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Providing needed ‘in-fill’ housing

Steven Finacom
Monday December 03, 2001


I’m writing in regard to the article in the Friday, November 30, Daily Planet about the proposed housing development at Carleton and Telegraph. 

As a long-time resident of the LeConte neighborhood and as a Board member of the Telegraph Area Association, I’ve attended many of the meetings at which this development has been discussed. 

Developer and property owner Joe Kelly and architect Jim Novosel have been forthcoming and direct about their economic and design thinking, and have repeatedly adapted the design in response to neighborhood comments. The neighborhood groups they’ve met with have been equally reasonable, specific, and helpful in their comments. 

As a result, a non-descript, non-historic, one-story commercial building will be replaced with a four story structure providing good “infill” housing where it’s needed. The wide, boulevard character of a street like Telegraph is suited to mid-rise buildings of this sort, on the many sites that don’t affect historic structures or open space. 

This relatively calm and reasoned process is quite unlike the situation in some other neighborhoods in Berkeley where any development proposal over one or two stories on a main business street seems to devolve into overblown rhetoric and opposition. 

That said, I do have one disagreement with some of my LeConte neighbors about this development. I’m against their proposal to deny residential permit parking to residents of the new building. 

Ultimately, as with rent control and post-Proposition 13 property taxes, this will set up two classes of neighborhood residents, only one especially privileged because they were lucky enough to live in certain buildings in Berkeley before a particular date. 

The Zoning Adjustments Board should ask itself what public policy objective is served by having differential classes of street parking access for residential units and residents that are otherwise largely indistinguishable? 

Ironically, in a flatlands neighborhood like mine where a majority of the dwellings are single-family homes, most buildings — three quarters to four fifths, by my estimate — have long driveways and/or off-street garages. 

In the words of the late, lamented Berkeley flatland neighborhood activist Henry Pancoast, if we truly thought we had a parking problem in our neighborhoods we’d all clean out our garages and put our cars there. 


Steven Finacom