BART, Berkeley discuss zoning at Ashby, North Berkeley BART stations

Posted on: June 30, 2021

Source: The Daily Californian, Riley Cooke

BART and Berkeley representatives discussed zoning drafts at the Ashby and North Berkeley BART stations and community concerns during a community workshop Saturday.

According to city principal planner Alisha Shen, the drafts for the two stations respond to California AB 2923, which outlines specific minimum standards for zoning at BART stations and nearby BART-owned property. The bill sets a deadline of July 1, 2022, for stations such as Ashby and North Berkeley to conform to the zoning standards.

During the meeting, Karen Murray, a member of the project’s consultant team, discussed one of the primary planning documents: the City-BART Joint Vision and Priorities document. Murray said the document describes priorities shared by both the Ashby and North Berkeley stations as well as identifies priorities specific to each station.

Murray detailed each of the document’s five parts: land use, public and civic space, affordable housing, building form and station access. Subsequently, attendees discussed each section in groups.

During the discussion session, Virginia Browning, a Berkeley resident, said she was in favor of a wealth tax for funding affordable housing instead of relying on public and developer interests.

As someone who poured her life savings into a “forever home,” she added that BART and Berkeley should find funding from somewhere other than developers.

Tom Yamaguchi, a resident who has lived in Berkeley for 40 years, emphasized the need for accessibility and diversity at the North Berkeley BART station.

“(Berkeley) has become less diverse as housing has become more expensive,” Yamaguchi said during the meeting. “We need the housing. We need the access.”

In terms of public and civic space, several attendees agreed that the stations should prioritize greenery and interactive green spaces, such as community gardens.

After group discussion ended, the meeting pivoted to reviewing zoning drafts of the Ashby and North Berkeley stations.

The new locations will be considered residential BART mixed-use districts, which have their own set of requirements for land use, development standards, street frontages, pedestrian access and mass reduction, according to Murray.

Murray also described the Master Development Process, which ensures a thorough review of the project ahead of construction.

The workshop once again split into small groups to facilitate community discussion about the zoning at each station. Shen and BART principal planner Rachel Factor answered questions related to the stations’ density of development and how the stations balanced residential and commercial sections.

While Factor and Shen were unable to answer all questions from attendees, they noted that there were many unknown factors that would become clear in later development stages.

“This really is different from other zoning,” Shen said during the meeting. “We need to add more information.”

Contact Riley Cooke at rcooke@dailycal.org, and follow her on Twitter at @rrileycooke.

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