Opinion: For an equitable and sustainable Berkeley, vote for Deborah Matthews for District 3

As former chair of the Zoning Adjustments Board and the Housing Commission and former vice-chair of the Planning Commission, she has experience needed on the City Council.

What do the climate emergency, homelessness, poor health access, lack of parks and playgrounds, gentrification/displacement, and pedestrian deaths all have in common?

These are all problems that impact our quality of life and our children’s future. And these problems have a disproportionately negative effect on those of us who are Black, brown, and low-income. As citizens of Berkeley and residents of District 3, we can solve these problems at the local level. We must build a more equitable and sustainable Berkeley where everyone is treated fairly and with respect, where everyone has a safe place to call home, where everyone is safe walking in our city, and where those most vulnerable — our children, seniors and disabled — are cared for by all of us.

Right now, we have the opportunity to build a more equitable and sustainable Berkeley by voting for Deborah Matthews for District 3. Deborah’s vision and proposed policies for south Berkeley show her commitment to building a more equitable and sustainable south Berkeley. She commits:

  1. To support a minimum of $50 million of Measure O funding for non-profit owned affordable, low-income rentals and homeownership in south Berkeley;
  2. To support a development plan for Ashby BART that maximizes the number of affordable homes, provides an improved space for the Berkeley Flea Market, and supports local businesses;
  3. To sponsor funding for south Berkeley’s own Ohlone Park/Adeline Greenway to connect our neighborhood with green space, pathways for walking and biking, and to slow traffic;
  4. To preserve the historical culture of our neighborhood by funding an African American Arts and Cultural District in south Berkeley’s commercial districts;
  5. To reverse and prevent displacement of low-income households and people of color by creating a right to return policy and by increasing resources for low-income renters and homeowners; and,
  6. To reform the city’s exclusionary zoning and planning policies to increase housing and homeownership opportunities in ALL of Berkeley’s neighborhoods.

Deborah has been improving our neighborhood for decades. With integrity and dedication, Deborah has chaired the Zoning Adjustments Board (1996-2014), the Housing Commission (1994-2000), and vice-chaired the Planning Commission (2014-2016). She provided the leadership necessary to help get approval for the vibrant community spaces, small businesses, and housing developments that make South Berkeley unique and thriving — the Ed Roberts Campus, The Tarea Hall Pittman Library, Lemat Restaurant, Berkeley Bowl West, Mojo Cafe, Harper Crossing Senior Homes, Biofuel Oasis, John Muir Health Facility, Lifelong Medical Center, to name a few.

When Deborah was chair of the Housing Advisory Commission (1994-2000), she put in long hours carefully reviewing the funding applications for housing and community services. This is why she knows that non-profit housing supports our seniors, single parents, children, disabled, and homeless better than inclusionary market-rate development. That is why she supports increased fees on market-rate developers and more funding for the Housing Trust Fund, as well as an acquisition fund specifically for non-profit housing developers. In order to maximize the number of low- and extremely low-income homes we build, we must elect a leader like Deborah who has the experience and the dedication to do the patient, strategic work on complex housing and planning issues.

Incumbent Ben Bartlett is often absent on housing action. Ben Bartlett‘s voting record at City Council shows him missing the hard votes when neighbor opposition is present. He was absent for the vote on 23 housing units at 3000 Shattuck that came before council on appeal on Nov. 27, 2018 and was absent for the vote on 63 housing units at 2527 San Pablo Ave. that came before council on appeal on Jan. 23, 2018. He voted to remand a 57-unit building at 2701 Shattuck Ave. back to ZAB, which delayed it at least a year.

Ben Bartlett’s Zoning Adjustments Board appointee consistently votes against new housing. Ben Bartlett’s Planning Commission appointee supports downzoning Adeline Corridor near Ashby BART and supported provisions that go against the Ashby BART MOU. Ben Bartlett said no to missing middle housing on Hearst Avenue.

Deborah Matthews recognizes that Berkeley has a long history of discriminatory planning and housing policies. In South Berkeley’s District 3, these discriminatory practices are evident in the six-lane Adeline roadway where traffic speeds through our neighborhood, in the down-zoning efforts around Ashby BART station, in the lack of a clear “right to return” policy for former African American residents and others who have been displaced, in the city’s refusal to guarantee a place for the Berkeley Flea Market, in the lack of a bold plan for building and funding parks in our neighborhood. Deborah will provide the leadership and hard work to correct these problems and will help us on our way to making things right.

Deborah is committed to South Berkeley. This is her home and her life work. She is not looking for a stepping stone to higher office. She is a citizen, not a politician. She has dedicated herself to community service in Berkeley, and she has the professional and community background to provide effective and consistent long-term leadership. Vote Deborah for District 3!

Signed by the following Berkeley Residents, SBN! Steering Committee members, and South Berkeley NOW members:

  1. Ariella Granett, SBN! founding member, steering committee, Fairview Street, 94703
  2. Barry Fike, Allston Way, 94703
  3. Betsy Thagard, SBN! founding member, steering committee, Carleton Street, 94704
  4. Bhima Sheridan, Fairview Street, 94703
  5. Brynn McKiernan, California Street, 94703
  6. David Koo, California Street, 94703
  7. David Soffa, SBN! founding member, Otis Street, 94703
  8. Gary Miguel, Ellis Street, 94703
  9. Jane Scantlebury, SBN! founding member, Otis Street, 94703
  10. Jeffrey Westcott, Fairview Street, 94703
  11. Jodi Levin, SBN! founding member, steering committee, Otis Street, 94703
  12. John Givens
  13. Jon Lau, SBN! founding member, steering committee, Ward Street, 94703
  14. Jonathan Packman
  15. Jonathan Singh, former Berkeley resident
  16. Lee Bishop, Northside Ave., 94702
  17. Marcia Freedman, Carleton St, 94703, a former member of Israeli Knesset (parliament)
  18. Matt Lewis, SBN! founding member, steering committee, McGee Avenue, 94703
  19. Matt Nichols, SBN! founding member, Otis Street, 94703
  20. Niloufar Khonsari, Otis Street, 94703
  21. Pablo Diaz Gutierrez, California Street, 94703
  22. Peter Waller, SBN! founding member, steering committee, Carleton Street, 94704
  23. Phyllis Orrick, Kains Ave. 94702
  24. Rachel Beck, works in Berkeley
  25. Renee Mitchell, Fairview Ave. 94703
  26. Teresa Clarke, SBN! founding member, steering committee, Otis Street, 94703
  27. Tomasso Sciortino, resident near Ashby BART