Crystal ball
What do you see in the crystal ball for Berkeley in the coming year? We’ve made some resolutions for the city. Photo: CarbonNYC

Berkeleyside has no crystal ball that can foretell the next 12 months of our city (or the next 12 hours), but we annually lay down some markers for what we’d like to see in Berkeley. Tell us in the comments below what resolutions you’d like to see for Berkeley.

1. Gain clarity on the future of West Berkeley. Measure T and its upzoning of parts of West Berkeley was soundly defeated in November. Let’s hope that doesn’t mean stasis in West Berkeley.

2. Get the streets fixed. Councilmember Kriss Worthington decried a “pothole city council”, but Berkeley’s streets really do need fixing. The Alameda County Measure B1 failed by a whisker, which would have provided good support for improving streets and bike infrastructure. Berkeley’s Measure M, which did pass, provides $30 million in bonds, which provides a start.

3. Downtown progress becomes concrete. The past year saw a planned emphasis on cosmetic improvements downtown, but with Acheson Commons and the proposed Shattuck high-rise, 2013 could be the year for the beginning of visible, constructed change downtown.

4. Leadership for Berkeley schools. There’s one simple marker: find a superintendent that can inspire and lead Berkeley’s schools. Good teachers and a hugely supportive community mean that BUSD has enormous resilience, but another failure in the superintendent search would hurt badly.

5. Growing restaurant excitement. Okay: we’re spoiled in Berkeley. There’s a surfeit of wonderful restaurants, but the truth is Oakland has been leading the way in East Bay food recently. Comal marked a change in downtown, but we need more.

6. More edginess in visual arts. Thousands of people flocked to West Berkeley in September for Endless Canvas. Who knew that Berkeley could push boundaries so well? More please.

7. Find a new home for Off the Grid. There may have been good reasons for moving Off the Grid out of the Gourmet Ghetto, but surely the city and OTG can find an alternative site, as well as continuing the Thursday evening OTG on Telegraph.

8. Zero homicides. It was depressing to report on five homicides in 2012. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have zero in 2013? More broadly, let’s hope the trend over the last decade of reduced violent and property crime in Berkeley continues.

9. Find the right solution for the main post office. Councilmembers and many members of the public want to see the downtown post office keep its function. From the US Postal Service record nationwide, that’s unlikely. Finding the right, public use, however, is not unimaginable. Berkeley’s Ferry Building?

10. Keep the differences, but bring back civility. Some major rifts showed in Berkeley politics in 2012, and that’s healthy for the city’s polity. But the disintegration of a July City Council meeting when singing and chanting disrupted debate was a low moment.

That takes care of 2013. How did we do with our 2012 resolutions? Not great. As we do each year, we award ourselves 0 for no movement (or backward movement), a ½ point for some improvement and a full 1 point for true progress.

1. Progress on long-term budget issues. The new police contract was an important milestone, and the city is taking a measured, no-panic approach with well-run finances. But there’s still plenty to resolve. 1 point

2. Something goes right for Telegraph Avenue. There was plenty of optimism at the City Council’s November worksession on Telegraph, and very little naysaying. Now let’s get something done. ½ point

3. Berkeley attracts more retailers that aren’t drugstores. There’s nothing encouraging happening with large former Andronico’s stores on University and Telegraph. Sports Basement, however, will be moving into the old Berkeley Iceland site: ½ point

4. First phase of downtown improvements has impact. The ambassadors and street cleaning crews are making a visible difference. Not there yet, but on the way. 1 point

5. Berkeley site chosen for Lawrence Berkeley Lab second campus. Nope: congratulations, Richmond. 0 points

6. A real start on Berkeley Art Museum downtown. Fundraising has apparently been going well, but there’s been no visible progress on the Diller Scofidio + Renfro design. 0 points

7. A new superintendent for Berkeley schools kickstarts optimism. The failed search in the spring was followed by the Heatley fiasco in the fall. Acting co-superintendents Cleveland and Smith are doing a good job holding the fort, but no new superintendent yet. 0 points

8. Continued improvements in crime rates. We don’t yet have the full 2012 crime data, but the year certainly seems to have been one that marked time rather than saw continued improvement. The five homicides was a step backwards. 0 points

9. A year for UC Berkeley to revive. With no help from the state, UC Berkeley managed to navigate through a tough year and come out looking in very good shape. Outgoing Chancellor Robert Birgeneau was understandably exuberant at his outgoing state-of-the-university press conference in August. His successor, Robert Nicholas Dirks, has a hard act to follow. 1 point

10. More laughter. It’s still an area where too much of Berkeley is deficient, but Michaels Chabon, Lewis and Pollan had over 600 Berkeleysiders laughing heartily last month. It’s a start. ½ point

Out of 10 we notched 4½ points. We’ll aim to do better in 2013.

Berkeley resolutions for 2012 — and how we did in 2011 [01.01.12]
Ten Berkeley resolutions for 2011 [01.01.11]
How did Berkeley do on those 2010 resolutions [12.31.12]

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