Jesse Arreguin’s Vision for a Berkeley that Works for Everyone


Jesse Arreguin Will Tackle the Affordability Crisis, to Keep Berkeley Vibrant and Diverse

Berkeley is at a crossroads. We are feeling the effects of the not only national wealth inequities, but also the regional housing crisis. Home prices and rents continue to skyrocket, making Berkeley one of the most expensive cities in the Bay Area.

A 2011 article by the Bay Citizen, based on 2010 census figures, found that Berkeley has one of the biggest wealth gaps in the Bay Area. As housing costs continue to increase, many long-term Berkeley homeowners, prospective homeowners, and renters are vulnerable to being priced out or forced out. Additionally, there is pressure by real estate speculators to tear down older rent-controlled housing to build newer, higher end units, which are exempt from rent control.

Rents are becoming more unaffordable for a growing segment of our population. New construction has not resulted in lower rents, but in luxury housing that does not meet the needs of existing Berkeley workers or residents, especially working families. Instead, this new housing is targeted more towards tech workers who may not be able to afford to live in San Francisco.

This housing crisis has had a direct effect on the population of our city, resulting in an exodus of working families, in particular African-American residents. Our diversity is part of what makes Berkeley such a special place to live. Unless we increase affordable housing, then we will continue to lose our economic and cultural diversity and we won’t be able to recognize the city that we live in.

Throughout his 14 years of public service in Berkeley, Councilmember Jesse Arreguin has been a leading advocate for affordable housing. As Mayor, he will continue to work tirelessly to ensure and expand sustainable, fair, and affordable housing for Berkeley.

Jesse will:

  • Increase the construction of housing along major transit corridors, such as Telegraph Ave., University Ave., and San Pablo Ave. We need to increase our housing supply.
  • Remove further obstacles to the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units under 750 square feet in Berkeley’s residential neighborhoods.
  • Create a Small Sites Program to help non-profit developers buy existing multi-unit buildings to preserve affordability.
  • Implement a Neighborhood Preference policy for inclusionary housing, in which displaced tenants receive preference for new affordable units.
  • Establish a Tenant Harassment Ordinance to provide increased protections for renters facing landlord harassment.
  • Increase funding to construct new housing affordable to low and middle income households.
  • Work with State leaders and UC officials to increase student housing construction, to address the shortage of housing for UC Berkeley students.
  • Work closely with Mayors from other East Bay cities to lobby the State to increase Affordable Housing Tax Credits and other affordable housing funding.
  • Advocate for the State to reform or repeal the Costa-Hawkins Law, which has led to a dysfunctional housing market and rent stabilization turnover.
  • Protect rent control and strengthen tenant protections to prevent displacement.
  • Ensure new housing provides a mix of options for people at different income levels, and increase inclusionary requirements to require a greater percentage of units for low-income households.

Jesse Arreguin Will Fight to Raise the Minimum Wage to a Living Wage

On the City Council, Jesse Arreguin helped establish Berkeley’s current minimum wage, but he won’t stop fighting until it’s raised to a living wage.

  • As Mayor, Jesse will work with the City Council, labor, and the business community to create a pathway to a living wage.
  • Jesse will also work with Mayors and City Councilmembers in other East Bay cities to create a regional minimum wage standard.

Jesse Arreguin Will Take on Homelessness Through Comprehensive and Innovative Solutions

Berkeley is facing a homelessness crisis, with over 1,000 people currently living on Berkeley’s streets. The debate around homelessness in our city is nothing new. Some in Berkeley seem to believe we need to address the homeless issue with a one- dimensional, criminalization approach. Their proposals are, in Jesse’s view, redundant, unworkable, and could in fact make the problem worse.

Political posturing and single-minded proposals won’t solve the homeless crisis. That’s why Jesse Arreguin convened a Homeless Task Force to identify solutions. As Mayor, Jesse will put a comprehensive plan into action:

  • Prioritize smart enforcement strategies: Empower our police and their crisis intervention teams with better training and the resources they need to proactively enforce laws.
  • Expand mental health services and outreach.
  • Increase the amount of warming shelters and shelter beds to get people off the streets.
  • Expand storage facilities and safe public restroom access.
  • Improve services for homeless youth.
  • Move forward with a groundbreaking project to provide affordable housing for our homeless on the City’s Berkeley Way Parking Lot.
  • Fully implement the new Homeless Coordinated Entry system, “the Hub," which centralizes homeless services.
  • Explore tiny homes as a transitional housing model for our homeless.

Jesse Arreguin Will Work Tirelessly to Improve Public Safety and Increase Disaster Preparedness

Berkeley has seen an increase in crime in the past year, including several shootings in South and West Berkeley. While property and violent crime has increased, there are not enough officers to effectively patrol our entire city. In addition, 35% of police calls are related to mental health, which diverts police resources. Our firefighters are also seeing an increase in calls, and Berkeley has now started using a 4th ambulance in its fleet, with the need for an additional ambulance growing. Berkeley also straddles the Hayward Fault, and is susceptible to urban wildfires.

As Mayor, Jesse will work closely with our Berkeley Police and Fire Departments to make our neighborhoods safer, and he will work to improve the relationship between our community and our police. He will:

  • Expand emergency mental health services so that police resources are focused on fighting crime.
  • Advocate for hiring more police officers and establish foot patrols in high crime areas.
  • Implement body cameras and dashboard cameras to ensure civilian rights and accountability for our police officers.
  • Reform Berkeley’s police review system to conform to 21st century practices of police oversight.

As Mayor, Jesse Arreguin will also ensure Berkeley takes a more proactive approach to disaster preparedness, to make sure our city is ready. He will:

  • Secure sustainable funding, including from UC, for an additional ambulance.
  • Ensure Berkeley’s various public safety departments continue to upgrade.
  • Increase coordination and communication with our regional mutual aid partners.
  • Fight to prevent the closure of Alta Bates Hospital, which would put thousands of residents at risk during a disaster.
  • Make sure Berkeley’s shelters are retrofitted for earthquake safety.
  • Promote the undergrounding of our city’s power lines.

Jesse Arreguin Will Continue Berkeley’s Long Tradition of Environmental Leadership 

Berkeley has long been a leader in environmental sustainability. As Mayor, Jesse Arreguin will keep Berkeley on the forefront of environmental innovation in California. Jesse will:

  • Advocate for the creation of housing along transit and close to where most people in Berkeley work, to reduce vehicle usage and carbon emissions. Developments in transit-rich areas should meet lower parking requirements than residential neighborhoods.
  • Push for the creation of a locally controlled energy provider, generating power from renewable resources so we can reduce our carbon footprint and create good local green jobs.
  • Expand access to urban agriculture throughout Berkeley by reducing permitting barriers.
  • Develop a Berkeley Deep Green Buildings initiative to promote zero net energy buildings, energy efficiency, and water conservation, and reduce the use of toxic materials in construction.
  • Promote solarization of City buildings, and push for mandatory solar on all large construction projects.
  • Establish a recycling collection fee to fund Berkeley’s recycling program.
  • Push to adopt strong bicycle parking requirements for new residential construction and require Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures to reduce vehicle trips and carbon emissions.
  • Work to create robust alternatives to driving to reduce carbon emissions by:
    • Adopting a Transportation Services Fee for new development projects to mitigate their transportation/greenhouse gas impacts. This could result in millions of funding for alternative transportation.
    • Limiting the amount of parking developments in transit-rich areas.
    • Expanding bicycle infrastructure by designating more bicycle boulevards, creating protected bicycle lanes to improve bike safety, and installing more bike parking.
    • Expanding electric vehicle infrastructure.
    • Creating transit incentives for employees and residents, such as Eco-Passes.
    • Expanding bus transit and improving the reliability of public transit, including improving bus lines 6 and 51B, and restoring rapid service buses between Berkeley and Oakland.

Jesse Arreguin Will Fight to Give All Berkeley Students the Chance at a World-Class Public Education

Berkeley has some of the best public schools in the state, but there is a growing achievement gap at all levels based on race and income. We need to close the opportunity gap for all students.

As Mayor, Jesse will:

  • Champion a universal pre-school program for Berkeley families.
  • Strengthen the partnership with our School District to advance the 2020 Vision.
  • Work with BUSD to expand classroom facilities and explore creating a new school to address growing enrollment.
  • Expand summer camp programs and recreation opportunities for all youth.

Jesse Arreguin Will Responsibly Manage Our Budget, While Making Sure City Services are Equitably Distributed

The City of Berkeley is known for its high quality City services. However, Berkeley is behind other communities in embracing technology to better deliver services and connect with residents. Of course there are areas, such as the permitting process, where customer service improvements are needed. In addition, some parts of Berkeley have historically been underserved. Berkeley also faces over $1 billion in unfunded capital needs and employee retirement liabilities. As Mayor, Jesse will ensure we improve the delivery of City services and that resources are equitability distributed citywide. He will also work to ensure a sustainable future for our city Budget.

As Mayor, Jesse will:

  • Work to improve our aging infrastructure and public facilities.
  • Protect our safety net and improve essential services for the homeless, seniors, the disabled, children and youth, and other vulnerable populations.
  • Develop a long-term Fiscal Action Plan to address growing unfunded liabilities.
  • Pursue funding sources to support strong public services such as:
    • Promoting a Shop Berkeley First policy to support local business and increase City revenue.
    • Taxing temporary lodging like AirBnb through the Transient Occupancy Tax.
    • Increasing the City's outreach to secure more grant opportunities.

Jesse Arreguin Will Fight to Save Our Community Hospital, Alta Bates

As Mayor, Jesse will work with unions, community organizations, and key stakeholders to develop a coalition to fight the closure of Alta Bates Hospital.

Berkeley has a responsibility to protect the health and welfare of our residents, and ensure that emergency and urgent care services are readily available, so that people can get the care they need and reduce the risk of lives lost.

Already, the extended commute to Summit for heart attack patients puts people’s lives at risk. The closure of an emergency unit at Alta Bates and transferring of all other health care services to Summit in Oakland will put people’s lives at risk even further. We must do everything we can to keep emergency, urgent, and intensive care services in our community.

And he will push to explore using the City’s land use and public health authority and other various legal powers available to the City to protect against this dangerous hospital closure.

Jesse Arreguin Will Improve Berkeley’s Roads, Parks, and Community Facilities

Berkeley can be a world-class city. However, years of deferred maintenance has resulted in our streets, sidewalks, parks, and community facilities needing significant repair. As Mayor, Jesse will:

  • Work to increase funding to fix streets throughout Berkeley. Despite the passage of Measure M in 2012 there are still $30 million in additional resources needed to repair Berkeley’s most in-need streets.
  • Repair sidewalks throughout Berkeley and implement pedestrian safety improvements.
  • Prioritize implementation of the new Bike Plan to expand bike lanes and bicycle parking, and make streets safer for cyclists.
  • Improve our senior centers and emergency shelter sites, and push to make Cragmont School a designated shelter site.
  • Invest in our parks and explore expanding open space throughout Berkeley to meet the recreation needs of our growing population.
  • Develop a plan to fix Old City Hall and the Veterans Memorial Building and revitalize our Civic Center.
  • Expand watershed projects throughout Berkeley to reduce flooding and runoff.
  • If Measure T1 passes, Jesse will work to ensure funding is allocated to sufficiently address a variety of infrastructure needs with citizen input.