Page One

Free Film and Berkeley Planning Forum

Toni Mester
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:09:00 AM

The Berkeley Neighborhoods Council will show The Vanishing City in a free forum on Wednesday April 8 at the East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison Street from 7:15 to 9:30 PM.

The film documents how New York City destroyed vibrant neighborhoods and displaced diverse low and middle income residents by promoting the development of luxury high rises through a series of tax and zoning initiatives. Following a municipal fiscal crisis in the early 1970’s, tax exemptions for new housing and rezoning for density ignited a building boom that was accelerated in later decades by the use of eminent domain and mass evictions. Interviews with neighborhood organizers, academics, and politicians on the local and state level provide personal takes on the political narrative.

Jacquelyn McCormick, the President of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, will introduce the film, which will be followed by a discussion with Stephen Murphy, Chair of the Planning Commission and its role in planning the future of Berkeley. Topics may include affordable housing, community benefits, and the priority development areas (PDAs). 

The City of Berkeley has six Priority Development Areas (PDAs) identified in the Plan Bay Area regional plan adopted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) on July 18, 2013. These PDAs include: South Shattuck Avenue, Telegraph Avenue, University Avenue, San Pablo Avenue, Downtown Area, and the Adeline Corridor. These PDAs are growth opportunity areas that have attracted numerous planning and capital grants to support City programs and infrastructure. Two examples are the coming Shattuck Avenue reconfiguration and the recently funded Adeline Corridor Study.  

The City applied for PDA designations in 2007 with subsequent development along the transit corridors. Many of the individual projects have been controversial, mostly due to poor zoning interface with surrounding neighborhoods, but little attention has been paid to the underlying philosophy of the PDAs. The primary rationale is that the Bay Area population will grow, and compact neighborhoods dependent on mass transit will result in lower greenhouse gas emissions by reducing long commutes. 

The forum will give the community a chance to discuss these assumptions. For more information, go to or email