Jesse Arreguín

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Jesse Arreguín
Jesse Arreguin at FearlessCities. International Municipalist Summit, Barcelona 9-11 June.jpg
22nd Mayor of Berkeley
Assumed office
December 1, 2016
Preceded byTom Bates
Member of the Berkeley City Council from the 4th district
In office
December 2008 – December 1, 2016
Preceded byDona Spring
Succeeded byKate Harrison
Personal details
Born (1984-09-04) September 4, 1984 (age 37)
Fresno, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic

Jesse Arreguín (born September 4, 1984) is an American politician serving as mayor of Berkeley, California. He served on the Berkeley Housing Commission and Rent Stabilization Board from 2004 to 2009 and represented District 4 on the Berkeley City Council from 2009 to 2016. He is the first Latino elected Berkeley's mayor and one of the youngest mayors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mayor Arreguin is the President of the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Bay Area's regional planning agency.

Arreguín has described himself as an "unapologetic progressive"[1] and said he wants to "restore Berkeley to the forefront of progressive leadership on the environment and social justice."[2]

Early life[edit]

Arreguín was born in Fresno, California, and grew up in San Francisco, California. His parents and grandparents were farmworkers.[3] At age 9 Arreguín became involved in the campaign to change the name of Army Street to Cesar Chavez Street in the historically Latino Mission District of San Francisco.[4][5] Arreguín continued to be involved through efforts against reversing the name change in 1995, described as having "campaigned tirelessly to keep one of the Mission's main thoroughfares named after his idol, Cesar Chavez."[6]

Arreguín was the first in his family to attend college, and attended the University of California Berkeley.[7] While at UC Berkeley he served as the City Affairs Director for the Associated Students of the University of California and was elected to the Berkeley Rent Stabilization board in 2004, serving as chair until 2008.[8][9]

Arreguín has also served on the Housing Advisory Commission, Zoning Adjustments Board, and Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee.[10]

Berkeley City Councilmember[edit]

From 2008 to 2016 Arreguín served two terms as a Berkeley City Council member representing City Council District 4.[11] On the council Arreguín drafted and passed over 300 pieces of legislation.[3]

He helped increase the city's minimum wage to $15, co-wrote the Downtown Area Plan, passed the Affordable Housing Mitigation Fee used to build affordable housing, created police reform after Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and worked to save the historic Main Post Office.[12][13][14][15]

Mayor of Berkeley[edit]

Arreguín announced his candidacy for mayor of Berkeley in October 2015.[16] He faced seven candidates for the open seat, and was endorsed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the Sierra Club, and the Alameda Democratic Party.[17][18][19]

Arreguín won 51% of the vote after ranked-choice tabulation.[19] At age 32 he became the second-youngest mayor in Berkeley's history.[20] Prior to his swearing-in, Arreguín vowed as mayor-elect alongside City Council members that "Berkeley would remain a sanctuary city and continue to shield its undocumented residents from deportation."[21][22] Arreguín was sworn in on December 1, 2016, and in his inaugural address said that "in light of the national election, Berkeley, now more than ever, needs to lead."[23]

In January 2017, following the release of Donald Trump's executive orders calling for the construction of a border wall, and enforcement of immigration law including the withholding of federal funds from sanctuary cities, Arreguín released a statement along with other progressive mayors in the region opposing the "hateful and harmful policies."[24]

When a talk by controversial "alt-right" commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was announced on the University of California, Berkeley campus in February 2017, Arreguín said, "Bigotry is unacceptable. Hate speech isn't welcome in our community."[25] After violent protests caused UC Berkeley to cancel the talk,[26] Arreguin said, "we as a city do not make a decision about inviting a speaker. We do not make a decision to cancel a speaker. This was a decision of the university."[27]

In response to the same incident, Arreguín referred to Yiannopoulos as a "white nationalist,"[28] but later retracted this characterization, and instead described him as an "alt-rightist."[25] Arreguín reportedly began receiving death threats from Yiannopoulos supporters across the country after his statements were covered by right-wing news website Breitbart News, Yiannopoulos's employer at the time.[28][25]

With Arreguín's backing, the Berkeley City Council voted in March 2017 to divest from companies involved in constructing the proposed border wall with Mexico, becoming one of the first cities in the country to do so.[29][30] The council also passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump, co-sponsored by Arreguín, who said, "Every day there’s a new ethical problem that warrants impeachment."[31]

Arreguín reportedly again became a target of death threats when conservative commentator Ann Coulter planned to speak on the UC Berkeley campus and canceled her appearance over safety concerns in April 2017.[32][33] During protests over Coulter’s appearance, Arreguín was denounced for supporting the far-left group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), which has incited violent protests, after it became known that he had "liked" their Facebook page.[34] In response, Arreguín said that "following or liking pages does not mean you support what that group is doing," adding, "I am not a member of BAMN, and I do not support the views and the violent actions of that group." He later unfollowed the group.[35]

In May 2017 Arreguín co-sponsored the successful resolution to divest the City of Berkeley from Wells Fargo Bank in response to allegations that the bank opened fraudulent deposit accounts, the bank's financing of private prisons and the Dakota Access Pipeline.[36]

After Trump's withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement in June 2017, Arreguín pledged along with 350 other mayors "to uphold the Paris Agreement goals even though President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the international agreement to combat climate change."[37]

Following the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, attention was brought to a far-right rally planned for August 27, 2017, in Berkeley.[38] Ahead of the event, Arreguín stated that his office was "currently exploring all options, including whether we have the legal means to stop this rally from taking place."[39] At a press conference with local leaders including Rep. Barbara Lee and State Sen. Nancy Skinner, Arreguín called for opponents of the rally to hold counter-demonstrations in different locations to avoid violence between groups.[40]

Jesse won 63% of the vote in the 2020 mayoral election, facing three other candidates.

California housing crisis[edit]

Prior to 2020, Arreguin held NIMBY views on housing in Berkeley, but has since adopted YIMBY views, as he has been a vocal proponent of denser housing and more residential development.[41][42] He helped push through legislation to eliminate single-family zoning requirements.[41]

Arreguin used to oppose California legislation that would require cities to allow denser and taller housing near public transport centrals and ease the parking requirements cities can impose on housing developments; the legislation is intended to alleviate the housing shortage in California and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[43] Arreguin described the bill at the time as a "a declaration of war against our neighborhoods", saying it would remove some of cities' zoning rights and lead to unwanted density in Berkeley.[43] In 2017 Arreguin was at the center of an effort to illegally reject housing planned for development in South Berkeley.[44] The project, proposed by Baran Studio Architecture and owner CS Construction, was for three single-family homes and conformed to all local zoning requirements. The mayor and city council violated California state law with the vote, and the city was subsequently sued on multiple occasions. The project was eventually approved and built.[45][46] The story was also the subject of a lengthy New York Times piece on the housing affordability crisis.[47]

Other roles[edit]

Arreguín is the President of the Association of Bay Area Governments,[48] the Bay Area's regional planning agency and Council of Governments. He is the East Bay Alternate to the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and serves as Vice Chair the Bay Area Regional Collaborative. He also chairs the Council's Agenda and Rules Committee, and serves on the Council's Budget and Finance Committee and 4x4 Joint Committee on Housing.[49][50]


  1. ^ Lin, Da (November 11, 2016). "Berkeley's First Latino Mayor-Elect Is Also Its Youngest Ever". CBS SFBayArea. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  2. ^ "Election 2016: Who is Jesse Arreguín?". Berkeleyside. October 13, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "About Jesse — Mayor Jesse Arreguin". Archived from the original on August 25, 2017.
  4. ^ "Election 2016: Who is Jesse Arreguín?". Berkeleyside. October 13, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  5. ^ Alamán, Gabriela (April 19, 2017). "Berkeley's first Latino mayor selected for SF Chavez day grand marshal". El Tecolote. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  6. ^ Dalle-Molle, Kathy (September 1995). "Cracks Widen on Chavez-Army Street". The Noe Valley Voice. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  7. ^ "National Student Clearinghouse". National Student Clearinghouse. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  8. ^ Yoon-Hendricks, Alexandra (November 9, 2016). "Jesse Arreguin wins as Berkeley's 1st Latino mayor". The Daily Californian. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  9. ^ Dinkelspiel, Frances (November 9, 2016). "Berkeley Rent Board seeks applicants for vacant seat". The Daily Californian. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  10. ^ "Election 2016: Who is Jesse Arreguín?". Berkeleyside. October 13, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  11. ^ Dinkelspiel, Frances (November 3, 2016). "If elected, Jesse Arreguín would be Berkeley's first Latino mayor, just one of many firsts". Berkeleyside. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  12. ^ Larson, Pamela (October 22, 2015). "City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin releases official announcement for mayoral run in Berkeley". The Daily Californian. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  13. ^ Dinkelspiel, Frances (March 21, 2012). "After 7 years, Berkeley gets a new downtown plan". Berkeleyside.
  14. ^ Raguso, Emilie (February 11, 2015). "Berkeley City Council limits police tear gas use, for now". Berkeleyside. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  15. ^ "Jesse Arreguin speaks at Berkeley Post Office Rally 11/1/14". YouTube.
  16. ^ Dinkelspiel, Frances (October 22, 2015). "Jesse Arreguín formally announces run for mayor". Berkeleyside. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  17. ^ Raguso, Emilie (October 13, 2015). "Election 2016 Berkeley: Spotlight on the mayor's race". Berkeleyside. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  18. ^ Panzar, Javier (September 8, 2016). "Jumping into local politics, Bernie Sanders endorses Berkeley city councilman in mayor's race". Berkeleyside. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  19. ^ a b Knobel, Lance (November 9, 2016). "Berkeley's own political earthquake: Arreguín becomes mayor, progressives seize council majority". Berkeleyside.
  20. ^ Yoon-Hendricks, Alexandria (November 4, 2016). "The forgotten history of Charles D. Heywood, Berkeley's youngest mayor". City. The Daily Californian. Berkeley, California: Independent Berkeley Students Publishing Company, Inc. Retrieved September 19, 2019. When Jesse Arreguin was elected to be Berkeley’s next mayor, news outlets across the Bay Area not only acknowledged that he would be Berkeley’s first Latino mayor but also that he would be the city’s youngest. But that title undoubtedly belongs to Heywood. A one-term Berkeley mayor, Heywood was just 31 years old when he was elected to the seat April 26, 1913, making him about two months younger than Arreguin — who turned 32 on Sept. 4 this year — when he was elected.
  21. ^ Vogel, Cassandra (November 28, 2016). "Berkeley swears in Arreguin, city's first Latino mayor". Daily Cal.
  22. ^ Taylor, Tracey (November 22, 2016). "Undocumented immigrants face uncertainty in wake of Trump's election". Berkeleyside.
  23. ^ Lochner, Tom (December 12, 2016). "Berkeley swears in Arreguin, city's first Latino mayor". East Bay Times.
  24. ^ Earl, Jennifer (January 26, 2017). "Boston City Hall lit in red, white and blue to send Trump a message". CBS News.
  25. ^ a b c "Berkeley Mayor Gets Death Threats In Wake Of Yiannopoulos Riot". CBS News San Francisco Bay Area. February 8, 2017.
  26. ^ "Milo Yiannopoulos talk at UC Berkeley cancelled after protests erupt". KTVU Channel 2 News. February 1, 2017.
  27. ^ "Mayor of Berkeley answers tough questions following Milo Yiannopoulos riots". KTVU Channel 2 News. February 3, 2017.
  28. ^ a b Chu, Gibson (February 10, 2017). "Berkeley mayor receives death threats for 'white nationalist' tweet". Daily Cal.
  29. ^ Greenberg, Alissa (March 17, 2017). "Berkeley, Calif., to avoid business with companies involved in building Trump's wall". The Washington Post.
  30. ^ Lee, Bobby (March 20, 2017). "Berkeley City Council approves resolution to divest from Trump administration's border wall". Daily Cal.
  31. ^ Lynn, Jessica (April 3, 2017). "Berkeley City Council Calls for Investigation into Impeachment of President Donald Trump". The Daily Californian. ‘Every day there’s a new ethical problem that warrants impeachment,’ said Mayor Jesse Arreguín.
  32. ^ Peters, Jeremy; Fuller, Thomas (April 26, 2017). "Ann Coulter Says She Will Pull Out of Speech at Berkeley". New York Times.
  33. ^ St. John, Paige (April 27, 2017). "Berkeley mayor: Conservatives exploiting 'engineered intense animosity' against city". Los Angeles Times.
  34. ^ Wallace, Christopher (April 25, 2017). "UC Berkeley riots: Violence looms as mayor questioned over ties to extremist group". Fox News.
  35. ^ Dinkelspiel, Frances (April 24, 2017). "Berkeley College Republicans file lawsuit to force Cal to let Ann Coulter speak". Berkeleyside. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  36. ^ Booth, Edward (May 31, 2017). "City Council unanimously passes Wells Fargo divestment plan". Daily Cal. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  37. ^ Orenstein, Natalie (July 11, 2017). "Mayor Jesse Arreguín pledges to 're-earn' Berkeley's progressive reputation". Berkeleyside. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  38. ^ Lochner, Tom (August 16, 2017). "Upcoming right-wing rally has no permit, Berkeley mayor says". East Bay Times. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  39. ^ Lee, Chantelle (August 15, 2017). "Berkeley mayor exploring 'legal means' to stop planned alt-right rally". East Bay Times. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  40. ^ "East Bay Politicians Speak Out Against Hate Ahead Of Berkeley Rally". August 22, 2017.
  41. ^ a b Winck, Ben. "Meet the millennial mayor of Berkeley, who changed his mind on the housing crisis. 'I can't sit back and see more people being priced out of my city.'". Business Insider. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  42. ^ "Arreguin Sees the Light on the Density". East Bay Express | Oakland, Berkeley & Alameda. February 27, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  43. ^ a b "Berkeley mayor on Wiener-Skinner housing bill: 'A declaration of war against our neighborhoods'". Berkeleyside. January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  44. ^ Knobel, Lance (March 1, 2017). "Legal action likely after council rejects housing project on Haskell Street". Berkeleyside. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  45. ^ Taylor, Tracey (September 8, 2017). Berkeleyside Retrieved July 25, 2019. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  46. ^ Taylor, Tracey (May 2, 2019). Berkeleyside Retrieved July 25, 2019. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. ^ Dougherty, Connor (December 1, 2019). New York Times Retrieved July 25, 2019. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  48. ^ ABAG Executive Board Roster
  49. ^ "EBCEA Board Of Directors - EBCE". Archived from the original on July 10, 2017.
  50. ^ "City Council: Committee and Regional Body Appointees - City of Berkeley, CA".