Commissioners Comment On UC Plan

Friday May 21, 2004

After giving residents their third opportunity in three weeks to comment on UC Berkeley’s Long-Range Development Plan, the five members of Berkeley Planning Commission present at Wednesday night’s public hearing offered a few comments of their own to listening UC representatives. 

The plan, along with a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released last month, guides future university development both on the central campus and on city streets through 2020. It projects 2,600 new dormitory beds, 2,300 new parking spaces, and an additional 2.2 million square feet of administrative space, along with 5,320 more students, faculty, staff and visitors traveling to the campus daily. 

With increased traffic a major concern expressed by residents, Commissioner Tim Perry suggested the university consider satellite parking lots with shuttles to the main campus to ease traffic congestion in the city. 

Commissioner Gene Poschman criticized the plan’s call to build up to 800,000 square feet of academic and administrative space on the adjacent city blocks west of campus.  

“Anything they want, they can do in that area. It’s a blank check,” he said. 

Poschman also noted that a proposal to build faculty housing in the Berkeley Hills fell outside the university’s one-mile radius for new housing construction. 

Commissioner Jerome Wiggins told university officials that although no dormitories had been built in South Berkeley, university growth had changed the dynamics of his neighborhood by bringing in more students and displacing longtime residents. Wiggins wanted UC to also consider social justice issues in their long range plan. 

Although the commission did not vote on any formal recommendations, Berkeley Planning Director Mark Rhoades said the commissioners’ individual suggestions would be forwarded to the City Council. 

The university is required to respond to all comments in a final Environmental Impact Report scheduled to go before the UC Board of Regents for approval in the fall. 

—Matthew Artzˇ