About Ben


Hon. Ben Bartlett is a fifth generation Berkeley native, environmental lawyer, and respected community leader. Ben’s mission is to leverage industry and government to deliver innovation, expand opportunity, and protect the environment.

Ben is the son of community activists, and at a young age he learned the value of community and the necessity of progress. Those values of innovation and inclusion continue to inform Ben’s policies. 

Ben’s policy work is focused on 21st century economic development with job opportunities for all Californians: creating public wi-fi to conquer the digital divide and reduce the achievement gap; solving homelessness and eliminating poverty; partnering with labor to deliver green infrastructure; expanding mass transit; and the large scale deployment of affordable housing. 

Since being elected to the Berkeley City Council in 2016, Ben has achieved the following legislative advancements and policy initiatives:

  • First in the nation initiative to house the homeless in prefabricated modular micro-units
  • First in the nation anti-displacement public legal advocate
  • First in the nation resolution to divest from companies involved with Trump’s border wall
  • Paid family leave ordinance
  • Funding for body cameras for the Berkeley Police Department
  • Funding a feasibility study for an African American Holistic Resource Center, aimed at reducing health inequities
  • Berkeley Inclusion In Opportunity Index, initiative to introduce equity in City contracting
  • Small sites acquisition program and tenants opportunity to purchase act
  • Tenant protection ordinance
  • Allow non-citizens to vote in Berkeley elections
  • Funding for supplies for low-income school children
  • Section 8 landlord incentives
  • Funding for anti-displacement programs, to be used for eviction defense, housing retention funds, as well as housing and financial counseling for low-income seniors
  • Work on increasing the number ADUs in Berkeley, through enhancing the state’s ADU legislation as well as programs to conduct outreach and provide incentives in exchange for affordability
  • Funding to study the feasibility of constructing senior affordable housing
  • Electric vehicle charging ordinance for new construction and buildings undergoing major alteration
  • Streamline affordable housing developments
  • Banning plastic straws in Berkeley to reduce plastic pollution
  • Banning employers from asking about prior salary in order to move the ball forward on gender and racial pay equity 
  • Socially responsible banking policies
  • Renaming the South Berkeley Senior Center in honor of local hero Judge Henry Ramsey Jr.

In the past, Ben has served on numerous boards and commissions, with a commitment to making the City more responsive to the needs of residents.

  • Berkeley Planning Commissioner, guiding housing and infrastructure policy
  • Loan Administration Board Member, structuring loans to local businesses and start-ups
  • Transportation Commissioner, helped craft the city’s electric vehicle infrastructure
  • Police Review Commissioner, served as a voice for accountability and cooperation
  • Vice-Chair of the Zero Waste Commission, worked to save union jobs, and helped create the city’s historic waste-into-energy deal and plastic bag ban

Ben also gives back to his community through non-profit and charity work, serving on the capital committee for the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, a first-of-its-kind a regional resource hub for homeless veterans. He led efforts to rebuild the South and West Berkeley Library branches, and mentors the youth of his neighborhood. As a board member of the Earth Rights Institute, Ben partnered with the World Diamond Council to fund the repatriation of Soldier Children in Africa.

At the Bay Area Council, Ben developed a Social Impact Fund and drafted the Pacific Clean Air Partnership, a clean tech trade agreement signed by Governor Brown and the Chinese Minister of Commerce. Ben also worked on the implementation of Cap and Trade securities and Environmental Justice protocols at the California Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission.

At the California Clean Energy Fund, Ben is advancing clean energy and social equity goals on an international scale. Ben also serves on the corporate board of Y Strategies, a private equity fund delivering large scale technology transfer.

Ben has relationships with thought leaders, the business community, local neighborhood activists and the elected officials of Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, and San Francisco. This allows Ben to serve as a trusted partner and coalition builder on regional issues impacting the entire region.

Ben is married to two-time SuperLawyer and committed women’s advocate, Yelda Bartlett.