Tag Archives: Berkeley urban planning
The city of Berkeley is crafting a new law to require private developers of many buildings to spend 1% of their construction costs on public art.
Under a recommendation put forth by Mayor Tom Bates and approved in concept by the Berkeley City Council at its March 17 meeting, the “private percent for public art” legislation would apply to all new commercial and industrial buildings, and residential buildings with at least five units, except for projects in downtown Berkeley. The one-time fee would pay for publicly accessible art on-site, or the developer could instead pay into a new city pot for public art.
Update, 3.19.15: The Berkeley Hillside Preservation Group is asking the Supreme Court for a rehearing of its case. It filed its petition on March 18. The Supreme Court recently appointed two new justices, following two retirements, and the group is hoping a reconsideration of their arguments might bring a different result. The vote was 5-2 for the defendant at the first hearing. A decision on whether the court will grant or deny a rehearing will be known by May 29. Read the Petition for Rehearing.
Original story: The California Supreme Court today ruled in favor of the city of Berkeley and philanthropist and Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, and against a group of preservationists who have been fighting for five years a proposal from Kapor and his wife, Freada Kapor Klein, to build a new home at 2707 Rose St.
In a ruling issued Monday morning, the court said it was reversing a Court of Appeal’s decision that had effectively said the 6,478-square-foot home (with a 3,394-square-foot garage) should be subject to an environmental impact report (EIR). Single-family homes are normally exempt from EIRs, which fall under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). … Continue reading »
Conceived with no public input and bewildering in detail, Berkeley’s Measure R sets a new low for proposals fostering bad government.
Measure R on the 2014 Berkeley ballot is 28 pages of complex zoning minutia, increased plan and development requirements (including some that are legally questionable), wage and other requirements, prohibitions, and a Civic Center District Overlay. It has pages of detail and tables with specifics including one six page table setting out precisely the kind of permits required for … Continue reading »
After lying vacant for years, work has begun on a controversial, five-story, 98-unit mixed-use housing development on a lot at the southeast corner of San Pablo and Ashby avenues.
City officials and representatives from Gerding Edlen, the developer, will host a ceremonial “turning of the dirt” ceremony Tuesday at noon. Mayor Tom Bates and Councilman Darryl Moore plan to be there, as well as Brent Gaulke, vice president of Gerdling Edlen. … Continue reading »
A group of local residents is asking the city to raise funds to turn an old, fenced-off railroad bed in South Berkeley, called the Santa Fe Right of Way, into open space with community gardens and a trail that connects to the Ohlone Greenway.
The challenge is that the parks department is already seriously underfunded. Officials are considering a measure for next November’s ballot for a tax increase of at least $20 on average, just to keep from having to lay off park maintenance workers.
Last Wednesday night, the Park Commissioners discussed the ballot measure. About 14 supporters of the Santa Fe project and several Willard Pool advocates urged the commissioners to fund these large projects, as well.
“We want to make sure that the Santa Fe Right of Way should be among the key — if not flagship — projects on ballot measure,” said John Steere, president of Berkeley Partners for Parks. … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley and Ken Sarachan have settled a lawsuit over his empty lot at 2501 Haste St. on the corner of Telegraph Avenue, clearing the way for the construction of a a six-story, mixed-use, Moorish, palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns, Tibetan forts and the rock-cut architecture of Petra in Jordan.
Under the settlement, Berkeley agreed to drop its lawsuit to force Sarachan to pay $640,000 in liens or have the city sell the lot at auction. In exchange, Sarachan agreed to meet specific deadlines to pursue and build something on the lot that has been vacant for more than 20 years. … Continue reading »
A 205-unit apartment complex planned for downtown Berkeley is going back to the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board after an appeal before the City Council on Tuesday night.
Acheson Commons, at 2133 University Ave., was approved by the zoning board in December, but appellants questioned numerous aspects of the project and the council voted unanimously to ask the board to take another look. (See project materials on the city website. The complete administrative record is available here.)
According to the staff report prepared for Tuesday’s special session, the project is set to increase annual tax revenue by $57,000 and bring in $360,000 to support the city’s Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan. (Update, 1 p.m.: A representative for the developer, Mark Rhoades, said the per-year tax basis increase is closer to $600,000. Scroll down to see a chart of the five-year financial projections he provided.) … Continue reading »
Two brown-shingle homes located in the heart of downtown Berkeley have been put up for sale. The asking price? Just $1.00 apiece.
The houses are on the site of the proposed Acheson Commons development that would impact the building that houses Ace Hardware on University Avenue. As part of the review process, developer Equity Residential is required to try to sell the properties before demolishing them.
The Moore/Acheson House and the Baldwin/Acheson House at 1922 and 1924 Walnut Street date from 1905. Neither house is landmarked or a designated historic resource, and they have been vacant for many years so are in a state of disrepair. A buyer would be required to pay for the removal of the two homes, one of which was originally a single family home, subsequently converted into a duplex. The larger of the two was designed multi-residential property when it was built. A buyer would also need to move the homes to a suitable site within Berkeley on a deadline of May 2013. … Continue reading »
So many people came to the City Council meeting Tuesday night to talk about a new plan that could put 100-foot towers in West Berkeley that they could not all fit into the chamber.
Artisans, manufacturers, businessmen, large developers and long-time residents thronged into the main room, stood in the hallway outside, and gathered on the ground floor around a remote projection of the meeting until 10:30 pm. More than 60 people testified about the proposed changes to the area of Berkeley west of San Pablo Avenue.
The City Council last considered the West Berkeley plan — which aims to expand the area’s manufacturing base to include more green businesses, R&D, and housing uses — in June 2011. At that time, councilmembers instructed planning staff to study height limits, residential density and other issues more closely and prepare a supplemental environmental review. … Continue reading »
Berkeley property owner and developer Ken Sarachan has unveiled a proposal for a Moorish fortress-like building to go on the vacant lot on the north-east corner of Telegraph and Haste in Berkeley. Read the details in our story published today.
What do you think of the designs, which were created by local architect Kirk Peterson? Take our (unscientific) poll and we’ll publish the results Friday afternoon.
The owner of a blighted lot at Telegraph and Haste that has been vacant for more than two decades presented his plans for a fortress-like building on the property, although he said he wouldn’t build anything there as long as the city of Berkeley had a lawsuit hanging over him regarding the site.
Ken Sarachan, who bought the north-west corner lot on Telegraph and Haste in 1994, has visions for a Moorish palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns, Tibetan forts and the rock-cut architecture of Petra in Jordan. Architect Kirk Peterson introduced the blueprints and renderings for the project, known as “La Fortaleza” (as in “fortress” or “stronghold”), on Tuesday evening to a small group of interested parties gathered at Caffe Med a few doors down from the lot in question on Telegraph Avenue. … Continue reading »
In a top-secret location in Berkeley, Patrick Kennedy is showing a reporter around a tiny living space — so compact in fact that, at 160 sq ft, it is the smallest apartment one is legally allowed to build.
“It is how small you can go without causing psychological problems,” jokes Kennedy, who, through his company, Panoramic Interests, is responsible for developing swathes of Berkeley. His projects include the Gaia Building on Allston Way, the Berkeleyan Apartments on Oxford Street, and the Touriel Building on University.
The “bijou” apartment in which we are standing, with its trompe l’oeil view of the Bay Bridge, is the prototype for the SmartSpace, a largely prefabricated, furnished space that, when multiplied and stacked together like Lego blocks, creates a fully fledged apartment building. … Continue reading »
By Steven Finacom
Telegraph Avenue’s Sequoia Apartments building, seriously damaged in a fire on Friday, November 18, 2011, is a stately and historic edifice that helped define the character of Telegraph Avenue in both the early 20th century and in the 1960s.
Constructed in 1916, the 96-year-old, 39-apartment, building was part of an early 20th century development boom that transformed Telegraph Avenue into a bustling business and residential district.
When the Sequoia was built, Berkeley was one of most populous cities in California, riding a wave of suburb development and urbanization that had started with the construction of streetcar lines around the turn of the century, and accelerated after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. … Continue reading »