Fifty thousand pieces of discarded gum.
Add them up and the sidewalks could look pretty grimy -- and did.
But that's history. Armed with a five-year commitment by business and property owners and a $1.2 million budget, the Downtown Berkeley Association subjected four miles of city streets to a power hose-down.
The association also saw to the fresh painting of street fixtures and light poles and the greening of several strategic spots in downtown Berkeley, courtesy of a program members dubbed “It Starts Here."
The program’s hallmarks include a branded truck; commercial pressure washer, colorful street banners, hospitality Segway and hanging flower baskets.
The Berkeley City Council approved the creation of business district and awarded a contract for providing services to the Downtown Berkeley Association in January. Financed by contributions by property owners, the budget of $1.2 million was intended for marketing, outreach, safety, maintenance and improvements.
The district encompasses 25 blocks, bounded by Delaware Street to the North, Oxford and Fulton streets to the East, Martin Luther King Jr. Way to the West, and Dwight Way to the South.
Home to UC Berkeley and a lively arts district, the city is also “a culinary crossroads” and a fertile crescent of innovation and discovery in science, culture, business and ideas, the association's marketing materials say. It is also a place where entrepreneurs have led in sustainability development, they say, offering up the Berkeley Skydeck and Berkeley Startup Cluster as proof.
Sixteen “cleaning and hospitality ambassadors” will help promote the marketing theme, “Taste, Create, Experience,” which represents the city’s vibrant offerings.
Civic, community and education leaders will hear from association CEO John Caner and Mayor Tom Bates and get a firsthand look at the changes “It Starts Here” has brought Tuesday, April 3.