Briefly Noted

Tuesday March 06, 2007

DAPAC to Mull Report by Town/Gown Panel 

DAPAC members face a full agenda Wednesday night, including possible action on a subcommittee report on suggested ways the city can influence construction on university properties downtown. 

DAPAC, short for Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, is tasked with setting guidelines for a new city plan that arose out of a city lawsuit challenging UC Berkeley’s plans for expansion into the city center. 

Wednesday night’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the North Berkeley Senior Center, will feature three significant discussions. 

First up is consideration of the report of the Subcommittee on City Interests in University Properties, a joint town/gown panel tasked with finding ways to accommodate city aspirations along with university plans to add 800,000 square feet of construction and 1,200 parking places downtown. 

The report was adopted by the subcommittee last week with the only significant dissent coming from Planning Commissioner Helen Burke. 

The report may face a rockier reception at the full committee, where Burke has been on the winning side of several critical votes. 

Another key question to be resolved is whether or not the plan will contain an element focusing on the university, a suggestion actively discouraged by the university and DAPAC Chair Will Travis. 

Also slated for discussion is a staff report on possible ground floor uses in downtown buildings, given the character of each street and transportation models. 

The third item for consideration is a proposed draft chapter on goals and policies for inclusion in the plan’s Economic Development element. 

—Richard Brenneman 



Zoning Board Considers Kelly House, Wright’s Garage 

The Kelly House and Wright’s Garage are on the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) agenda Thursday. 

Applicant Bruce Kelly will once again appear before the ZAB to request a use permit for a two-story single-family dwelling with 1,460 square feet of floor area, two parking spaces, at an average height of 24 feet, on a 3,295-square-foot vacant lot. 

At the Feb. 24 hearing, Kelly described the proposed project as a small, sustainable and affordable design—something that should be encouraged by the city. Neighbors and members of the Panoramic Hill Association opposed the Kelly project, calling it a threat to their health and safety because of the area’s poor access, potential fire hazard, and location on an earthquake fault. 

The neighborhood is bound to the north and west by lands owned by UC Berkeley, to the south by the East Bay Regional Park District’s Claremont Canyon Preserve, and to the east by the Berkeley-Oakland Border. 

The Fire Department is requiring a fire access stairway from lower Panoramic Way, on the southern side of the property. 

Kelly told ZAB members that he proposed to widen the road in front of his house from fifteen to twenty feet at his own expense in order to make the neighborhood safer for residents. 

ZAB members had asked Kelly to submit an arborist’s report before commenting on the project. The item first appeared before the ZAB on Jan. 11. 


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Applicant John Gordon will appear before the ZAB for the fifth time to request a use permit to convert an existing commercial building at 2629-2635 Ashby Ave. (the Wright’s Garage Building) into a multi-tenant commercial building. 

Gordon had first made the request on Dec. 14. Area residents worry that a large-scale full-service restaurant at the proposed building, currently zoned for a car repair shop, would lead to traffic and parking problems in the neighborhood. 

City staff told board members at the Feb. 8 board meeting that they were working with the applicant to address parking concerns. 

—Riya Bhattacharjee 



UC Extension Hearing 

San Francisco has postponed the public hearing on the draft environmental impact report for the rezoning and development of the UC Berkeley Extension Laguna Street campus from March 8 to March 15. 

A specific time has not yet been set for the hearing. The deadline for written public comments has also been extended to March 19. 

The controversial 55 Laguna St. development project has received opposition from the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, Save the UC Berkeley Extension Laguna Street Campus group and Friends of 1800. 

Community members want to retain public zoning of the historic six-acre campus, which has had 150 years of public use. UC Berkeley has engaged a private developer, A.F. Evans, to convert the site into a high-density housing and shopping center. Their proposal is currently under review by the San Francisco Planning Department.  

—Riya Bhattacharjee