Opinion: Elect Igor Tregub to the City Council; he is a committed public servant

Having served on the Rent Stabilization Board, the Zoning Adjustments Board, the Housing Advisory Commission and the Sierra Club board, he has deep experience and understands the issues.

Politicians always say they’re committed public servants. But in a city of activists like Berkeley you just about have to ask, who isn’t a committed public servant? We have several people with honorable public service records running for office right now in District 1, but none of them are quite like Igor Tregub. He’s been holding down a job as an engineer while doing the work of several people at once on a volunteer basis in various positions in the city government and local organizations. Igor is known for being one of those people who apparently never sleeps.

You may know Igor as chair of the Zoning Adjustments Board, as a member of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, or as chair of the board of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club, to name just a few of the many leadership positions he’s held.

Now Igor is running to represent District 1 on the Berkeley City Council. We are confident that as a city councilman, Igor will be extremely responsive to constituents, but that’s only the beginning of why he should be elected. We really need Igor on the city council because he’s extremely well versed in the issues that matter most in local government. On the issue of affordable housing, in particular, Igor truly stands out as a champion.

Igor recognizes that we need more housing in Berkeley that is built for various income levels, and he also recognizes that – while increasing supply is certainly part of the solution – our housing affordability crisis will not be solved simply by caving to the market-rate developers’ demands. To solve the Bay Area affordable housing crisis we need local leaders who will be tough negotiators who make sure that housing development provides optimal amounts of affordable housing and other community benefits. In his six years on ZAB, Igor has voted to approve thousands of new units of thoughtfully designed and conceived housing at every level of affordability. Igor will work to ensure that the housing crisis is not used as an excuse to rubber stamp any and all development projects but rather, he will work to ensure that development meets the community’s needs for affordable housing, green buildings, alternative modes of transportation, open space, and neighborhood-serving local businesses. Igor is not beholden to moneyed interests and he is a bulldog when it comes to being an advocate for the public interest.

While other candidates may have nice things to say about their plans for affordable housing, they have very little practical experience with making affordable housing happen. Igor has a proven track record on housing, having served for several years on the Zoning Board and the Housing Advisory Commission, and having been twice elected to the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board–where he has worked for fair enforcement of the voter-approved Rent Ordinance and worked to help keep many tenants and small property owners in Berkeley. On the Rent Board, Igor is known for being fair and reasonable towards all, including tenants and small property owners who seek to provide quality housing to their tenants. Meanwhile, the Zoning Board makes decisions about development permits within the confines of city laws. It is a difficult job that requires careful attention to detail, abiding by numerous nuanced laws (including understanding the complex intersection of state and local laws when it comes to housing), and enduring meetings that often run until past midnight. Zoning Board members receive thick packets of project plans and other materials to review in advance of each meeting. Igor is well known for being one of the more prepared members of the Zoning Board, asking tough questions of developers and proposing modifications to project plans to address concerns of the community – and ensuring that applicable local and state laws are followed.

Igor also was a leader behind the Measure U1 campaign which has raised millions of dollars for affordable housing in Berkeley, such as for the Berkeley Way, a $110 million 154-unit low-income housing project which will also include a state-of-the-art shelter and wraparound supportive services in a transit-accessible location.

We know we can count on Igor to do the hard work of leveraging resources and making thoughtful decisions in addressing the housing affordability crisis.

Igor has an affordable housing plan that has emerged over the course of his campaign as he has knocked on thousands of voters’ doors and consulted with local leaders, including individuals who are unhoused. His plan entails working regionally with other Bay Area jurisdictions; using data to establish metrics and set achievable goals; avoiding making Berkeley a homeless destination; securing a location for an RV park with shower and pump-out facilities, at a distance from surrounding neighbors and small businesses; leveraging an array of funding resources for permanent affordable housing projects; an employment, jobs training, community beautification program administered through non-governmental partners; and securing sites, funding, and permits for workforce housing (i.e. housing for our teachers, first responders, and nonprofit service workers). Igor is already working with labor leaders, nonprofits, and neighbors (both housed and unhoused) to lay out the logistics for such a program, eagerly hoping to launch it on his first day in office as City Council Member.

Besides his work on housing, Igor is also a recognized environmentalist and labor advocate, which is why he’s earned the endorsements of the local Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, and numerous labor unions, in addition to an impressive list of local and state elected officials.

As longtime Berkeley residents who have seen Igor put his heart, soul, and limitless energy into serving our community for the last 15 years, we urge you to cast your #1 vote for Igor – someone who listens and fights like no one else for a Berkeley at its best, and a Berkeley that we can all call home.

Veronika Fukson is a former City Councilwoman and District 1 resident; Boona Cheema is a District 1 resident and the former director of BOSS; Laurie Nardinelli is a former IT consultant and D1 resident; Ron Nardinelli is a retired executive chef, former member of the Labor Commission and a District 1 resident; Anna de Leon, is a former Berkeley School Board president, civil rights attorney, small business owner, and District 1 resident and Christina Oatfield is a South Berkeley resident and Cooperative Housing advocate.