Berkeley, like the rest of the Bay Area, has had relatively few new home construction in decades. And the city must find out where almost 9,000 additional housing units can be built in order to satisfy state requirements.
The City Council voted on Thursday to begin the procedure. The city manager has been granted 18 months to come up with a proposal that involves looking at approving multi-unit developments in some sections of Berkeley, constructing middle-income housing, and prioritizing transit corridors such as the Ashby and North Berkeley BART stations for new residences. The city does not have to promise all the new homes will be completed by 2030, but it must zone for them by then.
The majority decision came about a month after the City Council declared that single-family zoning will be phased down by 2022. The city council’s vote on Thursday orders city officials to look at authorizing duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes in locations where single-family zoning previously occurred.
Equity, neighborhood involvement, sustainability, tenant and anti-displacement rights, and public safety would also be priorities, according to Droste. Although it might be “easy to zone for that many homes,” she acknowledges that seeing it through “is another question.” ” Both inexpensive and market-rate developers have failed to build in Berkeley and elsewhere due to high building costs and challenging permits.
The vote to change zoning is just the first phase in a lengthy process that city staff would have to go through, which will include recruiting a contractor.
David Garcia, policy director of UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, said, “The Berkeley City Council has really taken the biggest step, which is demonstrating the political will to take on such a contentious issue.”
Many communities in the Bay Area are expected to go through a similar path. The state’s Department of Housing and Economic Growth begins a process that sets housing development objectives every eight years, but such goals are barely reached. The state determined this year that the Bay Area would need to prepare for around 441,100 housing units between 2022 and 2030, a huge increase from the previous cycle when the Bay Area just needed to plan for around 188,000 units.
According to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arregun’s newsletter, the Association of Bay Area Governments divides the 441,176 units among the counties.
Berkeley’s goal is 8,934 housing units by 2030, almost 6,000 more than the previous cycle — an aggressive initiative that analysts and activists agree would prioritize affordability and established unit safeguards. The state defines how many units can be designated as extremely low-income, low-income, moderate-income, and over moderate-income.
The next step, according to Garcia, is more technical, and it involves evaluating existing zoning to decide which architectural features ought to be updated. It takes a lot of time to figure out which current laws render it impossible to accept more accommodation.
The project would cost $540,000 and will be financed by the state, district, and region.
According to Jay Kim, co-deputy director of the East Bay Community Law Center, any amendments to zoning plans could emphasize the construction of units for low-income and extremely low-income residents. Kim advocated for community land trusts to be involved in the preservation of affordable housing in Berkeley.
She also noted that the city would involve the neighborhoods that would be most affected by the reforms.
“You have to center the communities that have been most impacted, and in Berkeley, that is longtime Black residents and Black community members,” Kim said, adding that good tenancy rights are crucial in avoiding displacement.
Rev. Sophia DeWitt, a service planner at the East Bay Housing Organizations, shared her sentiment. During Thursday’s public comment period, DeWitt said that concentrating construction along transit corridors would benefit both affordable housing and climate change targets.
According to DeWitt, the city could encourage more in-law units and utilize a new $135 million affordable housing bond to fund more programs.
In addition, DeWitt suggests Berkeley could go ahead with an initiative drafted by Arregun in 2020 named the Resident Incentive to Purchase Act, which will grant renters first refusal to buy their homes if they are placed up for sale.
During public debate, DeWitt was one of 250 people who spoke.
The city’s rent board, headed by Leah Simon-Weisberg, agrees that any upzoning plan should provide provisions to discourage the destruction of rent-controlled or deed-restricted homes, as well as anti-displacement initiatives.
Other speakers praised the decision, describing how tough it was to find accommodation in Berkeley. Barnali Ghosh expressed her dissatisfaction with the fact that some of her friends had been priced out of the area.
Ghosh said, “We need options for all kinds of families and people.”
By December 2022, the council is scheduled to decide on a revised zoning proposal.
Berkeley must find out where almost 9,000 additional housing units can be built to meet state requirements. The City Council voted on Thursday to begin the procedure. The city manager has been granted 18 months to come up with a proposal.
The state determined this year that the Bay Area would need to prepare for around 441,100 housing units between 2022 and 2030. Many communities in the Bay area are expected to go through a similar path, analysts and activists say. Both inexpensive and market-rate developers have failed to build in Berkeley and elsewhere.
Berkeley council will vote in December 2022 on a revised zoning proposal. The project would cost $540,000 and will be financed by the state, district, and region. The city’s rent board agrees that any upzoning plan should discourage the destruction of rent-controlled or deed-restricted homes. The Resident Incentive to Purchase Act will grant renters first refusal to buy their homes if they are placed up for sale. The council is scheduled to decide on the proposal by December 2022.