Tag Archives: Zoning Adjustments Board

See plans Tuesday for new downtown Berkeley hotel

A 16-story hotel has been proposed on Center Street at Shattuck Avenue. (Click for more detail.) Image: JRDV Urban International
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A 16-story high-rise hotel under consideration in downtown Berkeley is making its way through the city approval process, with three preview meetings already completed before city panels related to development decisions. No votes have yet been taken, but are expected in the coming months.

The hotel, proposed by Jim Didion and Center Street Partners LLC, would replace the 1970s-era one-story Bank of America building and parking lot at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street. If approved, the project would transform one of the most visible corners in downtown Berkeley.

An open house about the project is scheduled for Tuesday, April 15, from 5-7 p.m. at the Marsh Theater, 2120 Allston Way. … Continue reading »

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Op-Ed: Saying no to Starbucks sets a bad precedent

Starbucks
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Earlier this month, Berkeley’s City Council rejected an application from Starbucks to open a new coffee shop on the corner of Telegraph and Ashby avenues. This despite the fact that the proposal had been approved by planning staff, and despite the fact that independent studies showed that the main objection — increased parking problems — was not substantiated.

In an Opinionator piece published on Berkeleyside, Steven Donaldson, a commissioner on the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, argues that, while … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Starbucks vote makes Berkeley seem unfriendly to business

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Several months ago, Starbucks showed up before the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board (I sit on the Board) to ask for a permit to operate a coffee shop on the corner of Ashby and Telegraph. It’s one of the busiest intersections in Berkeley, with lots of drive-by traffic and Alta Bates a short walk away. We’re not talking about a massive facility, more like a storefront that could seat about 25 people. Who would think this would be a giant … Continue reading »

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Bike rentals and much more planned for Aquatic Park

Street Level Cycles, or Watershed Workshops, is a non-profit that uses use vocational education to promote youth development.
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A popular bike shop and community bike repair space in West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park won approval recently from the city’s zoning board to expand its buzzing operation into new digs and bring bike rentals, and much more, to the park.

A new space for Waterside Workshops at 90 Bolivar Drive will give Street Level Cycles the space to offer low-cost bicycle rentals, more youth education, longer community hours and a community meeting space, as well as — possibly — a small indoor coffee bar. The organization currently has a café with outdoor-only seating.

“We see the building as a jump‐off point for community recreation that will make the park more accessible for all Berkeley residents, regardless of income level,” according to the group’s applicant statement. … Continue reading »

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Staff recommend denial of proposed Hillegass remodel

2610 Hillegass Ave., Berkeley, CA. Image: Google maps
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A use permit request from a Hillegass Avenue property manager who hopes to convert eight one-bedroom units into two-bedroom apartments has been recommended for denial by the city’s zoning board which meets tonight, Thursday March 13.

The proposal, at 2610 Hillegass, just south of Parker Street, would not change the building’s size, but would result in the remodel of all of the building’s one-bedroom units into two-bedrooms. The 23-unit building currently includes 10 two-bedroom units and five three-bedroom apartments. … Continue reading »

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Youth Musical Theater plans new West Berkeley home

YMTC
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UPDATE, March 27: The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the move by the Youth Musical Theater Company to two buildings at West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park. Jennifer Boesing, the company’s artistic director, said she was ”brimming with excitement.” Writing to the company’s community via email she said: “With the generous sponsorship of Berkeley-based Sogno Design Group and the Parks and Recreation Department, we will be renovating our new home over the spring and summer, with our 2014-2015 season programming and rehearsals beginning there in the fall. The result will be the creation of an exciting and vital artistic hub that serves YTMC and the larger Berkeley community.”

ORIGINAL STORY: A 10-year-old musical theater company serving local youth is one step closer to creating its first permanent home in West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park.

The Youth Musical Theater Company won preliminary approval Thursday night from Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board to create a new base for its operations on Bolivar Drive at the southern end of Aquatic Park. … Continue reading »

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‘Moorish-style palace’ for Telegraph Ave. is step closer

Image: Kirk E. Peterson & Associates
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A six-story, mixed-use, Moorish, palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns is one step closer to being built on Berkeley’s iconic Telegraph Avenue after the project sailed through a review by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board last week.

ZAB commissioners were generally receptive to the building’s unusual design, according to Commissioner Steven Donaldson.

Addressing the architect of the project, Kirk E. Peterson, ZAB Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said she approved of the design. “It’s weird and I like that,” she said. O’Keefe said she grew up in Berkeley, had always appreciated the “weirdness” of Telegraph Avenue, and that it was good to see something unusual, “a little different,” proposed for the area. … Continue reading »

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New Elmwood restaurant seeks city approval tonight

A “very preliminary” rendering of the restaurant that has been approved for 2635 Ashby Ave. (at College) by the owners of  Comal. Image: Abueg Morris Architects
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board will tonight consider the application by the owners of Comal in downtown Berkeley to open a second restaurant in the old Wright’s Garage space at 2635 Ashby Ave. (at College) in the Elmwood.

City planners are recommending that ZAB approve the proposal, which would entail granting an exception to the Elmwood quota system and agreeing to a midnight closing time on Fridays and Saturdays (an extension from 11:00 p.m.).

Many in the community support the plan, although there are also local residents who oppose it, principally on the grounds that it would cause parking headaches in the neighborhood.

Comal owners John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman envision that the yet-to-be-named spot would serve Northern Californian cuisine and have a full bar, including a menu of craft cocktails. The restaurant would be open for lunch and dinner. The atmosphere, energy and design would likely be similar to Comal, Paluska told Berkeleyside when we broke the news of the plan in June. … Continue reading »

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Zoning board denies Berkeley micro-unit proposal

Image: Lowney Architecture
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Berkeley zoning board members voted 6-3 last week to reject an application from a San Francisco-based development firm that hopes to build the city’s first micro-unit housing project.

In September, many zoning board commissioners told Axis Development Group that the proposal, at 2701 Shattuck Ave., was too large and too dense for the neighborhood. They asked Axis to consider a four-story alternative, and to make more room on the northeast corner of the site, which is close to an adjacent single-family home. City staff had earlier suggested the removal of up to 12 units from the project.

Thursday night, Axis presented its latest version of the five-story project, currently set to include 67 units that range in size from 269 to 344 square feet, as well as a roughly 2,000-square-foot full service restaurant with valet parking, and a small parking garage. (Read more about the latest plans here.) Following the September zoning board meeting, Axis removed three units from the project’s fifth story. Company representatives said they felt this change addressed the board’s concerns.

Commissioners who voted against the project Thursday criticized Axis for failing to take their feedback in September seriously.

“I’m astonished at how fully the applicant has ignored our very clear suggestions. Very clear,” Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said. “From staff, from us. I was at the last meeting, I know what was said. I can’t believe you would come up here with a straight face and say you were confused as to what we were asking for.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley staff recommend rejection of micro-unit plans

Image: Lowney Architecture
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A controversial micro-unit mixed-used proposal aimed for a quiet stretch of Shattuck Avenue, south of downtown, is still too big, say Berkeley city staff, who advised zoning board members to deny the application later this week.

The project, at 2701 Shattuck, at Derby, is scheduled for its third review by the city Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday. The project has received extensive feedback from city commissioners, who asked developers to shrink the project in September, citing concerns about its compatibility with the nearby residential neighborhood. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley units to stay rent-controlled after 2012 fire

The rear of the apartment building at 2227 Dwight Way where extensive fire damage is evident. Photos: Tracey Taylor
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A three-story, six-unit apartment building destroyed by fire early last year will remain rent-controlled, and former residents should have the right to return to the property, city staff said Tuesday night.

The Berkeley City Council heard an appeal Tuesday, filed by former tenants, of a June 2013 Zoning Adjustments Board decision regarding the property. Appellants alleged that property owner Lakireddy Bali Reddy was negligent in his approach to building maintenance, and that his negligence contributed to an unsafe situation that led to last year’s devastating fire at 2227 Dwight Way.

In addition to criticizing the city process related to rebuilding after the fire, appellants also said Reddy, of Everest Properties, should have to pay into the city’s affordable housing fund. City staff explained that the municipal code does not require that, since what is slated to be rebuilt is no different from what was on site before. … Continue reading »

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‘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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