UC, City Commissions to Discuss Stadium Area Plans By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday February 21, 2006

UC Berkeley officials will give the public and three city commissions a brief presentation of their plans for development at and around Memorial Stadium on Wednesday evening. 

The session, which starts at 6 p.m., will be held at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

Members of the Planning, Landmarks Preservation and Transportation commissions will be joined by the Zoning Adjustments Board’s Design Review Committee as they hear about the university’s plans for the stadium, a massive new underground parking lot and changes to Piedmont Avenue and Gayley Way. 

Stadium plans include construction of a 132,500-square-foot student athlete high performance (training) center along the stadium’s western wall and a complete seismic retrofit and upgrade of the stadium itself—which would include the addition of luxury sky boxes, a press box level above the stadium rim, as well as permanent night lighting. 

The $60 million, 845-space underground parking lot would be built just north of the stadium at the site of the Maxwell Family Field, which would be reincarnated atop the structure when construction is done. 

The university’s plans represent only part of the institution’s development proposals in the immediate vicinity. Not up for discussion is the major new construction project immediately to the west of the stadium across Piedmont Avenue, where a new office building and meeting venue is planned that would link the university’s law and business schools. 

Also not listed in the agenda is a proposal that could lead to the conversion of Bowles Hall, a landmarked residential hall just across Stadium Rim Way from Maxwell Family Field. 

The hall is one of two possible sites named by the university for a business school program for working corporate executives. Bowles was the first residence hall on the UCB campus, and opened in 1929. 

The university has been parsimonious with information about the project, much to the annoyance of Berkeley Planning Director Dan Marks. 

Wednesday night’s agenda calls for the university presentation to be followed by comments and questions from the commissioners, followed in turn by a public comment period. 

Presentations to the city commissions about university development projects were mandated as part of the settlement of a city suit against the university’s Long Range Development Plan for 2020. 

The university isn’t obligated to heed the comments, however. 


Planners look at condo law 

Following the joint meeting, the planning commissioners will hold their own regularly scheduled meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. At that session, it will consider approval of amendments to the city’s Zoning Ordinance governing condominiums. 

Two items are on the table. The first is a one-year extension of an interim ordinance approved in 2004 that provided for increased prices on units in condo projects built under the inclusionary ordinance. 

That law, which calls for 20 percent of new apartment and condominium units to be reserved for people with lower incomes, had been amended to raise the price level to one affordable by households earning 120 percent of the area’s median income, rather than the 80 percent level that had been specified in the existing ordinance. 

That provision expired Sunday, and a Planning Commission approval of an extension would clear the way for a City Council vote that must occur before the extension can happen. 

A second item on the commission’s agenda would make permanent other amendments that expired at the same time, including ones requiring marketing of the reduced rate units to tenants with Section 8 vouchers and authorizing the city manager to set regulations establishing allowable rents and sale prices for inclusionary units. 


ZAB meeting 

The Zoning Adjustments Board will meet Thursday night at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers at the Maudelle Shirek building (Old City Hall) on the second floor at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

Among the items on the agenda will be the election of a new vice chair for the board.