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Recent Comments

Re: “Berkeley to Ignore Part of Climate Action Plan?

In the past week local suburb Pleasanton was instructed by a court decision to end their current practice: place a cap on new housing units just above what now exists, but plan for 25,000 new jobs. This is not going to work anymore, because the "regional housing needs assessment" administered by ABAG to fairly distribute anticipated future population growth is actually going to be enforced.

Berkeley's long-pending downtown plan seems to be reducing its new-housing figures from 5000 to 3000 new residents -- creating even more pressure to encourage new housing elsewhere. Now with a good court precedent in place, west Berkeley planners no longer have the political cover to avoid their duty.

BTW, the plan says almost nothing about providing/improving transit for all those new workers who wouldn't live nearby.

Posted by GreenBerkeley on 03/18/2010 at 8:59 AM

Re: “Air District's New Guidelines Fall Short

What's often not discussed in this debate is the link between job locations and housing locations. Long commutes add to vehivle miles traveled, and only reducing VMT will have any significant effect on our greenhouse gas emissions. More urban housing won't help if all the avaiilable jobs require long car commutes to the suburbs.

Berkeley is a good example (1995 data here from the Bay Area Council). Berkeley has 70,000 jobs -- roughly one for every adult resident. Yet 2/3 of Berkeley jobs are held by people who live out of town, while 56% of employed Berkeley citizens work beyond the city's borders. Given the unfortunate propensity of workers to still commute by car, this produces a truly depressing statistic: every workday, inbound and outbound Berkeley car commuters are responsible for at least 400,000 vehicle miles traveled -- two million vehicle miles a week.

Creating HOUSING NEAR JOBS is what will make a significant difference. Every current car commuter who takes a job accessible by transit, bike or foot replaces TWO car commute trips -- where the leverage can come from. And that's what the BAAQMD is not at all addressing.

We can hope that the coming new tougher federal ozone standards will move us in the same direction. New housing in the suburbs will have no effect on air quality if all the jobs are a car commute away.

Posted by GreenBerkeley on 01/13/2010 at 8:34 AM

Re: “Activists Try to Block Green Tech in Berkeley

While Mayor Bates and the Council majority may have some green cred when it comes to West Berkeley, they still seem poised to cave on the Downtown Area Plan being opposed by our local NIMBYS-forever, as Gammon previously described.

The Council has already compromised with no-compromise NIMBYs on the weakened version of the DAP they passed in June, taking out much of the needed commitments to density and affordable housing -- which was promptly referended by those very same NIMBYs who called it "a giveaway to developers." And they are treating the BRT project -- the only thing likely to improve east bay bus transit for the next ten years -- as if nobody would ever ride such a "controversial" service.

As an aging hippie myself, I'm ashamed of this fraction of my generation, who apparently think we should carry on our self-indulgent policies to the grave. I'm glad there's a better generation lined up to replace us -- hope they get more involved soon!

Posted by Alan Tobey on 11/11/2009 at 6:44 PM

Re: “Anti-Growth Group Wraps Itself in Green

We might as well call Berkeley council-memberJesse Arreguin "Jesse Arreguinejad."

Like famously ambitious Iranian president Ahmedinejad, he thinks that appealing to populist emotions-of-the-moment is all he needs for a successful political career (no positive accomplishments required). But he's been micromanaging the rhetoric in an almost comical way: starting out with "concern" for the "deep shadows" to be cast by the future forest of "massive skyscrapers" we were about to build, and ending with "deep concern" for more affordable housing (only possible via the denser standards he voted against), he could be mistaken for a political pingpong ball in search of an issue that the majority of his district might actually agree with. But with the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Berkeley Association both against the Downtown Plan referendum and ready to richly fund a less divisive council candidate, Jesse can only look forward to running for re-election next year as the only council-member who did even more than the uber-lefty Kriss Worthington to bring the tottering downtown to its knees. Truly a record to be proud of.

Posted by Alan Tobey on 08/11/2009 at 10:43 PM

Re: “Berkeley Adopts Dense Downtown Plan

What the Berkeley City Council actually passed as a "compromise" actually provides for LESS new density in downtown than what the active anti-density coalition asked for. Up until the vote this group had rallied around the "DAPAC Plan" created by a citizens taskforce, and had opposed a more dense plan adopted by the Planing Commission.

Faced with naked extortion -- the threat of a referendum -- the Council majority just completely caved, passing a very week version of what was needed to actually improve the downtown: provision for more residents and workers, and for much more affordable housing, so that more people could live closer to their jobs and to good transit.

This was the first test of whether Berkeley is serious about its newly-approved CLimate Action Plan, which concludes that only by aggressively providing for "greater density near transit in areas such as the downtown" will we actually meet our goals. The Council failed that test utterly -- a truly anti-environmental decision.

Posted by Alan Tobey on 07/17/2009 at 12:32 PM

Re: “Berkeley: Never Mind on that Global Warming Thing

We need to remember that Berkeley's Climate Action Plan is just that -- a plan document, not a binding ordinance. Whatever might be "required" down the road will take an actual new ordinance or ordinance change, and that will take a lot more public process.

We should not doubt the Council's -- or the city's resolve here. Almost all the public comment at Tuesday night's meeting was of the "do more and do it faster" variety, and even the few arch-NIMBYs who spoke only asked for more time to study the proposal.

Berkeley has a decent track record for getting things done by goal-setting, incentives and subsidies rather than by mandates. Sesimic retrofitting is a parallel process that's gone pretty well, except for our vulnerable soft-story apartment buildings.

Posted by Alan Tobey on 04/22/2009 at 8:51 AM

Re: “Biofuels Lab Threatens Strawberry Canyon

A typical Berkeley attitude among the opposition -- save the planet, but please do it somewhere else but our backyard.

Posted by Alan Tobey on 12/03/2008 at 9:12 AM

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