Cal-Julia Neighborhood Meeting – Minutes
October 5, 2011 – 7:00pm
at Sarah & Terence’s house
- Sofia – 2956 California
- Caitlin – 1521 Julia
- Sam – 1534 Julia
- Tania – 1508 Julia
- Tom – 1540 Julia
- Mary & Dieter – 1550 Julia
- Terence & Sarah – 1528 Julia, Unit C
1. Group Direction
- Who is this group intended to serve/represent?
- This group is focused on Julia Street and the two blocks of California that intersect it. There is a larger neighborhood group for South Berkeley, and we should collaborate as appropriate.
- We would like the group to reflect the diversity of the neighborhood. Everyone was encouraged to invite neighbors to the next meeting.
- We agreed that we should try to hold meetings at different times during the week to accommodate different people’s schedules and therefore encourage participation by more people. For example, perhaps the next meeting should be on a weekend afternoon.
- Sam can provide simultaneous translation in Spanish or Portuguese at future meetings if needed.
- How will we publicize future meetings?
- We will continue to communicate by e-mail, but the group agreed that – since some people don’t use email as a primary means of communication – we’ll also try handing out fliers like we did for the block party.
- We agreed that the fliers should be bilingual, and Sam offered to do the Spanish portion.
- Sam, Sarah, and Terence all offered to help print fliers in the future, and everyone agreed to share the responsibility of handing them out.
- How often should the group meet?
- We agreed to begin by meeting monthly and see if that is effective.
- Terence noted that people should have action items in between meetings to ensure that things get accomplished and momentum is maintained.
- Who can help?
- Two city representatives have showed interest in helping us improve our neighborhood: Officer Stephanie Pollizianni of the Berkeley Police Department and Shallon Allen from the City manager’s office.
- We agreed to invite them to speak at meetings on occasion if we feel that they can contribute to what is on the agenda.
- When appropriate, we should also be in touch with Councilman Max Anderson and Charlene Washington, his aide.
- Where should we meet?
- We agreed that it would be nice if different people hosted meetings at different times. Terence and Sarah were thanked for hosting the first meeting; Sam volunteered to host the next meeting.
- There is also a community center nearby where we can rent a room if needed.
2. Ideas from the Block Party
- We reviewed the ideas that people wrote on the “idea board” at the block party.
- Traffic control:
- The group discussed the traffic issues on California between Ashby and Russell, and Sofia reviewed past conversations with the City on this issue.
- We agreed that even just a stop sign (a relatively cheap solution) would help, while a roundabout or bulb-outs would be better.
- Sam noted that elevated sidewalks could also help, and that the YMCA on California might be an eligible candidate for traffic control because of the students coming and going there.
- Neighborhood beautification:
- There was a lot of interest in this topic, as we felt that working together to beautify the block would build community as well.
- Ideas included planting trees, gardening in the “hell strips” between the sidewalk and the street, adopting a storm drain, and having regular neighborhood clean-up days (see below).
- Sam pointed out that several people have been on the waiting list for trees from the City for quite some time and wondered if we might get quicker response if we worked together as a group.
- Other ideas:
- We agreed with the suggestion that it would be nice to develop a system to help sick neighbors, yet felt this was an issue we weren’t quite ready to tackle.
- More block parties!
- Ask the City to do street cleaning after garbage day, not before.
- “Do something – anything! – about the Toler property.” (see below)
3. Neighborhood Clean-Up Day: October 15
- As part of this annual collaboration with the city, students from UC Berkeley help clean up local neighborhoods.
- Tania requested a crew that will arrive at the intersection of California and Julia Streets between 9:30 and 10 AM.
- You’ll get lunch and a T-shirt if you register in advance. It will also demonstrate that there’s a group of us who care about this neighborhood.
- We agreed that the best use of this volunteer energy would be to pick up trash, clean out the storm drains, and plant daffodils in the “hell strips” between the sidewalks and the street.
- The South Berkeley neighborhood group is doing a potluck afterwards for those who are interested.
4. Neglected properties
- We discussed properties that are abandoned, vacant, neglected by absentee landlords, or prone to police activity.
- Everyone was encouraged to report any disturbances to the City, even if it sometimes feels like they are not receptive or responsive. It is essential to create a paper trail and to demonstrate that there are people here who care about our part of Berkeley.
- It can help if you cc your representatives and neighbors when you write to the relevant agencies. We also discussed the possibility of writing to landlords who don’t care for their properties if necessary.
- Everyone agreed that the biggest issue that the area faces is the Toler property, which has been abandoned for more than 30 years and is regularly covered in garbage and graffiti. There have been some signs of progress recently, and helping resolve this problem should be one of our top priorities.
- We should investigate all options to help facilitate change on that corner: cooperating with the owner, working with the City, collaborating with the Merchants’ Association and/or the South Berkeley neighborhood group, calling nonprofits like Neighborhood Solutions, bringing lawsuits in small claims court if necessary, etc.
- Let’s do something about the Toler property!
- Let’s address the traffic problem at the corner of California and Julia.
- Let’s beautify the block – in particular getting the trees we’ve requested.
- Let’s each make a personal commitment to report problems to the City.
- Sam will schedule and host the next meeting.
- Sofia will invite Shallon Allen to the next meeting so we can discuss the Toler property and traffic control at the corner of California and Julia.
- Everyone is encouraged to…
- Invite at least one neighbor to the next meeting.
- Register for the Neighborhood Clean-Up Day at www.berkeleyproject.org and then show up on 10/15 to help!
- Report disturbances to the city via 911 (emergencies), 510-981-5900 (police non-emergency number), 311 or http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/OnlineServiceCenter/ (graffiti, garbage, etc).