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Mayoral Candidates Speak Out on Town/Gown Issues

By Julia Sommer, Public Affairs
posted September 23, 1998

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, registered Berkeley voters will have a choice of five mayoral candidates. The mayor serves a four-year term. The deadline for registering to vote is Oct. 5.

To help the campus community make its decision, Berkeleyan asked the candidates to answer two questions. Their answers, presented in alphabetical order, have been edited for length and clarity.

To a large extent, the city and university are two large, interdependent bodies -- their past, present and future circumstances intertwined. What specific measures would you take as mayor to promote positive and productive relations between "town and gown"?

Jon Crowder: It could be that the corporate structure of Cal gives it a distinct advantage over Berkeley. It can, say, hire a mayor of a city. We live in an increasingly stratified society. Economic insecurity is a real challenge. Toward reinventing Berkeley as a model city of the future, I envision a partnership between city and university. Together, city and university will address cars and density issues. City and university must do the intelligent thing: launch a program to address issues of poverty and quality of life.

Shirley Dean: I am proud that former Chancellor Tien stated that I improved relationships between town and gown. Chancellor Berdahl and I meet regularly, sharing concerns and ideas. We don't always agree, but we are committed to problem-solving between our institutions. All levels of city and university departments, but particularly police, planning, housing and traffic, must meet regularly and maintain this same atmosphere of problem-solving and civility. Anger and accusation do not solve problems.

Michael Delacour: We need to move toward a relationship of equality between gown and town. The university must stop increasing its size and enrollment and live up to the agreements it made in the past. The university needs to pay its share of city taxes and provide housing for its students and employees that does not take housing and open space from Berkeley citizens.

I understand the university would like to heal the wounds of the past, but first it needs to express regret for the events around People's Park. The university has been part of ordering in many repressive forces for almost 30 years that have killed people, shot over 200, and jailed many thousands of people.

Don Jelinek: I appreciate the cultural and economic benefits attached to having the finest public education institution in the state. I am less enthusiastic about decisions made by the UC Regents and imposed on UC concerning treatment of students, faculty, employees and neighborhoods.

I support the Coalition of University Employees (CUE), the Association of Graduate Student Employees (AGSE), the Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste, and the neighborhoods' desire to be consulted and respected in planning decisions that affect their quality of life. I support UC students having an education that is affordable and inclusive and making the regents more democratic and accountable.

I hope that with a mayor who is not an employee of UC, the city and UC will be free to both argue and agree on issues and end up with the positive city-university relationship that existed under mayor Loni Hancock.

Robert Krumme: Currently, what passes for political leadership in this city is nothing more than posturing for shrill, usually dysfunctional special interest groups willing to impose any level of disruption of civic life and civil society to attain their ends.

At the same time, the city leadership is too timid to address the large but entirely soluble problems of forging a cooperative relationship with a huge public university. These problems include:

• the costs imposed on the city by the public entity exemption of the university for such services as policing, traffic management, parking regulation, fire protection and tax exemptions for university-leased property;

• indirect costs from poorly coordinated planning in such areas as housing, transportation and parking.

I suggest two actions:

1) Establish a jointly funded Cost Estimation Board staffed by private sector economists to objectively estimate measurable transfer costs from UC to the city to establish a basis for state reimbursement.

2) Contract all medium-term city/university planning for transportation and housing to a private-sector contractor.

Lastly, the city should return control of People's Park to the university with an invitation to develop it as the university sees fit.


A decade of revitalization efforts seem finally to be paying off in downtown Berkeley. Yet similar efforts to revive Telegraph Avenue seem to have had little, if any, lasting impact. What would you do as mayor to create a safer, cleaner environment along Telegraph Avenue?

Jon Crowder: Things on Telegraph Avenue are serious. The violence expressed beneath the anti-Semitic acts at Cody's Bookstore evokes images of atrocities visited upon a people in times of strife. Poverty and ignorance breed physical violence. The sight of the needless neglecting of the frail, the vulnerability of our children and elders, reminds one of the "banality of evil."

As individuals and members of civil society, we must revisit our priorities. Dialogue and discussion must come first, and then a comprehensive plan. In the meantime, we practice preventive medicine. Law enforcement cannot be everywhere at once. Yet safety must be assured on all sides. What about housing? People pulling together, across the socio-economic divide, is the way toward true revitalization. Leadership is key.

Shirley Dean: I propose that we:

• Enact ordinances prohibiting camping on the sidewalk during daylight hours and interfering with employees who are repairing/cleaning public or private property.

• Provide improved, effective services to the homeless -- food, shelter, counseling, health care, job preparation/training -- and free storage space while enacting an ordinance prohibiting storage of personal belongings on the sidewalk.

• Support the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District, which has established a baseline of services, such as street cleaning, to be performed by the city, with extras to be paid by property owners, including the university.

I also propose that:

• The mayor and chancellor co-host quarterly meetings with our staffs, District 7 councilmember, relevant city commissioners, the Telegraph Avenue Association, students, and southside property owners, residents, merchants and vendors to review all the issues on Telegraph, including the southside planning effort and results of measures recently approved by the City Council. This would provide both pressure and evaluation and ensure that effective measures move forward.

• The city and university jointly develop the vacant site at Haste and Telegraph into ground-floor commercial space with housing above.

Michael Delacour: Telegraph Avenue needs to be closed to the automobile. A Telegraph mall was a dream of many citizens long before I came to Berkeley 33 years ago. We need an alternative to the present drug war, jail-them-all hysteria. A treatment program for hard drugs that works would help the southside area tremendously. The university needs to control its police! A real overview police commission with power should be top priority.

Don Jelinek: Telegraph Avenue improvements this year include creating the Community Health and Safety Team and the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District, increasing street and sidewalk cleaning, expanding a daytime youth center, starting a shelter for homeless youth under 18, funding a new $90,000 public bathroom, re-tenanting vacant stores, and increasing public safety efforts.

Under my administration, these improvements -- part of the progressive budget -- will be continued and expanded. Telegraph will be both a nearly $100 million sales district and a symbol of Berkeley as a caring, creative place for arts and crafts, books and music, as well as a model of programs addressing homelessness and youth while providing cleaner and safer business areas.

Robert Krumme: Telegraph Avenue will continue to deteriorate until a modicum of civil order is restored. To accomplish this the city must first restore a demoralized and frustrated police force by adopting the New York City policing model. By emphasizing the legitimacy of enforcing order within the law, the city will provide the clarity required to empower its police without militarizing them.


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