Planning Commission Toasts Proposition 90’s Defeat

By Richard Brenneman
Friday November 10, 2006

There was at least one post-election celebration in Berkeley that brought together Bates and Bronstein backers and Measure J fans and foes in a common spirit of  


It happened at the end of Wednesday night’s meeting of the Planning Commission, when Chair Helen Burke brought out the bubbly—non-alcoholic Martinelli’s sparking cider—and the munchies—a box of Pepperidge Farm cookies. 

The cause celebre was the defeat of Proposition 90, which was greeted with uniform approval by commissioners and staff alike. 

“We all have something we can celebrate,” said Burke. 

The controversial ballot measure, which its principal backer said was designed to cripple regulation of land use through costly litigation, was defeated on a close vote Tuesday, with 52.5 percent of California voters saying no. 

Wednesday’s meeting was given over to scheduling and staff reports, with no formal actions beyond scheduling upcoming hearings on zoning ordinance amendments to change the procedures and makeup of the Design Review Committee and setting a date for another hearing on proposed changes to ordinances governing nuisance abatement and permit violations.  

Deputy City Attorney Zach Cowan said the nuisance and permit code sections need revising because as currently written, the procedures make it impossible for some of the eight city attorneys to speak to each other. 

As now written, one attorney must advise the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) and another has to deal with city staff—with the two barred from talking to each other because of potential legal conflicts. 

The revision would enable one attorney to advise both groups. 

Other revisions change the handling of nuisances and permit violations, changing the actions of ZAB to recommendations, while vesting the decision with the City Council. 

Currently ZAB makes the decisions, which may then be appealed to the council. The revisions would eliminate the appeal process, further freeing up staff time. 

The Design Review Committee changes would eliminate the requirement for the ZAB chair to serve on the committee and reduce the number of lay members. 

Commissioner Gene Poschman said he didn’t have problems with the first change, but said lay members often made the only sensible comments at the DRC, while the architect members sometimes spent a lot of time congratulating each other. 


Milo delayed 

The fur didn’t fly over the Milo Foundation Wednesday night, though a growl or two was heard from neighbors. 

The pet adoption facility on Solano Avenue and a companion site on Capistrano Avenue have drawn the ire of neighbors, who pointed out that the facility violates city zoning ordinances which don’t allow for kennels in the area. 

Principal Planner Allen Gatzke said the planned hearing was being delayed while City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli tries to come up with a solution through negotiations with the non-profit animal adoption service and its neighbors. 

If and when a compromise is reached, the commission will be asked to draft zoning ordinance amendments that would spell out a new use that would be restricted to a specific location and with a limited range of permitted activities, Gatzke said. 


UC plans 

Commissioners were also asked to provide comments on the final environmental impact report prepared by UC Berkeley for the quarter-billion-dollar complex planned at and around Memorial Stadium. 

City Manager Phil Kamlarz has asked UC Regents not to adopt the document when they meet at UCLA Wednesday and Thursday. 

Kamlarz said city officials hadn’t had time to read the more than 1,000 pages of changes and comments submitted by the university on a project that has potentially massive impacts for the surrounding city.