November 13, 2008   549-3213

• Update: West Berkeley (Rezoning) Project Schedule Changes •

Critical Issues TAKEN OFF Planning Commission Nov 19 Agenda

After meeting with the various stakeholder groups, including WEBAIC, Planning staff have decided to remove the two most far reaching of the "first wave" of zoning proposals from their presentation to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, November 19th at the North Berkeley Senior Center ( MLK & Hearst).  The WEBAIC steering committee suggests that if you have little time for meetings, your presence would be most valuable when other critical, structural zoning proposals are brought to the Planning Commission in the next few months.

The two proposals NOT being presented address:

1. The percentage of ancillary office space allowed as part of an industrial use in the four industrial zones.
2. At what size thresholds and with what level of permit review can space be partitioned in the four industrial zones.

Of the six "obstacles" in the "first wave" of zoning proposals, these two will have the most significant impact on industrial and artisan/arts businesses.  Also not being addressed at the upcoming meeting is the less important issue of food service (restaurants) and where and under what conditions they should be allowed to locate in the industrial zones.

The three proposals-in-concept being presented:

These are the "obstacle" issues and the proposals-in-concept addressing them that will be presented to the Planning Commission this coming Wednesday. The WEBAIC steering committee positions on them follow:

1.  Mini Storage in the industrial zones.

We believe mini storage is not a productive use for industrial land in West Berkeley and further location should not be an allowable use.  Mini storage provides very little in the way of good employment or revenue to the City and these facts are amplified by the considerable amount of land this use requires.

2.  Childcare in the industrial zones.

We believe that having childcare available for West Berkeley workers and residents is a positive for the community.  Therefore, it should be an allowable use in the MULI and MUR zones as long as special findings are fullfilled that determine that the location of the childcare is environmentally suitable for "sensitive receptors", the children. In the MM district childcare should be allowed as part of a larger project, with the same requirements for environmental suitability needing to be made.  We do not support childcare as a use in the M Zone.

3.  Retail as an associated, incidental use to an industrial or artisan business.

Presently, an industrial or artisan use that locates in West Berkeley is allowed to utilize 10% of their space for incidental retail, to sell what they produce or handle on site, as long as the request for this use is made as part of their intial use permit request at the time of their location here.  This option is denied to those who did not request this initially.
We feel this distinction is arbitrary and has the potential to hinder the economic viability of existing industrial and artisan/artist enterprises and should be changed to make this option available to all companies within these categories, regardless of the time of this request.

In our opinion, the above three "obstacle" issues have low potential impact in terms of altering the existing land use regulations positively or negatively in relation to their effect on West Berkeley industry and arts uses. There appears to be general agreement as to their solutions.   If you have a difference of opinion on the above-stated steering committee positions, please let us know. What staff will be presenting at this upcoming Planning Commission meeting aren't their final proposals, and the commission will not be voting on them.

Therefore we suggest you attend this only meeting if you have the extra time and interest.  Steering committee members will be there and, while we'd appreciate your participation,  there will be many more important times for your voice to be heard in the next few months. Thanks for being here and helping all of us to be able to say that:

West Berkeley Works!