July 6, 2009
Critical July 8th Planning Commission Meeting
on Master Use Permit Issues
Also: June 24th Planning Commission Meeting Report Back
WEBAIC Core Zoning Concept: If a use (not in support of a primary industrial (lab or non-lab) or arts use can be
conducted in an office environment it should not locate on the very limited (3-5%) amount of Berkeley's land reserved for
industrial and artistic production, distribution, repair, recycling/reuse, and supply (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.
July 8 PC Meeting on Critical Master Use Permit Issues - Please Attend
7 PM, North Berkeley Senior Center, NE corner of Hearst and MLK
Staff planned for an extensive discussion with Commissioners on all important Master Use Permit issues at the June 24th
meeting, but time constraints necessitated that this discussion will now take place at this Wednesday's (July 8th) PC
meeting. This is projected to be the most complete and critically important discussion of these issues to date. It is once
again essential that WEBAIC and its supporters be there in sufficient numbers to strongly express and support our
perspective. In an unusual move, staff has determined that public comment will be after the Planning Commission W.
Berkeley discussion, which is the first item on the agenda. Below is an explanation of the issues and WEBAIC positions:
The three most important questions on Master Use Permit (MUP) issues:
1. How much of West Berkeley's industrial lands will be subject to this permit?
2. What activities will be permitted on Master Use Permit sites?
3. What will be the development (building) standards on MUP sites and what uses will
these standards support and/or encourage.
Question 1: How much of West Berkeley's industrial lands will be subject to this permit?
The answer to this question will be found in the answer to two related questions:
A. What size threshold will be applied for MUP eligibility?
B. Will there be a limit to aggregation of parcels to meet MUP eligibility threshold?
WEBAIC supports either a finite number of MUP permits being available (six is a good number) or a larger
acreage threshold, likely four and a half acres.
Currently staff proposes a three acre threshold, which would apply the MUP to 25-30 sites on approximately 42% of all
West Berkeley industrial property. This is a vast expansion from the six original City-identified "underutilized development
sites" MUP was targeted at. Additionally, staff opposes any limitation on the aggregation of sites for MUP status. Since
MUP status is projected to confer significant increases in land value, the incentive for this aggregation should be inexorable
and ongoing, likely resulting in a large majority of W. Berkeley industrial property being subject to it. This would result in
large scale violations of West Berkeley Plan Goals and Policies.
Question 2. What activities will be permitted on Master Use Permit sites?
Once again, the answer to this question will be partially found in the answer to two related questions:
A. Will existing industrial protections be maintained on Master Use Permit sites?
B. Will staff allow unlimited primary office uses on MUP sites?
WEBAIC supports maintaining existing industrial protections on MUP sites and maintaining existing zoning
provisions on primary office use in the M, MM, and MULI (no primary office in M, limited in MM).
The original impetus for MUPs and flexibility in the zoning was the accommodation of industrial R & D green/clean/nano/bio
tech spin offs coming out of UC. WEBAIC agrees these uses should be located on MUP sites and to assure appropriate
space is available for these uses existing industrial protections should be maintained on these sites. Each of the six
identified MUP 'opportunity" sites have a different percentage of protected industrial space, ranging from 0% to
approximately 90%. In the present zoning 25% of now-protected industrial space can be converted "by right" to nonprotected
uses allowed in the zone. This allows sufficient space for compatible and allowable uses on these sites.
Primary office uses are now allowed in the MULI district but prohibited in the M zone and restricted in the MM.
This is a logical reflection of the different purposes of these zones and should be maintained on the MUP sites
in these respective zones. For example, the Fantasy site in the MULI could have a large office component on
it's site at 9th and Parker while the Flint Ink site next to Pacific Steel would be restricted to industrial uses
(including lab) and their support uses, such as offices in support of a primary industrial use. This makes sense if
you look at the different environments (compatibility) and the larger West Berkeley Plan core goal of
maintaining a diverse economy with a diverse revenue stream and employment profile.
Question 3. What will be the development (building) standards on MUP sites and what
uses will these standards support and/or encourage?
WEBAIC supports existing height and Floor Area Ratio provisions - 45 foot heights and FAR of 2.
Under the supervision of UC Planning Professor Karen Chapple, Master's candidates Nina Meigs and Laura Wiles did an
in depth study of this issue in their 5/2009 paper: Managing Change in West Berkeley: Using Local Economic Data To
Inform Master Use Permit Deliberations. After extensive analysis of development and employment data and trends they
conclude 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." WEBAIC agrees with this well researched and
reasoned conclusion. Wareham has been able to successfully build and rent laboratory space under existing standards
and numerous other biotech companies in West Berkeley function well within existing standards. These new proposals
essentially facilitate massive office and condo development. If industrial production facilities require expanded heights
(i.e. Bayer) this need can be accommodated in a more appropriate, site-specific manner, through variance or other
measures. This proposal degrades functionality for industrial/artisan sectors and livability for our residential neighbors
who have begun to come out strongly against these provisions as detrimental to their environment.
WEBAIC Positions on additional Issues:
Parking Waivers: No full parking waivers on MUPS
Benefits: Require 20% of protected industrial space be used for arts/green collar/non-lab industrial.
This space would count as a "benefit" the developer would be credited for by the City.
6/24 Planning Commission Meeting Report Back
Once again the West Berkeley industrial and arts communities came out to support a vibrant future for their enterprises, with
this meeting seeing a new voice joining the chorus of those advocating for appropriate, diverse, sustainable, and equitable
development - that of residential and live/work folks from the Mixed Use Residential district. The overriding issue sparking
this group's concern was staff's huge doubling of height and massing standards on Master Use Permit properties - going
from 45 to 90 feet and from a two to four Floor Area Ratio (FAR). After requesting a seat at the table and attending their
new stakeholder group's meeting, these folks voiced their concerns at the Commission, speaking to massing standards but
also to use, traffic, parking, and residential protection issues. It's unfortunate their voice wasn't invited in earlier by the City,
but to the City's credit they've quickly made room for another chair around the table.
Fast Tracked Proposals: There was general agreement on three of four of staff's fast tracked proposals -
• Allow retail incidental to Manufacturing/Warehouse/Wholesale Trade subsequent to initial Use Permit issuance.
• Clarifying language on the interchangeability of Manufacturing/Warehousing/Wholesale Trade/MRE uses.
• Switching to NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) Codes from existing SIC Code.
• Demising (physical subdivision) of Space - Staff's "across the board" lowering of discretion for demising was
countered by a new, simple, easy to implement demising proposal by WEBAIC and industrial real estate brokers Norheim
& Yost. While this proposal significantly liberalizes existing discretion and improves opportunities for economic activity and
the occupation of space by permitted uses, it ensures an appropriate level of oversight when needed. Planner Alex
Amoroso stated the WEBAIC/N&Y proposal was fine, but just a different approach than he'd taken. The Commission and
staff decided to have both proposals considered equally at their July 22nd Public hearing on the issue. Staff will return at
that time with zoning language on all (now) five fast-tracked proposals to be heard at the 7/22 hearing.
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.