February News: BART Meeting Next Week, Ohlone Greenway Upgrades & More

Hi Neighbor,

This Black History Month, we mourn the tragic death of Tyre Nichols and we witness an alarming assault on African American Studies. Here in Berkeley, I pledge my continued commitment to fighting for racial justice.

This month, I will be holding two drop-in meetings for residents:

Cedar Rose Park (amphitheater area)
Sat., Feb. 18 | 9:30-10:30 a.m.

West Berkeley Service Center, 1900 Sixth St.
Thurs., Feb. 23 | 5-6:30 p.m.

On Thurs., March 2 (5:30-6:30 p.m.), I will hold a safety meeting at the Berkeley Adult School for the 1600 to 1700 blocks of San Pablo Avenue with Berkeley Police Lt. Matt McGee and Head of Neighborhood Services Peter Radu—pursuant to my Council item requesting a security assessment for the area.

In this newsletter:

Hopkins Street Safety Plan Special Council Meeting Postponed to April 18

The Special Council Meeting to consider the Hopkins Street Safety Plan has been rescheduled to April 18 so that our City Attorney’s Office and Fire Department have ample opportunity to review the conceptual plan. Thank you to everyone who has met with me to discuss your concerns, questions, and ideas.

Hopkins Street. Photo: Libby Lee-Egan

I’m committed to listening to you and working together to ensure we balance everyone’s needs—pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, merchants, and residents.

I am continuing to meet with our Public Works staff and other experts to ensure we get this right. If you choose to engage your neighbors on this issue, I urge you to do so respectfully—online or in real life.

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to schedule a one-on-one or neighborhood meeting: rkesarwani@cityofberkeley.info or 510-981-7110.

N. Berkeley BART Objective Design Standards Community Meeting #2 Next Week

N. Berkeley BART Station. Photo: Jill Martinucci

As a follow up to the introductory meeting held last November, the City is hosting a second community meeting next week with the team selected to develop the N. Berkeley BART station. The developer team will present their preliminary design concept and hear input from the community.

Please be aware that an inaccurate rendering that is NOT the developer’s proposal is circulating in the community. 

The developer team’s proposal is their “moderate density” preliminary design concept (as shown below), including:

  • 3-4 stories around the perimeter of Delaware, Acton, and Virginia;
  • For the market-rate buildings, 6-7 stories in the center; and
  • For the affordable buildings, an average of 7 stories (two 6-story structures and two 8-story structures).

In June 2022, the City Council unanimously voted to zone the station for a maximum height of 7 stories—the minimum requirement under state law.
Please keep in mind that the developer’s permit application must be consistent with our Joint Vision and Priorities, including principles related to building form, affordable housing, public and civic space, station access, and land use.

At the community meeting, attendees will have the opportunity to: 

  • Hear updates about the process and framework for preparing Objective Design Standards; 
  • Meet the development team and hear about their preliminary design concept; and 
  • Ask questions of the team in small-group breakout sessions.   

The same meeting will be offered twice, once as an in-person meeting and once as a virtual meeting conducted over Zoom video/teleconference. Both evenings will provide the same information and the same opportunities for questions and feedback. To provide time for as wide a range of participation as possible, community members are requested to attend only one of the two evenings.  

Ways to Participate in Community Meeting #2:  

In-Person Meeting Format: Wed., Feb. 15, 7-8:30 p.m.   
Berkeley Unified School District Boardroom 
1231 Addison Street, Berkeley 

Virtual Meeting Format: Thurs., Feb. 16, 7-8:30 p.m.   

Zoom Meeting ID: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84090881838 
Meeting ID: 840 9088 1838 
Call-In: (669) 444-9171 

Questions? Please email bartplanning@cityofberkeley.info or visit https://berkeleyca.gov/bartplanning for more information about the overall planning process for transit-oriented development at Ashby and North Berkeley BART.

Housing Element Plan: Brief Update

The housing element is a required housing plan that all cities in California must submit to the state every eight years. This cycle, the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is applying more rigorous standards for cities to achieve a compliant housing element—required under new state housing law.

Trader Joe’s Building. Photo: Eric Panzer

At a Special Council Meeting last month, I introduced amendments (with the Mayor and Councilmembers Taplin and Humbert as co-sponsors) to help ensure that Berkeley complied with the November 2022 input we had received from HCD on our draft Housing Element. These amendments made a specific commitment to rezone high-resource commercial and transit corridors (specifically Solano, the northern segment of Shattuck Avenue, and College Avenue) and consider steps to make it easier to create “middle” housing, such as duplexes and fourplexes. These amendments were introduced to help ensure we meet the state requirement to “affirmatively further fair housing” by planning for more homes in higher-income areas.

On Jan. 30, HCD sent a letter requesting additional changes to our Housing Element. Our City Planning staff have been in communication with HCD; they have determined that they can make the requested changes administratively and resubmit our plan to the state later this month.

Almost all cities in the Bay Area have not yet achieved compliant Housing Elements. This process is important because there are severe repercussions imposed by the state on jurisdictions that fail to achieve compliance, including fines and fees, funding disqualification, and suspension of local land-use power, among other consequences.

Provide Input: Ohlone Greenway Safety Improvements Project

Photo: Willivolt (License).

The City’s Ohlone Greenway Safety Improvements Project aims to improve safety along the portion of the Greenway from Virginia Gardens to Santa Fe Avenue. 

You can find detailed information on the project website.

  • An online survey is now open until March 1. The survey seeks community input on user experiences on this portion of the Greenway, as well as feedback on proposed conceptual options.
  • The survey will be promoted at an in-person event TOMORROW Sat., Feb. 11 (12-4 p.m.). Staff will informally introduce the project, help participants navigate the survey, and answer questions.

An online community meeting will be held via Zoom on Wed., Feb. 22, from 6-8 pm. Presenters will describe the proposed conceptual options, request public input, and answer questions. A link will be made available on the project website as the date approaches.

Ohlone Park Restroom & Lighting Improvements Community Zoom Meeting on March 1

Zoom Link to Register: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84429302020

Donate to Turkey and Syria Earthquake Relief Efforts

Here are some of the highest-rated charities working on earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria: