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November 6, 2018 — California General Election

Berkeley City CouncilCandidate for City Council, District 4

Photo of Ben Gould

Ben Gould

Sustainability Policy Analyst
1,914 votes (34.9%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Addressing homelessness through a regional housing-first approach, creating deeply affordable housing throughout the County with on-site wrap-around services.
  • Creating green and affordable homes for all throughout our community, and protecting current tenants.
  • Improving public safety for all community residents, by improving training and recruitment for our first responders.



Profession:Sustainability Analyst
Sustainability Analyst, City & County of San Francisco (2018–current)
Commissioner, Community Environmental Advisory Commission — Appointed position (2014–current)
Graduate Student Researcher, CoolClimate Network, UC Berkeley Renewable & Appropriate Energy Laboratory (2015–2017)
Commissioner, Police Review Commission — Appointed position (2016–2016)
Member, Zoning Adjustments Board — Appointed position (2016–2016)
Commissioner, Housing Advisory Commission — Appointed position (2016–2016)
Research Asssociate, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2013–2014)
Research Intern, International Council for Clean Transportation (2014–2014)


UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy Master of Public Policy (2017)
UC Berkeley M.S., Environmental Engineering (2017)
UC San Diego B.S., General Biology (2013)

Community Activities

Board Member, Berkeley Democratic Club (2017–2018)


I'm running for City Council because I love this city and care deeply about its future.

As a Berkeley native and longtime resident, I think we're heading in the wrong direction. I'm running for Council to put us back on track.

Berkeley is my home. I was born at Alta Bates, attended Berkeley High, and ultimately earned my master's degrees from UC Berkeley, where I studied public policy and environmental engineering.

But the Berkeley  I grew up in isn't the Berkeley we see today. We sky-high rents, growing homelessness, and rising crime, and this isn't the future I want for our community. We need a new future for Berkeley.

Over the past four years, I've been doing the hard work to make a difference here in Berkeley.  I've worked as a legislative aide in Berkeley City Hall, served as Chair of the City's Environmental Commission, and I currently work as a Sustainability Analyst for the City & County of San Francisco.

As the next Councilmember for District 4, I'll fight for effective, long-term and regional solutions to ending homelessness. I'll champion green and affordable homes for families and future generations. I'll work with our first responders to ensure a professional and fast response in case of emergency, and the best de-escalation and anti-bias training in the country. And I'll leverage my environmental expertise to lead the fight against climate change, expand transit and bicycle infrastructure, and create a truly welcoming and green Downtown for current and future generations to come.

I'm honored to have been endorsed by the Berkeley Firefighters Association, Berkeley Democratic Club, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and dozens of other elected officials, community leaders, commissions, and District 4 neighborhood residents.

I hope you'll join me. Learn more at

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Berkeley Democratic Club
  • Berkeley Firefighters Association
  • Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Organizations (3)

  • Black Young Democrats of the East Bay (BYDEB)
  • Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 595

Elected Officials (4)

  • Berkeley Councilmember Darryl Moore (ret.)
  • Emeryville Mayor John Bauters
  • Berkeley Councilmember Lori Droste
  • Berkeley Councilmember Susan Wengraf

Individuals (23)

  • Barry Fike, BUSD Teacher and former President, Berkeley Federation of Teachers
  • Karen Chapple, Founder, UC Berkeley Urban Displacement Project
  • Dan Kammen, UC Berkeley Distinguished Professor of Energy
  • Dmitri Belser, Executive Director, Center for Accessible Technology
  • Victoria Legg, Disaster & Fire Safety Commissioner
  • Elisa Batista, Children, Youth & Recreation Commissioner
  • Rashi Kesarwani, Community Health Commissioner
  • Darrell Ben-Lee Owens, Housing Advisory Commissioner
  • Jeff Vincent, Planning Commissioner
  • Liz Varnhagen, Community Environmental Advisory Commissioner
  • Jenny Wenk, Personnel Board Chair
  • Alex Sharenko, Zero Waste Commissioner
  • Terry Roberts, Police Review Commissioner
  • Adam Orford, Graduate Assembly VP of Finance
  • Isabella Chow, ASUC Senator
  • Aaron Bryce Lee, ASUC Senator
  • Andy Theocharous, ASUC Senator
  • Stephen Boyle, ASUC Senator
  • William Wang, ASUC Senator
  • Zach Carter, ASUC Senator
  • Amma Sarkodee-Adoo, ASUC Senator
  • Jonathan Morris, Graduate Assembly President
  • State Assembly Candidate Buffy Wicks

Political Beliefs

Position Papers



My position on how to address Berkeley's homelessness crisis:

We need a regional solution to homelessness.

With over a thousand residents sleeping on our streets, it's clear the status quo isn't working. We need an effective, long-term, regional approach that priotities housing first as a solution to homelessness, with supportive wrap-around services.

We've seen homelessness on the rise over the past several years, as the Bay Area's housing crisis continues to grow. In Berkeley alone, the number of homeless residents has risen 17% from 2015 to 2017, and 43% over the last 8 years. Our unhoused are disproportionately people of color and disadvantaged - 50% are African American, 20% are transition-age youth, and 27% are chronically homeless.

80% of these 1,000 homeless residents were previously housed in Alameda County before becoming homeless.

This is a challenge that Berkeley neither can, nor should, solve on its own. Our neighbors share our values, but many of the smaller cities in our region, like Albany and El Cerrito, lack the resources to effectively provide services to residents who become homeless.

Ben’s Solutions

District 4 needs a representative with an effective approach to solving homelessness.

Policy goals: Working collaboratively and regionally to implement long-term housing-first solutions to homelessness.

How we get there:

  • Develop a regional fund and land trust, with cities throughout Alameda County contributing resources.
  • Work with nonprofit affordable housing developers to create affordable housing for the homeless, located close to transit and services.
  • Collaborate with local and regional nonprofit and city service providers to ensure wrap-around supportive services, including mental health, drug rehabilitation, and job training, on-site at the affordable housing.
  • Develop and deploy navigation centers to help chronically homeless residents get re-established in supportive housing environments.
  • Support expanded access to restrooms, shelters, and warming centers.
  • Pursue additional creative solutions to address homelessness, including micro-units, tiny homes, and public partnerships.
  • Support the creation of affordable housing throughout the community.
  • Deploy strategic approaches for keeping housing affordable, protecting tenants, and preventing homelessness before it begins.
  • Work to keep our public commons clean, safe, and welcoming through effective deployment of outreach, supportive services, and treatment for addiction and other mental health issues.

Why this works: There are a wide range of causes of homelessness, but only one solution: housing. Research from across the country has shown that a housing-first approach, with services and treatment on-site, is the most cost-effective way to move people from the street into stable living environments. It's also a regional problem: Berkeley has neither the land nor finances to effectively address this problem, but we can make meaningful progress by collaborating at a larger scale. We need to prioritize the effective, long-term solutions, while making sure we simultaneously work to prevent the crisis from getting worse.

Public Safety


My positions on addressing public safety in our community:

Everyone deserves to feel safe in Berkeley.

Our community relies upon a large network of firefighters, paramedics, mental health professionals, community service providers, and police officers to ensure health and safety in our community.

However, this network is at risk of deterioriating. With dozens of unfilled police and fire positions, applications for openings at a historic low, and 80% of police officers considering leaving the force, our public safety network is in jeopardy.

At the same time, we're seeing increasing demand for service as new residents, housed and unhoused alike, place more strain on our firefighters; and double-digit increases in violent crime require police officers capable of intervening safely in dangerous situations. In just the last year, our community has grappled with headlines such as:

The root causes and motivators of crime are complex, and while it's important we continue working to ensure nobody is pushed into crime for economic, drug addition, or mental health reasons, we ultimately rely upon our police officers to respond to incidents of violence in our community.

Our police department is currently short-staffed. Despite budgeting for 180 officers, the department has nearly two dozen vacancies. Recruitment challenges mean our community is without a drug task force or dedicated foot or bike patrols, leaving community members and neighbors at risk.

Meanwhile, our firefighters are handling a continually increasing volume of calls without adding additional capacity. Alta Bates hospital is slated for closure, and keeping it open requires finding resources to ensure it will survive a major eartquake.

Current Challenges

Our first responders have been ill-served by the incumbent in District 4. According to the Berkeley Police Association, the incumbent City Councilmember "...has made no effort to seek input from law enforcement and [has] supported policies that de-professionalize and demoralize the department." These policies "...would put unqualified activists in charge of core police functions, remove critical emergency training and place neighbors at risk of property damage."

As District 4 neighbor Eric Friedman wrote, "We have the funding to staff up. What we lack are elected officials who are committed — in word and in deed — to fostering a professional setting where today’s top talent wants to work. Officers have choices, like everyone else in this very tight labor market, and like all of us they want to work in places where they are supported and where their professionalism and dedication are respected."

For firefighters, Berkeley lacks adequate training facilities and has yet to modernize our dispatch center. We need to revisit how we dispatch our first responders, to ensure we're sending the right resources to the right calls. Without better resource allocation, our first responders will be unable to deal with increasing call volume in coming years.

Ben’s Solutions

Ensuring public safety in our community and our neighborhoods

As a member of the Police Review Commission, I worked with the community and our police officers to ensure effective police oversight. As a legislative aide, I attended police trainings and saw Berkeley Police Department practice their de-escalation and anti-bias techniques. As your Councilmember, I'll continue to ensure effective oversight while supporting our first responders in protecting every member of our community

Policy goals: Reducing violent crime in our Downtown and improving public safety for all community residents.

How we get there:

  • Work with our first responders to identify and resolve recruitment challenges.
  • Advocate for improved training resources and up-to-date protective equipment for all police and fire employees.
  • Ensure emergency health services are available and sufficient to address community needs, freeing up police & firefighter resources to focus on more critical emergencies.
  • Modernize our dispatch center to ensure proper response to emergencies - fire trucks when there's a fire, EMTs or paramedics when there's a medical issue.
  • Work to ensure police accountability and oversight through body cameras and dash cams.
  • Continue working with the Center for Police Equity to identify and address biases in policing, supporting our first responders in achieving the lowest rates of disparity in the country and lowering them further.
  • Work with stakeholders to identify and implement best practices in police oversight through an independent, professional police auditor's office to ensure effective oversight.
  • Ensure Berkeley’s earthquake shelters are appropriately retrofitted for earthquake safety. Continue the progress made on undergrounding of power lines.
  • Proactively reach out to Sutter to identify challenges associated with retrofitting Alta Bates to comply with earthquake safety regulations, and collaborate to identify funding sources and alternatives to closure.
  • Support the neighborhood-based Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), helping to spread the word and encourage involvement to ensure neighborhood resilience in the event of disaster.

Why this works: Our first responders are held to high standards, and they have historically excelled at performing the demanding jobs we ask of them in ways that provide safety and security for all members of our community. This is a track record to build off of and support, and working collaboratively to ensure they have training and resources while ensuring fair and professional oversight will help continue that success.



My positions on housing affordability crisis:

Berkeley is in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis.

For students, seniors, teachers, nurses, and too many others, the rapid rise in rents has made finding affordable housing next to impossible. We've added jobs faster than we've added homes, and the resulting shortage enables landlords to rent or sell to only the very highest bidders.

There’s no silver bullet to this problem - we have to ensure we're creating more homes for people at all incomes, to preserve our values of diversity, inclusiveness, and opportunity.

As we look to the future, we should seek out opportunities to complement and expand upon Berkeley's incredible and unique architectural diversity. New homes in our commercial areas can help re-energize neighborhoods and bring in exciting new restaurants, while homes close to transit ensure people can choose car-free sustainable lifestyles. Small backyard cottages give homeowners flexibility, and supporting strong affordable housing requirements throughout our community ensures everyone can benefit.

Ben’s Solutions

Berkeley needs a representative with tangible solutions to the housing crisis.

I'm honored to have the endorsements of housing leaders like Professor Karen Chapple, Founder of the UC Berkeley Urban Displacement Project. She supports me because my policies are based in the world-class research done at UC Berkeley on the best ways to improve affordability and prevent displacement

Policy goals: Supporting the creation of green and affordable housing for all, and protecting current tenants.

How we get there:

  • Incentivize home-builders to choose green design & sustainable materials and to include additional on-site affordable units.
  • Make it easier for homeowners and small landlords to create backyard cottages (accessory dwelling units, or ADUs).
  • Allow homeowners to subdivide their single-family homes into duplexes or triplexes, so seniors can downsize without relocating and families can stay together.
  • Re-legalize the construction of small, neighborhood-scale apartment buildings in our neighborhoods
  • Support new mid-size apartment buildings along major thoroughfares, especially on underutilized sites and close to transit.
  • Evaluate new sources of revenue for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, to ensure steady funding for affordable housing even in the event of an economic downturn.
  • Explore public and cooperative ownership models for affordable housing.

Why this works: Supporting a diversity of housing types throughout our community ensures more options to choose from and makes it harder for landlords and developers to price-gouge. New construction either provides on-site affordable units or pays fees to help the City build its own affordable units, and research shows that it also is the most effective tool for preventing displacement and protecting current tenants.

Videos (1)

Why I'm Running — November 3, 2018 Ben Gould for Council 2018

A 2-minute video on my background, why I'm running, and policy positions.

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