Planning Commission to submit new Southside Plan

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Southside Planning Commission

Stephanie Baer talks with Yousur Alhlou about the planning commission's new Southside plan.

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After more than 12 years of public hearing and debate, the city of Berkeley's Planning Commission voted to submit a revised Southside Plan to the Berkeley City Council for consideration at its meeting Wednesday night.

In three separate votes, the commission approved and recommended adoption of the plan - which provides policy guidelines for economic and aesthetic development in the area - the Environmental Impact Report, amendments to zoning ordinances and design guidelines.

Though the plan has been under development since 1997, the commission adopted the most recent revision, produced in February, which highlights changes to area boundaries and development of multi-family residential buildings. The plan will be presented to the council on May 17.

At the meeting, Willard Neighborhood Association President George Beier cited decreased vitality along Telegraph Avenue, adding that the plan still required further analysis.

Commissioner Jim Novosel, who voted in favor of adopting the plan, said the revised guidelines were virtually unchanged from previous versions and added that significant policy changes are still open to review by the council and the public.

"The only alternative was to have it go on for months of restudy, re-editing and reworking," Novosel said. "We really had to bring it to a halt."

Nonetheless, some commissioners expressed concern that language and implementation of the amendments remained vague.

Roland Peterson, executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District argued in favor of abolishing current zoning quotas in favor of codes than can "rapidly adjust to the change in the world."

Amendments to current zoning ordinances include increased housing near UC Berkeley, waiving requirements for garage space in residential structures and reduced housing density. The revised design guidelines, which do not require approval by the council, subjects all buildings except residential-only units to design review.

The commission will review and make clarifications to specific zoning amendments and design guidelines on April 27.

Karinina Cruz of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


Yousur Alhlou covers city government. Contact her at [email protected]

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