Tom Bates, the mayor of Berkeley, has proposed an audacious plan to address the housing crisis. It has all of the components we need to address the housing crisis in the Bay Area - upzoning, streamlining the approval process & generally smart policy:

  • Upzoning! Point 9 suggests the creation of ‘buffer’ R-3 zones along the main corridors. R-3 allows the creation of small apartment buildings and multiunit homes and is a great tool for bringing friendly density to Berkeley. Point 10 proposes upzoning south of campus, point 11 is a height increase. Point 6 establishes a new density bonus in-exchange for workforce housing, effectively a upzoning of any possible multiunit project.
  • By-Right Approval! The Bay Area is notorious for projects dragging on between committees and hearings for years. By-Right approval for projects would mean the city would set the rules for what projects should be allowed, and if the developers meet the guidelines the project could be approved entirely by city staff. Bates would expand By-Right Approval to Berkeley’s main corridors.
  • Parking Maximums! While usually the debate in the Bay Area revolves around how much space and money cities should require be spent on housing cars instead of people, Bates here skips that and proposes a parking maximum in areas with sufficient public transit. 

Livable Berkeley is running a petition in support of his proposal at berkeleyhousingcrisis.org. Tell your friends to sign and then join us on Tuesday, April 5 at 7:00 P.M.in the School District Board Room, 1231 Addison St., Berkeley to advocate that the council approve the mayor’s proposal. 

Even if the mayor’s plan is approved it will just be the first step as committees and staff put the ideas into fleshed-out proposals. But it is a meaningful first step. More of the plan can be viewed on the mayor's website.