Mending the Economy
Berkeley has few natural resources relative to its population. Every day, people of Berkeley spend money to buy stuff from other places, and also throw out thousands of tons of materials and resources. Low quality furniture and clothing is often dumped on the street. With so much money thrown out of the economy, we're forced to earn and spend vast amounts of wealth just to stay in place.
But what if we had a Reuse Economy? One built on the making, sharing, and stewardship of high quality things? Already, Berkeley has a wonderful reuse industry that preserves Berkeley's hard-earned wealth and creates jobs and culture. Businesses collect and sell vintage clothing, used electronics, old doors and building materials, original vinyl, and more. We need more of this to become a true Zero Waste City and ensure our economy lasts beyond the age of disposables. And we also need to expand this approach to the buildings and streets of our city itself...
Mending the Neighborhood
Our city has been zoned and built around exclusion, cars, and stockpiling wealth. The challenges of affordability, traffic, and safety cannot be solved without mending the physical and social fabric of the city with new homes and public places.
1. Corner Stores and Plazas
The necessities of life should be nearby - a full range of small businesses, cooperatives, and nonprofits, where you can borrow a tool, pick up deliveries, keep the kids busy, or hang out with friends after school. Streets and intersections are calmed with art and narrowed entrances, providing room for public outdoor space.
2. Car Sharing
Experience has shown that each car share vehicle can replace 10 privately owned cars. This frees up land previously used for driveways and parking. Promoting the use of electric bikes and scooters for in-town trips can also reduce traffic while preserving mobility to places not served well by mass transit.
Big enough to have three bedrooms, but small enough to fit between existing buildings, rowhouses are a low cost way to add new family-sized homes.
4. Soft Story Retrofitting
With parking demand reduced by a switch to car sharing, soft-story garages can be retrofitted and converted into new apartments.
5. Preserving and Adapting Buildings
It is cheaper and more ecologically friendly to expand existing buildings than to build high rises. Zoning should encourage homes to grow and expand into duplexes, boarding houses, and small apartment buildings, conserving built resources while providing new housing.