Zoning Proposals & Plan
are Substantively Different, Requiring Two Separate Public Hearings
The West Berkeley Project resulted in proposed changes to
Zoning Ordinance and the West Berkeley Plan section of the Berkeley
General Plan. Some of these proposed Plan changes mirror the
Zoning changes, but many of the Zoning changes are of a level of detail
and substance not addressed by the Plan changes.
Because of these differences, a Public Hearing on only the Plan changes
(as now noticed for the 25th) does not fulfill the need of the public
or Council to adequately address the substantive Zoning
changes. Therefore, two separate Public Hearings are
required – one for Plan Amendments and one for Zoning changes.
A single hearing can’t possibly do these numerous, complex and
disparate sets of issues justice. The Public Hearing notice for
25th Plan Amendment hearing (Council’s Agenda Committee decides on the
19th if the hearing will actually occur), states that Council will hear
“comment” on the Zoning changes at this hearing. Taking “comment”
issues is not a Public Hearing on them, doesn’t officially address
them, and is inadequate to make final decisions on issues of great
7 Reasons In Brief:
1. Separate Public Hearing Needed on Proposed, Critical Zoning
Changes, Not Just Proposed Plan
Amendments: Zoning Allowances - Residences in
M Zones, 75’ Height, FAR 3, Office/Childcare in M Zone, etc.
2. Public Hearing Should Not Be Same Night As WB Project Workshop–
Doesn’t allow Council adequate
time to learn about & consider the numerous,
complex Rezoning Proposals & Plan Amendments.
3. No Complete Staff Report to Public w/ Rezoning + Plan Amendment
Proposals to Public until 3-4 days
Before Public Hearing.
4. Only One Week “Real” Notice for Public Hearing- Inadequate for a
hearing addressing the most far-
reaching City land use changes in decades.
5. No Full Notice of Public Hearing or of West Berkeley Project Process
To All Affected Businesses &
6. Public Hearing Notice for 25th Doesn’t Meet New Zoning Proposals’
Own Standards for Noticing –
Proposed noticing requirements for Master
Use Permit (one part of WB Project) are twice the time period given
25th Public Hearing to approve entire West Berkeley
Project w/ all proposed changes, including 6 MUP permits.
7. Not only would a more adequate and respectful noticing give the
public a proper opportunity to
exercise its right to engage in the democratic
process, it may result in a greater understanding of
contentious issues, and possible resolution to them
within the existing process.
7 Reasons in Full:
1. Separate Public Hearing Needed on Proposed Zoning Changes, Not Just
Proposed Plan Amendments:
At present it doesn’t appear City Council intends to hold a Public
Hearing on the proposed Zoning changes, even though it is these changes
that contain many of the most far-reaching and controversial
provisions, such as allowing residences in industrial zones,
freestanding offices in the Manufacturing (M) Zone, and 75 ft heights.
To conduct three years of process on contentious issues without many
being resolved and not have the ultimate adjudicating body, the City
Council, take them up in a separate, proper Public Hearing context is
not up to the standards of our community’s progressive democratic
Some Proposed Zoning Changes Not Directly Addressed by Plan
Amendments: Levels of Discretion for All Use Changes.
75’ Height FAR 3, Full Parking Waivers, Floating of Uses:
Residences into Industrial Zones – Inadequate Findings, Allowance of
freestanding offices in the M Zone, Reduced Setbacks between Industry
and Residences, Allowance of San Pablo C-W (Regional Retail-WEBAIC)
2. Public Hearing Should Not Be Same Night As Workshop on WB
Doesn’t Allow Council Adequate Time to Learn About & Consider the
Numerous, Complex Rezoning & Plan Amendment Proposals.
The proposal to hold the Workshop to familiarize Council with the
complex and numerous proposals on the same night as a holding the
Public Hearing on those issues is very unusual and troubling, pointing
to a injudicious rush to judgment on issues of great import.
3. No Release of Complete Staff Report with Rezoning &
Plan Proposals to Public until 3-4 days before Public Hearing:
To WEBAIC’s knowledge there has never been a complete staff report
encompassing all proposed changes in their final form released to the
public. From our understanding, staff intends to have this
3-4 days before the Public Hearing, an entirely inadequate time to
examine this document in its entirety.
4. One week “real” notice inadequate for Public Hearing
addressing most far-reaching land use changes in decades:
To notice the most important final approval meeting in a three year
process with only the minimum requirements is a sad commentary on the
West Berkeley Project, in which WEBAIC has been required to remind the
City in an ongoing manner to fulfill its pledge to create a meaningful
mechanism for its businesses and citizens to weigh in on issues
materially affecting them.
5. Inadequate West Berkeley Project outreach to affected
business and residents continues with rushed final approval process.
Unlike during The West Berkeley Plan process, to our knowledge there
has never been a notice sent by the City to all West Berkeley
businesses, residents, and institutions alerting them to the fact that
this rezoning process would reshape West Berkeley and affect their
lives and livelihoods for decades to come. The West Berkeley
made this outreach several times to assure those affected would have
their democratic opportunity to participate.
Not only were Mixed Use Residential (MUR) residents not invited to
participate, they had to demand a seat at the table after they became
aware that proposed changes could greatly affect them. Even after
being allowed into the process they were told the changes would not
affect them, even though the MUR zone was slated for huge increases in
building heights and densities, as well as the location of
up-to-that-time prohibited uses.
6. WB Project’s Zoning Proposal Noticing Requirements for one Master
Use Permit (MUP) are twice the notice being given for the final Public
Hearing approving the entire West Berkeley Project Zoning and Plan
Changes, including the six Master Use Permits.
The West Berkeley Project Zoning changes propose a 30 day noticing
requirement for a Hearing on a Master Use Permit, while the hearing to
approve the entire process of which the Master Use Permit is only one
part gives only a 14 day notice to the public. Logic would expect that
the approval of the entire process that will allow mass development and
far reaching use changes (well over 600% of what one MUP would allow)
would demand at least the same noticing as is being required for one of
its smaller, entitled component parts.
7. Not only would a more adequate and respectful noticing give the
public a proper opportunity to exercise its right to engage in the
democratic process, it may result in a greater understanding of
contentious issues, and possible resolution to them within the existing
West Berkeley Works!
West Berkeley Plan & Zoning Key to Present Vibrancy, Success, &
West Berkeley is a highly successful area with economic, cultural, and
residential vitality – not perfect, but in many ways a model of what a
mixed-use area can be. With low industrial vacancy rates and
approximately 16,000 jobs, half in industry & arts and half in
scientific, technical, professional, management, and retail fields, the
area is alive with productive, sustainable activity. This success is
largely the result of a forward-thinking City planning process
involving broad-based citizen/business/ government/labor/faith
participation in the 80’s and 90’s that created the West Berkeley
Plan. This policy document took a fine-grained approach to this
complex area of the City, instituting policies recognizing the need to
very carefully balance competing interests to achieve the highest
community good. This meant both encouraging market forces when
would clearly result in broad-based benefits and mitigating them when
their excesses could degrade economic vibrancy (i.e. the dot-com bust)
and community equity.
Along with being the workshop and economic and cultural engine of our
City, West Berkeley is the key to our community’s equity and diversity
through being the only part of Berkeley providing a significant number
(approx 7000) of family wage blue and green collar jobs (available to
the one-third of our population without a four year college
substantial percentage of these positions are filled by people of
color, who in our City and nationally have significantly lower rates of
high school and college completion, and therefore less opportunity to
find good job, especially in this economy.
Business Community & Citizenry Deserve
Adequately Noticed & Meaningful Opportunity to Address City Council
The Planning staff and Planning Commission have forwarded rezoning
proposals and Plan amendments to the City Council that would greatly,
some would say radically, alter this fine-grained, carefully balanced
zoning largely responsible for West Berkeley’s success. It is no
exaggeration to say that the proposed zoning changes stand to
physically, economically, culturally, and socially alter West Berkeley
and the City fundamentally for 100 years. Many of the proposed
are positive, while some of them collectively carry within them the
possibility of the loss of our overall robust diversity of economic
activity, significant loss of our sustainable production and
distribution economy, diminution of arts activity, the walling off of
Berkeley from the Bay with a row of 75 foot towers lining the City’s
edge (75 ft heights become 80-85’ heights with elevator shafts and HVAC
piping/housings and attendant screens), and a wave of gentrification
that could be the final blow to our rich economic and ethnic diversity
that makes our City so much the vibrant and compelling place it is.