Berkeley City Council approved the creation of new bus lanes, bikeways and widened sidewalks in south Berkeley at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The approved plans include new bus lanes on Bancroft Avenue, as well as new bikeways on Fulton Street and Dana Street. Under proposed plans, the city will likely convert each of these one-way Southside streets to two-way streets.
The council also approved widened sidewalks on Telegraph Avenue. City staff will now consider four approved Telegraph proposals to determine which improvements will best serve Berkeley. The council also directed city staff to explore eliminating private vehicles on Telegraph Avenue entirely. Many UC Berkeley students voiced support for limiting cars near campus during public comment.
“This is probably the most we’ve heard from our UC Berkeley student community in a long time,” said Mayor Jesse Arreguín after public comment.
Representatives from Cal Berkeley Democrats, the ASUC and Telegraph for People — a student-led coalition centered around this project — all urged council members to consider a car-free Telegraph Avenue.
Berkeley resident Kelly Hammargren said there are many people who are not affiliated with the university who own a car and also support a car-free Telegraph.
Some local business owners opposed the Southside redesign in public comment. Caffè Strada owner Daryl Ross voiced concern that limiting the number of cars allowed on Telegraph Avenue might be bad for business. Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner echoed Ross’ sentiments, saying he wished business owners played a larger role in the redesign process.
“I ask them (to) think about how many customers can and will reach them if Telegraph becomes a destination rather than a thoroughfare,” said Berkeley resident Warren Wells in response.
Alex Knox, executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District, urged the council not to rush into a decision on whether to have a bus lane on Telegraph Avenue. Craig Becker, a Berkeley resident and Telegraph Avenue property owner, agreed with Knox and said during public comment that the inclusion of a bus lane in proposed plans is “really antithetical” to pedestrianizing the area.
The council also approved a resolution condemning hate speech that took place over the weekend in the Berkeley Hills. Residents woke up to hundreds of flyers with antisemitic hate speech on their driveways. City Councilmember Susan Wengraf — whose district encompasses much of the Berkeley Hills — thanked the rest of the council for their support.
Berkeley city manager Dee Williams-Ridley also gave a brief update to the council. She said the city’s website will soon launch a survey asking residents to pitch criteria for Berkeley’s next chief of police. The council will also hear an update from the Implementation of Fair and Impartial Policing Task Force at its March 8 meeting.