Housing pipeline: As built units and affordable ones grow, more work remains

There have been 1,022 housing units built in Berkeley, across 17 projects, since 2014, according to the latest “housing pipeline” report issued by the city of Berkeley.

The June 2019 pipeline report — which was on the Berkeley City Council’s agenda this week — includes about 75 projects of at least six units that have been built in the city since 2014 or are in some stage of the permitting process. It’s the first time since 2017 that the city has updated its pipeline report. Going forward, staff plans to release it annually in July, in line with the schedule for state-mandated housing data requirements.

Units built in Berkeley since 2014 include 128 listed as below-market-rate housing. That number is split nearly evenly between units considered affordable to very-low-income households and low-income households.


In its report, the city has listed “group living accommodation” projects, such as dormitories with higher bed counts, alongside other projects available to the public. Berkeleyside has split those out from the rest of the numbers and will consider those projects below. Because of this discrepancy, Berkeleyside has focused on the numbers in the 2019 report rather than providing a historical comparison to the city’s 2017 numbers.

About 842 units, across 15 projects, are under construction and expected to be completed by 2020, according to the pipeline report. That is set to include 85 below-market-rate units, but the city cautioned that this number could change. Developers have up until the time a certificate of occupancy is issued to make final decisions about whether to include affordable units in the project or pay a fee to the city instead.

The city did not include any information in the report about Housing Trust Fund fees associated with the housing projects.

The city has approved 23 other projects — totalling 1,735 units — that do not have an active building permit yet. There are about 230 estimated below-market-rate units included in these projects, but that number could change, as noted above. (The city includes one other project among this batch but it also has a new application pending. Berkeleyside removed those units from this part of the tally so as not to duplicate them.)

Six of the approved projects, with 284 total units, have applied for their building permits. These permits “will be issued in the near future,” according to the pipeline report. Four others on the approved list date back to 2016 and have not yet sought a building permit.

The projects that may have the longest road ahead of them have been submitted to the city but are not yet considered complete applications or are pending review by city officials. There are 15 projects, totalling about 1,190 units, on that list. (One project included in the pipeline report, 1486 University Ave., was withdrawn recently by the applicant, so Berkeleyside did not count it.)

As for group living accommodations, there are three projects expected to be done by 2020, totalling 734 beds, as well as two projects that were completed in 2016 totalling 352 beds, according to independent research by Berkeleyside. Several other group living accommodation projects — completed and underway — were not included on the city’s list. Berkeleyside has asked staff for clarification.

Berkeleyside did not include the city’s calculations for its regional housing needs because group living units were included in those counts. Berkeleyside has asked the city for additional information on this topic.

Note: This story was updated after publication to reflect numbers that appear, from independent research, to be more accurate than some of those in the city’s pipeline report. Berkeleyside is seeking clarification from the city.