SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) secured nearly $20 million for infrastructure and affordable housing projects in the 24th Assembly District in the 2022-23 Budget, which the Legislature passed this evening. In addition to the significant long-term investments in his district, Assemblymember Berman also secured $4 million to create a pilot program to address the cybersecurity workforce shortage and $5 million to improve treatment options for foster youth with substance use disorders.
“This year I secured my largest district funding package ever, totaling $19.6 million in investments to boost the affordability, safety, and vibrancy of the 24th Assembly District for decades to come,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman. “These critical civic investments include a new community plaza in Pescadero, 136 homes for very low-income families in East Palo Alto, rebuilding an outdated fire station in Palo Alto, making needed improvements to recreational facilities in North Fair Oaks, and technological upgrades to the Caltrain corridor to reduce gate down times that block traffic. These investments highlight the enduring, successful partnership between local jurisdictions and the state.”
In addition to funding for projects in the 24th Assembly District, the Budget includes record spending on both K-12 and higher education, childcare, addressing the housing and homelessness crisis, and critical transportation and infrastructure improvements. In addition, the budget will include a $17 billion statewide inflation relief package, while also adding $12 billion to budget reserves, bringing total reserves up to $37 billion. With this agreement, twenty-three million Californians will receive direct payments of up to $1,050. For a family of four, a $1,050 check will cover the cost of inflation for groceries for roughly two years.
“These investments will have a real, tangible impact on hundreds of thousands of constituents in my district and tens of millions of people across California,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman. “This budget will fund our state’s global leadership in combatting climate change, it will build student housing at our UC & CSU campuses, it will provide urgently needed mental health services, strengthen and expand wildfire defenses, and break records for education funding. It is an investment in our future—an investment full of both hope and pragmatism. I am proud to support this historic Budget tonight.”
$8 million to the City of East Palo Alto to create 136 homes for low-income families
965 Weeks Street is a critically important housing project for the City of East Palo Alto that will provide 136 affordable homes for low-income families. It is deeply affordable—averaging 45% of AMI— which aligns with the needs in the City, where incomes of residents are lower than in any other place in San Mateo County.
“To see this level of collaboration recognized with crucial gap-closing funding is gratifying,” said Duane Bay, Executive Director of EPACANDO. “The result, transforming a vacant, City-owned parcel, will be transformational for 136 households as well.”
“We thank Assemblymember Berman for his advocacy on behalf of the future residents of 965 Weeks Street,” said Matt Franklin, President and CEO of MidPen Housing. “Due to his incredible commitment and effective work, we are one giant step closer to making our vision to develop new homes for East Palo Alto families a reality.”
The project ranges from studios to 4-bedroom homes for families of all sizes, and 8 homes will serve homeless households referred to and served by the County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. The project is located on donated land and over $23 million of County, City and other local funds have already been committed. While the state’s recent Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities award of $19.8 million got the project closer to starting construction, there remained a final financing hurdle to cross before the project and the planned housing and transportation improvements could be built. The $8 million in state funding helps to fill that gap.
$5.2 million for the City of Palo Alto to replace Fire Station 4
This allocation will fund rebuilding Fire Station 4, located at the corner of Middlefield Road and East Meadow Drive in Palo Alto. A study commissioned by the City of Palo Alto found that the station, built in 1953, fails to meet the California building code, as well as the National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. This funding will ensure the new facility will be fully operational and able to effectively serve the community after a major disaster, such as a significant earthquake, fire, or other natural disaster.
“I want to thank Assembly Member Berman for his leadership in securing much needed funding for Fire Station #4,” said Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt. “Improvements to this station have been a community priority to ensure our public safety and emergency medical personnel have the modern and seismically secure facilities they need. The City of Palo Alto greatly appreciates the hard work and longtime commitment of Assembly Member Berman toward critical public safety infrastructure.”
$3 million for the Caltrain Wireless Optimized Crossing System
This project will provide major benefits to the safety, mobility, and economic development of the region. Implementing a wireless optimized crossing system will reduce gate down time at grade crossings along the Caltrain corridor. Reduction in gate down times will maintain run times for Caltrain and will facilitate greater vehicle throughput at crossings. Greater operational flexibility for Caltrain will support the agency’s 2040 Service Vision which calls for increased service, frequency, and longer trains. The Service Vision projects ridership growth to almost triple to 180,000 daily riders. Ridership growth of this magnitude would eliminate 825,000 car trips and 110 metric tons of carbon emissions every day, and would put an estimated 5.5 lanes worth of commuter traffic onto Caltrain instead of the region’s highways
$2 million for the Pescadero Community Plaza Project
This funding, in partnership with San Mateo County, will build a community plaza in the heart of Pescadero, which will not only provide a space to gather for residents, but also provide a potential space for tourists and California residents to access information and recreation while on the San Mateo County coast. The unincorporated community of Pescadero has many natural assets including farmlands, two major creeks supporting endangered species, and beaches providing recreational opportunities for up to 10,000 visitors each week, but it does not have a permanent place for community members to connect and celebrate together. There is currently no community center or public plaza, and there are no spaces for families to gather and interact outside of the few restaurants. There are also few opportunities for children and teens to socialize outside of school and sports. In 2019, the community of Pescadero convened a Town Planning Process, among the top priorities identified was the need for a public space where community members can freely come together.
$1.4 million for the Fair Oaks School turf and light replacement
The Fair Oaks School Field is located in a significantly underserved area in San Mateo County. This field is the only recreational amenity in the neighborhood and is in dire need of replacement. In partnership with Redwood City, San Mateo County, and the Redwood City School District, this funding will replace the crumb rubber infill with new organic material for cooler field temperatures. The new LED field light system will also save energy costs, while the synthetic turf field will continue to save nearly 2 million gallons of water each year. This funding will enable both youth and adults to continue to benefit from this recreational amenity.
$5 million to better serve foster youth with substance use disorders
According to data from the National Youth in Transition Database, youth that have been in the foster care system are five times more likely to abuse drugs than their peers. The Administration for Children and Families reports that 27% of foster youth aged 17 have been referred for substance abuse treatment. This funding will establish a grant program to fund the development and implementation of evidence-based models and promising practices to better serve these foster youth in family-based settings, to prevent the need for congregate-level of care. Substance use can lead to foster youth being removed from their foster family and placed in a group home. Going from a stable-family setting to a congregate care setting can make positive outcomes harder to achieve for the youth.
$4 million to establish a pilot program to address the cybersecurity workforce shortage
This allocation will establish the Cybersecurity Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships Pilot Program through the California State University (CSU) to address the immediate cybersecurity workforce gap. The pilot program will bring together stakeholders in the cybersecurity ecosystem to align the workforce needs of employers with the education and training provided by institutions of higher education. This will increase the pipeline of students pursuing well-paying, high demand cybersecurity careers and develop the cybersecurity workforce to meet industry needs within local or regional economies.