Berkeley's New Plan May Face Voter Approval

After a 7-2 approval by the City Council, Berkeley's new zoning plan may face a public vote. A signature drive by the two dissenting council members has gathered enough signatures to force the vote and is in the validation process.

"'As progressive as Berkeley is, there's always some resistance to change,' said Matthew Taecker, the city planner in charge of the plan. By August 21, the city clerk had counted 9,200 signatures, and now the county registrar has a month to validate them. If there are enough, the city council will have to rescind the plan, call a special election, or place it on the ballot for the next scheduled election in June 2010. A special election is unlikely, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said, because it would cost the city $200,000, an amount it cannot afford."

Full Story: The Battle of Berkeley



Berkeley's Downtown Plan

Unfortunately, the city has mishandled the plan in a way that encouraged the extremists.

Don't believe the quote from Matt Taecker about "progressives" backing the plan. On one side, NIMBYs who oppose all development, including smart growth, are against the plan. On the other side, real estate interests who support all development, however bad, are in favor of the plan. Both sides call themselves progressive, but that is meaningless Berkeley rhetoric.

It is sad, because this downtown plan could have moved Berkeley toward a more cooperative approach to planning. Anyone who is interested in the politics of the issue may want to read my opinion piece about it at

Charles Siegel

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