk of becoming another Palo Alto if we don’t welcome denser and more affordable infill housing into our community.
  • This project should include homes for a range of household sizes, from studio apartments to flats to townhomes, so that families and old and young people can mix in this neighborhood together.


Design

  • Please complete the Ohlone Greenway through the project by providing generous facilities that support walking, biking and ways of getting around other than driving.
  • The project should embrace the Greenway!
  • This is a great chance to redesign the streets around the site (Sacramento, Acton, Virginia and Delaware) to be slower, safer, and more attractive.
  • I support Vision Zero as a part of this project. (Vision Zero is a pedestrian safety initiative)
  • We should have interesting and active ground floors with many entrances and windows that help keep our neighborhood safe by keeping “eyes on the street” and making it easy for neighbors to socialize.
  • I want a design that makes it safe for kids to play in this new neighborhood.

Some additional talking points:


  • Design of any new building is all about priorities. "Height" doesn't mean something is a skyscraper. Our goal is to build something beautiful where a lot of different kinds of people can have homes.
  • Housing is a social justice issue. Berkeley has a sad history of excluding people of color. One way to address that historical wrong is by building lots of different kinds of new homes at lots of different price points—subsidized and affordable as well as market-rate.
  • Housing is an economic justice issue. The median home price in Berkeley is $1.2 million. Per square foot, living space in Berkeley is twice as expensive as the rest of the East Bay. That's no way to have a city where teachers, scientists, artists, makers, businesspeople, retail workers, service workers, and everyone else can all live together. New homes will help fix Berkeley's (and California's) housing crisis and help prevent the displacement of Berkeley residents.
  • Sacramento Street as it passes North Berkeley Bart is a "high injury corridor" for pedestrians hit by cars, according to the City of Berkeley. Emphasizing transit and the Ohlone Greenway instead of cars will make that area (which includes Jefferson Elementary School, King Middle School, Crowden Music School, and Cedar Creek Montessori) safer for kids and grown-ups, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Housing is an environmental issue. Berkeley has always been a center for the American environmental movement, and Berkeley voters have always supported plans to fight climate change. Almost a third of US greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and denser, more transit-oriented cities emit less greenhouse gas per capita. If we want to meet our climate goals, Berkeley should be at the forefront of this fight by supporting transit-oriented development along all our transit corridors, and especially at our three BART stations.

Here's a sample letter to send to the BART board

To Board Members Allen, Foley, Saltzman, Raburn, McPartland, Ames, Simon, Li, and Dufty:

As a Berkeley resident, I urge the BART board of directors to prioritize development at the North Berkeley BART and Ashby BART stations by putting them at the top of the list in the five year TOD plan.

Berkeley, like most other cities in the Bay Area, has a dramatic housing crisis where too many people at many income levels can’t find an affordable place to live. In addition, with climate change worsening day-by-day, half-measures are not sufficient. We must make sure we provide more people with places to live closer to job centers.

In addition, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the neighborhoods that surround the BART stations, such as by connecting the Ohlone Greenway, improving safety and access for people on foot and bicycles, and providing significant amounts of new affordable housing.

Let’s not wait. This may be a difficult process, but the twin challenges of housing affordability and climate change demand action. As a dense, central, and already transit-rich city Berkeley’s North Berkeley and Ashby BART stations are well-suited to meet these challenges.


Sincerely,


[your name]

[your address or street name]