May 13, 2010             

Please Attend:
Special Planning Commission Meeting on West Berkeley Industrial Protections

• Wednesday, May 19th, 7PM - North Berkeley Senior Center, MLK at Hearst •

Why You Should Care About
Preserving the West Berkeley Industrial Zoning Protections

WEBAIC supports and encourages the location of R & D uses in West Berkeley and believes this can be accommodated on the large amount of land available for R & D (Master Use Permit sites-2.5 million sq ft, space now allowed for conversion to R & D -1-1.5 million sq ft, non-protected space - 3.5 million sq ft) without forcing the dislocation of the vibrant industrial and arts community through the City proposal to open up existing industrially protected space to R & D uses.

Why Keep Industry?  The West Berkeley Plan instituted industrial protections into the zoning ordinance because it recognized that maintaining an industrial base was essential to keeping a successful, mixed-use economy in West Berkeley that would provide: 1.) revenue, 2.) goods and services, 3.) good paying jobs, particularly for people without a college education (thousands of jobs in hundreds of West Berkeley companies) and 4.) contribute to the continued economic equity and ethnic diversity of the City & region (many of the good jobs provided by industry are filled by Latino, African-American, and Asian-American workers). The industrial protections also support businesses that are essential parts of the industrial/artisan network supply chain, including Industrial, Construction, Automotive, & Art Supply companies.

More recently we've come to understand that: 1.) An affordable industrial land base is essential for the existence of the dynamically growing green collar job sector (Raquel Pinderhughes' City of Berkeley Green Collar Jobs Report), and 2.) If we don't preserve this land base, these industrial "goods movement" companies/jobs will be forced into the Central Valley, resulting in a significant: loss of jobs, increase in greenhouse gas emissions (thousands of additional diesel truck miles), increased highway congestion, loss of agricultural lands, and a higher cost for both goods and the overall cost of living. (Hausrath Economic's Goods Movement/Land Use Project Report for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission).

Why Industrial Protections?  The West Berkeley Plan recognizes that despite their valuable contributions, industrial businesses aren't as highly capitalized as office, retail, housing, and R & D uses, and without zoning protections these more highly capitalized uses (able to pay 50%-500% more for space) would force industry out of West Berkeley over time.

What Are the Industrial Protections?   The Industrial Protections in the Zoning Ordinance (technically, Section 23E.80.045 Special Provisions) state that: at least 75% of any space (in West Berkeley Industrial zones) used for Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade, Warehousing, or Material Recovery Enterprise as of January 1,1996 must remain in any of those uses from that date forward.  In response to WEBAIC efforts, Planning staff have recently agreed that Arts & Crafts and Contractors can also occupy this protected space.  The protections assure that if one of the industrial uses leaves for any reason, its space will be available for another industrial use seeking to locate or expand and that these uses will only need to compete against other industrial uses that can afford approximately the same amount per sq foot.   

How the Industrial Protections Affect You:
The industrial protections benefit different business differently, but underlying all individual effects is the fact that an affordable, appropriately zoned industrial land base creates an area-wide economic and cultural fabric that encourages compatible businesses and discourages extreme land value swings and speculation.  Minus protections, the opposite occurs, i.e., a residential or office/R & D development placed in the middle of industrial uses creates extreme land value differentials, resulting in 1.) Unending spill-over pressure to "up-zone" surrounding parcels to create similar owner profits, and 2). The creation of serious use incompatibilities leading to industrial dislocation, a process repeated in many cities.

Industrial Renters:  If you are either a manufacturing, warehousing, wholesale trade, or material recovery enterprise company that rents, your ability to operate in Berkeley is almost surely directly dependent upon the existing industrial protections.  They assure that you only compete for space with other industrial uses that can afford generally the same amount per sq ft.  This provision maintains a pool of space at a reasonable price for you to locate and potentially expand into.  It also provides space for new companies to locate here.  Allowing R & D uses that can afford significantly more for space to locate in these protected spaces is expected to drive rents up beyond the ability of most industrial uses to afford.

Artists & Craftspeople: Art and Craft studios that were used for Art or Craft as of July 6, 1989 are required to stay in an Art & Craft use from that date on.  This is a separate provision from the Industrial Zoning Protections.  If you aren't in one of these "protected spaces" or can't verify the use of your studio in 1989, then you could benefit by WEBAIC's recent accomplishment (after 15 years of effort) of having staff agree that arts & crafts can now occupy protected industrial space.  Until now it's been extremely difficult for new arts and crafts studios to locate in W. Berkeley, as any space that had been used by protected industrial uses could not be occupied by artists or craftspeople. This will now change and sets the stage for an expansion of the arts since affordable space will now be available for artists/artisans.  If the City allows R & D to locate in this protected space, the cost of this space will be driven beyond the ability of arts uses to pay for it.

Industrial Businesses that Own Their Property:  Although owning the property in which you conduct your business protects you from land value pressure that can directly forces lessees out of the area, the industrial protections are the essential factor in maintaining West Berkeley as an area conducive and supportive of industrial activities.  Among the ways in which they accomplish this are:  1.) Incompatible uses are largely kept from locating in the industrial zones - this means no residents and minimal offices and retail to interfere with and complain about the inevitable impacts of industrial activity; production noise, truck traffic, forklifts in the street, etc.  2.) The protections maintain the network supply chain of businesses which almost all industrial uses are a part of and benefit by - still in the area are the machine shop, the tool and industrial gas and welding supplier, the parts house, the construction suppliers, the company that can thread your rod and create a custom sheet metal housing, etc, etc, etc.  Industrial areas easily reach tipping points where encroaching housing, office, R & D, and other higher-value land uses come together to create inevitable waves of de-industrialization that abrade the fabric of the industrial network supply chain so deeply that it can't hold.  West Berkeley is at great risk of this occurring. The industrial protections assure that West Berkeley remains a viable industrial environment.

West Berkeley Residents:  West Berkeley has historically developed as a mixed-use area with industry, arts, and residents sharing the same land, wth the people who working in these enterprises often living nearby.  Though not as prevalent as in the past, this is still true for many people and businesses, with many artists specifically moving into the area because of its acceptance of their activities.  Following this, West Berkeley has been and continues to be the most ethnically diverse part of town.  Maintaining existing blue and green collar family-wage jobs is an important factor in maintaining this West Berkeley diversity and the diversity of the City and region as a whole.  The industrial protections are the most important factor in keeping these jobs.

One of the central goals of the West Berkeley Plan was to guide development in a way that would reduce incompatibilities between businesses and residents and minimize negative impacts on both.  While not perfectly achieved throughout all West Berkeley and a continuing work-in-progress, these Plan policies have largely been successful.  Although traffic and parking have steadily worsened over time due to many factors, the removal of the industrial protections would have a huge, negative effect these factors as office and R & D uses typically have 50% to 100% more employees per sq foot of space than industrial uses.   West Berkeley has an eclectic, creative, and dynamic character that comes from the wonderfully diverse mix of uses and people assured by the industrial protections - of the approximately 16,000+ jobs in West Berkeley, a bit less than half are in industrial and arts activities, with the rest being in scientific and technical, professional service, management, retail, etc.  If you enjoy this interesting mix, you largely have the industrial protections to thank.

R & D Businesses:  Almost all R & D business that work on prototyping and have bench or lab space rely upon associated machine shops, scientific glass blowers, and industrial suppliers for parts and materials.  The industrial protections assure that these uses (which can't afford as much for space as the R & D uses) will remain part of the West Berkeley matrix and will be there when they need their services tomorrow, instead of having to wait until next week or next month for a part to arrive from China, or New Jersey.

Residents of the City beyond West Berkeley:  If you value a City that's economically and ethnically diverse, that plays its' part in the region's diversity, that supports a local economy that puts it's economic resources back into the community, that is creating the goods and services we all need in an ever-increasing, environmentally sustainable manner, and that deepens our community's artistic and cultural richness, then you have industrial protection policies to thank.  Please support them and what they have done for our community.

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