West Berkeley, Density, Downtown Plan On Planning Commission Agenda

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 25, 2008

West Berkeley zoning changes are back on the Planning Commission’s agenda for Wednesday night, along with the Downtown Area Plan and the density bonus. 

The issue in West Berkeley is a set of proposals prepared by city planning staff that would provide what officials call “increased flexibility” and which a coalition of artists and small industrial companies says could spell doom for the West Berkeley Plan.  

The proposals come at a time when the city is mounting an official effort to attract more companies researching high-tech “green” approaches to environmental problems such as energy conservation and global warming. 

Wednesday’s meeting will look at current regulatory issues in West Berkeley and will feature a staff report on the commission’s March 1 tour of the area. 

The commission is also preparing its own recommendations which will accompany the Downtown Area Plan to the City Council. The panel’s majority has already voted once against the wishes of the majority of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, which spent two years formulating the proposed plan. 

Commissioners voted to support an economic study specifically rejected by the DAPAC majority, and which goes to the City Council for a vote tonight (Tuesday). 

During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners will focus on transportation proposals required before the plan’s environmental impact report can be prepared. 

Commissioners will also be discussing density bonus recommendations from city staff, which conflict in part with another set of recommendations prepared by a joint subcommittee drawn from the Planning and Housing Advisory commissions and the Zoning Adjustments Board. 

The commission will also hear a staff report on the potential impacts of propositions 98 and 99 on development standards. The rival initiatives ostensibly focus on eminent domain, but could have far greater impacts on the ability of local government to regulate development. 

Finally, the commission is also slated to set a hearing date on proposed revisions to the city’s wireless telecommuncations facilities ordinance, which regulates the installation of cell phone antennae in the city. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave.