Changes Coming to Our Neighborhood

As many of you have probably noticed, new construction is going up and longtime businesses are shifting near BZC. The Adeline Street corridor is undergoing a wave of development. The City of Berkeley is in the midst of a multiyear community planning process for the Adeline Corridor, but many new projects will break ground before any plan is in place.

A development has been proposed for 2902 Adeline St. combining the site of AW Pottery and the first house on Russell St. next to it. The developer, RealTex, has proposed a 6-story, 56-unit residential building with 8 live-work units on the ground floor. 10% of the building will be affordable housing, the minimum required by the City of Berkeley. The building will include a small parking garage with 18 parking spaces. The units will be 1- and 2-bedrooms. The developer imagines the live-work units would house small businesses along the lines of graphic designers and therapists. Affordable units will rent for approximately $800-900/month, while the market rate units are projected to rent for $1,800-2,500/month. The architect is David Trachtenberg of Trachtenberg Architects, a longtime Berkeley architect.

The main concerns expressed by local residents at two community meetings called by the developer are parking and traffic, the height of the building, and affordability and gentrification. Many neighbors expressed concern about the lack of parking in the project and how it might impact street parking in the area, especially in areas without residential parking. The developer has argued that with Ashby BART, multiple car-share services, and bike parking nearby, residents are not likely to have a car. A local activist has countered that studies show it is tenant’s incomes which determine whether they will own a car, not proximity to transit.

Neighbors are also concerned about the shadows caused by the project and the impact its height will have on the residential character of the area. The developer and architect plan to have a series of setbacks on the Russell St. side of the building to make the building less monolithic, and argue that it is the same height as the Harriet Tubman senior housing complex on the northwest corner of Russell and Adeline. The developer has no interest in changing the barriers on Russell St.

The low levels of affordable housing are also causing concern about gentrification, and how the building might change the character of the neighborhood through its effect on property values and an influx of more affluent residents, most likely without children. Locals active with Friends of Adeline, a community group that has emerged to articulate a community-based vision for the Adeline Corridor, have articulated the concerns about affordability most strongly.

I attended the two community meetings, along with BZC’ers Bruce Coughran, Ross Blum, and our abbot and vice-abbot, and I plan to continue to be involved in the process. A few neighbors are planning to call a community meeting about the project in the coming days so we can begin to organize some kind of response. While there is a diversity of concerns among neighbors, we are united by our interest in having a say in the direction our neighborhood takes. If you have questions or would like to become involved, feel free to contact me, and check the bulletin board for announcements of upcoming meetings.