The Downtown Berkeley Association works to strengthen the Downtown as a vibrant and welcoming urban destination for arts, culture, and commerce through effective advocacy, promotion, and direct services.

Board of Directors 2011

DBA’s 2010 Board of Directors
DBA President:
Susie Medak, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Managing Director
Vice Presidents:
Fran Gallati, Downtown Berkeley YMCA, President & CEO
Perry Patel, The Shattuck Hotel
Daniel Rabin, Townsend l, LLC
Past President:
Mark McLeod, Sustainable Business Alliance
Board Directors:
Steve Baker, The Freight & Salvage
Austene Hall, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association
Tim L. Hansen, Goldstone Management
Kevin Hufferd, University of California, Berkeley
John Hyjer, Equity Residential (EQR)
Ito Ripsteen, Gordon Commercial Property
Kristine Seinsch, Jazz Cafe
Amy Tobin, The Brower Center


The DBA’s staff is passionate about finding creative ways to assist our membership, market the downtown, and improve the environment to allow our member businesses to flourish.

Executive Director John Caner brings over twenty years business, non-profit, and community development experience to the DBA, including strategic planning, new business development, marketing, finance, project management, and general management. Prior to coming to the DBA, John served for three and a half years as the Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Oakland where he significantly expanded programs and funding, serving low-income seniors and non-profit community facilities. Before entering the nonprofit world, he served in a number of management and strategy positions in the private sector, including Berkeley-based Loansoft Inc., Nextel Communication, and PacTel Cellular. And during the eighteen years, he has lived in Berkeley, he has been a long time board member of Berkeley Partners for Parks and the Willard Neighborhood Association. He recently served on the City of Berkeley Pools Master Plan Task Force, and currently, serves as a commissioner on the City of Berkeley Disaster and Fire Safety Commission. John also has a long-time interest in education, having served as a volunteer teacher’s assistant at Willard Middle School, a volunteer instructor with the Presidential Classroom, and currently, serves as an entrepreneurship mentor for several students with Mr. Caner also serves on the board of the Rotary Club of Oakland and the Advisory Board of the Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley. Mr. Caner earned an M.B.A. from UCLA and an undergraduate degree in Government from Harvard.

Operations Director Deborah Badhia brings to the DBA over twelve years experience in neighborhood commercial revitalization. At the DBA, she has launched new programs for retail vitality including the Berkeley Business District Network, Buy Local Berkeley, and the Storefront Art Program. Prior to coming to the DBA, Deborah worked on revitalization programs in Oakland and San Francisco business districts. Prior work in the private sector includes the founding of Neighborhood Commercial Consulting which supported business district program efforts, and Caribbean Music and Dance Programs – an economic development program focused mainly in Cuba and Brazil. Cultural workshops attracted an international clientele to study with master musicians and dancers abroad and at home. Deborah has also worked for the Berkeley Unified School district, and as a community organizer. A twenty year resident of the East Bay area, Deborah is married to Prabin Badhia – a graphic and fine artist and has a daughter Lena who is a student at BUSD’s Washington Elementary School where Deborah is a volunteer. Deborah has a B.A. in Public Administration from San Diego State University and has completed M.B.A coursework through UC Berkeley Extension.

Membership Meetings

Association meetings keep members up to date on issues affecting downtown and provide an opportunity for members to prioritize and implement the DBA’s work plan to improve the downtown. Projects are executed by staff and volunteers. All DBA members are invited to participate on a committee. Board Directors are recruited from the committees.

The DBA Annual Meeting is an opportunity to elect new Board Directors, welcome new business members, present awards, and release our Annual Report. The downtown business community provides all the elements of a festive party: live entertainment and delicious food and drinks.

The Board of Directors shall conduct the affairs of the Downtown Berkeley Association.

The Executive Committee shall act on behalf of the Board of Directors between meetings of the Board and shall report its actions to the Board of Directors at its next regular meeting.

The Design Committee shall encourage design which welcomes people, preserves and enhances historic buildings and promotes visual interest and economic vitality in Downtown Berkeley.

The Economic Development Committee shall increase public and private investment in Downtown Berkeley that retains and attracts retail, office, housing, services, and cultural activities which meet consumer needs, create jobs, provide income to business and tax revenue to the City.

Work Plan

The Downtown Berkeley Association’s Work Plan is based on service and advocacy. Our first priority is to ensure that our member’s investment is returned indirect services that promote, market, and support the downtown and individual businesses. Our second priority is to advocate effectively for the implementation of the policies essential to the continued revitalization of the downtown: beautification and preservation; improved retail mix; clean and safe streets; and improved transportation and parking. The DBA has two full-time staff and a downtown office. A Board of Directors representing various community interests governs the association. Projects are executed by volunteers and staff.
The DBA promotes the downtown’s identity as the East Bay’s premiere arts and commerce district through special events and various marketing materials. Secondly, the DBA leads cooperative marketing initiatives to enable businesses to pool their resources to achieve results that are greater than the sum of their parts. Thirdly, DBA keeps members up-to-date on pertinent downtown issues and special promotions from other members.

Festivals & Events
Special events are coordinated by the DBA to create a lively atmosphere and to showcase the niche strengths of the district. Events include the Downtown Berkeley MusicFest (produced by the Freight and Salvage Coffee House and sponsored by the DBA), the Summer Noon Concerts (produced by the Jazzschool and sponsored by the DBA), and the Annual Tree Lighting (sponsored by the Berkeley Business District Network).

Marketing Materials
The DBA produces brochures and maps that highlight the downtown’s attractions and assist people to find desired entertainment, goods, and services. Some of our materials include street banners, kiosk maps, Arts & Dining Guide, Transit & Parking Guide, Weekend & Holiday Events, and more.

Merchant Outreach & Communication
Through the DBA e-News weekly blast communications, and the DBA Annual Report, the DBA keeps our members up-to-date on pertinent downtown issues, developments, and services.

Beautification and Preservation of
Berkeley’s Historic Downtown
One of the DBA’s fundamental goals is to enhance Berkeley’s architecturally-rich, historic downtown. The DBA participates in active review of all pending private and public projects in the area, and works with the City to lessen the impacts of construction.

Retail Development
In partnership with the City’s Office of Economic Development, the DBA assists in business retention and attraction by working with property owners, businesses, and real estate brokers. The DBA’s Retail Development Strategy lists our strategies and priorities for improving our retail mix. The DBA brings resources into the community such as professional retail experts and economic consultants.

Clean and Safe Streets
The DBA partners with the City staff to maintain public safety. We work directly with Berkeley Police and the Mental Health Mobile Crisis team members to enforce legal and appropriate behavior The DBA also works with our private sector members on problem-solving to improve the district.

Transportation and Parking
The DBA advocates for new and improved parking in the downtown as well as effective public transportation. DBA encourages the use of public transportation (including BART, bus, and bicycle); improved management and full utilization of parking resources; creative strategies that improve the short term parking supply; and policies that are consistent with DBA member priorities.

Planning for Downtown
The Downtown Berkeley Association participates in relevant planning processes related to our district. In 2007, DBA worked with Dena Belzer of Strategic Economics on the release of the Downtown Berkeley Retail Market Study 2007. The research and recommendations will help us to work towards a stronger retail environment. More recently, we have engaged in the update of the Downtown Area Plan. Our organization’s Annual Work Plan identifies specific priority tasks that will support our members through promotion, advocacy, and service.


The DBA’s work is outlined in our Annual Work Plan which is based on recommendations from our long-range Strategic Plan 2010-2010 and other research such as the Downtown Berkeley Retail Market Study.


The Downtown Berkeley commercial district covers the area bordered by Channing to Delaware and Martin Luther King Jr. Way to Oxford.


Downtown Berkeley became a Business Improvement District in 1996 with assessments based on business license activity. The assessment is paid by all businesses in our district including retail business, property owners, non-profits, and financial institutions.


The Main Street Program was developed in 1978 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in an effort to reverse the deterioration of America’s central business districts. Main Street is a comprehensive economic revitalization program that stresses historic preservation and community participation and boasts over 800 participating cities nationwide. The California Department of Commerce selected Berkeley as an Urban Main Street Pilot Program in 1990. The Downtown Berkeley Association, a private non-profit corporation, administers the program.