I was touched by Mr. Kennedy’s concern for affordable housing when, in addressing the Zoning Adjustments Board’s density bonus implementation subcommittee, he stated: “If the committee is interested in providing affordable housing,” he said, the committe e’s work “shouldn’t be done in the way of what is clearly the agenda of some people here who are interested in decreasing density” in the city (Berkeley Daily Planet, Aug. 5).
I beg to differ: I believe that our common goal is preserve and enhance Berkeley’s commitment to affordable housing through the proper application of our community standards as expressed by our General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and our Inclusionary Housing Ordinance. Mr. Kennedy’s goal, and one which he has had some success up until now, is to maximize his profit from cramming incredibly dense projects into selected neighborhoods through dissembling, subterfuge, and outright lies. Mr. Kennedy’s goals and strategies have at their core a deep cynicism and contempt for Berkeley’s commun ity standards shamelessly described in his own words in his presentation: “The Ten Commandments if Moses had been an infill developer” (from www.fundersnetwork.org/usr_doc/Patrick_Kennedy_Presentation.pdf) in which he presents his goals and outlines his s tratagems to:
1. Increase allowable density.
2. Reduce parking requirements.
3. Reduce open space requirements.
4. Reduce setback requirements.
5. Encourage mixed-use projects, and allow them in areas zoned for commercial-use only.
6. Get enabling l egislation from the state legislature to allow modification of local zoning ordinances, i.e. to do all of the above. (E.g. Ca. Gov. Code Sec. 65589.5).
7. To avoid unnecessary controversy, begin by designating only one or two areas for high-density housi ng and locate it close to mass transit, in whatever form that may be.
8. Identify the existing successes in the designated area—a landmark, institution, or local hot spot—and build around that.
9. Encourage a multitude of smaller projects, different and finely grained, rather than one mega project.
10. Do whatever it takes to get one project built; make sure it is a good one.
This is the same developer who told my Berkeley Way neighborhood that the five-story wall of windows and 193-foot long shadows from his Kragens project next to our modest residential street is the result of our city’s requirement that all projects include at least some affordable housing; the same developer who invited our economically, racially, and generationally diverse neighb orhood to work together with him and his company to frustrate the expressed will of the city to include all of our population in all new housing projects. We declined then, and decline now. We at least believe that inclusionary housing can be built withou t destroying the quality of life in our livable Berkeley flatland neighborhoods adjacent to commercial districts.
The question I have for Mr. Kennedy is, how many affordable units have you built in Piedmont recently? Or do your “commandments” apply only in poor and besieged flatland neighborhoods, where staff and elected officials are easily bullied by “Smart Growth” thugs? The question for the subcommittee is how do we reclaim our city from the damage that Mr. Kennedy and his ilk have already caused to our General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and Inclusionary Ordinance?
Stephen Wollmer is a member of Neighbors for a Livable Berkeley Way.