Alongside its many other societal disruptions, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly hard impact on the students of the Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP): the loss of summer internship opportunities. In response, DCRP has created an online summer program for its continuing Master of City Planning students. In exchange for a small stipend, 35 students will be participating in one or two group projects with a community client and faculty mentor. Nearly all of the projects were created by DCRP alumni now working in prominent government agencies or community-based organizations.
Where will we find our students this summer? Many will be working to evaluate Oakland’s Slow Streets Program, which supports safe physical activity by creating more space to comfortably use low-traffic streets for physically distant walking, wheelchair rolling, jogging, and biking. Also in Oakland, students will be working to investigate the potential for delivery companies such as DoorDash and UberEats to leverage their services beyond restaurant deliveries in order to support Oakland's small businesses.
For Caltrans, students will examine the potential for e-bikes in California and make recommendations on how to integrate them into existing transportation systems. Also for the state government, a group will develop recommendations for how to better support regional planning under SB 375.
A set of projects for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission will support the Bay Adapt planning initiative for sea level rise, update the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan, and develop a database and outreach strategy for local environmental justice organizations.
Another group of projects will tackle issues of equitable development. Working for the Unity Council, students will explore the viability of creating a neighborhood real estate investment trust in Fruitvale. For the Communities for a Better Environment, students will examine the potential to phase out refineries in Richmond. Another group will examine the impacts of Berkeley’s zoning code on racial equity and then envision what a new people-centered zoning could look like.
Last but not least, for the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development, students will help firms in different economic sectors recover from the COVID-19 crisis and analyze its fiscal impact on city revenues
We look forward to reporting on project findings at the end of the summer! Go Bears!