Berkeley City Officials: Up Close and Personal

by arlene on May 26, 2012

I know not everyone would look forward to schmoozing with a councilmember over a glass of wine, but I very much enjoyed the opportunity to speak up close and personal with elected officials and key staff of the City of Berkeley this week. All of these individuals, each in their own way, shape aspects of our experience of being Berkeley residents and taxpayers.  It is helpful to remember, especially when one is frustrated by “the bureaucracy” that ultimately government is made up of other humans.

Mayor Bates with members of our LGR Committee

This event was organized by one of the committees I’ve served on for several years, the Local Government Relations Committee (LGR) of the Berkeley Association of REALTORS. “Why would I give valuable time to sit in committee meetings?” you might well ask. The best way I can answer is to share some of the details of this event.

We had invited all of the key decision makers of our City. Last Monday we hosted Mayor Tom Bates, Councilmembers Jesse Arreguín, Kriss Worthington, Susan Wengraff, Gordon Wozniak and Laurie Capitelli, my Council representative and one of my Red Oak colleagues. We also had Eleanor Moses, a member of Nancy Skinner’s staff attend, as well as several City ofBerkeley officials. Guess what? They all wanted to hear about how the Berkeley real estate market was doing.  They all seemed delighted to hear that we’re in a wave of multiple offers, and that residents are investing again in their homes.

Michael Caplan and my manager, Vanessa Bergmark of Red Oak Realty

I particularly enjoyed speaking with Michael Caplan, Manager of Economic Development. He’s a friendly fellow, quick to share his thoughts and hopes for making ouro downtown more attractive, cleaner and safe. Have you noticed the new flower baskets hanging along Shattuck Avenue? We talked with my manager, Vanessa Bergmark about how when banners are installed defining a neighborhood, that neighborhood tends to improve.

Eric Angstat, the newly appointed Director of Planning Department, seemed very sanguine about making positive changes to the permitting system. He mentioned plans to produce short videos that would help guide applicants through the process.

Getting to see a glimpse of the personalities, even briefly, of some of these key decision makers helps me feel more connected with my community. And as an LGR Committee member, and member of our Board of Directors, it was an opportunity to tell them that we, as Berkeley Realtors and residents, appreciate the work they do. We may not always agree with all decisions, but especially to our elected officials, I am happy to have the opportunity to say “thank you” to people who step up, and give a great deal of their time and energies to our community.

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