Editorial: Bowing to Pressure

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It would only have created eight more apartments, not that many considering the looming shadow of Tidal Wave II and the housing crisis.

Last week, the city council blocked a private project that would raze six units and construct a 14-unit complex on Hearst Avenue. Bowing to pressure from the rallying neighborhood, the council voted to rezone the lot to prevent the project. Now the neighborhood is satisfied, the developer plans to sue to the city, and more desperately needed housing has been lost.

This battle was not on a large scale, but the city council perpetuates the trend each time it yields to pressure from retrograde special interest lobbies. Of course most Berkeley residents don't want a big apartment complex in their backyard. They want things to stay the way they are. One can't blame the residents for resistance to change. But one can certainly blame the city council for lack of foresight.

Housing now is bad enough, but Berkeley is facing an even worse housing crunch in the future. And the city council is ignoring this, placing its priorities on winning small victories blocking development instead of planning for the future. Even while Mayor Shirley Dean says she is concerned that the university isn't building enough housing for future students, the council threatens lawsuits university expansion plans.

Residents may object, but the council needs to submit to reality. The city needs all the housing it can get, even if it's just eight units at a time.

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