Friends of Strawberry Creek is a community group founded about a year ago to protect and restore Strawberry Creek throughout its watershed. We are among more than 100 community groups that have voted to endorse the Ecocity Amendment to Berkeley’s General Plan, which may be finalized in coming weeks. In addition to promoting the health of the creek and improving water quality, an important part of the Friends of Strawberry Creek mission is to promote the daylighting of Strawberry Creek downtown and elsewhere along its route from the Strawberry Canyon to the San Francisco Bay.
We think the Ecocity Amendment and related Heart of the City project would help to jump-start the process of opening up Strawberry Creek downtown, a proposal that has been kicking around for years. Ecocity policy No. 3 specifically incorporates natural elements such as Strawberry Creek into downtown redevelopment.
As a Berkeley resident and creekside property owner, and speaking for myself and not Friends of Strawberry Creek, I think the Ecocity Amendment would help to create the kind of city that I want to live in. I want a pedestrian-friendly city with higher-density housing downtown and in designated centers, and ecologically designed projects.
Some residents and business owners have cited parking downtown as a reason for not building more intensively downtown. I have lived in Berkeley for five years without a car. Personally, I’m not opposed to additional parking downtown, but I would like to see replacement parking only. The main transportation problem in Berkeley is that we don’t have enough housing for all the people who work here, so there are more cars on the street as people drive in from outside the city.
The Ecocity Amendment would help to rectify this situation by codifying the city’s support for additional housing near public transportation. Indeed, the Gaia Building, one-half block from BART, has not even filled the parking spots it was required to provide. Living in Berkeley without a car has not been a problem for me, but conditions can certainly be much improved for car-free residents. The Ecocity Amendment, which encourages an exciting, pedestrian friendly urban environment, deserves strong support and adoption by the city council into the General Plan.
Founder, Friends of