Affordable Housing Key Issue In City Council Re-Election Bid





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From protesting the bombing of Cambodia in her student days to authoring a resolution against the bombing of Afghanistan, District 4 candidate Dona Spring explores a diverse palette of local issues this election season.

In addition to increasing affordable housing, she also lobbies for funding detoxification and rehabilitation facilities in the East Bay as well as restricting the sale of fortified alcohol products in Berkeley.

Dona Spring

Spring supports providing low interest loans to small businesses and putting both residential and commercial buildings on Shattuck and University avenues in hopes of attracting new residents and businesses.

Spring says she also hopes to build up Downtown by including more visible crosswalks, more greenery, improved lighting and repairing building fašades.

But Spring says affordable housing is the major issue of her campaign. She advocates providing federal loans to aid low-income families in repairing their homes.

"The key issue this election is whether Berkeley still wants to be a liberal city that embraces diversity," Spring says. "The high cost of housing here is leading toward the gentrification of the city."

She says a lack of low-income housing adversely affects the city's diversity, encouraging only high-income residents to remain in Berkeley.

"It's getting so that only people from a higher economic bracket can afford to live in Berkeley," Spring says. "It's harder for students and working people-police, teachers, social workers-to live here. Oftentimes, they'll have to live in Richmond or Oakland and commute in."

Spring criticizes moderate council members for not investing additional funds in affordable housing.

She supports Measure M, which would impose a 0.5 percent tax on property transfers. The generated funds would contribute to the development and preservation of affordable housing.

In March 2000, Spring supported a housing project that would build 32 apartments for low-income families.

Spring, who drafted a resolution last October that called for an immediate end to U.S. bombing in Afghanistan and condemned the U.S. declaration of war on Afghanistan, has received opposition for addressing international issues as a city councilmember from fellow District 4 candidate L A Wood.

"Spring likes to take positions on big issues like Afghanistan and Iraq," Wood says. "Most people I've talked to would rather that the City Council focus on issues right here at home. A Berkeley city councilmember should worry about Berkeley."

But Spring, who acknowledges that the council's involvement in international politics has been criticized for years, maintains international issues are important to Berkeley residents.

"Military policy does affect us," Spring says. "One tax dollar out of two goes to the military, either to pay off military debt or to buy new weapons. Money that's frittered away on weapons of engagement could be better spent on housing, health care or education. People in Berkeley are very well-informed, and they care about how national policies impact them."

Fellow progressive Councilmember Kriss Worthington supports Spring's positions.

"She frequently proposes the most innovative ideas of anyone around," Worthington says. "Without her leadership, dozens of issues would never get addressed."

In March 2000, Spring said the liquor stores in South and Southwest Berkeley created an undesirable atmosphere in surrounding areas by fostering violence and drug use.

In December 1999, Spring said she supports the use of medical marijuana "as a person who has a chronic pain problem."

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