The Daily Californian Online

Survey seeks student's tips for businesses

By Karinina Cruz
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Category: News > City > Business

In an effort to gain insight into what the UC Berkeley community is seeking from its surrounding business districts and to sustain a working relationship with the rest of the city of Berkeley, the campus's student government will survey students, staff and faculty to gather suggestions on how to better represent their interests in city businesses.

On March 10, the ASUC and Graduate Assembly sponsored a forum where students were able to listen to discussions about recent city legislation and voice their opinions on how to attract more patrons - specifically students - to Telegraph Avenue and Downtown Berkeley. During the forum, the assembly decided to create an online survey focusing on questions regarding consumer demands on retail stores and restaurants, nightlife, entertainment and safety issues, which will begin in the following days and will be active until the end of the semester.

According to Clara Botstein, the Graduate Assembly's legislative director of city and community affairs, the assembly wants to initiate a dialogue between the city and campus to "make Berkeley a better place for its students."

John Caner, executive director of the Downtown Berkeley Association, said the survey's focus on students will be an additional help to the outreach the association has already done with merchants and property owners in developing and refining the association's plan to revitalize the Downtown.

According to Botstein, the assembly has been working to obtain a high response from the students with the campus's Local Government and Community Relations, the Telegraph Business Improvement District, the Downtown Berkeley Association and several city council members, such as Laurie Capitelli, Gordon Wozniak and Susan Wengraf.

"(Capitelli) feels strongly that the success of Telegraph and the downtown impacts all of Berkeley," said Pam Gray, legislative aide for Capitelli. "He feels very committed to see both of those commercial districts succeed."

Both Capitelli and Wozniak circulated surveys in their respective districts to better understand the residents' attitudes towards their business areas.

Wozniak said the information gathered from the student survey may display patterns and a consensus on what is effective or ineffective in the business areas. However, he added that it is important that this information is distributed to collaborative organizations, such as the ASUC and student groups in order to be effectively utilized.

Still, some city officials remain skeptical about the survey's efficiency in achieving its goals.

"I think it's better than doing nothing, but it's not a very well prepared survey," said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes Telegraph. "We've heard from students again and again the same message year after year ... this is another survey that asks the same questions."

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