Councilmember Harrison was elected to the Berkeley City Council in March 2017 after a decades-long career in the public sector.
In office, she has been a champion for affordable housing, the climate, infrastructure and transit planning and spending, equitable budgeting, labor equity, and fair and impartial policing.
Housing and Preventing Displacement
Kate is the author of the City’s voter-approved Empty Homes (Vacancy) Tax (2022), which is expected to net $4-8 million per year for the City’s affordable housing trust fund and small sites program. She increased the affordable housing in-lieu fee charged to market rate developers from $20,000 to $34,000 per unit, aimed at building more affordable housing projects and to preventing further displacement.
Environment and Climate
She also authored:
- legislation creating a partnership (while a member of the East Bay Community Energy Board) to build out up to 90 fast charging stations across Berkeley’s areas of dense multi-unit housing (2022).
- the ‘Better Berkeley Bag Ban’ ordinance closing major loopholes in California’s single use plastic laws at stores citywide (2022);
- the first in the nation ordinance phasing out natural gas in new buildings (2019), a policy of 100% renewable energy as default for municipal electric accounts (2020) and in partnership with the Energy Commission residential/commercial accounts (2021);
- budgetary legislation:
- establishing and seeding a climate equity fund to assist low-income residents with transitioning to a zero-carbon future (2021);allocating $1.5 million for a Pilot Existing Building Electrification Installation Incentives and Just Transition Program for retrofitting existing low-income and affordable housing buildings (2021);
- allocating Uber/Lyft Tax proceeds to critical bus transit upgrades;
- a policy of transitioning the City’s municipal fleet to zero emissions vehicles by 2030;
- the nation’s first Healthy Checkout ordinance requiring that checkout aisles in large grocery stores feature nutritious food and beverages (2020).
Infrastructure and Parks
Since its inception, Kate has proudly chaired the Council’s key Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment & Sustainability Policy Committee, which oversees legislation relating to: streets, sidewalks, public space; parks; traffic safety; bikes, pedestrians, transit; capital improvements; facilities and infrastructure; technology infrastructure/security; maintenance; zero waste; Climate Action Plan; sustainability; and energy and water conservation.
As Chair and in partnership with the Public Works Department and Infrastructure and Transportation Commission, she helped shepherd the recent update to the City’s Street Maintenance and Rehabilitation Policy, which is now includes an equity zone and is more closely aligned with the bicycle and pedestrian plans. Significantly, the plan includes requiring sufficient smoothness on arterials, collectors, bus routes, and bikeways with a paving condition index of 70/100, the standard used in many cities with excellent paving conditions, and requires the City to maximize paving projects that are contiguous to boost efficiency.
The paving, pedestrian and bike plans have been severely underfunded. During the 2022 budget cycle, CM Harrison helped lead the Council in submitting budget legislation and securing additional funding for paving and maintenance utilizing general funds and salary savings. The FY 23-24 adopted budget includes an increase of $5 million for a total of $18.3 million for street rehabilitation in FY 2023 and $19.4 million in FY 2024.
Additionally, she submitted legislation and worked with Public Works staff to craft a new policy that could charge our garbage and recycling services a fee for the outsized damage they contribute to our roads. She has also asked staff to look at recovering paving costs from other utilities like PG&E and EBMUD, and private companies to the extent feasible.
To support our Marina and Parks, Kate helped secure an additional $2.7 million for the Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Department as part of the adopted FY 23-24 budget.
To help working families, Kate authored and passed an ordinance protecting and compensating low-wage and part-time workers at some of Berkeley’s largest employers (2022). The model ordinance is considered the strongest-in-the nation. She also wrote an ordinance requiring large leaseholders of City property in the Berkeley Marina to reach Labor Peace agreements with labor groups (2023).
The above referenced Electrification Installation Incentives and Just Transition Program includes robust minimum labor standards developed in partnership with unionized building trades.
Reimagining Public Safety
Kate co-authored the City’s voter-approved Police Accountability Board Charter Amendment (2020) and helped shepherd the City’s landmark Surveillance Ordinance (2018). She wrote and passed important legislation overhauling the Berkeley Police Department’s Use of Force Policy (2017-2022), regulating Automated License Plate Readers (2022), banning police facial recognition technology (2019), and prohibiting discriminatory reports to police (2022).
Councilmember Harrison cowrote the subcommittee report recommending Council remove the Berkeley Fire and Police Departments from former Sheriff Ahern’s militarized Urban Shield weapons convention and SWAT exercise (2018). More recently from 2019 to 2021, she proudly served on the Mayor’s Fair and Impartial Policing Working Group, and has been instrumental in overseeing police overtime spending and funding efforts to reimagine public safety through the City’s budget process.
Kate is an alumna of UC Berkeley and received her Masters from the Goldman School of Public Policy. As a student activist, she worked on Berkeley’s rent control campaign, protecting tenants from unjust evictions and unreasonable rent increases, formed a statewide coalition to pass California’s first just cause eviction protection, and exposed abuses committed by the FBI for the ACLU.
As a public sector consultant, for the past 20 years, Kate has ensured access, legal resources and improved outcomes in foster care, domestic violence, child support and child custody cases in 31 California counties, eight states and fourteen nations. Her prior work experience includes executive positions in the San Francisco and State government, where she helped develop the budget and policies and enhanced access to California’s $1.7 billion-a-year court system.