Planning Commission Calls for More Density at Berkeley BART Stations

Berkeley planning commissioners recommend taller buildings, more density as the city evaluates zoning changes near BART stations.

1 minute read

November 9, 2021, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

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Pi.1415926535 / Berkeley BART station

Emilie Raguso reports on a Berkeley Planning Commission meeting that had at its center a proposal to develop housing on parking lots at two BART stations. At issue during Wednesday's meeting were proposed height limits and the percentage of affordable housing that would be required.

On Wednesday, there were two clear camps among the callers: Those pushing for a higher percentage of affordable units in, primarily, somewhat shorter projects overseen by nonprofit developers and those asserting that the best way to get the highest number of affordable units is to build taller buildings.

While some community members called for a maximum height of seven stories, many Commissioners expressed support for taller buildings of up to 12 stories to accommodate more housing units. Raguso quotes Commissioner Barnali Ghosh as saying, "We have to start making sacrifices here. But I also don’t think of density as a sacrifice."

The proposal for the BART sites and related zoning changes will undergo further consideration by the Berkeley City Council in early 2022. The discussion comes after the council voted to eliminate single-family zoning and minimum parking requirements, reversals on decades-old policies that city leaders hope will help alleviate Berkeley's deepening housing affordability crisis, encourage public transit use, and reduce carbon emissions.

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