As the controversial West Berkeley Project moves forward, concerns over the city’s handling of the development project have inspired one community member to enter the race for city council.
Adolfo Cabral, a self-described musicologist and DJ who recently retired after working as an office and facilities manager, filed preliminary paperwork on Thursday to run for Berkeley City Council representing District 2 in the upcoming November election.
Cabral said that concerns over the lack of transparency and community involvement with the long-term project that aims to expand retail and multi-use space in West Berkeley is a major inspiration for his campaign.
“There seems to be a very strong groundswell for change in our community,” Cabral said. “ I think it’s the right time for me to run.”
Cabral first became involved in issues affecting his West Berkeley neighborhood upon moving to Berkeley 12 years ago. After joining a neighborhood organization, Cabral took an interest in a nearby development project that raised concerns among many in the neighborhood due to the lack of community input.
“At that point I became disillusioned with the city,” Cabral said. “We had just voted in a new council member (Darryl Moore), who not as responsive to the needs of residents as much as to business.”
Cabral was then appointed to the West Berkeley Project Area Commission, an advisory group that existed during the beginning stages of the project. According to Cabral, he was removed from the commission after three years because his “inquisitiveness about why things were being done was not respected.”
“Adolfo has been an important part of the West Berkeley neighborhood effort to have the West Berkeley Project reflect the views of the neighborhood,” said Rick Auerbach, a staff member for the West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies, which has been involved with the ongoing process for the project. “He has been a strong advocate for the project being responsive to community concerns.”
Councilmember Darryl Moore, who has represented District 2 since being elected in 2004, listed reducing crime, increasing access to affordable housing and creating jobs as the issues most important to his campaign.
Moore said that while there has been a strong public response to the process as of late, it is important that the development plan move forward.
“People want to see the creation of job opportunities for the (West Berkeley) project,” Moore said.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the council will conduct another public hearing on the controversial project, after which they will vote on the final environmental impact report and approve amendments to the West Berkeley Plan. It may also pass an ordinance concerning the third phase of the project.
Cabral and members of the West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial companies plan to attend and speak during the public hearing.
“This process has been pushed and rushed to this point with very little respect for the community’s intelligence and public input,” Cabral said.