Remembering Victor Herbert, Berkeley’s ‘Mr. Mediator’

Victor Herbert died at home in Berkeley on June 26, aged 96. Herbert helped establish Berkeley Dispute Resolution Service in 1985. He did over 300 volunteer mediations for Berkeley’s zoning department.

He arrived in Berkeley in 1983 from Southern California, where he had been trained as a community mediator.

In 1970 President Carter, who had seen community mediation in Atlanta, gave a small amount of money to set up three model programs in community mediation in Indianapolis, Santa Monica, and NYC. Victor joined the one in Santa Monica, where he got his training in 1981 and did a dozen mediations before he moved to Berkeley. When he came to Berkeley, he and other local mediators quickly got together to form regional training programs in community mediation for the Bay Area.

In Berkeley he met with other mediators to help establish Berkeley Dispute Resolution Service, and in 1985 he and another mediator, Harriet Whitman Lee, did the first mediation for the Berkeley Zoning Department. This became a model for mediation between residents applying for building permits and neighbors who were concerned about privacy, sunlight, and density.

In 2014 Victor retired as a community volunteer doing zoning mediations after his 300th mediation for the Zoning Department of the city of Berkeley — over half of which resulted in an agreement between all the parties.

The City of Berkeley and the State of California awarded him citations in recognition of his service in 2011. Berkeley Dispute Resolution Service honored him as a “volunteer extraordinaire” for his work as a founding member, zoning mediation coordinator, board member and statistician. Its successor organization, SEEDS Community Resolution Center, honored him in 2015 for his many years of dedicated service and commitment.

Victor said, “I did not bring mediation to Berkeley single-handedly, but I was a member of a very small group of people — less than half a dozen — who brought mediation to Berkeley.”

He is survived by his longtime partner, Susan Goldstein.

author

Jim Melamed

Jim Melamed co-founded Mediate.com in 1996 along with John Helie and served as CEO of Mediate.com through June 2020 (25 years).  Jim is currently Board Chair and General Counsel for Resourceful Internet Solutions, Inc. (RIS), home to Mediate.com, Arbitrate.com, ODR.com and other leading dispute resolution sites. During Jim's 25-year tenure,… MORE

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