Final Downtown Plan Draft, Ferry Hearing Face Planners

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 27, 2009 - 02:24:00 PM

Planning commissioners are scheduled to complete their final revisions to the Downtown Area Plan during their meeting Wednesday night, April 1. 

Commissioners have been revising the original version of the new plan, prepared by a committee formed of two appointees from each of the city’s nine councilmembers and three planning commissioners. 

The commission’s draft raises both the numbers and the heights of high-rises allowed by the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee’s draft and expands the boundaries where they can be built. 

Commissioners had indicated a willingness to expand the high-rise zone still further, but were hampered by staff advice that expansion could require a new environmental review that would push the deadline for approval beyond the limit set in a legal agreement between the city and UC Berkeley. 

The draft plan before the commission also includes a map listing proposed study areas that could be reviewed by the City Council if the council wishes to expand the boundaries after adopting the plan at its May 26 meeting. 

The council must adopt a plan by that date or risk losing some of the funding mandated in the settlement of a lawsuit the city filed to challenge the university’s long-range development plans through 2020. 

Both the DAPAC and the commission’s versions will go to the City Council, which can adopt either version or combine elements of the two—a difficult task given the short time available. 

Both versions of the plan are available at the city’s website at www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=10828. 

Wednesday night’s meeting starts at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than usual, to accommodate a presentation on proposed ferry terminal locations at the Berkeley Marina. 

The Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA) is asking the commission to provide comments for inclusion on the proposal to establish a terminal at one of two sites in the marina. 

The meeting agenda, with links to documents on both the plan and the ferry site, may be found at www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentPrint.aspx?id=36608. 

The session starts at 6 p.m. in the first floor main meeting room of the North Berkeley Senior center, 1901 Hearst Ave. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way.