Tag Archives: Berkeley affordable housing

‘Innovative’ housing with rooftop farms set for southside

Garden Village, 2201 Dwight, Berkeley. Image: Nautilus Group
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City zoning board members approved a 77-unit mixed-use housing development near downtown Berkeley late last week, expressing excitement about a “unique” design set to include more than a dozen working rooftop farm plots and a novel approach to parking.

“Garden Village,” at 2201 Dwight Way at Fulton Street, brings with it a number of innovative features, from its composition — it’s made up of 18 distinct but connected “volumes,” or towers, that range in height from 3 to 5 stories and are connected by open-air walkways; its more than 12,000 square feet of rooftop farming plots; and its small garage, which offers just enough space for a fleet of shared vehicles that will be rentable by tenants.

Without the car-sharing idea, the project would have required room for 71 vehicles. Instead, Berkeley-based developer Nautilus Group decided it would purchase a fleet of four to 10 automobiles and contract with a car-sharing operator called Getaround to run the “car-share pod” operation. (The city required Nautilus to pay for a parking demand study to bolster the justification for that approach.)

Zoning board Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe described the concept as potentially “genius,” adding that the notion of projects that fold effective car-sharing programs into their plans “might be the magic solution” to the hairy issue of meeting parking demand efficiently in a densely-populated community. … Continue reading »

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‘The Aquatic’ wins easy approval from Berkeley officials

The Aquatic mixed-use development at 800 University Ave. in Berkeley could open by summer 2015. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A proposal for a new University Avenue mixed-use development, set to include 58 units, sailed through Berkeley zoning board review Thursday night, winning acclaim from commissioners for what they said was its beautiful design and sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood.

The 45- to 55-foot-tall building will feature 1,175 square feet of office or retail space, and 60 parking spaces. Two structures currently on site — which have housed a construction company, a veterinary clinic (circa 1973) and, later, medical research labs — will be demolished to make way for the project, which is named “The Aquatic” and was designed by Berkeley-based Trachtenberg Architects. (See the project staff report here.)

The building project site, at 800 University Ave. on the south side of the street, straddles two different zoning designations; as a result, the north side of the property will reach five stories, and the southern portion will rise to just four. Parking will be provided in both a ground-floor garage and an open lot behind the building. Four units in the development will be available to very-low income residents, and the project will put $240,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-Ed: Why Berkeley needs more affordable housing

Dan Sawislak on Sacramento - Cropped
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If you happened to come across a group of people on bikes criss-crossing their way through Berkeley last Sunday afternoon, you may have caught a glimpse of this year’s Berkeley Affordable Housing Bike Tour. The tour was one of the events held as part of the East Bay Housing Organization’s Affordable Housing Week.

A group of people on bikes gathered on Oxford outside the offices of Resources for Community Development (RCD), the non-profit that organized the tour. The group consisted of a variety of housing activists, community members, and representatives from other affordable housing developers, who set out to learn about over 15 affordable housing sites in Downtown, South and West Berkeley.

Dan Sawislak, Executive Director of RCD led the tour and offered a wealth of information about the history of affordable housing, how projects are funded and the benefits to residents. The tour included a wide variety of housing projects ranging from the five unit 9th Street Cooperative, to the Harriet Tubman Terrace with 90 units for  seniors on Adeline, to Harmon Gardens on Sacramento, a 16-unit building for youth transitioning out of the foster care system, and other small to large sites. Some projects housed the formerly homeless and others specialized in serving people with disabilities, low-income families with children and/or people with special needs. Some of the housing we visited also offered on-site supportive services, including medical clinics, counseling, resident activities, and classes. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley aims to bolster housing fund with fee discount

Six housing projects buffering the downtown area are in the pipeline that would be subject to the city's affordable housing requirements.
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Berkeley officials voted Tuesday night to reduce, temporarily, a fee required of developers in hopes of both replenishing a city fund for affordable housing and curtailing building heights in projects planned to buffer downtown.

The Berkeley City Council has, for quite some time, grappled with how to build up its affordable housing stock. Developers in Berkeley are required to provide a certain amount of affordable housing, either by paying into a city fund that’s used to build this housing elsewhere, or by including below-market-rate units in their projects.

If they elect to pay rather than build, the money goes into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. The fund was established in 1990 to pool available federal, state and local money for these projects. Some officials have said the city might be able to build more units, as compared to what private developers would produce, if developers pay into the public fund. … Continue reading »

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Council sets fee for affordable housing mitigation

Housing
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Developers of new residential rental properties in Berkeley can now choose to pay into a special city fund instead of including on-site affordable housing after an 8-1 vote Tuesday by the City Council. It’s the latest step by City Hall to create policies that will increase Berkeley’s affordable housing stock.

But whether developers will choose to pay the fee remains to be seen, and some members of the City Council caution that setting the fee too high could have unintended, unavoidable, consequences for future projects.

The city requires developers of new market-rate rental properties to make one of their units affordable — to households earning 50% or less of the region’s median family income — for every 10 market rate units. This means that the units would have to be affordable, for example, to a family of three in Berkeley making $42,100 or less. … Continue reading »

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News

Council considers affordable housing, plastic bag ban

Jesse Arreguín: budget reflects "our priorities as a community"
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The Berkeley City Council last night passed Councilmember Jesse Arreguín’s proposal to move to an up or down vote on an affordable housing mitigation fee at an October meeting. The city has been debating a fee since the Palmer/Sixth Street Properties v. City of Los Angeles decision in 2009 invalidated inclusionary housing requirements like those in Berkeley.

“We have a desperate need for affordable housing in Berkeley,” Arreguín said. “We need to move forward with adopting a fee right now.”

The Housing Advisory Commission had recommended setting a fee of $28,000 per market rate unit, but councilmembers Laurie Capitelli and Susan Wengraf last night said they were concerned about setting a fee before there was certainty on other potential fees under consideration (other potential fees include streets, parking and open space impact fees and a West Berkeley transport fee). Capitelli suggested a decision be held off until a December meeting of the City Council when the full range of fees could be assessed.  … Continue reading »

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