Berkeley's Ben Bartlett Wants to Take Housing Proposals to Sacramento

Ben Bartlett was elected to the Berkeley City Council in 2016. (City of Berkeley)

This story is part of a weekly series of profiles of candidates running for the 15th Assembly District. You can see all the profiles and news about this race here.

Ben Bartlett is hoping to make the jump to the state Legislature after just one year on the Berkeley City Council.

He says that's because time moves at a different rate in Berkeley.

"If you look at last year, we had the four Trump riots, we had the homeless encampments," Bartlett said. "A year in Berkeley is seven years anywhere else. If you look at the work we've done in my office, we've produced more than 35 pieces of legislation, and I would put that against anyone's record."

Bartlett is making housing the top priority in his campaign, a move he says is motivated by his own struggle to find senior housing for his mother.

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"This opened my eyes to a crisis, and once I saw it I couldn't un-see it," he said.

It's also an issue that runs in his family: His grandfather was the first African-American real estate agent in California.

Bartlett is pushing a number of proposals to address the lack of housing on a statewide level. His ideas include a "cap-and-trade" system, in which cities not building enough housing would pay into a fund that could pay for development in other towns, and a state bank that could re-invest revenue in affordable housing.

"It's why I ran for City Council in the first place," Bartlett said. "I ran in order to guarantee housing for people and to make sure that people that have built this country and senior citizens, that they're not going to be on the street due to lack of housing."

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