April 13, 2010              

Please Attend - This Wednesday, April 14th -     8:30 pm:
• Critical Planning Commission Meeting on West Berkeley Rezoning • 
        8:30 pm, N. Berkeley Senior Center, MLK at Hearst

• Come Support our Successful, Sustainable,
Local Economy and Culture •

Staff officially proposes opening ALL industrially protected space to R & D (in violation of W. Berkeley Plan), creating unnecessary displacement pressure on West Berkeley's successful local economy providing thousands of good jobs, revenue, and goods & services.

Issues for the Wednesday Meeting:  The many detailed issues and zoning language addressed in the latest 54 page staff report can't be adequately covered in the Planning Commission format, so WEBAIC is requesting a stakeholder meeting with staff to discuss these fine-grained items.  Tomorrow's Planning Commission meeting is an important opportunity to let the commissioners know how we feel about the major zoning proposals in the report, specifically issues related to the Master Use Permit and the opening up of industrial protections to R & D uses.

• The Proposed Opening up of industrial protections:
Critical to industry and arts, for the first time in this report, staff officially proposes classifying Product Development R & D as a Manufacturing use, thus qualifying it to occupy ALL industrially protected space in West Berkeley.  Not only is this proposal a clear violation of the West Berkeley Plan, it's a vast and unnecessary land grab that will almost surely result in the creation of intense displacement pressure on industrial companies, jobs, and space now intended for use by manufacturing, warehousing, wholesale trade, material recovery enterprises, contractors, and arts uses.

There are over 320 manufacturing, warehousing, wholesale trade, material recovery enterprise, contracting, industrial supply and construction supply enerprises and 220+ art and crafts studios that depend on the existing industrial protection policies to provide an appropriately zoned and affordable environment for their activities.  These enterprises employ approximately 7500 people.

WEBAIC believes Product Development R & D is a valuable and appropriate activity for West Berkeley and has consistently supported its robust location here as part of the valuable economic mix.
We believe that the existing space where they are now permitted, plus the 25% of protected space now allowed to be converted to these uses, plus the 2-3 million square feet that can be developed on the proposed Master Use Permit sites add up to a significantly more than adequate supply of property for uses.  The numbers break down this way:
1.) 2 -3 million sq ft   - the large amount of land available for development on proposed Master Use Permit Sites.
2.) 1.5- 2 million sq ft - the 25% of protected space NOW ALLOWED TO BE CONVERTED to these R & D uses.
3.) 3-3.5 million sq ft - the large amount of space never subject to industrial or arts protections.

These figures are approximate but show that of the 10.75 million square feet of space in West Berkeley (Alameda County Assessor), roughly six to eight million square feet (56% - 74%) of all space would be potentially available for these Product Development R & D uses.  It's WEBAIC's strong contention that this is more than ample to accomodate all development the City projects to occur (3.5 million sq ft according to the West Berkeley Project Draft Environmental Impact Report) in the next 20 years. 

Goods Movement/Land Use Project For The San Francisco Bay Area Report  by Hausrath Economics Group for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission:
This report quantifies in great detail that Goods Movement Companies  (industrial/artisan companies) depend upon their central bay area locations provided by affordable, appropriately zoned land to efficiently and sustainably provide the goods and services required by the local economy and population.  The report projects that minus this land base, these companies will be forced into the Central Valley (if they can even survive losing their spaces), creating significant impacts upon air quality from the thousands of more truck miles that will result from the businesses being removed from their suppliers, customers, and the source of their goods from the Port of Oakland and Oakland Airport. Additionally, the population in the inner bay is the ideal match for the jobs provided by these companies and forcing them out of the inner bay will result in a significant loss of jobs and a resulting lessening of population diversity and economic equity.

Master Use Permit Issues:
Interchangeability of Uses across zones:
The staff report proposes allowing residential and retail uses into the industrial zones and allowing retail uses in to the MUR zone.  Both of these are bad ideas that will degrade the workability of the industrial zones and the liveability of the MUR zone.
Heights and FAR: 
The proposed 75' height and FAR of 3 are unnecessary increases in development standards that will have negative consequences on industrial and arts uses and the liveability of the surrounding MUR  and R1A districts.   Existing heights and FARs will accomodate a much greater building envelope than presently exists in West Berkeley and should be sufficient to attract the new development the City desires.

West Berkeley:  A successful, sustainable local economy and culture:
In West Berkeley local residents work creating and distributing products and services to the local community and beyond in an environmentally responsible manner that keeps jobs and income local and contributes to the maintenance of economic and ethnic diversity.  The latest BT Commercial figures show West Berkeley warehouse and manufacturing real estate market has the lowest (1.3%) and second lowest (4.6%) vacancy rates of all nine East Bay cities from Richmond to Fremont - and this during the worst recession since the 30's.  The central goal of the West Berkeley Plan is to maintain a diverse, mixed-use economy and the core mechanisms it created to achieve this goal were the industrial and arts protections.  The goal has been achieved, but without intact protections it will almost surely be lost.  Please come and support your community and speak out for sensible zoning policies. 

West Berkeley Works!

WEBAIC  •  info@webaic.org  •  510-549-0190


            Helps the public understand West Berkeley industries' contributions to the community;

            Helps businesses maintain and increase their contributions to Berkeley's economy and cultural richness, including how to adopt sustainable practices;

            Serves as a liaison between WeBAIC's members, the community, and local government;

            Promotes the development of sustainable industries as envisioned in the West Berkeley Plan.


WEBAIC • West Berkeley Artisans & Industrial Companies
(510) 549-0190 • PO Box 2755, Berkeley CA 94702