Tag Archives: Zoning Adjustments Board
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Berkeley zoning board members voted Thursday night to ask developers to reduce the size of a proposed micro-unit project on Shattuck Avenue by either taking units off the upper stories or removing the top story altogether.
The lengthy Zoning Adjustments Board meeting was the panel’s first chance to vote on the project. Throughout the night, the board seemed poised to approve the project as proposed, deny the project altogether or ask for significant changes before moving forward.
At the end of a nearly three-hour discussion, which included comments from more than 20 members of the public, the board voted to affirm the staff recommendation to ask San Francisco-based Axis Development Group to change its designs to make the building fit in better with the neighborhood. Staff had recommended some type of increased “setbacks” — such as a more gradual increase from story to story up to the building’s full height — on the five-story proposal’s upper floors to increase the space between the structure and a nearby single-family home to the east. The zoning board asked mixed-use developer Axis to consider either that approach or a possible reduction to four stories. … Continue reading »
A 70-unit five-story building proposed at Shattuck Avenue and Derby Street faced steep neighborhood opposition at a recent zoning board meeting in Berkeley.
The 60-foot-tall proposal, set to include 35 garage parking spaces, 81 bike spots and a 2,000-square-foot restaurant, has been designed by Lowney Architecture, and comes to the city from Axis Development Group in San Francisco. The project has been scheduled before the city’s Design Review Committee six times since December. Units as currently designed range from 307 to 344 square feet. The project would result in a payment of $1.4 million into the city’s affordable housing fund.
Proponents say these “micro-units” — which have sparked fierce debate in San Francisco — are the way of the future, offering a more viable financial alternative to renters who otherwise would not be able to afford their own apartments. An attorney for the project, Rena Rickles, said at the Aug. 8 Zoning Adjustments Board meeting that micro-units “have been lauded in every design review magazine,” adding that the Berkeley proposal would offer even more amenities than a similarly high-end project, 38 Harriet, in San Francisco (built by Berkeley-based developer Panoramic Interests): “It meets the highest standards for this kind of housing in this area.” Rickles also noted that it would bring some much-needed vibrancy to the area.
Fifteen neighbors who live near the proposal, and spoke before the zoning board, were unconvinced. … Continue reading »
A new eight-story building could take the place of the Firestone garage and parking lot at Milvia and University, if a newly proposed development at 1974 University Ave. is approved by the city of Berkeley.
The project is still in its nascent stages as far as the city permit approval process; developer William Schrader Jr., of Alamo-based The Austin Group, submitted the application Friday, with the possibility of a design review session coming in August.
Schrader’s son, AJ, a broker with San Francisco-based boutique real estate firm Retail West, who procured the sale of the land, said last week that the deal took about 14 months to negotiate. The sale won’t be final until the city entitlement process is complete, or nearly complete, he added.
William Schrader said the new development would help continue extending “the retail experience” from Shattuck Avenue downtown westbound on University Avenue. The new building is planned at this time to include an atrium that’s open to the sky. The first story would be retail, which is set to include a full-service restaurant, perhaps 3,500 square feet, and some other commercial spaces on University. … Continue reading »
A new 69-unit building, with 7,240 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, has been approved by the city’s zoning board for construction on Addison Street.
The six-story 60-foot-tall building is the latest development by property owner Avi Nevo, who has developed numerous projects in Berkeley over the last 17 years, including Telegraph Gardens across from Whole Foods.
“I’ve been building projects in Berkeley since long before it became so popular,” Nevo told the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board in late June. … Continue reading »
Acheson Commons, the largest apartment complex ever planned for Berkeley’s downtown, is set to go forward after its opponents decided not to file a challenge to the plan.
A coalition of unions, preservationists, community activists and Rent Board members did not file an appeal to a recent ZAB ruling by the deadline, Monday, July 8, at 5 p.m. That means the 205-unit project slated for 2133 University Ave. could be completed in the next three years.
“I think this project is a cornerstone to the revitalization of the downtown, at least the northern end of it,” said Mark Rhoades, a former city planner whose Rhoades Planning Group is representing the developer, Chicago-based Equity Residential. … Continue reading »
An attempt by a group of South Berkeley neighbors to halt, or at least delay, the arrival of a Starbucks at 3001 Telegraph Ave. (at the intersection with Ashby) stumbled last week when the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board denied its appeal.
The Bateman Neighborhood Association and Jim Smith, of Dana Street, had collected 1,500 signatures on a petition presented, along with an appeal, to ZAB in late March for the new coffee shop, which is planning to go into the new Telegraph Gardens development. The appeal focuses on concerns about traffic congestion and what are seen as unfair waivers given to Starbucks regarding the provision of parking spaces. The community is also worried about what the presence of a Starbucks will mean in terms of competition to the independently owned Mokka coffee shop two blocks away at 3075 Telegraph.
Last Thursday night, in a close 5-4 vote, the board rejected the appeal by neighbors who questioned the permits granted to the project for extended operating hours and an exception for required parking spots. City staff said it’s common to grant parking exceptions when certain criteria are met — such as ample parking nearby and when the business aims to be “neighborhood-serving” and increase pedestrian activity. Staff said the application did meet those criteria, but numerous community members who spoke against the permits questioned that determination. … Continue reading »
Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council upheld a March decision by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board to allow developers to move ahead with plans to build a 78-unit rental apartment complex in downtown Berkeley.
The building, called “The Durant,” is set to have frontage on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way; it’s set mid-block between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street. The south side of the building is proposed to rise to four stories, and the north side to six. The architects are Johnson Lyman Architects of Walnut Creek.
The zoning board decision was appealed in April by Stephen Stine, who cited “severe detriments” related to noise, air quality and sunlight reductions that would affect residents, including his mother, who live in a senior housing complex — Stuart Pratt Manor at 2020 Durant — next door to the project site. Appellants also said the city hadn’t followed proper notification rules when zoning in the neighborhood was changed during the Downtown Area Plan process. … Continue reading »
Greenleaf Wellness Group, which had been operating a medical cannabis collective at 1515 Dwight Way since Jan. 2012, was declared a public nuisance and in violation of various city statutes by Berkeley City Council at its meeting last night.
Cannabis collectives are allowed in Berkeley in residential areas provided that the collective is incidental to residential use. At a public hearing in Dec. 2012, the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) determined in a unanimous vote that Greenleaf was operating in a commercial building and that the collective use was primary, not incidental. The council on Tuesday night concurred with the ZAB decision and approved a staff recommendation to enjoin and terminate Greenleaf’s use of the building. Councilmember Kriss Worthington was the only dissenting vote on the council.
“Not only is this not allowed to be a collective, because it’s not entirely in a residential zone, but even if it was in a residential zone, it’s not a residential use,” said Councilmember Jesse Arreguín. “That just right off the bat clearly prohibits it from being a collective. … Continue reading »