Planners Take Up Urns Again, Housing Element

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday September 22, 2009 - 10:25:00 PM

Berkeley planning commissioners will try once again Wednesday night to resolve their struggle with a new law that would allow up to 400 urns containing ashes of human remains to be interred on sites in the city. 

Their struggle with the proposed ordinance, sought by City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, ended in confusion two weeks ago, and planning staff announced then that this would be their last try at a revision. 

If the commission doesn’t come up with a solution, Principal Planner Alex Amoroso told the commission, staff will bury it and go on to other pressing issues. 

When commissioners tried their hand last spring, two groups of atheists threatened litigation if the council adopted the ordinance because the first draft restricted inurnment to sites owned by religious groups. 

Commissioners will also provide staff with feedback on their revision of the city housing ordinance, schedule a presentation on the proposed Berkeley ferry terminal and discuss proposed zoning revisions for Panoramic Hill which would take into consideration fire, slide and earthquake danger, as well as very limited access for emergency vehicles. 

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