Kate Harrison Resignation Statement

Dear Beloved Community,

I have decided to resign from the Berkeley City Council effective February 23, 2024. I could say what office holders’ usually say – that I would like to spend more time with my family – but that is not the reason. Nor am I being harassed in any way to make this decision. I am doing so because Berkeley’s processes are broken and I cannot in good conscience continue to serve on this body.

The enormous impact of income and wealth inequality, predatory lending, increased corporate ownership of housing, and market displacement are complex issues that, when daylighted, make development interests nervous. Proposals to require reasonable objective design standards to protect
solar production, insure adequate affordable housing funding and prevent uninterrupted commercial blocks without articulation have been rejected even as they are adopted by dozens of cities that build – like we do — a lot of housing. U.C. continues to master lease properties, which takes them off our tax rolls. Property owners were asked to support a significant bond while fees paid by property owners and developers of residential rental buildings are discounted without justification.

It is a cruel irony that, as the Biden Administration recasts our national dialogue away from 40 years of trickle-down economics, Berkeley is relying on the market as the ultimate arbiter. Climate change is an existential threat which requires we use all tools at our disposal – solar panels AND infill housing. The impact of a focus on private profits impacts how we do everything. The City is monetizing our Waterfront, has derailed the beloved Kite Festival and free Mime Troup park performances, has driven recreational activities like the Chess Club off our streets and is not protecting or adding green space.

Finally, issues are presented as a morality play with those who disagree cast in the role of villains. Resident concerns about U.C. Berkeley’s enrollment impact on housing and City services are not adequately addressed. People with legitimate demands that there be public transit to access BART stations and commercial corridors are vilified (we need to find public alternatives to the combustion vehicle, not demonize those who are right now dependent on them). People engaging in a healthy debate about which policing tools are effective at fighting crime while protecting civil liberties are derided as “ideologues” and “busybodies”.

As I said before, I know it will be considered quaint to highlight transparency, good government and engaging the community. I am not interested in process for process’ sake. But our current approach does not reflect the skill or agility to develop the solutions we need to survive our climate, health and inequality crises while understanding that change is hard and must be implemented carefully.


Kate Harrison