October 12, 2009
Industry and Art & Crafts Protections in the Balance
Planning Commission - Wed, October 14 - 8PM
N. Berkeley Sr Ctr - MLK @ Hearst
Issues In Brief:
There are four major issues WEBAIC intends to address at the upcoming meeting. Staff intends to focus on issue #1 but WEBAIC intends to address all four critical issues below.
1. Staff proposes busting Industrial Protections (outside Master Use Permit properties). The Planning Commission is set to address the all-important issue of Allowable Uses this Wednesday. As part of their rezoning efforts (in violation of the West Berkeley Plan and General Plan Goals & Policies), staff will present their proposal to open up the Protected Industrial Uses category to R & D uses that will surely displace now-protected Manufacturing, Warehousing, Wholesale Trade, and Material Recovery Enterprise uses and their jobs. These Industrial Protections are the central (and successful) mechanism by which the West Berkeley Plan seeks to maintain a diverse, mixed-use economy providing revenue, goods and services, and living wage jobs, especially to people without a college education. The opening up of these protections will directly target the land base where the vast majority of existing industrial (and future arts and crafts) uses operate. WEBAIC supports the location of these R & D Uses in West Berkeley where they are now allowed, on the 25% of now-protected industrial space that can already be converted to non-protected (R & D) uses by right, and believes they should be further encouraged on the six "underutilized opportunity" sites the City originally targeted for the Master Use Permit. That's enough. Staff's proposal to REMOVE industrial protections on Master Use Properties AND OPEN UP the Protected Use Category on the rest of the industrial property outside Master Use Permit sites (where most industrial & arts enterprises are) translates to a collective installation of displacement policies that will result in the decimation of the industrial and arts sectors over time, impoverishing West Berkeley's economy and ultimately our City's ethnic and economic diversity.
2. Arts & Crafts finally proposed for interchangeable Protected Use status. Arts & Crafts were originally supposed to be in the Protected Uses category but for the last 13 years were left out. WEBAIC has been working to right this wrong and has finally convinced staff to put this proposal forward on Wednesday. This will for the first time facilitate the location of (affordable) new arts and crafts studio space in West Berkeley. Please come support this proposal.
3. Master Use Permit (MUP): Slated to cover a minimum of 42% of W. Berkeley's dedicated industrial zones and remove existing industrial protections on these properties. Staff is now proposing that the Master Use Permit not only initially be applicable to a minimum 42% of all Manufacturing, Warehousing, Wholesale Trade, and Material Recovery Enterprise (M/W/W/MRE) space in the Manufacturing, Mixed Manufacturing and Mixed-Use Light Industrial zones (M/MM/MULI), but that existing industrial protections be completely removed on this land. This is in direct contradiction to W. Berkeley Plan and General Plan Goals and Policies. Additionally, the City proposes NO LIMITATION on the ultimate application of this permit and its economic incentive to displace existing industrial companies and jobs.
4. Staff proposes unnecessary, detrimental doubling of height and massing standards. Without any demonstrated need, staff is proposing doubling the height limit from 45 to 90 feet as well as doubling the massing standard, the Floor Area Ration (FAR) from 2 to 4. These standards will degrade the workability/livability of the built environment, facilitate residential and office uses on the precious 3-4% of Berkeley's land devoted to an industrial and artistic production economy and culture, and create huge, speculation-inducing land value differentials, installing further incentives for gentrification.
The Issues - a bit deeper:
1. Staff proposes busting Industrial Protections (outside Master Use Permit properties). Staff is proposing to open up the Protected Uses Category of Manufacturing, Warehousing, Wholesale Trade, and Material Recovery Enterprise (M/W/W/MRE) to R & D "Product Development" uses. The Protected Uses industrial protections are the main underpinning of the West Berkeley Plan and the single most important reason that the vital industrial/arts community exists today in West Berkeley. These protections put uses that can afford the same ballpark amount per sq ft for space in competition with each other, not in competition with uses that could easily out-compete and ultimately displace them. The West Berkeley Plan recognizes that the protected industrial uses that provide living wage jobs for those without a college education are not "supported", but "threatened" by an unregulated market and put into effect zoning mechanisms intended to maintain their presence in West Berkeley. This was done for the purposes of: maintaining a mixed use economy which provides a steady source of revenue and goods and services to the City and region, and provides a significant amount of living wage employment for those without advanced education. The West Berkeley Plan and the General Plan target the maintenance of these companies and jobs in service of maintaining the economic and ethnic diversity of the City.
WEBAIC believes there should be an expanded place for new R & D uses in West Berkeley, and that on the Master Use Permit sites the City is in the process of permitting, on the land already zoned for these uses, and on the 25% of industrially-protected property that can be converted to non-protected uses NOW, by right. A developer with 100,000 square feet of protected space can go to the City tomorrow and apply for a permit to convert 25,000 sq ft to R & D. This application can't be turned down. On the six sites the City originally targeted for this permit (and identified as "underutilized development opportunity sites") there is the capability of building at least 2 million square feet of space at existing building standards( UC Master's study). These uses should be allowed ample space to locate on these sites but SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO DISPLACE EXISTING ENTERPRISES AND JOBS - what would happen if they were installed in the Protected Uses category outside of Master Use Permit sites. Rents will rise in response to this proposal. Please come out and have your voice heard on this issue.
2. Arts & Crafts proposed for interchangeable Protected Use status As mentioned above, WEBAIC contends Arts & Crafts was originally targeted to be listed in the interchangeable Industrial Protected Uses category. This listing would have allowed these uses to locate in space previously occupied by Manufacturing, Warehousing, Wholesale Trade, & Material Recovery Enterprise uses. Only uses in this category can interchange with each other. This is based on the concept that these are desirable uses, are able to afford similar rents, & require supportive zoning policies to assure their continued existence in the W. Berkeley mix. Left out of this interchangeable category when the zoning language was written in 1996, WEBAIC has finally convinced staff to rectify this omission and include Arts and Crafts in this category. This omission has severely limited the location of arts and crafts in W. Berkeley as the only likely affordable space would have been devoted to either industrial or arts and crafts uses. Please attend to support what we believe to be the most important opportunity for the expansion of arts and crafts in W. Berkeley in decades.
3. Master Use Permit (MUP) proposals: Covers too much land - Removes industrial protections - Set to displace existing industrial companies and jobs. Sparking the current rezoning process, the City identified six properties it considered underutilized. These sites cover 8% of M, MM, and MULI property. This initial and appropriate targeting of the MUP permit has ballooned to a permit that at the current four acre threshold applies to 42% of these three industrial zones. On top of this the City proposes UNLIMITED possibilities for aggregation of property to qualify for this permit. This aggregation WILL happen since the underlying mechanism of the MUP is to provide an economic incentive for this Permit through expanded Use and Building standards. The voiding of the West Berkeley Plan on 42% (and surely more over time) of the M, MM, and MULI zones violates the West Berkeley and Berkeley General Plans and is therefore illegal. This over expanded applicability must be scaled back to the originally targeted sites. The scale of this application (the six sites) is within West Berkeley Plan standards and intentions and does not threaten the intended mix and Central Goal of the Plan, to maintain a diverse, mixed-use economy.
Along with this over-application, staff has now reversed their previous position and intends to remove existing industrial protections on Master Use Permit sites, also in violation of both Plans' goals and policies. Since WEBAIC has agreed that on the Master Use Permit sites industrial R & D laboratory uses should be allowed on almost all protected space, there seems to be no other rationale for this policy except to green light unpermitted residential and office uses on these properties. The removal of these industrial protections also allows owners of MUP sites to get rid of present industrial tenants with their living-wage jobs. WEBAIC believes this is a strong driver of this policy.
4. Staff proposes unnecessary, detrimental doubling of height and massing standards. As stated above, these expanded standards are unnecessary and detrimental. The existing West Berkeley built environment is at present less than FAR 1. Staff proposes quadrupling this. In the very rare instance a company requires expanded heights for verified production needs (we only know of one- Bayer), a mechanism to easily permit this can be created. These proposed standards are the steroids of land speculation.
West Berkeley Works!
WEBAIC • firstname.lastname@example.org • 510-549-0190
Helps the public understand West Berkeley industries' contributions to the community;
Helps businesses maintain and increase their contributions to Berkeley's economy and cultural richness, including how to adopt sustainable practices;
Serves as a liaison between WeBAIC's members, the community, and local government;
Promotes the development of sustainable industries as envisioned in the West Berkeley Plan.