Category Archives: Urban planning
The Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board will consider granting a permit to demolish a 2-story, 18-unit rent-controlled apartment building on Durant Avenue at its meeting Thursday, June 25, as part of the owner’s plan to replace it with a 5-story, 56-unit building.
The board’s main decision will be to determine whether to grant the demolition permit for 2631 Durant or require the owner to rehabilitate the Southside neighborhood building, just east of the now-shuttered Berkeley Art Museum. The new project would include 40 studios and 16 2-bedroom units, common facilities, bike storage, a first-floor office and 2,240 square feet of open space on a rooftop deck. Parking would not be provided.
To replace the rent-controlled units, the owner has proposed that 20 of the new units will be offered at 65% of the consumer price index, “although rents would be allowed to increase to market rate upon vacancy. These 20 units represent habitable square footage comparable to … the existing 18 units, and would accommodate the same number tenants,” according to the staff report prepared for Thursday night’s meeting.
Opponents of the demolition have asked the board to reject the permit or at least delay the vote, saying that the property had been neglected intentionally to pave the way for the new building. … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board earlier this month approved the Environmental Impact Report for a controversial 6-story apartment building proposed on Telegraph Avenue, but postponed a decision on the project’s use permit due to time constraints.
The board was set to vote at its June 11 meeting on the project’s use permit as well as the EIR, but voted to put off the permit discussion when the meeting began to run long. (It ended at 12:15 a.m.)
The building, at 2539 Telegraph, which is being developed by Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests, has been considered as a landmark on two separate occasions due to its connection to the Center for Independent Living, an advocacy group for the disabled which began there in 1972. The Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected landmark status for both the building and a faded mural on one of its walls.
In the wake of a balcony collapse that killed six Irish students in Berkeley this week, a small group gathered on the steps of City Hall today to ask that the city put a moratorium on commercial construction in Berkeley until it is clear that buildings are being inspected correctly and that codes are being enforced.
Holding placards that read “Safety 1st! No new bldgs,” “Inspections now” and “Berkeley is in mourning,” the seven protesters say that all new construction should be halted until the city can “review its procedures,” according to spokeswoman Margot Smith.
Read complete balcony collapse coverage on Berkeleyside.
“Given the level of this tragedy, we have to go forward beyond a perfunctory investigation,” she said. “It’s the city’s responsibility to see that buildings are safe and that they remain safe. We need to see if codes are being enforced.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley zoning board members told the developer of the Center Street garage overhaul at a project preview session last week that they want him to go above and beyond the submitted plans in terms of green features and physical design.
“I am dismayed by this project in a major way,” said Zoning Adjustments Board Commission Chairman Prakash Pinto on Thursday night. “It’s rather mundane. It’s got some lipstick on it as far as I’m concerned.”
Read more about parking in Berkeley.
The downtown Berkeley garage is a bit different than most that come before the zoning board because it is a municipal project and not one brought forward by a private developer. In December 2013, the city voted to pay up to $1 million to San Francisco-based Conversion Management Associates Inc. to plan and manage the overhaul. Money for the project is coming from the city’s off-street parking fund, including $350,000 last year and $650,000 in fiscal year 2015.
Pinto, who was not particularly vocal during the first several hours of Thursday’s meeting, spoke with emotion for several minutes about his disappointment in the garage proposal. He focused in particular on the green aspects of the design, saying city projects should be a model for superior environmental standards, especially when the city asks so much of private developers downtown. (Under the Downtown Area Plan, most projects are required to meet a LEED Gold standard or its equivalent.)
Pinto said, too, that the garage could be a beautiful structure with creative features without necessarily costing the city an excessive amount of money.
The other commissioners echoed Pinto’s sentiments and added their own concerns regarding the look of the structure, plans for its public restrooms, parking spaces for the disabled and electric vehicles, the possibility of open space for recreation and more. … Continue reading »
Berkeley residents got their first look at the city’s plan to redesign traffic patterns around Shattuck Square on Tuesday night at an open house in the Aurora Theater.
The room was lined with illustrations of the project plans and grids where attendees could rate the current pedestrian, cycling and driving conditions of Shattuck Avenue. Around the displays, engineers, city officials and urban designers associated with the project were on hand to answer questions and provide additional information.
Read more about traffic safety in past Berkeleyside coverage.
The Shattuck Avenue reconfiguration and pedestrian safety project is a part of the larger Downtown Area Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in 2012 and encompasses environmental goals, transit and access, community health, economic development and more.
Among the most dangerous intersections in the city for pedestrians, the corner of University Avenue and Shattuck is number two on the list for pedestrian-car collisions and near misses. … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley is set to repave 11 miles of about 40 streets this summer.
The extensive project is part of an uptick in roadwork that is moving at more than twice the normal rate, according to a statement released by the city last week. The work is funded in large part by Measure M.
The projects, which begin this month and are scheduled to be completed by October, focus on reducing flooding and stormwater runoff by using green building techniques. Pothole repairs and general street repairs were not included in Measure M and are not the focus of this summer’s paving projects, the city said. … Continue reading »
Everyone seems to agree that Adeline Street is too wide. The question is: what should we do with the extra land that we can get by narrowing the street?
Read more about the Adeline Corridor on Berkeleyside.
We could combine this land with underused sites on this street to create opportunity sites for new mixed-use development at a scale compatible with the neighborhood. Affordable housing could be built on the expanded sites, helping to maintain diversity of … Continue reading »
The wheels are set in motion for Berkeley’s annual Bike to Work Day on Thursday, May 14, which is being organized in conjunction with the local Walk and Roll to School Day.
The event, hosted by Bike East Bay, will feature a number of two-wheel-friendly events, including the “Mayor-Palooza Bike to Work Day Ride,” featuring two visiting mayors from Europe, and a pop-up bikeway on Milvia Street.
Bike East Bay and Berkeley High School will also host a morning energizer station at Berkeley City Hall from 7:30-9:30 a.m. serving tasty pick-me-ups from La Note Restaurant and snazzy cyclist swag bags.
“We’re expecting a record-breaking turnout,” said Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director at Bike East Bay. … Continue reading »
Neighbors will meet Saturday morning at the South Berkeley Community Church to discuss the city’s plans to revitalize the Adeline Corridor. All are invited.
Unlike prior meetings organized by the city, this session is community driven: “We are NOT affiliated with the City of Berkeley. We are neighbors who care about each other and want to shape the future of our area plan,” according to a flier created to promote the event.
Organizers said attendees will “discuss and help shape our community values … to have a voice in creating an inclusive, fair and just proposal for the Adeline Corridor Plan.” (See the meeting flier.)
Last year, the city of Berkeley won a $750,000 planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to fund a planning process focused on the Adeline Corridor that’s set to look at everything from community character and business activity to open space, jobs, housing, parking, sidewalks and lighting, historic preservation and transit. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley City Council took its first steps Tuesday to prioritize which community benefits it will require from developers, and affordable housing and local union jobs were the top priorities.
Council members said other priorities could include ensuring that businesses impacted by the 18-story apartment building proposed at 2211 Harold Way, particularly Habitot Children’s Museum — which says it will have to relocate — receive some sort of remuneration. They also want a better understanding of the profits developers stand to make so the city can recapture some of the increased value that comes from up-zoning land to allow for taller buildings downtown.
The council discussion came after close to 90 residents talked for three hours about their concerns and hopes for three tall buildings now proposed downtown. They include the Harold Way project, an 18-story hotel proposed at 2129 Shattuck Ave. at Center Street, and a 120-foot-high condo complex, L’Argent, proposed at Shattuck Avenue and Berkeley Way. UC Berkeley is also planning to build a 120-foot building on Berkeley Way but, as a government entity, local zoning laws do not apply. … Continue reading »
There may have been some bumps in the road, but Bay Area Bike Share is set to expand to Berkeley and the East Bay in 2016. In early April, officials announced the expansion of the bike share program, which has been operating in San Francisco and the peninsula since 2013, would bring over 1,300 bikes to the East Bay with 400 planned in Berkeley, 850 in Oakland and 100 in Emeryville.
The roll-out is through a public-private partnership with a bike-share company called Motivate which also runs bike share programs in New York, Chicago and several other cities. Across the whole Bay Area, Motivate’s current proposal boosts the number of bikes from 700 to 7,000.
The announcement may come as déja vu to East Bay residents, though. In April of 2014, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted to allocate $8.7 million for expanding the pilot program, then run by Alta Bicycle Share, to the East Bay. However, Alta Bicycle Share’s bike supplier had announced bankruptcy and went up for sale in January 2014, causing a slowdown in production until Motivate purchased Alta Bicycle Share last October, took over operation, and is now creating its own bikes and technology. … Continue reading »
For years, Berkeley resident Martin Nicolaus has been coming out to César Chávez Park to admire its natural beauty and take photographs — a collection of which he published in a book last December.
But over the past four months, Nicolaus, who is arguably the park’s number one fan, has been engaged in a more earnest mission: to persuade the city to install cleaner, permanent restrooms in Berkeley’s largest park.
A Berkeley resident since 1992, Nicolaus sets up his base-camp by the two portable bathrooms by the park’s entrance on Spinnaker Way to collect signatures and video-interview park users on their experiences using the toilets. He said over the past decade he has often seen the portable toilets in near-unusable condition, and has been frustrated by the lack of action to improve them. … Continue reading »
One of the most contentious issues facing Berkeley is how to require developers to help provide affordable housing. We are proposing a new approach.
Everyone agrees we face a critical shortage of affordable housing, but what’s the best way to increase it?
Under current City law, developers of market-rate rental housing projects are required to pay an “affordable housing mitigation fee” into the Housing Trust Fund, which funds affordable housing in Berkeley. There was considerable debate when we voted with … Continue reading »