City asks residents to brainstorm Measure M spending

Measure M will provide more funds for improving streets, but it still will fall short of the need. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Measure M will provide more funds for improving streets, but it still will fall short of the need. Photo: Tracey Taylor

In the next few months, city representatives will start taking steps to determine how to allocate $30 million from Measure M, which voters approved in November to improve Berkeley’s streets and watershed.

The first session will take place May 2 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. Commissioners will explain and answer questions about the planning process, the schedule, and the ways the public can contribute their views. City staff will provide technical background on street paving, watershed management and transportation programs.

Subsequent meetings are set for Saturday, June 8, at 10 a.m. and Thursday, July 18, at 5:30 p.m.; both are scheduled to take place at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. (See a flyer about the meetings here.)

Measure M, to pay for bonds related to streets and watersheds, was approved by 73% of voters in November 2012.

The League of Women Voters noted recently: “Berkeley’s streets and related watershed systems need extensive work, so the $30 million will speed up the rate of capital improvements, but will not cover all needed work. The paving work will include ‘green’ environmental infrastructure, where possible.”

The city’s Public Works Commission will spearhead the public process to develop the spending plan that will be presented to the City Council in the fall. The commission is working with the Community Environmental Advisory Commission, the Transportation Commission, and other commissions and city staff.  Representatives of the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville will also work closely with commissions “to ensure that community members are able to participate in developing the plan. The League strongly supported Measure M during the election.”

Said League President Sherry Smith in a prepared statement: “We want to be sure that the public process is open and that everyone who may be affected by these decisions—the stakeholders—will have a real chance to participate. Their views will be taken very seriously.”

Those with questions can email Ray Yep of the Public Works Commission at, or Sherry Smith of the League of Women Voters at The public may also send comments to 

South Berkeley neighbors ask city for help to improve [04.19.13]
Ambitious public works program falls short of need [03.21.13]
Pensions, infrastructure key Berkeley budget liabilities [02.20.13]
Budget: Spending cuts needed to avoid shortfall [01.28.13]
Council supports Sunday Streets, looks to find funds [01.25.13]
Berkeley General Fund revenues may fall short in 2012-13 [12.12.12]
Average Berkeley street in at-risk condition, many worse [11.16.11]

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • Tired of Berkeley potholes

    Give the public a free one hour training class on filling potholes, and free asphalt. Let the people attack and fill the hated potholes the City refuses to fill. We can fill our own potholes for a fraction of the cost normally paid by the City. Bad pavement costs us over $700 per year per vehicle.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Just filling potholes is not a solution. The street expands and contracts as the temperature changes, opening up cracks between the street surface and the patches in the potholes. In the winter, those cracks let the rain penetrate under the pavement, undermining it. The next year, there are move potholes than ever.

    If the street is still in relatively good shape, you can fill the potholes and then seal the entire surface of the street. If the street is not in good shape, you need to remove the existing asphalt and repave.

  • Completely_Serious

    Wait a minute! You (not me, I didn’t vote for it) gave the city $30 million without a plan? Really? How did they come up with the need for $30 million if they didn’t have a plan?

    This does NOT happen where I work:

    Me: Boss, I need $30 million to fix things up around here.
    Boss: Like what?
    Me: Dunno. But if you give me the money, I’ll ask some of the other people what we should do. Then we’ll see about doing it.
    Boss: Hmm. Sounds like a plan. OK.

  • Charles_Siegel

    It happens all the time in the private sector.

    Where I work, management decided years ago to allocate lots of money to develop a software suite with a fundamentally different architecture than their past software. They used that money to pay for people to plan the details of that software and to develop it. We have released part of the suite, but we are still planning some of the details of other parts seven year later.

    Likewise, corporations often allocate lots of money for an advertising campaign with a certain theme. Then they hire an advertising agency to develop the details of the campaign. They do not develop all the details of the campaign before hiring the agency.

  • Mbfarrel

    And worse than that Charles; if the street is truly broken down, it needs to be rebuilt. This involves removing all the paving and repairing the grade material under it.

    This is very expensive. Much more expensive than spending on an adequate maintenance program. However regular maintenance is (or should be) a pay as you go expense. Allowing infrastructure allows maintenance monies to be spent on more “worthy” expenses.

    Then we just get Federal funds and everything is just fine.


  • David D.

    Here’s a tip: If drivers have to straddle different pavement levels to avoid driving into cracks that can swallow a tire, it might be time to pave the road. How about we start with Cedar Street, or perhaps Fourth Street north of Cedar Street? This isn’t rocket science, people.

  • The_Sharkey

    How is it possible for our elected and unelected city officials to be so incredibly lazy and derelict in their duties?

    The public aren’t experts in repairing infrastructure or allocating funds to achieve maximum impact. That’s why we have a City Manager and a city works crew.

    Just do your damn jobs for once instead of wasting time and money taking everything to committee.

  • Chris

    While I’m all for fixing some of the awful streets in Berkeley, it would seem to be financially beneficial to spend the money on watersheds projects first. Fixing what’s underneath the streets, then fixing the streets, sems to make the most sense.

    Civil Engineers – am I on the right track?

  • 2ndGenBerkeleyan

    Let’s be sure to earmark a healthy chunk of that 30 mil to cover the generous retirement package of our former City Magager, now collecting a quarter million per year for life, plus untold other benefits.

  • David D.

    Planner here… “Watershed” is a pretty broad term. Theoretically we could spend $30 million daylighting Strawberry Creek through downtown and it would count. The money would go to better use fixing our streets. Use permeable pavement and we’ve covered both bases.

  • guest

    How is it possible for our elected and unelected city officials to be so incredibly lazy and derelict in their duties?

    If only we had some institution that would take on such important questions. We could call that institution “journalism”.

  • EBGuy

    I want a rain garden for handling storm runoff (like in El Cerrito).
    … And a pony.

  • Biker 94703

    I vote for Sacramento between University and Delaware. Why didn’t they didn’t do that when they did the rest of Sacramento?!?

    Cedar is bad. Josephine is bad.

    And the bike path between Cedar and Hopkins is rotten.

  • Bill N

    I’m guessing 4th is coming up since they fixed up the sidewalks. Cedar – that’s right on and the rest of Sacramento.

  • Bill N

    You’ll get the pony.

  • Bill N

    I worry some about the broad description of “watershed” in these comments because there are plenty of worthy “feel good” projects that could fall under that rubric and streets are, well, so un-glamorous.

  • Lol that’s totally city council for you! Don’t you love our city haha.

  • Perhaps we should focus on repaving high traffic roads and labs them in a way that would shift water into the gutters in a more efficient manner. Streets I think really need to be repaved would include the major arterials like Dwight and haste. Dwight has become a joke it’s horribly paved its entire length I can’t even ride my bicycle on it that’s how bad the pavement is. Carleton and Parker aren’t much better. I think it’s more important that we do something about Dwight and Bancroft though. They deal with a good majority of our cities traffic but we also shouldn’t be catering city funds to UC Berkeley caused problems. The university should help for some of the repaving or at least give us a planning team to help us figure out where to utilize our funds from this. I think we forget we have a prestigious university with very smart people we should be utilizing our resources in our city to make other things run more smoothly. We are a world class city after all.