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Roberts Center Critics Appeal Project Approval By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 07, 2004

Critics of the Ed Roberts Campus recently approved by the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) for South Berkeley have appealed the Nov. 15 decision to the City Council. 

Stressing that they don’t want to stop or delay the project, neighbors Erica Cleary, Kathleen Croker, Robert Lauriston and Julie Twichell are challenging the way city staff and ZAB conducted the approval process. 

The Ed Roberts Center, to be built at 3075 Adeline St. at the site of the South Ashby BART on the east side of Adeline Street, will provide education, training and other services for the disabled. It’s named after the founder of Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living. 

Lauriston said the approval was in clear violation of the California Environmental Quality Act provisions that call for a 20-day period where the public can review all the relevant documents before a decision is made on the project. 

In the case of the Ed Roberts Campus those documents included an environmental impact statement (IS), a mitigated negative declaration (MND) and 21 separate documents referenced therein. 

Documents are to be posted at two places, the Berkeley Public Library and the city Permit Center. 

“They were four days late in posting the IS and MND and all the documents at the Permit Center and they never made the referenced documents available at the library. That meant that people who worked during the day had no access to the critical documentation,” Lauriston said. 

In addition, he said, “ZAB didn’t really fulfill its responsibility to deal with obvious omissions and errors in the impact statement.” 

Though not cited in the appeal, Lauriston said the city had said that the project, a modernistic glass-fronted design neighbors have said looks like an airport terminal, conflicts with the existing historical resources in a turn-of-the 19th century neighborhood. 

Lauriston and his friends also contend that the plan as approved violates the city zoning ordinance because it didn’t include use permits for some of the center services and business in a project that lies in a commercial zone on the west and in an R# residential zone on the east. 

“Those variances would also serve the useful purpose of further highlighting that the set of concessions granted to this project are as extraordinary as the project itself. . .and do not set a precedent for other projects,” Lauriston wrote.›