Official proposes ‘warm welcome’ on city limit signs to ‘display Berkeley pride’

Councilwoman Cheryl Davila, June 13, 2017. Photo: Emilie Raguso

A Berkeley councilwoman has put forward a proposal to add the phrases “LOVE LIFE!,” “Sanctuary City,” and “Ohlone Territory” to the city limit signs around town as a way to “promote love, security and reverence” among visitors and residents alike.

West Berkeley Councilwoman Cheryl Davila says the 12 existing city limit signs “don’t reflect who we are as a City.” Her proposal, which she’s classified as a short-term referral on the action calendar, is set to go before council Tuesday night.

In addition to messages about love, sanctuary and the city’s indigenous roots, Davila says the signs could also — or instead — include the message “Welcome to Berkeley” or “Welcome City of Berkeley.” Her proposal is unclear as to whether all the messages would appear on each sign, or whether they would be distributed among the signs. Davila said Tuesday that the city’s nuclear-free signs would remain in place, but that she had no additional time this week to answer questions. Davila did not respond to an email from Berkeleyside that sought clarifying information.

She wrote in her proposal that “Now is the time to change, the time to unite by welcoming, providing sanctuary to those in need, to acknowledge and accept our history.” The new signage will be “a path forward” that will “display Berkeley pride.”


Davila put forward two options to replace the signs: a $3,000 option that would use the same metal material and keep the same dimensions as the existing signs, and a $60,000 option to upgrade the signs to wood in the style of those found at city parks and community centers.

The existing Berkeley city limit signs keep it simple. Photo: Jason Holmberg

The “love life” message would “follow the lead and example” of Oakland, which just adopted that motto in October to recognize the 1997 death of a teenager there from gun violence, she wrote.

The sanctuary city message would recognize Berkeley’s stance as a city of refuge for those who are undocumented.

“Ohlone Territory” would “honor the legacy and ancestors of the Ohlone people and acknowledge the history of the land,” Davila wrote.

“The message provides …. A point of entry that begins to create a pleasant sustainable environment for everyone who comes into our City Limits,” says Davila’s proposal. “Environmental stewardship is an ideal in our City. This ‘beautification without gentrification’ is sustainable.”

Many people are familiar with Berkeley’s “nuclear free zone” signs, which date back to 1986. Photo: Keoki Seu

Since taking office in December 2016, Davila has been the primary contact on 20 council agenda items. All but one have appeared on, and been approved on, the consent calendar. Many of the items have offered support for city events, while others have focused on support for Section 8 vouchers, equity and diversity, mental health services and youth.

Her sole item to have been discussed on the action calendar ultimately required police to release a draft report about the racial breakdowns of pedestrian and car stop data in line with a prior recommendation about the same report from the city’s volunteer Police Review Commission. Police said the data was inaccurate and incomplete, and that the final report would be released in 2018. Those who sought the draft data said it needed to come out, whether accurate or not, because the community had been made to wait too long.

The signage item is set to appear Tuesday night, Jan. 23, on the action calendar.