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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
Local

Berkeley City CouncilCandidate for City Council, District 8

Photo of Mary Kay Lacey

Mary Kay Lacey

Planning Commissioner/Attorney
1,990 votes (30.4%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Champion affordable housing for those who are most housing insecure and to prevent displacement
  • Support a “housing first” approach to address homelessness by providing transitional housing
  • Lead the District 8 fight to Save Alta Bates Hospital

Experience

Experience

Profession:Planning Commissioner/Attorney
Attorney, Mary Kay Lacey, Esq. (2017–current)
Commissioner, Planning Commission, City of Berkeley — Appointed position (2018–current)
Commissioner, Personnel Board, City of Berkeley — Appointed position (2017–current)
Alternate Commissioner, Zoning Adjustment Board, City of Berkeley — Appointed position (2017–current)
Alternate Commissioner, Police Review Commission, City of Berkeley — Appointed position (2017–current)
Attorney, Dentons US, LLP (1989–2017)

Education

University of California Berkeley; Georgetown University Law Center B.A.; J.D., Double Major in Political Science and Social Welfare; Doctorate in Law (1989)

Community Activities

Legal and Policy Advisor and Community Organizer, Mayor of the City of Berkeley's Task Force to Save Alta Bates Hospital (2017–current)

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Alameda Labor Council
  • California Nurses Association
  • SEIU Local 1021

Organizations (2)

  • Berkeley Progressive Alliance
  • Berkeley Tenants Union

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters, Berkeley/Albany/Emeryville, Voter Services Committee (5)

How can District 8 support greater density?  Where can housing development best be located?
Answer from Mary Kay Lacey:

I support building housing in all districts of the City, including District 8.  The difficulty of building in District 8 is finding space large enough to support development, with necessary set-backs and without demolishing existing buildings.  District 8 has large homes, however, that could be converted to multi-unit dwellings, and we must find ways to make it easier to allow these conversions.  We must also work to simplify the process whereby an owner of a single-family home that was once a multi-unit home wants to convert the residence back to multi-units.

 

I also support the idea of limited equity cooperative housing and I applaud Councilmember Kate Harrison’s work, based on the success of this approach in other cities, to allocate seed money to get such a project off the ground in Berkeley. I am also aware that the City has identified hundreds of vacant rent-controlled apartment units, as well as entire apartment buildings in Berkeley.  I support using city funds (hopefully from Measure O) to purchase underutilized properties and make them exclusively available for affordable housing in District 8 and elsewhere.

What can be done to encourage the building of ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units)?
Answer from Mary Kay Lacey:

I support building more ADU’s throughout Berkeley, and I support incentives to make them ADA compliant as a way to increase the housing stock for seniors and disabled individuals. The way to encourage the building of ADU’s is to make the permitting process easier.  We need to also think about creative ways to make financing of ADU’s available to residents who have the desire to build an ADU on their property, but do not have the ability to finance the construction — which can be expensive.  This is another area where cooperative housing, as well as alternative financing and forms of ownership, should be explored. 

What will you do to improve pedestrian and other public safety measures?
Answer from Mary Kay Lacey:

I support the work that has been done to make Berkeley increasingly bike friendly.

I realize that not everyone is able to bike, but I support making this a priority for those who can.   I know that Berkeley recently passed a new Bike Plan, after a long community process, and now it must get funded and implemented.

With regard to bike and pedestrian safety, they must be equally prioritized. I am aware that the City Council recently passed a “Vision Zero” Ordinance for the City of Berkeley. I support this, but being a Vision Zero city is not enough. We must act to put policies in place that achieve the goal of Vision Zero —to eliminate all traffic related pedestrian and bike fatalities. We need to study what other cities, such as San Francisco, have done successfully, and then make implementation of those measures a priority. To my knowledge, this has not yet happened in Berkeley, and I would make it a priority.

 

The reason pedestrian safety is such a major issue facing District 8 is because our district is more impacted by traffic than any other district.  We have the main arteries for travelling into and out of Berkeley, and our residential streets are used as thoroughfares during commute hours.  We need to slow traffic on these streets by installing more stop signs, and where appropriate, speed bumps or pavers. We also need to work with traffic engineers, in conjunction with UC Berkeley, to improve our ability to move people into and out of Berkeley, including to and from UC Berkeley. 

 

With regard to safety in our neighborhoods, I am a Personnel Board Commissioner and I am aware of the staffing issues the Police Department faces.  We have had many discussions addressing what can be done to increase recruitment, as well as to improve retention.  From these discussions, I know that our staffing issues are not unique to Berkeley, but instead are part of a national trend where fewer people are choosing to become police officers. 

 

To achieve full staffing, we need to ensure that our benefit packages are at the top level for officer pay, and I support reinstatement of programs that provide new and attractive opportunities for officers, as well as promotion opportunities, so that our officers have internal opportunities to develop themselves and advance in responsibility and pay. 

 

Our communities (not only in District 8 but citywide) would also benefit by being offered more opportunities to meet officers personally, and I would hold meetings in District 8 to help the police and community reinforce positive relationships.  I know the Department initiated citywide meet and greet sessions that have been very well received, and I wholeheartedly support these types of initiatives.

What are the fire dangers in District 8, and how can fire risk be reduced?
Answer from Mary Kay Lacey:

With climate change, we face an increasing likelihood of a major fire, and the danger to houses in the hills and close to our regional parks is most acute.  I understand that the City Council passed major legislation in the wake of last year’s North Bay fires and the Fire Department is prioritizing and moving forward with the referrals.  And this includes vegetation management on both public and private land within Berkeley.


Vegetation management in regional parks that line the Eastern face of the Berkeley, Richmond and Oakland hills must be the top priority.  A firestorm that gains speed and heat on the back side of the hill that crests into Berkeley could be unstoppable.  I will work to ensure that Berkeley is coordinating with East Bay Regional Parks to keep Berkeley and all East Bay communities safe. 

Homes in District 8 sell in the upper ranges. Do you support the higher transfer tax on the November ballot and what how will you explain your position to voters?
Answer from Mary Kay Lacey:

Yes, I support measure P.  It is a non-regressive tax, and I believe that it makes sense to add an additional tax on residential and commercial properties that sell at the upper ranges, from those who have benefited so greatly from property appreciation, as a way to help fund homeless services for those who have so little.    

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