Berkeley Neighborhoods Council
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Neighborhood News, Round and About
BNC wants to hear about your neighborhood news. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can look into what you have to say and distribute the information to other neighborhoods to generate possible support. BNC exists to support neighborhoods, help solve problems and facilitate communication from one neighborhood to another. United, we can have an impact on the future of our neighborhood. After all, one way or the other, we are all in this together.
Please refer to the August eNEWS for background on the following issues:
Coffee Shop at 3001 Telegraph Ave (corner of Ashby and Telegraph) It's a question of whether a big franchise is being given preferential treatment, traffic congestion and parking.
After a close 5 to 4 vote of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) on June 27, 2013 to approve an Administrative Use Permit to allow a 2,063 sq ft coffee shop at 3001 Telegraph Avenue, the Bateman Neighborhood Association and James Smith , a residential neighbor close to the proposed project, filed an appeal to the City Council. The appeal was made on three grounds:
The appeal was filed on July 15, 2013 and will be heard on the Council agenda of November 19th. At that meeting, the Council must choose between 3 options: 1) return the matter to the ZAB for further consideration; or 2) dismiss the appeal and grant the permit without further consideration; or 3) set the matter for public hearing before the Council at a future date. A large showing of people in support of the appeal is helpful, so the appellants would like as many people as possible to attend the Council meeting on November 19th. More information will be in the October BNC eNEWS.
FLASH: As initially proposed, this 70 micro-unit project had a public hearing before the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) on September 26, 2013. The proposal included a white tablecloth restaurant on the ground floor, and a total of around 31 parking spaces to serve the residential units and 4 for the restaurant. The micro-residential units are proposed to be about 300 sq ft including a kitchen and bathroom, with each one renting for $1,200 to $1,600 a month. A large number of people from the neighborhood turned out in opposition to the project with only the developer, his attorney, Rena Rickles and Livable Berkeley in support. Most of ZAB members expressed support for the micro-unit concept, the strongest of which were the comments by Deborah Mathews, who called them the wave of Berkeley's future and who wanted to approve the project as submitted. However, the project did not receive ZAB approval, instead they continued it for their further consideration, including looking at its design and requested a reduction in the number of residential units, probably to around 50. Look to the October eNEWS for the full story on what is happening with this first-of-a-kind project for Berkeley.
Concerned about the requests from BNC, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, and Rent Stabilization Board to defer taking action on the proposal to “make it easier” to demolish older apartment buildings and replace them with new, larger ones, the City Council didn't take action and instead referred the proposal to the Housing Advisory Commission (HAC) and the Planning Commission.
The HAC met on September 12, 2013 and unanimously rejected the proposal written by the staff. They further advised they wanted even stronger tenant protections that would include giving displaced low income tenants not only the right of first refusal for apartments in the new building but also that their rent in the new building be the same as it was in the old building, and that “affordable units” be recognized in the property deed for the new building.
While the vast majority of the discussion about this matter continues to focus on tenant protections, and we think that is important, BNCs main concern is still the provision that would expand the reasons for issuing a permit to demolish older, small apartment buildings for any use that is determined to be “a community benefit. ” This provision puts multiple unit buildings that are well-integrated parts of neighborhoods throughout the city at risk of being demolished for no other reason than a developer sees an opportunity to replace it with a new and bigger building.
We'll continue to report on this matter. The Planning Commission will discuss it at their meeting on November 6, 2013.
What do you, our readers, think? We'd like to hear from you.