Monday, October 5, 2015

Berkeley Councilmember Lori Droste Proposes Reforms to Prioritize Affordable Housing Over Parking

by Sam Levin
Mon, Oct 5, 2015 at 12:38 PM

click image Lori Droste.
  • Lori Droste.
Berkeley City Councilmember Lori Droste is hoping to encourage developers to build more affordable housing in the city by allowing them to construct fewer parking spaces in new buildings. Droste's "Green Affordable Housing Package [PDF]" — on the agenda at tomorrow's city council meeting — requests that the city Planning Commission and City Manager's Office explore a number of policy changes that would eliminate barriers to the creation of affordable housing in Berkeley. One key part of her proposal seeks to address major flaws in outdated municipal parking policies — a topic which I explored in a recent cover story focused on Oakland's laws (see "A Green Solution to Oakland's Housing Crisis"). 

Like cities across the country, Oakland has not updated many of its archaic zoning rules that require developers to build large parking garages in new residential buildings, which are very expensive to construct and can significantly drive up the cost of housing and lead to higher rents. As a result of the high costs associated with parking requirements, developers can also end up offering fewer affordable units or ultimately build less housing altogether. These parking rules further contradict sustainability goals since they encourage high rates of driving and car ownership. 

Droste, citing the recent Express story and other research on the impacts of overly strict parking rules, said that reforms in Berkeley could go a long way toward increasing the supply of affordable housing and promoting more sustainable modes of transportation. In some ways, Berkeley already has more progressive policies than Oakland, but still requires a relatively large amount of parking in certain new residential projects.

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Monday Must Reads: Supreme Court Rejects San Jose’s Bid for Oakland A’s; Corrosion Risk for Bay Bridge’s Main Cable

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 5, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The US Supreme Court rejected an appeal today by the City of San Jose, thereby effectively ending the city’s bid to attract the Oakland A’s to the South Bay, the Mercury News$ reports. The high court refused to hear San Jose’s appeal of a lower court ruling that had dismissed the city’s anti-trust claims against Major League Baseball. The high court’s decision effectively means that the owners of the Oakland A’s, who want a new ballpark, cannot move their team to San Jose.

2. The chief designer of the $6.4 billion new Bay Bridge said the span’s main cable is at risk of corrosion and catastrophic failure because rainwater has been leaking into the cable’s anchorages, the Chron reports. The new suspension bridge would collapse if the cable breaks. “In a suspension bridge, the cable is what holds the whole thing up,” said Russell Kane, a corrosion expert in Texas who has advised companies in the oil and aerospace industries. The concerns over the cable are just the latest in a long-running scandal involving construction defects on the bridge.

Laurie Capitelli.
  • Laurie Capitelli.
3. Berkeley City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli personally profited from a taxpayer-funded home loan awarded to Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Capitelli served as Meehan’s real estate agent on the home deal. The councilmember, however, maintains that he did nothing wrong because he said he voted for awarding the loan to Meehan before he became the chief’s realtor.

4. Governor Jerry Brown signed an anti-racial profiling measure, despite strong criticism from law enforcement groups, the LA Times$ reports. The new law requires police agencies throughout the state to begin collecting race and demographic data on all police stops. Police chiefs decried the legislation, contending that it would be too burdensome.

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