Dear District 5 Neighbors,
“The truth is, we just don’t want anything to change.” This comment came recently at the end of a long and earnest discussion about several proposed changes within a neighborhood shopping area. It seemed to me a fair and candid assessment of how this constituent and some others in our community genuinely feel when confronted with proposed developments or changes to our city.
I get it. When things are working, or are working for you, why change anything? We live in a beautiful, vibrant and desirable area, where residents can live a quiet, residential life with many urban amenities. We absolutely want to preserve what works and what we love.
But change is inevitable and effective preservation is not about doing nothing. As anyone who owns a house soon learns, home maintenance can take almost as much time, energy and resources as home remodeling. Without creative attention and regular investment to our built world, things deteriorate. Whether on the local, regional, state, national or international level, we have to adapt to the changes that are always unfolding around us.
And there are no prescriptive solutions. On a local level, zoning regulations that preserved a vibrant shopping area a generation ago become unreasonable hurdles in a different economic climate. Streets designed to accommodate street cars in the last century need to be redesigned for slower traffic and safe bike and pedestrian use. An urban park that celebrated grassroots community participation a generation ago is now all but abandoned by the greater community, in a holding pattern for a new public vision.
As legislators we advocate for change even when we are trying to preserve our way of life, our environment, our economy, our heritage. Our challenge is to find that sweet spot that balances very limited resources with community priorities, individual needs with public benefits.
So when you say, “We just don’t want anything to change,” I do hear you. It’s a clear call to action.
Berkeley City Council, District 5
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