Berkeley has a Downtown Plan. The path has not been smooth or simple, but thousands of hours, plus voter buy-in has solidly approved it.
A 6-story building set to include 50 rental units and four live-work units was approved Thursday night by Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board, though neighborhood opposition will likely mean an appeal to City Council.
An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied numerous challenges to the Environmental Impact Report prepared for 2211 Harold Way, meaning that construction of an 18-story, 302-unit building with 10,000-square feet of retail space and new movie theaters in Berkeley’s downtown can proceed – unless the decision is appealed.
Who Berkeley residents vote onto the Berkeley City Council this November could dramatically alter how the city looks in the future. The Berkeley City Council currently stands divided, with pro-development council members claiming the majority of votes, but that could all change once ballots are cast this fall. While some on the council favor more aggressive development as a way to abate the housing affordability crisis, others take issue with the rampant building that tends to favor affluent residents while displacing those without large incomes.
A developer wants to replace downtown Berkeley Vietnamese restaurant with a 7-story building including a 1,500-square-foot ground-floor restaurant.
In the past five years, the population of Berkeley has grown 5.5%, but its housing supply has only increased 1.2%.
On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss Mayor Bates’s omnibus housing plan. The plan has 13 points and covers everything from condo conversions to incentivizing Section 8 vouchers and by-right development rights. Yet, his proposal is a sweeping portrait of supply side economics and does not address displacement. It is premised on the idea that increasing the supply of market rate (expensive) apartments will ease the burden on everyone else, because, the argument goes, wealthy new comers will no longer be competing with everyone else for housing. Further, there is a presumption that people who move here will take mass transit to work, thus lessening our city’s carbon footprint.
Transferring development rights to allow for taller buildings. Increasing the amount of affordable housing required for large developments. Offering developers a discount if they pay into the Housing Trust Fund at the beginning of the development process rather than the end.
It may be another late night for the Berkeley City Council, which has two meetings Tuesday night set to include more than 60 agenda items. At 5:30 p.m., there’s a special session on the city’s economic profile, as well as updates from state Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. For the regular 7:30 p.m. meeting, there are 19 items on the action calendar alone. There’s a public hearing on a new bike sharing program the city hopes to launch, council consideration of the Police Review Commission’s look into last year’s protests, a proposal to add homeless services to what the city already offers, and several council proposals related to living wages and housing. The latest five-year paving plan is also on the agenda, along with a resolution from the Peace and Justice Commission to end drone warfare. (more…)
At its Dec. 1 meeting, the Berkeley City Council is set to kick off with a special 5:30 p.m. session on affordable housing, followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. The action calendar includes two appeals related to a Durant Avenue housing project, a look at the Police Review Commission’s report about last December’s protests, and a proposal from Councilman Jesse Arreguín to expand the city’s services for the homeless. The meeting is set to take place in the Longfellow Middle School auditorium, at 1500 Derby St. Scroll down to see the highlights and learn how to follow along. (more…)
About 180 people packed into Berkeley Arts Festival, a performance space in Downtown Berkeley, on Sunday to hear housing experts and advocates discuss the city’s housing affordability crisis and what can be done to make Berkeley a more affordable place to live.
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