Zoning Law Changes, Condos Face Planning Commissioners

By Richard Brenneman
Monday April 27, 2009 - 02:50:00 PM

While Berkeley planning commissioners have scheduled only one decisive action for Wednesday night’s meeting, they’ll be setting a hearing to decide on potentially controversial amendments to city’s zoning code. The package of zoning changes, dubbed “Zoning Amendments to Encourage Economic Development in Downtown,” comes in the wake of the commission’s approval of their own rewrite of the Downtown Area Plan. 

Commissioners rewrote the document produced over a two-year span by the 21-member Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC), significantly expanding the size of new buildings allowed and the areas where they can be built. 

Commissioners also removed many of the requirements DAPAC adopted to make developers fund civic improvements in exchange for taller buildings. DAPAC had imposed the requirements in exchange for allowing a higher skyline than many members said they would have otherwise allowed. 

The one decisive action on the agenda for the meeting is a vote on the tract map for the 175-unit condominium project now rising at 700 University Ave. 

The commission will also receive a report on revisions by city staff to the long-delayed Southside Plan, which will govern development south of the UC Berkeley campus. 

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave.