WEBAIC NEWSLETTER

July 20, 2009              

Please Attend - Critical Wednesday July 22
Planning Commission Meeting on:
Master Use Permit Proposals + Public Hearing on Fast-Tracked Proposals

WEBAIC Core Zoning Concept: The modest 4% of Berkeley land zoned for industrial PDRR (Production, Distribution, Repair, Reuse) and arts should remain devoted to these uses as intended by the West Berkeley Plan. If a use can be conducted in an office environment and is not in support of a primary industrial lab, non-lab industrial, or arts use it should not locate on the small amount of land now zoned for PDRR and arts use (existing MULI office provision excepted), but should locate on the ample property zoned for office and office-type uses in the Commercial zones, including downtown.

Planning Commission meeting July 22, 7PM @ N. Berkeley Senior Center - Hearst & MLK:

This Wednesday's 7/22 Planning Commission meeting will address issues vital to the future of West Berkeley's industrial and arts communities.  The meeting starts at 7pm but the item is not projected to come up until 7:30.
 
Recently you may have noticed many West Berkeley Project meetings being described as "critical".  This is due to our having entered the last stages of crafting these far-reaching zoning proposals into the final forms the Planning Commission and Council will be voting on - we're told sometime between September & December. As the ability to positively affect policy at this stage is much greater than at final hearings when Commissioner and Council minds are often already made up, participation at this stage is "critical". We've made steady and positive progress but this momentum can easily turn without a maintaining our collective efforts.  Thank you for your generous time contributions up until now - we don't have far to go.

Planning Commission to address West Berkeley Items in 2 Parts:

1. Public Hearing on four Fast-Tracked Zoning Proposals -
    • Includes WEBAIC/Norheim & Yost Demising Proposal to facilitate easy subdivision of space for small
   & medium size businesses and property owners with only an over-the-counter Zoning Certificate (ZC). 

The only one of the four fast-tracked proposals likely to be controversial is the Demising (subdividing) of Space.  The Commission will consider Staff's Demising proposal and a competing proposal put together jointly by WEBAIC and industrial real estate brokers John Norheim and Don Yost.  We believe the WEBAIC/N&Y proposal is much better than staff's in that it allows the subdivision, and thus creation, of space for small and medium sized businesses with only an over-the-counter Zoning Certificate (ZC), while staff's proposal eases discretion just for large landowner/developers wanting to subdivide large spaces.  Demisings of this large scale could result in significant negative impacts and deserve closer oversight. Our proposal will also easily allow existing business to reconfigure their space for the ups downs of the economy, growing both larger and smaller when needed. Please attend this Public Hearing to speak for WEBAIC's Demising proposal.  This will make a positive, real, on-the-ground difference in the ability of industrial and arts enterprises to function and locate in West Berkeley. See Addendum A at the end of the newsletter for a more in depth discussion of this issue.

Three additional Fast Tracked Proposals: There appears to be general agreement on these:
• Allow retail incidental to Manufacturing/Warehouse/Wholesale Trade subsequent to initial Use Permit issuance.
• Clarify language on interchangeability of Manufacturing, Warehousing, Wholesale Trade, and MRE uses.
• Switching to NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) Codes from existing SIC Code.

2. Planning Commission Discussion and Direction to Staff on Master Use Permit Zoning Proposals 

While staff has steadily moved toward the sensible positions WEBAIC has been putting on the table, there are still critical issues to be decided and Wednesday's discussion will be key in determining direction. 
The Master Use Permit issues and WEBAIC positions:

• The threshold size for Master Use Permit (MUP) eligibility should be 4.5 acres.

WEBAIC is gratified that staff have now moved from a three acre threshold to a four acre threshold.  This gets us closer to the MUP accommodating the six original "underutilized development opportunity sites instead of vastly over-reaching. WEBAIC   believes a 4.5 acre threshold would be the best choice as it would accomodate all 6 of these sites but McCauley Foundry.

• MUP eligibility should be limited to a reasonable and finite number of sites. Accomplish this by:
  A. Creating a limited number of permits, ideally six.
  B. Limit aggregation of property for MUP's by putting a "time by" limit on MUP applications.

Staff has continued to resist the idea of putting limits on the aggregation of property for MUP eligibility. Commissioners should understand:
- Baring limits, ongoing aggregation of property for MUP eligibility would occur due to much greater land value MUPs would confer. 
- Unlimited aggregation for MUP's would void the West Berkeley Plan on the majority of land it is intended to govern.
- Applied to an unlimited number of sites, the MUP expanded use standards would result in violations of key West Berkeley Plan Goals and Policies due to the alteration of the business mix and the ensuing change to West Berkeley's employee composition. The Core Concept of the West Berkeley Plan's is to create a diverse economy providing employment for a wide range of people. The Plan clearly states that this diversity is only maintained by placing special emphasis on providing jobs for those without higher education. The Plan does this through various zoning mechanisms, primarily Uses and Industrial and Arts protections. Allowing an unlimited amount of property intended to provide employment for those without higher education to instead be utilized largely for employment of those with advanced degrees violates these Goals and Policies.

• Existing industrial & arts protections on MUP sites should be maintained.

Maintaining existing industrial protections on MUP sites assures: 1. Space for desired green/clean/bio tech industrial labs, 2. Compatibility with existing industrial users and neighborhoods, 3. Compliance with West Berkeley Plan Goals & Policies.

• No office parks on industrial land - Maintain existing primary office use zoning policies(M/MM//MULI) 

This means: In MULI - Primary office allowed ONLY on non-protected space.  In MM - Primary office allowed on non-protected space above first floor.  In M - Primary office not allowed.

• Mix of Uses - Allow industrial R & D laboratory  (green/clean/bio tech) on MUP properties

• Maintain existing height & Floor Area Ratio (FAR) Development standards - 45' and FAR 2. 

Doubling of heights and FAR facilitates offices and condos towers.  The recent study out of the UC Planning Department, "Managing Change in West Berkeley: Using Local Economic Data To Inform Master Use Permit Deliberations", concludes: "The current zoning code allows for the construction of far denser buildings than those currently standing, and can more than adequately accommodate the projected changes in the West Berkeley economy. The proposed height and FAR increases on MUP‐eligible properties are not necessary."  This study, relying on extensive data analysis, shows that a build out at present standards as applied to a 4.5 acre MUP threshold would accomodate at least 11,000,000 sq ft of development, much more than the 3.5 million sq ft build out the City projects in its new West Berkeley Project EIR scoping document.  Specific industrial height requirements can be accommodated through alternative means. Existing height and FAR standards facilitate a workable and livable West Berkeley environment.

• No full parking waivers on MUPS - partial waivers with demonstrated efficacy & benefits.

Parking waivers should be tied to viable, demonstrable, required use of alternative transportation modes by employees.

• MUP Benefits:  Require 20% of protected industrial space be used for arts/green collar/non-lab
   industrial uses. The City would consider this space as a "benefit" provided by the developer.
 
Staff's additional proposed "benefits" are acceptable, but the above proposal would guarantee the City receives benefit and would additionally ensure a minimum amount of diversity on MUP sites.  This would be in keeping with the West Berkeley Plan Goals and Policies and would promote economic resilience during downturns.
Addendum A.         Joint WEBAIC and Norheim & Yost Demising  (Space) Proposal
This simple and easy to administer proposal was guided by the basic understanding that demising into fewer spaces deserves less discretion, while demising into many spaces holds the potential to have significantly greater impacts and deserves more discretion. This proposal significantly liberalizes existing discretion and we believe significantly improves opportunities for economic activity and the occupation of space by permitted uses while ensuring an appropriate level of oversight when needed.

The vast majority of businesses in West Berkeley in terms of numbers, employment, and those seeking to locate here, are small to medium size business.  This includes green/clean tech start-ups. These businesses require anything from 200 feet to 2000, 5000, and upwards of 10,000 sq ft.  Under present regulations and under staff's Demising proposal, NONE of these business can secure space in a timely manner because division of spaces of initial size up to 15,000 sq ft in MULI and 25,000 in M can't be divided into spaces of less than 10,000 sq ft with just a Zoning Certificate (ZC).  All these actions require an Administrative Use Permit (AUP) that can take several weeks to several months, by which time a business hoping to know whether it can occupy such a space will often have had to look somewhere else.  This situation also acutely applies to businesses occupying an existing space that need to expand and contract easily within their larger building envelope to conform to changing business needs. This ability can also be key to a business's decision as to whether to locate in Berkeley in the first place.

Staff's proposal does nothing for the majority of existing businesses and property owners and the majority of businesses seeking to locate here. It is precisely these small and medium size businesses and property owners who don't have the resources to navigate a time-consuming, expensive regulatory process (intended for significant projects) and who are undertaking modestly scaled projects that need the kind of discretionary relief found in the WEBAIC/Norheim &Yost Proposal.

Staff's approach is the opposite of what West Berkeley needs. While doing nothing for small and medium sized businesses and property owners, it facilitates large scale demising, exactly that level of change that deserves guaranteed oversight, and it does so specifically only for those large landowners that possess time and resources to operate successfully within this system.  Large projects with potentially significant impacts are precisely what the Use Permit Public Hearing process is intended to regulate, while small and medium-sized project regulatory relief rightly targets projects with a low-level of land use impact but a high level of business facilitation.


WEBAIC/Norheim and Yost Demising Proposal:  0 - 40,000+ (unlimited) sq ft
 Spaces of any initial size can be divided into 2-5 spaces with a ZC, 6-9 with an AUP, 10 or more with a UP
2-5 spaces
6-9 spaces
10+spaces
ZC  
AUP
UP



           

                                            

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Planning Staff Demising Staff Proposal    
Initial Space Divided Into


                                                 2 - 3 spaces                         4 + spaces

            Space Initial Size         Smallest space <10,000       Smallest space 10,000+
_________________________________________________________________________________________
    M                       0 - 15,000   sq ft                Prohibited                      ZC                             AUP
                     
MULI                 0 - 15,000   sq ft                      AUP                      ZC                          AUP

MM                   0 - 25,000   sq ft                      AUP                      ZC                   AUP

M,MULI            15,001-39,999+  sq ft                     AUP                      AUP                   AUP

MM               25,001-39,999    sq ft                   AUP                     AUP                   AUP

M,MM,MULI                 40,000+ sq ft                      AUP                      AUP                   AUP


West Berkeley Works!


•  WEBAIC/Planning Staff 7/15/09 Stakeholder Meeting Concise Positions •
Our positions are intended to answer these three questions and are informed by the Core Zoning Concept below:

1.  How much of West Berkeley's industrial lands will be subject to the Master Use Permit?
2.  What activities will be permitted on Master Use Permit sites and what will the effects of these uses be?
3.  What should MUP development standards be & what uses will these standards encourage?


WEBAIC Core Zoning Concept: The modest 4% of Berkeley land zoned for industrial and arts PDRR (Production, Distribution, Repair, Reuse) should remain devoted to these uses as intended by the West Berkeley Plan. If a use (not in support of a primary industrial lab, non-lab industrial, or arts use) can be conducted in an office environment it should not locate on this limited amount of PDRR land (existing MULI office provision excepted), but should locate on the ample property zoned for office and office-type uses in the Commercial zones, including downtown.

•  WEBAIC Master Use Permit Positions  •

• The threshold size for MUP eligibility should be either 4.5 or 4 acres.

The actual size of the Flint Ink property, 4 or 4.5 acres should be the MUP threshold size.  We've seen both figures.  This threshold would create eligibility for all City-identified "underutilized legacy development sites" except McCauley Foundry. 

• MUP eligibility should be limited to finite number of permits, ideally six.

- An effective form of limitation on aggregation of property for MUP eligibility must be enacted, otherwise ongoing expansion of MUPs would be reasonably expected to occur due to the significantly greater land value an MUP would confer. 
- Unlimited aggregation for MUP's would void the West Berkeley Plan on the majority of land it is intended to govern.
- Applied to an unlimited number of sites, the MUP's expanded use standards would result in violations of key West Berkeley Plan Goals and Policies due to the projected alteration of the mix of businesses and the ensuing change to West Berkeley's employee composition.  The West Berkeley Plan is predicated on a diverse economy providing employment for a wide range of people, but places special emphasis on providing jobs for those without higher education. By allowing an unlimited amount of property intended to provide employment to those without higher education to instead be utilized largely for employment of those with advanced degrees violates numerous West Berkeley Plan Goals and Policies.

• Existing industrial & arts protections on MUP sites should be maintained.

Maintaining existing industrial protections on MUP sites assures space for desired green/clean/bio tech industrial lab space and assures compatibility with existing industrial users & neighborhoods & supports W. Berkeley Plan Goals & Policies.

• Maintain existing zoning provisions on primary office use in M, MM, MULI - No office parks.

This means:  In MULI - Primary office allowed ONLY on non-protected space.  In MM - Primary office allowed on non-protected space above first floor.  In M - Primary office not allowed.

• Maintain existing height & Floor Area Ratio Development standards - 45 feet and FAR of 2. 

Doubling of heights and FAR only supports offices and condos.  The recent study out of the UC Planning Department, "Managing Change in West Berkeley: Using Local Economic Data To Inform Master Use Permit Deliberations", concludes after extensive analysis of development and employment data and trends that: "The current zoning code allows for the construction of far denser buildings than those currently standing, and can more than adequately accommodate the projected changes in the West Berkeley economy. The proposed height and FAR increases on MUP‐eligible properties are not necessary."  Specific industrial height requirements can be accommodated through alternative means.  It appears a 4 acre MUP threshold with a build out at present standards would accomodate at least 10,000,000 sq ft of development, much more than the most optimistic space requirement projections.

• No full parking waivers on MUPS - partial waivers with demonstrated efficacy & benefits.

•  MUP Benefits:  Require 20% of protected industrial space be used for arts/green collar/non-lab industrial uses. The City would consider this space as a "benefit" provided by the developer.






 







WEBAIC  •  info@webaic.org  •  510-549-0190

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            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.


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WEBAIC • West Berkeley Artisans & Industrial Companies
(510) 549-0190 • PO Box 2755, Berkeley CA 94702

<info@webaic.org>