Press Release: Why the Future Availability of Affordable Space for Manufacturing, Warehouse, Wholesale Trade, Arts & Crafts, Recycling, Contracting, & Retailing Is At Stake and What This Means

Sunday March 27, 2011 - 07:33:00 PM

At their February meeting, the City Council took a 5 to 4 sense vote to open up ALL Protected Industrial Wholesale Trade and Warehouse space (an unverified 2 million sq ft) to Research and Development (R&D). WEBAIC has proposed opening up a smaller subset of this space (100,000 sq ft) so as not to create destructive displacement pressure on valuable industrial & arts enterprises and good jobs and more closely match projected R&D demand.

On April 29th the City Council will discuss this issue, public comment will be taken, and Council may direct staff to write actual zoning language that would open a Council-directed amount of protected industrial space to R&D. Whatever the amount, this directive will have far reaching consequences for the future viability of industry and arts, the sustainability of our economy and culture, and the economic equity and ethnic diversity of our community and region. WEBAIC has been in discussions with City Council members on this issue over the last 2 months. Your presence on the 29th provides the best chance of a positive resolution to this issue for our companies, studios, jobs, and for Berkeley.

The Core Question: How do we equitably balance support for our sustainable industrial and arts economy and culture and the good jobs these sectors provide for the large portion of our population without a college education with providing adequate space for Research & Development activities, particularly start up companies coming out of Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

WEBAIC Position:
WEBAIC believes that as a city we are in the ideal position of being able to accomplish the positive goal of providing more (than adequate) space for R&D activity without setting in motion a destructive displacement of our robust industrial and artistic enterprises and the good, family wage blue and green collar jobs they provide.

This can be done by
1.) providing six Master Use Permits (MUP) that will allow the industrially protected space on approximately 30 acres to be used for R&D and
2.) allowing an additional 100,000 sq ft of protected Wholesale Trade & Warehouse space (in the MM and MULI zones) to be opened up to R&D. The MUP sites can provide at least 3 million sq ft for R&D in addition to the existing 3.5 million sq ft of unprotected space now available to be permitted for this use. Additionally, another .5-1 million sq ft of protected space is allowed to be converted to R&D under present zoning. These figures reveal that well over half of all West Berkeley built space will soon be available for R&D, an amount way beyond any party’s most optimistic projections for R&D demand.

Points In Brief:
• Enough Space for R&D: The MUP sites plus 100,000 sq ft of protected Wholesale Trade and
Warehouse space outside the MUPs provide more than adequate space for all known projected R&D
demand now and in the foreseeable future.
• Opening up All Protected Wholesale and Warehouse space will result in unnecessary and destructive displacement
pressure on all manufacturing, warehousing, arts, crafts, recycling, contracting, and retail companies and their
good blue and green collar jobs occupying this protected space, threatening our local serving economy and culture.
• R&D capitalization will result in displacement of industry & arts: Real estate statistics and on the ground
research reveal that R&D can pay significantly more for space than protected uses and will displace them.
• Opening up All Protected Wholesale & Warehouse space violates the West Berkeley Plan & General Plan’s:
Goals & policies to maintain a diverse economy by installing the industrial protections to mitigate market forces.
Goals and Policies intended to protect Wholesale Trade and Warehouse uses and jobs.
Goals and Policies intended to maintain the ethnic and economic diversity of our city and region,
• The West Berkeley Project did not study the opening up of All Protected Wholesale and Warehouse space
for its environmental impacts and is therefore inadequate.