Delay of City's Master Plan Debated

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Less than one year after its conception, Berkeley's Master Plan - the city's outline of future planning and development - once again came under fire at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

A measure that would postpone completion of the plan, which would update the last version drafted in 1977, was pulled for debate. The measure also called for the completion of the Southside Plan, the city's blueprint for planning and development of the Southside area.

The Southside Plan is the latest in a series of individual area plans to be drafted. The council has already passed area plans for other neighborhoods, all of which are considered amendments to the 1977 Master Plan.

Critics of this week's measure have said passing the Southside Plan first could render it obsolete when the Master Plan is eventually passed.

But Mayor Shirley Dean, who proposed the measure, said the Southside Plan would not be nullified if the Master Plan is passed first.

"Normally you would do a master plan first, but in this instance where we are facing development situations where we cannot do a master plan and then an area plan, we're going to have to do it first," Dean said. "They would be incorporated, but we need a basis on which to respond to the university in its New Century Plan."

Dean said slowing work on the Master Plan would give the council and other city officials a chance to critically evaluate its contents.

"There are so many issues and so many complex issues that the city, commissioners, staff members and residents can't keep up with it," Dean said. "There's too much on everybody's plate."

At Tuesday's meeting, Planning Commissioner Rob Wrenn criticized the council for not fully supporting the Master Plan.

"It's not confused and it's not overwhelmed," Wrenn said. "You guys need to make up your minds."

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who pulled the measure for debate, said the Master Plan needs to take precedence.

"To say we're going to halt work on it means all the work these people have done is suddenly going to be thrown out," Worthington said. "Why would you stop on this process for the whole city and focus on the Southside alone?"

The Southside Plan, which is still in draft form, does not fully consider the needs of the community, and its passage would be "preposterous," Worthington said.

"To rush it to a vote at council and run the risk it would get approved as a bad plan would be counterproductive," he said. "It's got a lot of work to go right now. The draft would do almost nothing to promote more student housing, which is very important."

Nick Papas, chief of staff for the ASUC External Affairs Vice President Gray Chynoweth, said the Southside Plan's quality should be a priority.

"It would be great if it was completed quickly, but it should be done well," Papas said. "If it's poorly done it doesn't help us any."

Papas added that he hopes the Master Plan does not override the Southside Plan.

"We definitely don't want to see a Southside Plan that is rendered obsolete," he said. "That would frustrate everyone who spent a lot of time working on the Southside Plan."


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