Opinion: Measure R will make sure Berkeley plans for the future

As a 16-year-old, Sam Trachtenberg is volunteering for the Vision 2050 Task Force to make sure Berkeley plans properly for rising seas and climate change.

Infrastructure is the backbone of any city, and ours is in need of a serious overhaul. From our pothole-ridden roads to water mains and storm sewers built nearly 70 years ago during the Works Projects Administration (WPA), you don’t need to look hard to see the decrepit nature of our infrastructure systems.

Two years ago, Berkeley voted to pass Measure T1, a $100 million general obligation bond aimed at addressing our current and deferred infrastructure needs. The funding from this local initiative is being used to fix many of our most pressing infrastructure repairs, such as those pothole-ridden roads and our senior centers. However, a long-term infrastructure plan that proactively and systematically addresses Berkeley’s future infrastructure needs is beyond the scope of the T1 bond.

As a 16-year-old who is unable to vote, when I learned that Mayor Jesse Arreguín started a citizen-led task force to solve this very problem, I was ecstatic. The Vision 2050 Task Force was my best shot at helping to ensure that the Berkeley I will inhabit in 20 or 30 years is a vibrant city, defined by its strong community and forward-thinking leaders. The Vision 2050 plan will draw from various other plans passed in Berkeley, such as the Climate Action Plan and Resilience Strategy, as well as best practices being used by other cities, to create a single, cohesive document that effectively lays out Berkeley’s long-term infrastructure goals and a path towards making those goals a reality.

As someone who plans to call Berkeley their home long beyond the year 2050, this plan means ensuring a better future – a future in which myself and eventually my kids will be safe – with the knowledge that our most vital systems are resilient and environmentally sound. Having a long-term infrastructure plan will ensure that population growth, climate change and natural disasters will not threaten our safety or our way of life.

This November, the first stage of Vision 2050, “Measure R”, will be on the ballot in Berkeley. Unlike Measure T1, Measure R is an advisory measure that, if passed, will spearhead the development of Vision 2050 by the city.

Part of the measure states that “Climate change, including a rise in the level of the San Francisco Bay, is expected to cause significant changes to the City’s infrastructure and natural environment, such as erosion, inundated freeway sections, and habitat destruction. The goal of the Vision 2050 plan is to ensure that Berkeley is prepared for climate change by identifying and guiding the implementation of a climate-smart, technologically advanced, integrated, and efficient infrastructure system.”

The Task Force hopes to have a draft of their proposed framework for Vision 2050 by the end of 2019.

The journey towards our future starts now, and Measure R is a first step in the right direction.

Sam Trachtenberg is a senior at Berkeley High School, as well as a member of the Vision 2050 Quality of Life Work group and the Citizens for Measure R team.