Op-ed: For an equitable city, Kate Harrison for City Council

Berkeley needs a council member in district 4 who understands what it takes to keep Berkeley moving in a direction that effectively and comprehensively addresses the unprecedented inequity facing our city and country.

By Rick Auerbach

Rick Auerbach is the staff of West Berkeley Artisans & Industrial Companies, a former consultant to Berkeley’s Economic Development Department, a member of the Association of Bay Area Governments' Technical Advisory Committee on Priority Production Areas, and a 35-year resident of West Berkeley.

West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies (WEBAIC) urges you to support Kate Harrison for the district 4 City Council seat based on her robust support for West Berkeley’s industrial zones with their sustainable industrial maker and arts ecosystem and the thousands of good, family-wage jobs they provide.

Beyond revenue to the city and the valuable goods and services provided (bikes, bread, beer, etc.), the hundreds of companies and studios in West Berkeley’s industrial zones are a lynchpin of Berkeley’s equity and racial and economic diversity. These enterprises provide more than 8,000 good jobs, often to people having the most difficulty finding them – those without a college education, immigrants, and people of color.

In conversation and in response to our questionnaire, Harrison has demonstrated to our organization her clear understanding of West Berkeley’s economy and culture and convinced us that her leadership on City Council will help assure the future of sustainable industrial and artistic production in West Berkeley. In the rightfully central discussion of the importance of housing, especially for those being priced out, the critical importance of having a decent job that allows one to afford this housing is often left out, but not by Kate.

In his November responses to our mayoral questionnaire regarding issues of interest to WEBAIC, district 4 candidate Ben Gould revealed a lack of understanding of the purposes and history of West Berkeley’s zoning, and an openness to policies that have consistently resulted in displacement of industry and arts in cities throughout the country.

West Berkeley’s production, distribution, recycling, and repair sectors have just come out from under an intense, multi-year assault by the administration of the former mayor (“People need to get over this manufacturing thing”) Tom Bates, who attempted to remove the zoning provisions that assured a viable home for them in West Berkeley. Gould’s endorsement by a number of present and former council members, commissioners, and real estate professionals who were instrumental in actively supporting these displacement policies highlight our organizations’ concerns.

Berkeley needs a council member in district 4 who understands what it takes to keep Berkeley moving in a direction that effectively and comprehensively addresses the unprecedented inequity facing our city and country. Harrison is that person.  Please join WEBAIC, the Sierra Club, the Alameda Labor Council, California Nurses Association, Berkeley Firefighters Association, Alameda County Green Party, Berkeley Tenants Union, and many other organizations and your other fellow citizens in supporting Kate Harrison for district 4.