City Planning Commission Approves Southside Plan

Friday July 11, 2003

The city Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night on a plan charting the future of the area just south of the university campus. The vote was the culmination of five years of debate among city officials, neighborhood activists and UC Berkeley staff. 

“I’m delighted that we’ve taken this step and the city and the university were able to come to an agreement,” said Planning Commission chairperson Zelda Bronstein. 

Now the Southside Plan, which calls for greater development on the commercial corridors of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, while restricting growth in residential areas, must undergo a lengthy environmental impact review, or EIR. 

Berkeley senior planner Janet Homrighausen said the review will cost roughly $230,000, a hefty price tag for a city facing an $8-10 million deficit for the 2004-2005 budget year. 

The city has committed $115,000 to the EIR and is hoping to avoid paying for the rest by collaborating with the university and AC Transit, which is eyeing express bus service in the area and must complete an EIR of its own. 

After the environmental review is finished, the Southside Plan will go back to the Planning Commission before proceeding to City Council for final approval. The whole process is expected to take at least a year. 

--David Scharfenberg