June 10, 2009               

• WEBAIC Concise Positions
on Staff Fast-Track Items & Answers to PC Questions •

               info@webaic.org                    June 10, 2009                                   549--0190

WEBAIC supports staff's efforts to quickly move on agreed-upon zoning improvements. Of staff's five proposals(in order below), we fully support two, are close to agreement on a third, need to see specifics on a fourth (none have been provided), and need background information on the fifth to understand potentially serious consequences.  (See Core Concept at bottom)

Fast Tracked Items:

Incidental Retail:  Agree
Proposal to " Allow incidental retail in MU-LI subsequent to establishment of primary use" is good.
Clarify that Manufacturing/Warehousing/Wholesale Trade/MRE can interchange freely:   Agree
WEBAIC agrees with this clarification of language.
Subdivision (demising) of space:  Close to Agreement
Staff's proposal to "Decrease levels of discretion of conversions across the board  by one permit level" is positive in direction, but needs a closer look to preclude possible negative consequences from "across the board" approach.  For example, allowing a 100,000 sq ft building that's presently one space to become 100-200 spaces without assuring the opportunity for public input into the decision-making process could result in serious traffic and compatibility problems, especially with proposed reduced parking standards. (Activspace has 211 spaces in 40,000 sq ft).
Parking Reductions: Need Specifics
Staff hasn't provided any specifics regarding the proposed reduction standards.  These must be provided and examined before any decision as to their appropriateness can be made.
Childcare:  Need State & BAAQMD Regulations - possible conflict
Staff must present existing State of California and Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) regulations regarding Childcare ("sensitive receptors") so all parties can fully understand the implications of locating Childcare in proximity to industrial uses.  It must be fully understand whether the location of this use could preclude the expansion or location of permitted industrial uses in the zones they're intended to operate in before making a decision on this important issue.

Staff responses to Planning Commissioner's 4/28 Questions:

                                               Master Use Permit (MUP) Issues

Would a project be allowed to build 100% office spaces through the MUP process:

1. MUP properties presently zoned industrial should be devoted to industrial uses:  industrial (green/clean/bio tech) laboratories, non-lab industrial (manufacturing/warehousing/wholesale trade/recycling/reuse), green collar, arts/artisan. 
2. Office in support of primary industrial uses should be allowed, but not primary office uses where presently disallowed.
3. Industrial Protections (expanded to include industrial laboratories) on MUP properties should be maintained.
4. The above policies should be stated in Zoning code Use tables and referenced in the Zone Purposes as suggested by staff*:
* "A statement of intent in the purposes section of the MUP noting that West Berkeley zoning and uses are in place to reinforce the manufacturing and industrial intent of the M, MM and MULI zones."  "A clarification in the permitted uses tables stating that office uses shall only be included as necessary to support uses as defined in the M, MM and MULI tables (other than primary office use).

Central Question:  How much land and how many sites should be eligible for MUP status?

MUP threshold size: Four of the PC's 4/28 questions refer to how much land and sites can become MUP sites. 
1. The method of determining eligibility for MUP's should be tailored as closely as possible to limiting MUP status to the six original, City identified "underutilized development opportunity sites".
2. The proposed three acre threshold is too large as it applies to at least 20 sites and approximately 42% of all M,MM, and MULI property

Limitation on Eligibility of sites for Master Use Permit
There should be a method by which a finite amount of sites would be available for MUP status, beyond which no further eligibility could be granted.  This could be done by a time deadline for MUP application in combination with a size threshold.  We are unclear on how staff's "finite list" could accomplish this goal but are interested to hear if viable mechanism exists.

MUP delineated benefits
Certain benefits should be required in exchange for "relaxed" MUP standards, i.e. 20% of existing protected industrial  space on MUPs should be maintained as art, green collar, and non-lab industrial space.  This space would be considered a "benefit" the
City would receive as part of a MUP negotiated "benefits" package.

What height limit and FAR does the City want to suggest.
90 foot heights and doubling the FAR to four is an extreme expansion of development standards put forward with no evidence of need to support it.  It would degrade the productive functionality of the existing industrial area and degrade the livability of our adjoining residential neighbors. 

Full Parking Waivers? 
No full waivers. Parking is already at or near capacity in most of West Berkeley's industrial zones, precluding full parking waivers. Parking waivers should be tied one-to-one to required, verifiable use of alternative transportation modes by employees.

Switching to NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) Codes from SIC Code
WEBAIC supports the switch from NAICS to SIC codes.
Uses Clarification:  Except for existing provisions in the MULI district, uses such as IT and R & D labs that DO NOT require the amenities and tolerances of industrial zoning should NOT locate on the limited amount of land in the industrial zones dedicated to industrial and arts uses.

•  WEBAIC Core Concept  •  (Abbreviated)
If a use can be conducted in an office environment (a use not in support of a primary industrial/arts use) it should not locate on the very limited (3-5%) amount of Berkeley's land reserved for industrial and artistic production, distribution, repair, recycling/reuse, and supply. In accordance with this Concept, industrial laboratory uses should be allowed to locate on the large acreage projected to be available on Master Use Permit properties identified as the six original "underutilized development opportunity sites", but should not be allowed to locate on space now protected for Manufacturing, Warehousing, Wholesale Trade, and Material Recovery Enterprise uses outside of MUP properties.

West Berkeley Works!


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


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

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


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