Downtown Plan Chapters Up for Commission’s Approval

By Richard Brenneman
Monday February 09, 2009 - 04:55:00 PM

Berkeley planning commissioners will tackle three highly volatile chapters of the proposed new Downtown Area Plan (DAP) Wednesday: Land Use, Historic Preservation & Urban Design, and Environmental Sustainability. 

Together, the three documents would define the shape of downtown Berkeley for the next two decades. 

The chapters also formed key dividing lines in the deliberations of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC), the citizen panel that spent nearly two years drafting the plan that the planning commission is now revising. 

Planning commissioners have been much more inclined than DAPAC to raise the city center skyline, and commission chair and architect James Samuels is firmly in the majority on the commission, while he was on the losing side of DAPAC on key votes about high-rises. 

While DAPAC wanted a rigorous system of tradeoffs for a limited number of tall buildings, commissioners have been more encouraging of tall buildings, which Samuels and his allies have said are needed to revitalize the downtown. 

The commission’s agenda had been posted on the downtown plan web page by Monday noon, http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=10828 

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