Harry Pollack, former president of the board of Congregation Beth El says he is happy with the recently-published Environmental Impact Report, which addresses the move of the congregation to 1301 Oxford St.
“It concluded that the project can be built with no significant impact on the environment,” Pollack said. “I’m comfortable that we can remedy all the (impacts).”
Neighbors of the project, however, point out that the release of the Draft EIR last week is just the beginning of the process. They have until Sept. 8 to “comment,” formally on the project. That means that they can register concerns not addressed or inadequately addressed in the EIR and the EIR consultant must address each of the concerns.
The draft EIR ignores the fact that the project precludes restoration of the creek, said Jon Nackerud, who lives near the project. It also does not take into account that many people in the neighborhood do not have driveways that go up to their homes. They will have to park long distances from their homes and carry things like groceries to them, he said.
“This is a draft EIR,” Nackerud said, underscoring the word “draft.” There is an opportunity for the neighbors to contest its findings.
However, there is an imbalance, he added. The temple can hire public relations people and lawyers at will, while the neighbors battle the project in between dealing with jobs, kids and other obligations.
There will be two formal hearings on the draft EIR, the first will be before the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Monday, August 7 at 7 p.m., while the second will be before the Zoning Adjustments Board on August 10 at 7 p.m.
Comments can be sent by Sept. 8 to: Steve Solomon, Senior Planner at 2120 Milvia St., Berkeley, CA 94704. Comments can be mailed to email@example.com.
Copies of the EIR can be viewed at libraries, purchased for $56 for a hard copy or $10 for a CD rom or, eventually, viewed on the city’s web site: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us