The Berkeley Global Campus community working group convened more than 150 community members at a briefing and open house Monday night.
Working group members updated the attendees on the group’s approximately yearlong process and overall timeline. The members subsequently collected community input on draft procurement, local hire and workforce training, housing and displacement, and education recommendations.
Working group subcommittees will use the input received at this meeting to draft final recommendations for the Dec. 10 community working group meeting. According to a timeline, the working group will present finalized recommendations to campus leadership in January, but the exact date is not set, said Jamillah Jordan, an outreach specialist for MIG, the planning firm that facilitated Monday’s meeting.
“The most important recommendation to me is the (affordable housing and displacement) research we’re asking from UC Berkeley,” said La Marla Stevens, a member of the working group and management analyst for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “We know the groups we want it to help.”
This recommendation calls on UC Berkeley to share the expertise of its institutes, faculty and students to provide research and data to the working group, which can help identify displacement mitigation strategies. The working group’s housing and displacement subcommittee proposed the establishment of an impact fee paid by developers into an anti-displacement fund, which could be used for programs such as renter and homeowner assistance, and homeownership and foreclosure counseling.
The impact fee is not set yet, but the city of Richmond is conducting a Nexus Study, which will determine a fee for rental and nonresidential development that can be used for the creation of new or rehabilitated affordable housing units.
The recommendations are the result of monthly meetings dating back to September 2014, outreach events and surveys, but Richmond resident Paul Larudee wondered whether the priorities would sufficiently protect the community.
“Prices will go up,” Larudee said. “What we have to do is protect the people here now. That’s exactly what’s happening, and improvement is not something that has to displace (residents).”
During the meeting, attendees placed sticky dots alongside the recommendations they supported, and no recommendation was unsupported. Participants wrote additional recommendations, such as onsite childcare, English classes and including local businesses in the design of the Berkeley Global Campus.
The top recommendation for local hire and workforce training was to require that operations and maintenance jobs go to local and disadvantaged residents, which received more than 80 “dots” of support. Seventy-seven dots supported the recommendation to have applicants with a criminal history be eligible for construction and nonconstruction positions.
Goals of the working group’s procurement subcommittee include increasing the number of Richmond businesses involved in construction and nonconstruction, and working with local business to attract bids.
“Our focus this year is on business certification,” said Amanda Elliott, working group member and executive director of Richmond Main Street Initiative, an organization working to revitalize downtown Richmond. Her organization has hosted workshops to make sure local businesses are eligible to bid for jobs with the global campus because Richmond, UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory each have distinct certification standards.
At the meeting, the working group’s education subcommittee presented priorities including an education partnership, the development of an education center at the Berkeley Global Campus and infrastructure improvements, but it stressed the importance for education work to be an ongoing process.
“We feel like it’s going to take time and take sustained high-level leadership from Berkeley to sit down and be in an ongoing committed relationship in Richmond,” said Tammeil Gilkerson, working group member and Contra Costa College vice president of academic and student affairs.