September 22, 2010
Final Planning Commission Public Hearing
on West Berkeley Project
Wednesday, September 22, 7pm
North Berkeley Senior Center (MLK at Hearst)
To Support a Workable and Livable Future for West Berkeley & Our City
The Planning Commission's West Berkeley Project deliberations are finally coming to an end with this Public Hearing on Wednesday, September 22nd. The decisions made then will affect West Berkeley's industrial, arts, and residential communities for decades to come. The proposals passed by the PC at this meeting will go before the City Council (possibly late November) for their final decision, but the both the turnout on the 22nd and the Commission's decisions will have a tremendous influence on the Council's ultimate direction.
Staff has not yet released their exact proposals, but from the Planning Commission's July 28th votes we can fairly safely say that the following will be the most important of these proposals-in-concept:
1.) Staff Proposal: Open up Industrially-Protected Wholesale Trade & Warehouse Space to R&D.
WEBAIC Position: No To Opening Up Industrial Protections on Wholesale Trade & Warehouse Space
Staff's unnecessary and destructive proposal would apply to as much as 2 million sq ft (BT Commercial) of productive West Berkeley property, putting the displacement pressure of significantly higher rents on approximately 50 Companies with 1138 good paying jobs (available to people without a college education). This proposal violates the West Berkeley Plan and wasn't studied in the West Berkeley Project Draft Environmental Impact Report as required by State law. There are millions of sq ft available for R&D on the Master Use Permits sites, the 25% of all industrially-protected property in the MULI now allowed to be converted to R&D, the industrial space never having protections (auto repair/wrecking/tow, contractors, etc), the large amount of existing lab space, and the millions of square ft of existing office space.
2.) Staff Proposal: Create a Master Use Permit (MUP) that:
A.) Applies to properties of 4+ acres,
B.) Can be given to 6 qualifying MUP developments in ten years,
C.) Allow heights of 75 ft and a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 3.0 (a density standard),
D.) Allows all industrially-protected space on MUPs to be used for non-protected R&D uses,
E.) Allows uses in different zones contained within an MUP (M,MM,MULI,MUR,CW-Commercial West
Berkeley-S. Pablo/Ashby/University) to "float", permitting any use allowed in any zone contained
within an MUP to potentially locate anywhere on the MUP site,
F.) Allow Potential Full Parking Waivers for MUP sites.
WEBAIC MUP Positions:
A.) Keep Existing Heights & Densities
B.) No "Floating" of Uses across Zone Boundary Lines in the MUP
C.) Implement "Date-By" Ultimate Limitation on West Berkeley MUP acreage
D.) MUPs restricted to original property description stated on MUP application
D.) No MUR property included in MUPs
E.) No Full Parking Waivers for MUPs
A.) Height & Density:
Heights of 75 feet and densities of FAR 3.0 are unnecessary and destructive of the workability and livability of West Berkeley. Existing heights and FAR ratios (45 ft, FAR 2 in M zones, 35 ft, FAR 1 in MUR) are sufficient to promote vital economic activity and provide a livable environment.
B.) No "Floating" of Uses:
Uses should NOT be able to float on MUPs and migrate across zoning boundary lines. "Floating" would allow housing in the industrial zones and large-scale retail in the MUR, both destructive of West Berkeley's workability and livability.
C.) "Date-By" Ultimate Limitation on West Berkeley MUP acreage:
As MUPs are not subject to the West Berkeley Plan's industrial protection policies and propose much greater building heights and densities, they should be limited to the number of sites now qualifying (14) by setting July 1, 2010 as the "date by" which no more properties may be aggregated together to meet the 4 acre MUP threshold.
Removing the West Berkeley Plan's central policies (industrial protections) on more property than the existing 14 qualifying MUP properties (42% of the M, MM, & MULI) would render the West Berkeley Plan moot, thus putting the West Berkeley Project in absolute violation of the Plan adopted to govern West Berkeley land use policy. Staff's proposal to limit MUP permits to 6 in 10 years can actually be changed any time the Planning Commission chooses, and places NO ultimate limitation on how much of West Berkeley can be subject to the MUP.
D.) MUPs restricted to original property description stated on MUP application:
Once a property applies for an MUP permit, it should be limited to it's existing configuration and not be allowed to aggregate further property for inclusion in its MUP. This allows the MUP approval process to properly focus its examination on the site as it exists at the time of approval.
E.) No MUR property in MUPs:
The MUP permit should NOT apply to property in the MUR Zones. The only result of the proposed application would be development totally out of scale with the existing MUR environment and installation of uses (intensive retail, lab, heavy industrial) likely to significantly conflict with the largely residential character of the MUR. There is no benefit to the MUR by being subject to MUPs. The present MUR FAR is 1 - staff proposes a tripling of this for MUPs. This is wildly out of scale with the existing MUR built environment.
F.) No Full Parking Waivers for MUPs:
Parking is already very challenging in West Berkeley. There should be NO full parking waivers for MUPs and any waivers given should be tied to required and verifiable use of non-auto commuting.
Please Attend: To maintain the vital, productive, equitable, sustainable, and creative diversity that is West Berkeley, please mark your calendars and make the trip up to the North Berkeley Senior Center at 7pm on Wednesday the 22nd to let both those who work for us (City staff) and those who are tasked with representing our best interests (Planning Commissioners) know, that West Berkeley Works!
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.