Flash: Berkeley Council Approves Creeks Ordinance

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday November 14, 2006

After two years of meetings and hearings in which property owners often clashed with environmentalists, the Berkeley City Council approved a revised Creeks Ordinance (6-2-1) late Tuesday night aimed at safeguarding the city’s many open and culverted waterways. 

Councilmembers Betty Olds and Gordon Wozniak voted in opposition, while Councilmember Laurie Capitelli abstained. 

The ordinance, whose second reading will take place at the Nov. 28 council meeting, would severely limit any new construction within 30 feet of the center of an open creek or expansion of a building within 25 feet of the creek. Such construction would require a variance, generally needed when zoning laws prohibit a proposed project and requires a hearing before the zoning board. 

The new ordinance allows: 

• vertical expansion (building up and down) within 30 feet of an open creek and horizontal expansion of an existing structure between 25 and 30 feet of an open creek with an administrative creek permit, based on a report showing the construction would have no adverse impact on the creek; and 

• building within 15 feet of a culverted creek with an administrative culverted creek permit, based on a structural engineer’s report that would demonstrate culvert stability, access and protected water quality.