Berkeley first city in region to develop resilience strategy

Saturday, April 2, 2016

BERKELEY, Calif. -- City of Berkeley officials released an ambitious plan aimed at helping the city tackle numerous important issues, including natural disasters, climate change and racial, social and economic inequities.

The city's 59-page "Resilience Strategy" calls for the creation of six community resilience centers where underserved neighborhoods can receive training, supplies and other resources to better prepare for and recover from disasters.

The centers are to be located at existing community hubs, such as a senior affordable housing complex, a historically black church, an intercultural gathering center and a center for people with disabilities.

Berkeley officials said using those locations to promote preparedness and coordinate responses to problems is part of a broader strategy, which also was launched today, to use "interconnectedness" as a driving force to make the city more resilient so it's better able to withstand shocks of any kind, be they natural, human, economic or due to other factors.

City officials, including Chief Resilience Officer Timothy Burroughs, said Berkeley is the first city in the Bay Area and only the sixth in the world to develop a comprehensive resilience strategy.

The effort is the culmination of work Berkeley is doing as part of the Rockefeller Foundation's "100 Resilient Cities Network."

Oakland and San Francisco have also been among the first cities chosen to participate in the network but they haven't developed comprehensive plans yet.

Berkeley officials said a key element of building a resilient city is addressing a community's inequities, such as by racial or socioeconomic inequities.

They said inequities place stress on people in certain racial and socioeconomic groups as well as the community as a whole and those inequities get exacerbated in a disaster, so the Resilience Strategy is designed to address them.

The six community resilience centers are La Pena Cultural Center, the Ed Roberts Campus, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, McGee Baptist Church, the Harriet Tubman Terrace Aparments and YMCA Head Start.