To the Editor:
A recent article in the Daily Planet (Aug. 28) seems to have left the impression in some quarters that I am “anti-growth.” For the record, I think Berkeley needs to grow – in certain ways: We need a lot of well-designed, well-built affordable housing, and a lot of well-run, accessible public transit.
Councilmember Linda Maio's forum on gentrification last year made vivid what is happening in our town: Soaring land values have priced many longtime residents out of the market. With the state legislature’s weakening of our rent control law, Berkeley tenants have become especially vulnerable. Unless we provide a substantial amount of affordable housing in the near future, we are going to lose a prized aspect of our common life: our social, economic and cultural diversity. At the same time, we need to counter a mounting threat to our city's livability: paralyzing traffic congestion.
Addressing these concerns is among the foremost goals of the city's new General Plan. The plan ties these goals together; it says that the best place for new housing is along major transit corridors. It also says that we need to increase massively the amount and quality of public transportation in the city.
I will do what I can to support new transit-oriented development and expanded public transportation that, in the words of the General Plan, will help “preserve Berkeley's unique character and quality of life.”
Chair, Planning Commission