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Making ‘smart growth’ smart

Martha Nicoloff
Wednesday September 18, 2002

To the Editor: 

Supporters of Measure P, the height initiative, represent a broad spectrum of political interests and geographic locations.  

The common concern agrees with the wisdom of Berkeley's new General Plan, which states as a goal to “encourage sensitively designed, thoughtfully planned in-fill development that is compatible with neighboring land uses and architectural design and scale.”  

For a while now, “in-fill” buildings have been allowed permits that mainly offer expensive and cramped living quarters, at a far greater density and height than the General Plan promised. The proposals are even more dense than the “ticky-tackies” apartments of the ’60s and ’70s. Plans show two bedroom apartments built into only 600 square feet, some rooms as small as 7 feet by l0 feet, some looking at an air shaft.  

As of April 2002 there were l,000 new units in the pipeline, meeting our “fair share” as set by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), in one year instead of five.  

We are hearing that if the height initiative passes Nov. 5 in Berkeley, the whole “smart growth” proposition will go down the tubes in the entire Bay Area. Smart growth has not been publicly reviewed either by our Planning Commission or City Council, and yet it is being promoted as if it were law. One of ABAG's recent publications shows a map indicating southwest Berkeley is an impoverished area, ripe for changes like it or not.  


Martha Nicoloff