Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson began his reelection campaign for District 7 with a focus on the student housing crisis, planning for the city’s equitable growth and enhancing student involvement in local politics.
Running unopposed in the 2022 midterm elections, Robinson announced his intent to run in May. His platform hones in on finding long-term solutions to the housing crisis. Robinson said he also aims to revitalize Southside by rezoning and enhancing housing capacity, redesigning Telegraph Avenue and providing financial support to the permanent supportive housing planned at People’s Park.
“In 2018, we ran a historic entirely student-run campaign for this seat,” Robinson said. “It’s been a long and challenging four years since then, but I would be honored to continue my service.”
As a UC Berkeley alumnus and current graduate student at the Goldman School of Public Policy, Robinson noted the importance of student involvement in local politics. Bringing more student voices to Berkeley City Hall has been a driving force throughout his campaign.
Davina Srioudom, a campus senior and Robinson’s campaign manager, added that getting more students involved in the city’s commissions — which are dominated by older people who are of little gender diversity, according to Srioudom — is important.
According to Robinson, most of his appointments to the city commissions are current UC Berkeley students. For instance, on a commission that deals with issues of transportation and infrastructure, student organizers with Telegraph for People and campus students in urban studies have expanded on possibilities to revitalize Telegraph Avenue. Their goal is to create a real neighborhood center and a beautiful, open civic space, Robinson noted.
“Being able to have students who microphone themselves to be their own advocates has been incredibly fulfilling and is oftentimes the most effective way to see real change happen,” Robinson said.
The housing crisis has been one of Robinson’s primary concerns during his time in City Council. He said he will complete the Southside zoning update, which will provide more than 1000 additional housing units on Southside and along Telegraph Avenue by densifying transit corridors and commercial areas, allowing for more ground floor units, increasing the building’s height limit and rezoning the parking lots in North Berkeley and Ashby BART stations.
Robinson noted that the recent passage of state Assembly Bill 2011, which will allow for more housing through rezoning efforts, is particularly relevant to housing development issues. He added that he hopes to utilize this opportunity to rezone the city, making way for growth while putting equity first.
“We all have this shared mutual passion that is so important because there’s a difference between people who are campaigning for resume building … versus people who genuinely want to put the work in and see that the outcome they want manifests itself,” Srioudom said.