Elisa Mikiten, affordable housing planner and partner at Mikiten Architecture, is running for the District 1 City Council seat against incumbent Rashi Kesarwani and newcomer Tamar Michai Freeman.
Mikiten’s platform emphasizes houselessness, middle-income housing, affordability in housing on all scales and car-free lifestyles.
“When we look back on this decade, I want us to feel that we met this moment together on housing, affordability, tenant protections, climate change, and transit,” Mikiten said in an email. “This is a city planner’s moment, especially one who has spent decades building housing.”
Mikiten has spent the last 25 years working at Mikiten Architecture, which she founded alongside her husband primarily to provide affordable housing for the East Bay.
In addition to her current position, Mikiten has worked on student housing projects, ownership units, development entitlements and numerous services for housing production.
Mikiten said she believes the key platform of her campaign, affordable housing, is viable. She added that this goal can be achieved via market-rate housing, non-profit developed housing and rent control.
“Our next set of decisions that we make are going to set up Berkeley for the rest of this century and we need to do a good job,” Mikiten said. “I’m a city planner, a land use planner, I’ve worked in housing and downtown revitalization and community development, so those are all the essential skills that we need to do this rethink task well.”
According to Mikiten, some projects she has worked on for the city of Alameda include downtown revitalization, community development and the revamping of shopping districts and housing for seniors, students, people with disabilities and unhoused families.
If elected, Mikiten wants to make it easy for people to bring their “bright ideas” to the Berkeley community. Specifically, she aims to aid small businesses in starting up at a faster rate.
“How do we support people and how do we make it easier for them to do their best work?” Mikiten said. “It’s the retail apocalypse out there right now and yet we’re making it hard for people to fill those vacant spaces and bring vibrancy to our streets.”
Mikiten emphasized her engagement with Berkeley residents, saying she works directly with the community rather than in a secluded office building. If elected, Mikiten wants to hold District 1 Town Council meetings to make sure everyone is heard both in and outside City Council meetings.
Councilmembers Kate Harrison and Sophie Hahn, former District 1 councilmember Linda Maio and Our Revolution East Bay have all endorsed Mikiten.
“I feel like it’s the right moment for my skill set,” Mikiten said. “I’m forward leaning, engaged in the community, have progressive values and am vocal about it.”