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More on Maio's growth ideas

Peter Teichner
Tuesday September 17, 2002

To the Editor: 

The concept of “smart growth” referred to by Councilmember Linda Maio in her Sept. 7 letter to the editor is a propaganda tool designed by regional planners to accomplish a predetermined goal, in this case selling the urban public on the benefits of intensifying development within cities to purportedly save open space beyond the urban boundaries.  

It enables developers to purchase for a song, and develop with public subsidies, countless dozens of distressed sites that lie along the urban transit corridors. The proposed 2700 San Pablo Ave. development by Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests and Reverend Gordon Choyce of Jubilee Restorations Inc. appears to be an example of one such site.  

No evidence has ever been presented that piling up housing on transit corridors can or will actually reduce suburban sprawl or alleviate traffic congestion.  

What regional and Berkeley city planners and Berkeley city councilmembers refuse to recognize is that transit corridors are integral parts of neighborhoods, often single story homes bordered by one and two story commercial strips. Over the last few years hundreds of neighbors near proposed oversized developments have told the City Council they want reasonably sized structures that fit into the fabric of their neighborhoods. They know that providing Berkeley's fair share of regional housing does not have to forfeit Berkeley's low-key urban character and our current quality of life. Two story mixed-use developments can do the job just fine and some developers are quite able to do that in Berkeley.  

Unfortunately, Linda Maio never saw an oversized development she didn't like. Or, if she said she didn't like it, she voted for it anyway. As a councilmember she should be familiar enough with the height initiative (Prop P – “P” for preservation) to know that it will not cripple Berkeley's ability to create new affordable housing. It may, however, cripple the ability of a few developers to recreate Berkeley into their own overscaled fiefdom. Prop P will put the reigns of democracy back in the hands of neighborhoods and who is better suited than that to determine the future of their environment. 


Peter Teichner