Op-ed: Proposed Berkeley development on Adeline highlights key community issues

Monday, August 29, 2016

Berkeleyside – By Thomas Battles

Who Berkeley residents vote onto the Berkeley City Council this November could dramatically alter how the city looks in the future. The Berkeley City Council currently stands divided, with pro-development council members claiming the majority of votes, but that could all change once ballots are cast this fall. While some on the council favor more aggressive development as a way to abate the housing affordability crisis, others take issue with the rampant building that tends to favor affluent residents while displacing those without large incomes.

The makeup of the council, whose members have the final say in approving building permits, will determine which direction the city will head in 2017 and beyond.

A proposed development at 2902 Adeline St. exemplifies the heated debate playing out in virtually all Bay Area neighborhoods where rents are soaring and new buildings are proliferating.

On Aug. 12, The East Bay Community Law Center issued a list of demands to the San Francisco-based development firm Realtex which aim to minimize the negative impact the building at 2902 Adeline will have on the surrounding community. Foremost on the list are requests for 40% affordable housing, a .85-to-one parking-to-unit ratio, and a lower four-story building height, all of which alter the proposed plans and aim to create a building that fits with the needs and character of the existing neighborhood.

The site in contention sits at the corner of Adeline and Russell streets and includes three adjacent parcels, including AW Pottery and a former single-family home.

These demands counter the developer’s initial proposal for the site which includes ten use-permits, meaning requested changes to the existing neighborhood building codes. These use-permits ask that the site be built without setbacks from the sidewalk, that it include less than half as many parking spaces as housing units, and be built to a height of six stories, two stories above the neighborhood limit, among other changes. Realtex plans on setting aside 12% of units for affordable housing.

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