Rob Wrenn 
Member since Oct 26, 2012


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Recent Comments

Re: “You're Not a Progressive If You're Also a NIMBY

Robert Gammon fundamentally misunderstands the impact that SB 827 would have at least in cities like Berkeley. He talks about zoning being used to exclude people from single-family home neighborhoods, with the implication that SB 827 would somehow address that. In fact, in Berkeley, the most affluent single family neighborhoods, located in the hills, would not be affected. The impact would fall most on Berkeley majority tenant lower and moderate income neighborhoods, because those are the neighborhoods closest to higher quality transit. On residential streets in these areas, SB 827 would permit 7 story buildings (55' + 35% state density bonus) where housing currently ranges from one to three stories. There are very very few vacant residential lots in these neighborhoods, so either the new law would have little impact or it would, more likely, encourage some owners of 1-3 story rental properties to push out their tenants in hopes of being able to demolish and replace the existing housing with something much larger. SB 827 would encourage "demolition by neglect", letting buildings deteriorate to provide a pretext for demolishing them. Berkeley has already had to deal with a case like this. SB 827 contains no protections against demolition of existing rental housing and resulting displacement. SB 827 would give a huge windfall to owners of commercial property. By allowing 10 stories on wider commercial streets (85' + 35% state density bonus), it would increase the value of that land in these areas overnight without demanding any community benefits in return. It would undermine city land value recapture policies that allow cities to get some benefits from upzoning. With SB 827 in its current form, all the benefits go to the one percenters who own the commercial property. SB 827 also creates a perverse incentive to oppose transit improvements. Since better transit would trigger upzoning under SB 827, people who don't want 7 story buildings on their neighborhood street would have an incentive to vote against any measure to increase transit funding that might lead to better service near them and trigger SB 827 height increases.

Posted by Rob Wrenn on 03/01/2018 at 9:33 AM

Re: “Berkeley Mayoral Candidates Debate Who Can Fix the City Council 'Circus'

In addition to local developer contributions made directly to his campaign Capitelli is also benefiting from independent expenditures from outside Berkeley. The National Association of Realtors Fund reported to the City yesterday spending of $39,384.63 to support his candidacy.

Posted by Rob Wrenn on 10/12/2016 at 10:09 AM

Re: “UPDATED: FINAL RESULTS: COUNTING COMPLETED; MEASURE B1 LOSES IN VERY CLOSE VOTE; BERKELEY MEASURE T ALSO DEFEATED

Measure T is actually trailing by 494 votes as of the end of the day on Wednesday, 11/14. As for being too close to call, it's past that. It's defeated. There aren't enough votes left to count to overturn its lead, especially since a majority of provisionals counted to date have been No on T. You could check here for details: http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2012-… .
Unfortunately, I think Measure B1 has also lost; the remaining 7000 provisional votes, even if they are all from Berkeley or Oakland, are not likely to be enough.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rob Wrenn on 11/14/2012 at 8:29 PM

Re: “UPDATED: FINAL RESULTS: COUNTING COMPLETED; MEASURE B1 LOSES IN VERY CLOSE VOTE; BERKELEY MEASURE T ALSO DEFEATED

Measure T in Berkeley is now losing by 426 votes after about 10,000 absentees were counted on Saturday.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rob Wrenn on 11/10/2012 at 5:18 PM

Re: “The Election Is Not Over in the East Bay: Many Contests Are Still Too Close to Call

Oops. You reversed the vote on Berkeley Measure S. It's currently losing 17,411 to 16,356. 51.6% No. This breaks down to 57% No on votes cast at the polls and 58% yes for initial absentee results reported last night.

Posted by Rob Wrenn on 11/07/2012 at 10:26 AM

Re: “What’s Up with SEIU and Berkeley’s Measure T?

"In truth, Measure T excludes Aquatic Park from development." The issue is what does Measure T say about development on parcels adjacent to the park; I don't know of anyone who is saying that the park itself would be developed.
Regarding adjacent parcels, the measure leaves most things to future action by the City Council. It does say that on adjacent parcels, a project can't "unreasonably" create shadows, degrade visual quality or degrade pedestrian access. But what does "unreasonably" mean?

Beyond that the Council has to adopt measures related to height, FAR, setbacks, etc. but they could set any standards they choose which might or might not preclude the kind of buildings that opponents portray in their literature. Why aren't these things spelled out in the measure? Why not specify height limitations and setbacks on parcels adjacent to Aquatic Park? This would not have been hard to write into the measure. The Sierra Club is not supporting this measure because all this stuff is left out; the people I know in the club are against T. The club supported Measure R, the downtown measure in 2010 but that measure didn't just call for permitting greater density; it included what the City would get in return. And while I'm at it, why is there no mention or support for green building standards in this measure. Measure R included green building standards for downtown; don't we want West Berkeley to be green too? Peerless Greens talks about green building (LEED, etc.), which is good, but who's to say that the other 5 possible MUPs (more possible after ten years) would have any green features at all since none are required or even incentivized. If some of the things that Peerless Greens proposes to do were required of all developers, then Measure T would be a very different measure. In exchange for allowing greater density, which makes development more profitable for property owner and developer, the city is in a position to ask for things in return. But that's not what Measure T does.

-Rob Wrenn (not a big fan of Robert Gammon because of his one-sided reporting of Bus Rapid Transit in Berkeley several years ago)

6 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Rob Wrenn on 10/27/2012 at 12:46 PM

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