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Scorecard Would Help Berkeley Determine Where to Spend Money For Streets

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Tracey Taylor/Berkeleyside

Street repair is one of the major deferred maintenance costs the city faces.

The final public meeting currently scheduled to discuss Measure M spending will take place Thursday, July 18, at the South Berkeley Senior Center.

Measure M, to pay for bonds related to street and watershed improvements, was approved by 73% of voters in November.

Thursday, residents will have a chance to learn more about the proposal for how the city will spend the bond money, though which streets will see repairs or changes remains to be determined.

“We’ve been getting public comments coming in with people asking, ‘What about my street?’ They want to know where they are in the 5-year plan,” said Ray Yep, of the city’s Public Works Commission. “Right now we’re shying away from specifics like that.”

Yep said, currently, the city gets about $3.5 million each year in tax funding to handle street improvements, and the Measure M bonds will bring in an additional $6 million annually. Later this year, he added, the Berkeley City Council will approve the updated 5-year plan, which will set the specific priorities for spending.

“The amount of money available per year is going to triple, and the work per year is going to triple,” said Yep. “But which exact streets will be included, that answer is going to come later.”

What commissioners are proposing is to use all existing street operations and maintenance tax money for asphalt overlay work, and the Measure M money “to fund capital improvements that are intended to last longer than the repayment period.” These are “reconstruction”-type projects that may include additional grant funding, incorporate green infrastructure or have more complex designs.

Yep said commissioners are also proposing that the city considers adopting a rating system, at a future time, that would label projects according to sustainability criteria.

The city, in collaboration with the local League of Women Voters, has held two public meetings since May about the process to determine how Measure M funds will be spent. Yep said about 60 people attended each meeting, and that residents have also been submitting suggestions via email to PWEngineering@cityofberkeley.info

Through that process, commissioners have proposed some changes to the way the city makes decisions about which projects to prioritize. As an example, said Yep, commissioners have asked the council to use a special scorecard to set priorities. The scorecard takes into account a range of criteria that are not currently part of the 5-year plan ranking system. Yep described it as a “more comprehensive approach to evaluating projects” undertaken in Berkeley.

“It came from public input we had in the last meeting,” said Yep. “It has not been used in the city before.”

One key factor for many of the projects that may be included in the 5-year plan, said Yep, is that they are “shovel ready.”

“We want to see things get done, so one criteria is readiness,” he said. “Is the project ready to move, or does it take more engineering, more study?”

All the commission proposals — the scorecard, the sustainability rating system and the suggested uses of tax money vs. Measure M money — are still in draft form, and would need to be approved by the council prior to adoption.

The third and final Measure M community meeting currently scheduled will take place Thursday, July 18, at 5:30 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. Those with questions can email Ray Yep of the Public Works Commission at rayyep1@gmail.com, or Sherry Smith of the League of Women Voters at president@lwvbae.org. The public may also send comments to PWEngineering@cityofberkeley.info

Source: Berkeleyside [http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/berkeleyside/XGaT/~3/dHxJXSVp28k/]

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