Berkeley's city government had a Republican majority from its early years until 1961, when liberal candidates backed by the Berkeley Democratic Club gained control of Berkeley's City Council and School Board and began to take actions to end de facto racial segregation and to deal with social problems such as unemployment and lack of affordable housing. During the late 1960s Berkeley's Democrats became deeply divided over the war in Vietnam and over demands for black power. By the 1970s city politics were divided between two loose coalitions: the "moderates" centered in the affluent Hills, while the "progressives" formed in a group called the April Coalition and later organized on a more permanent basis as Berkeley Citizens Action.
In 1971 three progressive candidates, two of them African-American, were elected to the nine-member Berkeley City Council. From that point on, whether they held a majority or not, the progressives had major influence on city policies and were often able to get the voters to pass initiatives when the Council would not approve their proposals.
Edward Kirshner was co-author with Eve Bach, Thomas Brom, Julia Estrella and Lenny Goldberg of The Cities' Wealth, an important statement of alternative municipal policy and governance as applicable to Berkeley, CA in 1975. This is the transcript of a seminar given at Cornell University's Department of City and Regional planning in 1981.
Bach, Eve; Carbone, Nicholas R.; Clavel, Pierre (1982)
In 1980 Pierre Clavel was finishing a manuscript on planning in the context of regional social movements in Wales and Appalachia, and had also been in touch with neighborhood organizers and their city hall supporters in several places - especially Cleveland, where Norman Krumholz had produced a "Cleveland Policy Planning Report" (1975), and Berkeley, where Eve Bach and others had done the remarkable The Cities' Wealth. Word had spread of the activism of Hartford's recently defeated Deputy Mayor Nick Carbone. Clavel was able to get Bach and Carbone to a session at the annual meetings of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning that fall. This article was the result - it describes city efforts to enact redistributive policies in the face of declining resources during the 1970s. Berkeley's Citizen Budget Review Commission is described against a background of rent control, attempted utilities takeover, and other actions and accomplishments proposed by the Berkeley Citizen Action coalition. Hartford's public developer initiatives to employ local residents and create lower cost housing are described alongside energy cost reduction efforts, food policy, and efforts to influence suburban jurisdictions to adopt fair housing reforms. Bach and Carbone each supplied major parts of the text. Clavel put them together and Social Policy published the result in their Winter 1982 issue.
Bach, Eve; Brom, Thomas; Estrella, Julia; Goldberg, Lenny; Kirshner, Ed (National Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies, 1976-11)
Reflecting on a decade of radical and progressive coalition politics led Berkeley Citizen’s Action (BCA), a group of
activists affiliated with elected councilmembers John Denton, Loni Hancock and Ying Lee Kelley, and organized
as the Community Ownership Organizing Project, describe potential and actual programs that would effect
a transition to community ownership for the City of Berkeley, CA. Topics covered include Charter and other
reforms achieved by voter initiative designed to redistribute power to popular forces; housing policies like rent
control and community ownership, public acquisition of electric power, cable television and telephone service;
revenue producing enterprises such as banking, recycling and insurance; taxation and capital budgets; city
employment policy, transportation and social services.
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