Lab Expansion Hearing Slated

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 13, 2007

Berkeley residents can weigh in with their concerns about the major expansion planned at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory during a 7 p.m. hearing Wednesday. 

Members of four city commissions will gather in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way, for a hearing on the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) on the lab’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) through 2025. 

The lab, a joint partnership of the UC Berkeley and the federal Department of Energy, will be the site of much of the research to be funded by a $500 million agreement between the university and BP, the former British Petroleum. 

That proposal focuses on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, and will incorporate nanotechnology—two political sensitive concerns shared by some members of Berkeley’s activist community. 

Members of the Planning, Transportation, Community Health and Landmarks Preservation commissions will take public testimony and raise their own concerns. 

Both the plan itself and the DEIR are available online at the lab’s website: www.lbl.gov/LRDP. 

Members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted March 1 to adopt a position that the DEIR failed to address the impacts of the loss of a community cultural resource in areas of Strawberry Canyon that will be included in the expansion plans. 

The commission also said the revised EIR should include mitigations to compensate for the loss. 

The LRDP calls for: 

• 980,000 square feet of new construction and the demolition of 320,000 feet of existing buildings, with a net increase of 660,000 square feet. 

• The addition of 375 to 500 new parking spaces, with the final number determined by development of alternative transportation programs. 

• The addition of 1,000 new employees above the current base of 4,375.