Planning Commission Resumes Work on West Berkeley ‘Project’

By Richard Brenneman
Monday July 21, 2008 - 05:05:00 PM

Planning commissioners will tackle the controversial project of changing West Berkeley’s zoning ordinances when they meet Wednesday night. 

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

The original name for the project, “flexibility,” generated worried questions from West Berkeley’s artisans and artists, who feel threatened by any changes in the current zoning rules that could lead to economic pressures that could force them out of their last foothold in the city. 

Members of WEBAIC, West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies, have diligently followed the progress of the proposed changes, keeping commissioners aware of their concerns. 

One of the items on Wednesday’s agenda is approval of a timeline that calls for approval of a set of zoning ordinance amendments by the end of the year. 

The commissioners will also ponder two staff-generated lists of policies which critics of existing zoning have designated as obstacles to development. They include bans on removing space from currently designated uses, prohibitions on conversions of space, lots split into different zones, limitations on building dimensions and setbacks, parking requirements, definitions of permitted uses and problems related to large projects involving multiple parcels. 

Also scheduled for consideration are hearings and first votes on tract maps for two in West Berkeley, one at 1331 Seventh St. and the other at 2831 Seventh St.