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November 6, 2018 — California General Election

Berkeley City CouncilCandidate for City Council, District 8

Photo of Alfred Twu

Alfred Twu

695 votes (10.6%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Housing: Strengthen tenant protections, fund affordable housing, and rezone for more homes.
  • Walkable, Human Scaled Neighborhoods: Corner stores, traffic calming, and bike and pedestrian safety.
  • Economic Development: Speed up the permitting process for small businesses and new housing, to bring in more tax revenue to fund services. Incentives for business with better environmental and labor practices.



Artist/Designer, Self Employed (2006–current)
Designer, MWA Architects (2006–current)
Designer, StudioSM2 (2012–current)
Zero Waste Commissioner, City of Berkeley Zero Waste Commission — Appointed position (2013–current)
Alternate Commissioner, City of Berkeley — Appointed position (2018–current)


San Francisco State University Master of Business Administration (MBA), Sustainable Business (2010)
UC Berkeley Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Architecture (2006)

Community Activities

Zero Waste Committee Chair, Sierra Club - San Francisco Bay Chapter (2017–current)
Vice President of Programming, East Bay Young Democrats (2018–current)
Board Member, Berkeley Student Cooperative Alumni Association (2013–current)
Official socialist organizer, East Bay Democratic Socialists of America (2017–current)


Quirky, romantic, progressive – and pragmatic. I'm an artist, designer and community leader.  I've designed homes, businesses, and public infrastructure for the last dozen years.

  • I've advocated for tenant protections, affordable housing, cooperatives, and expanding the housing supply. 
  • I've served on the City of Berkeley's Zero Waste Commission.
  • I have over twelve years of experience designing housing, from tiny houses to apartment buildings.
  • I've worked with the Student Co-ops, and other student organizations.


Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Our Revolution East Bay
  • California Young Democrats
  • East Bay Young Democrats

Organizations (2)

  • Our Revolution Contra Costa
  • UC Berkeley Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA)

Elected Officials (5)

  • Ruscal Cayangyang, Vallejo Unified School District Board Member
  • Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner
  • Vinnie Bacon, Fremont Vice Mayor and Councilmember
  • James Chang, City of Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner
  • Jovanka Beckles, Richmond City Councilmember

Individuals (12)

  • Kacey Carpenter, Author and Organizer
  • Emery Martinez, Berkeley Student Cooperative Vice President of Experience and Training
  • Zach Gamlieli, Former Berkeley Student Cooperative President
  • Justin Tombolesi, Community Organizer, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
  • Kabir Kapur, Richmond Progressive Alliance Steering Committee
  • Aidan Hill, Green Party of Alameda County Councilor
  • Toni Gomez, President, East Bay Young Democrats
  • Helen Veazey, ASUC Housing Commission Chair
  • Soli Alpert, Executive Vice President, Progressive Student Association
  • Michael Rosen, Legislative Aide, City of Berkeley
  • Zach Denney, Central Vice Chair, Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party and Communications Director, Cali
  • Juniperangelica Cordova, ASUC Senator 17-18

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 Alfred Twu:
  • Legalize subdivision of large houses and lots into multiple homes.
  • Allow 2-4 unit apartment buildings to be constructed in backyards, similar to existing buildings along College and Hillegass Avenues.
  • Mid-rise buildings around 6 stories next to bus stops on Telegraph, College, and Claremont Avenues. 

See for illustrations of what this might look like. Preserving character doesn't mean rejecting apartments entirely.   At heart, my background and work experience is as an artist and designer.   Design guidelines can ensure that new buildings match the style of their neighbors, and most importantly, match how they meet the street, with front porches, gardens, quirky artwork, and front doors for first floor apartments. Existing houses can be repurposed as the community room.

What can be done to encourage the building of ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units)?
Answer from Alfred Twu:
  • Allow ADU's to be sold separately to provide low cost homeownership opportunities.
  • Simplify the permitting process - create a pattern book of pre-approved ADU designs.
  • Allow use of wheeled tiny houses and RVs as ADUs.

    More information at

    Incentives can be given to encourage the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units when basements and foundations are retrofitted for earthquake safety.

What will you do to improve pedestrian and other public safety measures?
Answer from Alfred Twu:

Speed is the biggest threat to safety, with risks rising exponentially as speeds rise above 15 mph. 
- Lower speed limits
- Traffic calming
- Dedicated bike lanes on busy roads

We also need to reduce the size and number of motor vehicles, through better transit, allowing corner stores to open and provide basic goods and services within a short walk of most homes,  better bike infrastructure, and dedicated parking for motorcycles, golf carts, tuk-tuks, and other smaller-than-car vehicles. 

What are the fire dangers in District 8, and how can fire risk be reduced?
Answer from Alfred Twu:

Wildfires are one of the biggest risks that Berkeley faces.  In the wildland urban interface, it's hard to stop flames from jumping from forest to homes.

To protect our city, I propose we create an agricultural buffer to provide a defensible, attractive, and productive space between neighborhoods and forests.  Farmland has a lower fuel load and flammability than homes or forest, and during recent wildfires, farms were a critical buffer that saved many homes.  Cal Fire notes that intensive agriculture minimizes the risk of fire.

These farms would also provide food for our many farm-to-table restaurants as well as to food donation programs.  With some areas reserved for community garden plots, they would also give unique education and recreation opportunities for everyone. 

To maximize food productivity and minimize neighborhood impacts, all such farms would be plants only.

See for an illustration of what this could look like.

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 Alfred Twu:

Yes.  The transfer tax increase is only 1% (from current rate of 1.5% to new rate of 2.5%) and only applies to properties selling for over $1.5 million.  In contrast, home values in Berkeley are increasing by 5-8% a year.  Homeowners "earn back" the tax after just a couple months of property value increase.  Measure P funds will go towards housing and other services for the homeless, improving the quality of life for everyone.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Through design we can be a city where children are safe from cars, where young adults can afford a home, where families know their neighbors, and where our elders can age in place.

Beautiful and Affordable Homes
- I will use my design experience to revise our zoning to allow more apartments near transit, corner stores, and backyard duplexes. - while ensuring that new buildings complement existing architectural styles - no glass boxes. 
- I support the state and local housing bonds and Proposition 10, which would allow Berkeley rent control to keep rents permanently affordable.

Eco-Friendly Transportation and Food
- Transportation and food are the largest contributors to climate change.  I'll lead the effort to reduce driving - especially cut-through traffic - and introduce legislation and incentives to make Berkeley the leader in plant-based and vegan food business.
- The shift away from fossil fuels can't rely on regressive policies such as parking tickets that put a disproportionate burden on those who can't afford it.  Instead, we need to address the overconsumption and concentrated wealth.  By pooling, sharing, and reusing our resources can we have a society that is affordable, green, friendly and fair.

Well Funded Public Services
I'll welcome and seek out new homes and businesses - especially cooperatives - to grow our tax base. 
To fund the retrofit of Alta Bates Hospital, I'll lead the creation of a new housing bonus program with fees dedicated to saving Alta Bates.

Position Papers

Climate Change


How Berkeley can address all its environmental impacts, both direct and indirect.

Addressing Climate Change

As an artist, I look at the big picture.  As a environmentalist with a background in zero waste and transportation, I look beyond the horizon and backwards and forwards in time.  

To be a true leader and example of a community, Berkeley needs a holistic systems approach to addressing climate change. 

This means reducing our impacts both within Berkeley and also accounting for goods and services provided by people living outside the city limits. 

Reducing Environmental Impact from the Big Four Sources: Transportation, Industry, Agriculture, and Buildings are the direct or indirect source of nearly all carbon emissions.  We can learn from our more frugal past to create a more sustainable future.

Shorten Commutes and Shopping Trips
- Zone to allow groceries, basic retail, and services within walking distance of all Berkeley residents.
- Build more homes, especially affordable homes, to reduce the need for our service workers to commute from far away. 

Culture and Economy of Sharing, Reuse and Repair
Economic incentives for reuse and repair businesses.
- More shared vehicles, tool lending libraries, etc.

Plant Based Food System
Events and incentives to promote plant-based foods.
Agricultural buffer zone to create fire barrier in the hills between homes and forests.

Compact and Efficient Buildings
Legalize subdivision of large houses into multiple homes.
- Promote cooperative living through working with Community Land Trusts.

Growing the Tax Base


How we can increase our tax base to fund more programs and services, without putting a large burden on existing businesses or residents.

Growing the Tax Base

Funding affordable housing and other social programs will require more tax dollars. But that does not mean that your taxes have to go up.

New construction grows the tax base, and improves efficiency.  It's like buying in bulk! 

For example, serving on the Zero Waste Commission, one of the things I did was review costs and rates for the City's garbage collection services, and compare it to other cities.  One of the findings was that the cost to service a duplex is basically the same as that to service a single unit house, since the labor is the main cost, and the amount of labor needed is based on the number of times staff needs to stop and wheel a cart up to the truck. 

True, some things such as streets and parks will require more maintenance with more people using them.  Others, however, such as public art or storm sewers, cost the same regardless of how many people live on each block.

Finally, a lot of Berkeley's biggest costs - for example, earthquake retrofitting historic public buildings such as Old City Hall - are fixed costs.  Having more homes and businesses to spread the cost over will reduce each individual's burden.

Mending the City


Reimagining the physical layout and economy of our neighborhoods for a more human and ecologically friendly way of life.

Mending the City

Mending the Economy
Berkeley has few natural resources relative to its population.  Every day, people of Berkeley spend money to buy stuff from other places, and also throw out thousands of tons of materials and resources.  Low quality furniture and clothing is often dumped on the street.  With so much money thrown out of the economy, we're forced to earn and spend vast amounts of wealth just to stay in place. 

But what if we had a Reuse Economy?  One built on the making, sharing, and stewardship of high quality things?  Already, Berkeley has a wonderful reuse industry that preserves Berkeley's hard-earned wealth and creates jobs and culture.  Businesses collect and sell vintage clothing, used electronics, old doors and building materials, original vinyl, and more.  We need more of this to become a true Zero Waste City and ensure our economy lasts beyond the age of disposables.  And we also need to expand this approach to the buildings and streets of our city itself...


Mending the Neighborhood
Our city has been zoned and built around exclusion, cars, and stockpiling wealth.  The challenges of affordability, traffic, and safety cannot be solved without mending the physical and social fabric of the city with new homes and public places. 

1. Corner Stores and Plazas

The necessities of life should be nearby - a full range of small businesses, cooperatives, and nonprofits, where you can borrow a tool, pick up deliveries, keep the kids busy, or hang out with friends after school.  Streets and intersections are calmed with art and narrowed entrances, providing room for public outdoor space. 

2. Car Sharing

Experience has shown that each car share vehicle can replace 10 privately owned cars.  This frees up land previously used for driveways and parking.  Promoting the use of electric bikes and scooters for in-town trips can also reduce traffic while preserving mobility to places not served well by mass transit. 

3. Rowhouses

Big enough to have three bedrooms, but small enough to fit between existing buildings, rowhouses are a low cost way to add new family-sized homes. 

4. Soft Story Retrofitting

With parking demand reduced by a switch to car sharing, soft-story garages can be retrofitted and converted into new apartments. 

5. Preserving and Adapting Buildings

It is cheaper and more ecologically friendly to expand existing buildings than to build high rises.  Zoning should encourage homes to grow and expand into duplexes, boarding houses, and small apartment buildings, conserving built resources while providing new housing. 

See for an illustration of what this would look like

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