Planning Commission Takes Up Downtown Plan

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday January 22, 2008

Berkeley Planning Commissioners begin their review of the proposed Downtown Area Plan Wednesday, when DAPAC Chair Will Travis formally presents the document for their critique. 

Members of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee spent two years creating their draft of a document designed to plan for a downtown that will be impacted by 800,000 square feet of new construction planned by UC Berkeley. 

The plan, created under the terms of the settlement of a city lawsuit challenging the impacts of the university’s massive expansion into the city center, must win approval of the Planning Commission, City Council and the university itself before it can be finally adopted. 

The document is certain to face a critical reception at the commission, which is chaired by James Samuels, perhaps the strongest critic of some of its proposals and one of four committee members who dissented against the 17 others who voted to endorse the plan Nov. 29. 

The three Planning Commission members who voted for the plan as members of DAPAC—Gene Poschman, Helen Burke and Patty Dacey—often find themselves on the losing side of 5-4 votes on the commission. 

DAPAC Chair Travis often sided with Samuels in his critiques, though he joined with the committee majority on their final vote. 

Commissioners will also continue their discussion of changes in city zoning ordinances that would give developers more flexibility in developing projects in West Berkeley. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way.