Berkeley City Council virtually held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss recommendations from the city’s Vision 2050 task force on developing infrastructure.
Launched by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and approved by Berkeley voters in 2018 with the passage of Measure R, the Vision 2050 initiative creates a long-term plan concerning Berkeley’s infrastructure. According to the agenda item, the initiative aims to address various issues, including climate change, inequality, population increases and obsolescence.
“Berkeley is the city of big ideas, and in order to dream big, we need to have a plan. And this plan anticipates what our city looks like in 2050,” Arreguín said at the meeting. “Crucially, this report is not waiting until 2050 to realize a new vision for our city. It is about planning now for a 30-year horizon in mind.”
The Vision 2050 plan and recommendations include strategies and considerations for the city to take into account when updating and rebuilding the city’s infrastructure. According to Ray Yep, Vision 2050 task force chair, the task force is made up of 40 community members, including professors and high school students.
The Vision 2050 initiative emphasizes the impacts of climate change on different areas of the city, such as wildfire risk in the hills and sea-level rise near the coast. According to Yep, sea-level rise is a high priority of the plan.
“Within the life cycle of many of our infrastructure investments, they will be impacted by rising seas,” said Margo Schueler, who serves on the Vision 2050 task force. “Pavement may be uplifted, underground utility vaults may be impacted by water intrusion, groundwater may back up into sewer and storm drain systems.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the plan’s considerations, especially concerning the internet, Schueler said. According to Schueler, the pandemic highlighted the need for fast and reliable broadband internet, while Arreguín added that the city could consider installing Fiber as well.
Berkeley Vice Mayor Sophie Hahn said she wants the infrastructure to not only be functional but also aesthetically pleasing.
“To me, functionality is our bare minimum and what we should aspire to is delightful,” Hahn said at the meeting. “We need to get inspired by public space. It’s got to be beautiful. It’s got to smell good.”
Concerns regarding housing were brought up by Berkeley City Councilmember Lori Droste. According to Droste, housing in Berkeley would possibly double by 2050, and she asked how the plan would account for that.
Berkeley City Councilmember Kate Harrison wanted to focus more on transportation instead of housing. According to Harrison, regional partners, such as BART, and the state should work with the city to improve transportation.
“The transportation piece — the lack of mobility in the Bay Area, especially with BART’s challenges — are one of our biggest infrastructure issues,” Harrison said. “I would like to look at the housing challenge as a mobility challenge. How do we get people from where they live to where they work?”