Category Archives: Urban planning
The long-running saga of philanthropist and Lotus founder Mitch Kapor’s attempt to build a new home in North Berkeley landed at the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday this week.
At the Dec. 2 hearing, the Court heard arguments on whether the rules that exempt most proposed single-family homes from undergoing an environmental impact report (EIR) should apply to the proposal by Kapor, and his wife Freada Kapor Klein, to build a new home with a 10-car garage at 2707 Rose St.
According to Bob Egelko, the Chronicle’s courts reporter, at the one-hour hearing Susan Brandt-Hawley, a lawyer for the Berkeley Hillside Preservation group, re-iterated arguments that have been presented to Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board (which originally approved the project in January 2010), and the Alameda County Superior Court, which subsequently denied an appeal on the case.
Brandt-Hawley said that building a “huge home” in a “landslide zone,” which will also require extensive work to widen the roadway, should amount to unusual circumstances requiring environmental review. She cited testimony by the group’s expert witness, engineer Lawrence Karp. … Continue reading »
The proposal by Berkeley developers Hudson MacDonald to buy the downtown Berkeley Post Office has fallen through after they were unable to reach agreement with the Post Office on a deal.
Meanwhile, police from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service prompted an orderly clearance of parts of the makeshift encampment at Berkeley’s main Post Office Thursday morning. Protesters, who call themselves Berkeley Post Office Defenders, and a homeless advocacy group, First They Came for the Homeless, have been camped around the building for four weeks.
According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, officers provided protesters with a list of federal regulations and criminal statutes that prohibit the encampment. No arrests were made. … Continue reading »
After deciding the former Center for Independent Living building at 2539 Telegraph Ave. should not be a landmark, Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is pondering whether a faded and weathered mural in the property’s back parking lot deserves that recognition — a move developer Patrick Kennedy says could kill his plans to build an apartment complex on the site.
The landmark designation of the mural might also mean that the Center for Independent Living (CIL) would lose the $3 million it would get for the sale of its building, a loss that could impact programming and the organization’s future, according to Stuart S. James, its executive director.
“The mural in its current crumbling condition means little to us,” James wrote in a letter he sent to all the members of the Berkeley City Council. The “issue … could adversely affect the future of our organization.” … Continue reading »
Residents came out en masse Thursday night to testify before Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board about possible impacts related to a large mixed-use project planned downtown on Harold Way.
The Residences at Berkeley Plaza, at Harold and Kittredge Street, would rise 18 stories and is set to include a tower reaching, all told, nearly 200 feet. It is slated to feature about 300 units, which could either be apartments or condominiums, as well as a new six-theater cinema complex, more than 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space, and a 171-unit underground parking structure. … Continue reading »
After decades of painstaking planning, a historic south Berkeley house was moved this weekend, trucked across People’s Park to its new home.
Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, the 138-year-old John Woolley house at 2509 Haste St. was hoisted one block south to 2506 Dwight St., the site of a newly developing cluster of Berkeley historic homes.
The move is part of a deal that saves the house, a city-designated landmark, while opening up its site at the corner of Haste and Telegraph Avenue for development.
“I’m glad to see it moved and preserved. It’s a significant early house in the Southside neighborhood,” said Anthony Bruce, the Executive Director of the Berkeley Architectural Historical Association (BAHA), noting that he was speaking for himself and not the organization. … Continue reading »
The developer behind a 180-foot-tall, mixed-use project planned in downtown Berkeley at 2211 Harold Way announced a commitment this week to use 100% union labor to construct The Residences at Berkeley Plaza.
According to Mark Rhoades of Rhoades Planning Group, a project representative, it’s the first agreement of its kind in Berkeley — between a private developer and labor — in at least 17 years.
Project developer HSR Berkeley Investments signed the labor agreement several weeks ago, after more than a year of discussion and negotiation, with the Building & Construction Trades Council of Alameda County. The group represents all 28 labor unions in the county.
The agreement will mean a livable wage, along with benefits including health care and sick leave, for an estimated 300 skilled workers. They will make, on average, $65 an hour, according to project documents. Construction for Berkeley Plaza is expected to take 2-3 years, and many of the workers hired must live in Berkeley or nearby, within the East Bay Green Corridor.
Rhoades said the agreement will cover everything “from digging the hole to doing the concrete and the steel, and including the first round of retail tenant work. It will result in a much better building, a much nicer streetscape, and a building whose systems work because of the union labor that will be putting it together.” … Continue reading »
The League of Women Voters urges a YES vote on Berkeley’s Measure F, the Parks Tax. Measure F proposes a modest increase of 2.1 cents per square foot in the current parcel tax that funds maintenance and repair of 52 parks as well as trails, medians, and 35,000 street trees.
The current tax and its inflation index are inadequate to meet the needs of the parks and urban forest. The budget of the Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront is running a … Continue reading »
Last March after Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan received a prestigious national American Planning Association award, I wrote the following for the “Cal Planner” newsletter:
“In the end, support was overwhelming as eight of nine Council members adopted a new Downtown Area Plan … but what a long, strange trip it has been. The 2012 ‘DAP’ was forged from the crucible of Berkeley’s special style of community decision-making — fueled by passionate debate across almost 200 public meetings, … everyone … Continue reading »
Citing the need to revitalize a business that’s been on the decline for decades, a developer is seeking to make major changes to the West Berkeley block where Spenger’s Fish Grotto has operated since 1933.
Berkeley’s Abrams/Millikan, an architecture and design firm, has big plans for the Fourth Street property, which include the creation of a new beer garden, and the addition of retail shops, office space and parking. The existing restaurant use will remain, but on a smaller scale.
The city’s Design Review Committee took a look at those plans last week, but Abrams/Millkan — working with San Francisco-based Jamestown Properties — held a community meeting in June to provide an overview of the project. According to developers, about 20 people attended, and seven people signed a petition in support of the project, which is called “Fourth & Spenger.” The project was submitted to the city by Elliott Abrams later that month.
Read more about development in Berkeley.
In total, developers plan to add just 10,000 square feet of structure to the property. But some existing buildings on the block are set to be demolished and replaced with new uses, including about 3,500 feet for the beer garden and adjacent patio, nearly 18,000 square feet of new retail shops — on the corners of both Fourth and Fifth streets at Hearst Avenue — and 1,900 square feet for a new fish market next to the restaurant. … Continue reading »
An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that several of the words used by the Berkeley City Council in the ballot summary for a proposed downtown initiative to go before voters in November were biased and inaccurate, and has amended its description slightly.
The matter came before Grillo after Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguín and several others filed a lawsuit in August arguing that the language used by the council in the summary was misleading and inaccurate.
Friday, attorneys for both sides made their cases before Grillo in his courtroom in downtown Oakland. … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s zoning board unanimously approved a new 8-story building on University Avenue, at Milvia Street, on Thursday night.
No one spoke against the project in the relatively short hearing before the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday. It was the project’s first official review by the board, after a preview session in April. The project also received unanimous support from the city’s Design Review Committee after three sessions with that panel in 2013 and 2014.
Read more about development in Berkeley in past Berkeleyside coverage.
Developer William Schrader Jr., of Alamo-based The Austin Group, told the zoning board the project has been in the works for a couple of years, and that he has met extensively with the city, neighbors and stakeholders to make sure they’re on board with his plans. … Continue reading »