The “big clean-up” of downtown Berkeley begins

An $850,000 clean-up operation will take place in the 30-block downtown Berkeley area over the next three months. Photo: Tracey Taylor

A clean-up has begun in downtown Berkeley, part of a larger campaign to improve the area’s environment and boost economic development. It is being funded to the tune of $1.2 million by the Property Based Business Improvement District (PBID) that was passed by 71% of local property owners last June.

Last Friday, following three days of training, ten members of the new Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) Cleaning Team in their neon yellow shirts hit the streets en masse. The first day was spent painting furniture and fixtures, and general litter removal and weeding. On Sunday, the team started pressure washing sidewalks on Shattuck north of University.

The downtown cleaning crew: Front row, L to R: Jerrid Hilliard, Drakori Glaze, Jamie Bush, Valentina Austin, Larry Kazuo. Back row, L to R: Kirk Jacob, Marcus Miles, Okoye Jones, Nelson Chavarria, Operations Manager Lance Gorée

The intention is to deep-clean and beautify the entire 30-block area of Downtown Berkeley, and the work will include the removal of all graffiti and gum stains, painting all furniture and fixtures, and new landscaping, including new hanging flower baskets. Around $850,000 is being allocated to beautification services and improvements.

The DBA hired Louisville KY-based firm Block By Block to oversee the clean-up and ambassador services. The company has worked on similar projects in downtown Oakland, Santa Monica, and Pasadena, among others. Block By Block is also committed to hiring employees locally, as well as second-chance programs for hiring from social service agency partners.

The clean-up will be followed up on April 2nd by the launch of a new $200,000 brand and marketing strategy for the area. Also at that time, Downtown’s Host Ambassador program — which sees staff patrolling downtown, providing visitor assistance, neighborhood watch, merchant support, and homeless services outreach — will be expanded.

More information on the PBID can be found on the relevant DBA brochure and the PBID section of the DBA’s website. A power-washing schedule is also available.

Related:
How to improve downtown Berkeley: Have your say [10.19.11]
Downtown PBID passes overwhelmingly [06.29.11]