Housing & Social Services
I. Strategic Statement
West Berkeley houses only 7% of Berkeley's population, but its role in Berkeley's
housing is nonetheless vital. West Berkeley continues to have some of the lowest cost
rental and owner-occupied housing in Berkeley. This low cost largely explains why
West Berkeley is home to many households with special needs--such as single mothers--
and why it remains the most racially integrated area of Berkeley. West Berkeley's
reservoir of lower cost housing is likely to become increasingly important over the West
Berkeley Plan period, if inflationary forces continue to quickly drive up house prices
and rents elsewhere in the city. West Berkeley also provides unconventional housing,
such as live-work units for artists and craftspeople. The West Berkeley Plan seeks (in
the context of citywide policies) to maintain housing affordability in West Berkeley, and
to add housing units in appropriate locations. In particular, it seeks to strengthen retail
concentrations ("nodes") by adding housing there and to reinforce residential
concentrations in the Mixed Use/Residential zone.
Because a great many of West Berkeley's residents are low income they require a high
level of publicly aided social services, such as childcare and low cost health care from
non-market sources. These services are vital for maintaining and improving the quality
of life for West Berkeley residents. Since many West Berkeley residents are not native
English speakers, providing bilingual services is often necessary. Because many West
Berkeley residents are likely to remain low income, despite economic development
efforts, City and other agencies should maintain and augment West Berkeley's services,
both in West Berkeley itself and in locations accessible to West Berkeley residents.
II. Housing Background
A. Berkeley's and West Berkeley's Role in the Regional Housing Market
Berkeley plays a distinctive role within the Bay Area housing market, as does West
Berkeley within Berkeley. For the 1990 Census, Berkeley has, for the first time, been
designated a central city within the San Francisco- Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area.
In many ways, Berkeley does function in the manner expected of a central city within
the regional housing market. Berkeley has one of the highest proportions of renters of
any Bay Area city, even with recent (smaller than expected) loss of rental units.
Berkeley is the 3rd most densely populated city in the Bay Area (after San Francisco and
Daly City), although there are massive variations in density from area to area within
Berkeley. (However, Berkeley is only 14th in the Bay Area in percentage of units in
buildings with 10 or more units) With thousands of students in dormitories,
fraternities, and sororities (an important factor in raising citywide density figures)--
Berkeley has the Bay Area's 3rd highest proportion of residents in group quarters.
Berkeley, like other cities along the East Bay shoreline and in the core of the region, has
a very ethnically/racially mixed population. Non-Hispanic whites make up 58% of
Berkeley's population, slightly below the regional average of 61%. Berkeley's 18% black
population is double the regional average, and gives Berkeley the 7th highest
proportion of African-American population among the 98 Bay Area cities. At 14%,
Berkeley's Asian proportion, mirrors the regional average of 15% Asian. Latinos are the
only non-Anglo group less represented in Berkeley (8%) than in the region as a whole
West Berkeley, largely in conjunction with South Berkeley, has its own place within
Berkeley's population. For planning and analytical purposes, the city has been split into
5 subareas (see map).1 Subarea 1, the Hills, is a high income, high cost, heavily white
(84%) area, which some have characterized as "the suburb of Berkeley." Subarea 2,
Central Berkeley, has relatively even mixes of single family homes and other housing
types, owners and renters, whites and non-whites. Subarea 3, Campus/Downtown, is
dominated by multi-family units and group quarters, houses almost 1/3 (32%) of the
city's population, and has a population which is 2/3 below 30 years old. Finally, South
and West Berkeley (subareas 5 and 4) together have a black plurality (48%), a renter
majority, and relatively modest home prices. However, as will be discussed below,
West Berkeley differs from South Berkeley, notably in its ethnic mix.
Figure 6-1: City Subareas (PDF 17.27KB)
B. The Housing Stock--Small Homes in a Moderate Density Neighborhood
Small single family houses are the most characteristic form of West Berkeley housing.
Single family units account for 44% of West Berkeley's housing (according to the 1989
Housing Stock Changes Report), although they are far from the only housing type.2
An additional 35% of West Berkeley's 2,970 housing units were in 2-4 unit structures.
Thus only 20% of units were in structures with 5 or more units, compared to 28%
citywide. The northern core area (north of University Ave.) was the most heavily single
family--single family dwellings accounted for 50% of units there, 47% of housing units
outside the residential core, and 37% of units in the southern core area. Single family
units and small apartments dominate the residential built environment--the residential
core had only 62 structures with 5 or more units (compared to 1,026 single family
dwellings--sfds). The southern core area had more units in duplexes, triplexes, and
fourplexes than the northern. In land density terms, densities of 10-20 units per acre (or
approximately 1 unit per 2,000 to 4,000 feet of land) typify the area, compared to typical
densities in urban multifamily areas of 30 units per acre or more.
West Berkeley's housing is both older and newer than the rest of Berkeley's. Some of
the oldest housing in Berkeley is here--14 of the 35 "houses" designated Berkeley
landmarks are in West Berkeley, far more than its percentage of the stock. However,
West Berkeley has a somewhat lower percentage of its stock built before 1939 (42%)
than does the city as a whole (53%). West Berkeley saw a surge of building in the 1940's
and 50's, when 38% of its stock was built (compared to 30% citywide).
The housing stock in West Berkeley, especially the owner-occupied stock, is relatively
small by citywide standards. Owner-occupied units in West Berkeley averaged 2.3
bedrooms, while in Berkeley as a whole they averaged 2.9 bedrooms. Renters, however,
enjoyed marginally larger housing, averaging 1.5 bedrooms in West Berkeley as against
Unfortunately, no such statistical data is available for live-work occupancies. There are
only a relatively small number of these to date.
C. The Population--The Truly Diverse Part of Berkeley
In comparison to other parts of Berkeley, West Berkeley's population is:
- The most racially diverse;
- More likely to be non-English speaking:
- The youngest---having the highest proportion of children under 18;
- More likely to live in a single parent household;
- More likely to be unemployed.
The oft-cited diversity of Berkeley's population can best be seen in West Berkeley. This
diversity can be seen not only on ethnic/racial grounds, but with regard to children and
1. West Berkeley's Racial/Ethnic Composition
The 1990 Census states that 40% of West Berkeley's almost 7,000 (6,891) inhabitants are
black, 29% are non-Hispanic whites, 23% are Latino, and 8% are Asian. This is by far
the highest Latino percentage in the 5 subareas of the city, the second highest black
percentage after South Berkeley (51%). No other area of the city has 3 groups in such
The 1990 figures represent a decline in the black proportion of the West Berkeley
population since 1980 (down from 50%), an increase in the Latino proportion (up from
10%) and relative stability in the white and Asian population. The influx of Latinos into
formerly more heavily black areas is consistent with trends in the Bay Area and
elsewhere in California. However, the lack of growth in the number of non-Hispanic
white people must be analyzed in conjunction with the increase in white heads of
household in West Berkeley.
The statistics for race of household (head) thus show a different, somewhat whiter
picture than those for total population. Blacks head 41% of households, whites head
38% (substantially above their share of the total population), Latinos head 13% (much
less than their population share), and Asians 8%. In 1980, whites headed 34% of
households, blacks 49%, Asians 5%, and Latinos 11%. Thus the share of white, Asian,
Latino headed households all rose, while black headed households declined.
Differences in racial proportions between total population and heads of household
occur because some households (e.g. whites) are relatively small (and thus the same
number of people group into more households), while other households (e.g. Latinos)
are relatively large. Other data suggests that a segment of non-white people were the
most stable residents of West Berkeley. In the 1989 Resident Survey, fully 48% of
responding black West Berkeley households said they had lived there 10 or more years.
This was true for 37% of Latinos, and 33% of Asians, and for only 21% of whites.
2. Children in West Berkeley
Children are prominent in the West Berkeley population. Just under one/quarter (24%)
of West Berkeley residents are under 18, compared to 14% of the citywide population.
West Berkeley thus not surprisingly had the largest mean household size--2.53 people
per unit, versus 2.10 citywide. West Berkeley seems likely to continue to have a
disproportionate percentage of children, because it has had a disproportionate
percentage of births. In 1992, there were 128 births to West Berkeley (in this case zip
code 94710) resident mothers. This was some 11% of citywide births, well above the
area's share of the city's population.
West Berkeley's children do not necessarily live in conventional families, however.
Almost 4 in 10 West Berkeley children under 18 (39%) live in single parent, usually
single mother, families. Citywide, only 29% of children are in single parent families.
Among black West Berkeley families with children single parent families were the
norm, not the exception--71% of black West Berkeley families with children were
headed by a single parent.
The large number of resident children, especially in single parent families, suggests that
West Berkeley has a greater than average need for childcare. The Berkeley Unified
School District in fact operates a child development center in the northern residential
area. Many of the workers commuting into West Berkeley also have childcare needs, so
perhaps childcare sites can be developed which serve both groups. However, locations
which are convenient to residents may not be convenient for workers, and vice-versa.
3. Income and Unemployment
West Berkeley residents have a broad range of incomes, although the highest income
households are less likely to live here. On the 1990 Census, 22% of households reported
incomes below $10,000; 22% reported incomes in the $10-20,000 range; 24% between $20
and 35,000, and 17% between $35 and 50,000 (see Table 6-4). In the 3 lowest brackets,
West Berkeley had a higher percentage than the citywide average. But while 29% of
Berkeley households reported incomes above $50,000, only 15% of West Berkeleyans
did. There was a clear distinction between West Berkeley tenants, who reported a mean
income of roughly $22,500 (lower than the citywide $24,500 mean) and West Berkeley
homeowners, whose mean was $37,000 (itself some 40% below the citywide homeowner
median of $65,000).
There appears to be substantial unemployment among West Berkeley residents. The
1990 Census found an 11% unemployment rate among West Berkeleyans, despite being
conducted before the onset of the 1990's recession. West Berkeley had among the
highest unemployment rates in the city. African-Americans were the hardest hit, with
just over 20% of Blacks in the workforce unemployed. Latinos had an 8.3%
unemployment rate. It is almost certain that these numbers are higher today, because
unemployment throughout California has increased.
West Berkeley's role as a job center provides an opportunity to aid its unemployed
residents. The residents could only fill a small proportion of West Berkeley jobs: the
Survey estimated 500 unemployed West Berkeleyans--less than 4% of West Berkeley
jobs. However, according to the Housing and Economic Survey, 20% of West Berkeley
residents already do work in West Berkeley, a higher percentage than for Berkeley
residents as a whole. Therefore, as employment linkage and training programs are
developed, West Berkeley residents can be an important target group.
D. Tenure--Moderate Income Owners, Low Income Renters
Reviewing the situation of West Berkeley renters and homeowners, West Berkeley
- A majority of West Berkeley households;
- Predominantly low income;
- Generally Non-white;
- More likely than other Berkeley renters to be overpaying for rent, overcrowded, or
dissatisfied with their unit;
- West Berkeley homeowners are:
Generally low or moderate income;
- More racially diverse than other Berkeley homeowners;
- More likely to be white than West Berkeley renters;
- Living in housing that is inexpensive for Berkeley;
West Berkeley has a majority of renters, although the size of that majority has shrunk.
The 1990 Census found 1,595 renter occupied units and 1,059 owner-occupied units,
making 60% of units rental. The 1980 Census found West Berkeley households to be
almost 2/3 renters (64%). However, this small decline in the proportion of renters
masks different trends in different parts of West Berkeley. The residential core area
north of University Ave. saw a sharp shift to home ownership--from 61% renter in 1980
to only 51% renter in 1990. The residential core south of University moved the same
direction, but less strongly--from 71% renter in 1980 to 66% renter in 1990. The
remainder of West Berkeley (Census Tract 4220)---largely in the Mixed Use/Residential
districts---saw an increase in the proportion of renters--from 56% in 1980 to 65% in 1990.
This can be attributed first to publicly assisted housing--such as the Oceanview Gardens
development, rental units at the Delaware St. Historic District, and even the creation of
rental units in the "D and E" houses, which were sold for home ownership. A second
cause of the increased number of rentals here was the creation of live-work units in the
One major reason for the shift away from rental units was the high number of rented
single family homes. In 1980, the Census found 480 rented single family houses, fully
30% of West Berkeley's rental housing.1 By 1990, there remained only 263 rented single
family houses. They now account for only 16% of the rental stock in West Berkeley.
There has been a citywide (and probably broader) trend for sales of rented to single
family houses to owner-occupants. This trend makes it more difficult for renters to find
large rental units and may be leading to overcrowding, since single family houses tend
to have more bedrooms than apartments.
By Berkeley standards, West Berkeley housing prices are relatively low. In late 1990/91,
the average single family home price in West Berkeley was $157,000. This was
considerably lower than in any other section of Berkeley, all of which averaged prices
over $180,000. Since that date, prices have been generally stable in Berkeley, even as
they have fallen somewhat in a number of Bay Area communities. Nonetheless, West
Berkeley's average price required an income of some $52,000 (or another house) to buy,
assuming that buyers can afford 3 times their income. The figure also contrasts sharply
with the mean purchase price of $70,000 that in-place owners surveyed on the Resident
Survey had paid. The "mean" year of purchase which this price on the Survey reflected
was 1975. Unless the 1990's halt or reverse the housing price increases of the last 15
years, the income needed to buy a home in West Berkeley will continue to increase.
1. Owner & Renter Characteristics
Despite these changes, West Berkeley homeowners were largely a low and moderate
income group. On the 1990 Census, 46% of owners reported household incomes
between $20,000 and $50,000, with only 21% reporting incomes above $50,000 (while
citywide 52% of homeowners had incomes over $50,000). West Berkeley homeowners
are also racially diverse, though somewhat less so than the West Berkeley population as
a whole. The 1990 Census shows that 46% of West Berkeley homeowners are white, 35%
are black, 12% Latino, and 6% are Asian. Thus, whites are over represented among
homeowners, while blacks are underrepresented.
West Berkeley renters are clearly low income. Over half (52%) of West Berkeley renters
had incomes of below $20,000. While this was similar to the citywide percentage, West
Berkeley renter households are larger, their per capita income level is lower. The over
300 Section 8 and publicly assisted rental units make up just under 20% of West
Berkeley rental units. The percentage of units in West Berkeley which are Section 8
assisted is more than double the citywide figure. Renters as a whole in West Berkeley
are heavily non-white-- whites make up only 32% of West Berkeley renters.
West Berkeley renters differ from citywide renters in other ways. Citywide, exactly 1/2
of renters live alone, with the Resident Survey indicating that another 20% of renter
households are unrelated adults living together. In West Berkeley, the leading group is
single parents, who make up 31% of renter households, more than double the citywide
percentage. The large percentage of Section 8 units (which are heavily but not
exclusively populated by single mothers) clearly contributes to this figure, but this
figure could only be reached with non-Section 8 renters as well. 33% of West Berkeley
renters live alone, and 21% are married couples--well above the citywide figure--and
indicating that renting can be a long term situation for some West Berkeley households.
West Berkeley renter households thus have more people-- averaging almost 2.4, as
against a citywide average of roughly 1.85.
West Berkeley renters paid lower rents than other Berkeley renters, but because of their
lower income, paid a higher percentage of their income in rent. The 1990 Census
showed a median rent in West Berkeley of approximately $335, as against $392
citywide. This statistic reflects both rent controlled and uncontrolled units. But the
Resident Survey showed that median West Berkeley renter was paying more than 30%
of her/his income for rent--the usual standard of overpayment. By contrast, in most
other sections of the city (including South Berkeley), the median percentage of income
paid for rent was 25% or less. For this reason, any decisions made to increase rent levels
in rent controlled units will have a particular impact on West Berkeley tenants, unless
measures are taken to mitigate their impacts.
2. Conditions in Rental Housing
West Berkeley renters were often dissatisfied with their housing. In a 1988 survey of
rent controlled units, 60% of West Berkeley renters said the condition of their unit was
fair or poor, as against 48% of renters citywide. When asked about the condition of
their building as a whole, West Berkeley renters were closer to the norm--39% rated
their building good or excellent, compared to 44% citywide.
Housing overcrowding is a significant problem in West Berkeley, with its large number
of children and larger households generally. Overcrowding is defined as a household
having more than 1 person per room (excluding bathrooms). The 1990 Census indicates
that 1 in 7 (14%) West Berkeley renter households were overcrowded, double the
citywide percentage (citywide less than 2% of owner-occupied units were
E. Growing Slowly--Housing Development in West Berkeley
Despite the largely built up character of West Berkeley, the amount of housing here has
continued to grow. The City's Housing Stock Changes Report, which is derived from
building permit records, shows that between 1978 and 1991, there was a net increase of
142 housing units, including live-work spaces. This took the total from 2,856 units to
2,998, a 5% increase. In the 1980's, publicly assisted development accounted for most
new housing in West Berkeley. The 1980's (until late in the decade) were a period of
little private multi-family housing construction in most of the Bay Area. In West
Berkeley, 62 units at Oceanview Gardens, 27 units in the Delaware St. Historic District1,
and 5 public housing units at 7th & Jones added a total of 94 publicly assisted units.
There are no current publicly assisted new construction projects as of August, 1993.2
III. Housing Development
A. Projected Development
In the 1990's, an increased level of private sector development is likely. In terms of
current activity, a live-work project of 17 units is now being completed for the 2100
block of 5th St. and 6th St. (4 units adjacent to it have also been approved), along with a
single large live-work unit at San Pablo & Murray.1 Two live-work units between 9th
and 10th off Grayson St. have been approved, along with 7 units (combined new
construction and warehouse conversion). The Redevelopment Agency is adding 2 units
(one conventional, one live-work) in the 4th St. area. These projects total 33 units.
Prospects for more housing over the 15 year Plan period appear good. Local developers
frequently express interest in West Berkeley sites, especially for live-work projects. San
Pablo Ave. has yet to attract major housing development interest. The Preferred Land
Use Concept notes the existence of 14 potential housing development sites in the Mixed
Use/Residential and Commercial zones. These sites could accommodate some 260
Second units in the residential areas could provide an additional source of housing,
with minimal neighborhood impact. However, West Berkeley's housing stock--often
consisting of small single story houses on small lots--is not always conducive to second
unit development. The Mixed Use/Residential zone, which often has somewhat larger
lots and houses, may in fact be the most promising area for such development.
B. West Berkeley's Increasing Contribution to Citywide Housing Development
The West Berkeley Plan Preferred Land Use Concept set a goal of adding at least 200
units over the Plan's 15 year life. This goal is based on the 1990 citywide Housing
Element middle scenario need figure of 1,200 privately developed (as opposed to
University or publicly assisted) units. The West Berkeley Plan area's 17% share of the
city's land area is applied to this figure, producing a goal of 200 units. The Preferred
Land Use Concept notes the existence of at least 14 potential housing development
sites--which could accommodate 260 units--in the Mixed Residential and Commercial
The Plan commits to increasing West Berkeley's share of citywide housing
development. If West Berkeley provides 17% of citywide housing production, that
would be a substantial increase in West Berkeley's historical share of citywide (non-
University) housing development. Over the 1972-1991 period, West Berkeley
contributed 131 net additional units, or 10% of net citywide growth in legal housing
units. West Berkeley's share of privately developed units was even lower.
The General Plan which is now being developed will identify appropriate locations
throughout Berkeley for housing development. Its analysis will review not only the
availability of vacant or "underutilized" land, but also consider where housing should
be developed in relationship to the availability of transit and other services.
IV. Social Services Issues
Analyzing social services generally means analyzing how people--typically low income
people--obtain basic human needs beyond the first fundamentals of food, clothing, and
shelter. Thus health care, education, recreation, child care, and technical services needed
to obtain other services (e.g. legal aid, translation assistance) are major elements of
social services. Income maintenance programs from Aid to Families with Dependent
Children (AFDC-- commonly termed "welfare") to Social Security are also social service
issues, but are completely controlled at higher levels of government and are thus
excluded from this analysis. It is beyond the scope of this analysis, and of the West
Berkeley Plan overall, to attempt a comprehensive analysis of social service needs.
These needs are too many, too various, and served by too many different public and
private agencies both inside and outside West Berkeley for comprehensive coverage
here (the Community Resources section of the Conditions, Trends, & Issues report for
General Plan provides an overview of service provision in Berkeley). Within the West
Berkeley Plan, the Economic Development Element discusses issues of (un)employment
and job training. The Physical Form Element speaks to open space and recreational
needs and facilities. The housing portion of this Element discusses a key service needed
Nonetheless, social service programs are important for many West Berkeley residents.
The City of Berkeley has also made a commitment, very unusual for California cities of
its size, to seek to provide needed social services to the extent possible. Therefore, this
Element generally discusses social service needs and provision, as they can be expected
to affect West Berkeley residents.
B. Methods for Obtaining Services--Income, Programs, and the Informal Sector
In order to assess the adequacy of services for West Berkeleyans, we must consider the
various ways such services are obtained by people who need them. There are 3 basic
ways people can obtain needed services--1) Buy them (using income); 2) Be formally
given them (benefiting from Programs); 3) Be given them informally by relatives,
friends, neighbors, fellow church members, etc. (the informal sector). In the case of
health care, people are also often given full or partial health insurance as a part of their
total compensation. It must be noted that middle and upper class people more
commonly buy these services rather than using free ones--e.g. seeing a private lawyer
rather than using Legal Aid. Regrettably, purchased services in the United States are
often better quality (and more accessible, if one has funds) than free ones, and do not
carry the stigma that free services often do. Thus, to a large extent, the best social
service program is measures to provide the income to households that allow them to
buy the services they need.
It should be noted that West Berkeley households gained 74% of their income through
wages and salaries (and self-employment), and only 6% from social security benefits
and 3% from public assistance benefits. In this sense job training programs-- primarily
discussed in the Economic Development Element--if successful can be a bridge to
increased access to services. This report will focus on free and subsidized social services
available to West Berkeleyans, since many of them do not have and may not gain
adequate income to purchase them.
The informal sector will be touched on, but not carefully analyzed, in this report. It is
virtually impossible to quantify the services people receive this way, especially through
personal contacts. In addition, the sense of "community" and "belonging" that such
organizations can generate when they are successful is central to many people's lives,
but certainly unquantifiable. A range of key voluntary service-providing organizations
such as churches, ethnic/regional associations, and labor unions will be noted.
However, West Berkeleyans do not restrict themselves just to those organizations west
of San Pablo Ave. Nor do West Berkeley based organizations serve only West Berkeley
residents. The connections between West and South Berkeley people and
organizations--such as churches--are often particularly strong.
C. The City's Role in Social Service Provision
Analysis of social service needs in West Berkeley and how adequately formal social
service programs fill them should occur in the context of analysis of the City's role in
social service provision. This is done to more accurately describe--in this document
which plans for City action--where the City might intervene in the social service system.
The City's role in this arena is different than in the other areas addressed in this Plan. In
housing, state law mandates that cities prepare a Housing Element and pursue policies
to create adequate housing. The City is the primary regulator for land use and urban
design decisions. In transportation, the City controls streets and parking, and has a
voice regarding state highways and regional planning. In economic development, the
City controls relatively few of the key variables, but has sought--like other cities--to
develop local tools for economic management such as the First Source Program.
In what are generally thought of social services (e.g. health, education, income
maintenance), the City is neither the primary governmental provider nor the primary
regulator. Many services are provided/regulated by state and federal agencies (e.g.
Social Security), although Alameda County is an important delivery agency for state
programs. One very key local agency delivering human services such as education and
child care is the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD). BUSD plans to seismically
retrofit and reopen Columbus School in West Berkeley, using funds from a bond issue
approved in June 1992. Anther important education job training agency is the Peralta
Community College District, whose Vista College is roughly 1 mile from the Plan area.
Nonetheless, Berkeley is very active as a city in social services. It is one of the few
California cities to retain a full service Health Department. While other California cities
spend an average of .2% of their General Fund on health care, Berkeley spends some 5%
on health. Berkeley has distributed clear, usable information on AIDS prevention while
the federal government has temporized. Berkeley also operates one of the most active
programs for the homeless of any California city. Berkeley uses the maximum permitted
amount of its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for social service
agencies. Through CDBG, the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), the Job
Training Partnership Act (JTPA) and other programs, the City of Berkeley in 1990-91
provided over $3.4 million in funds to 53 community-based agencies working in job
training, childcare, youth, senior and other social service fields. Thus, despite its lack of
mandate, and despite the serious state and federal funding cuts of the 1980's, Berkeley
has sought to fill the breach.
The City has for many years identified West Berkeley (along with South Berkeley) as a
target area for social service provision. On the map of Community
Services Facilities, the central part of West Berkeley is one of the locations where
service agencies are clustered, along with Downtown and South Berkeley. West
Berkeley's residential areas are part of the Neighborhood Strategy Area (NSA), where
CDBG funded programs must concentrate their efforts. Most of the City's affordable
housing programs are also targeted to West and South Berkeley, as the city's low
Figure 6-2: Community Services Facilities in West Berkeley (PDF 29.03KB)
D. Considering Needs--West Berkeley's Population
The adequacy of social services to West Berkeleyans is based on the needs these services
should meet. Unfortunately, a full needs assessment of the vast array of needs--from
AIDS care to youth counseling--is beyond the scope of this document. However, the
simple demographic facts about West Berkeley's population suggest an above average
need for a wide range of services.
A substantial proportion of West Berkeley residents are low income (see table 6-4); and
a very high proportion of West Berkeley children live in single-parent households. The
large number of single mothers makes the need for child care all the more pressing
(although two parent families also have child care needs). The non-English speaking
population needs bilingual services (primarily in Spanish, to a lesser extent in Asian
languages) across a range of service areas. Most importantly, the fact that perhaps a
majority of West Berkeley residents are low income means that their health care, child
care and other services are likely to be inadequate.
The majority of West Berkeley's population is not (Non-Hispanic) white. It is instead
(as is discussed elsewhere in this Element) black, Latino, and Asian. These groups have
historically had difficulty gaining access to adequate services--whether as a result of
typically low incomes, discrimination, or both. It seems safe to assume that West
Berkeley non- whites also suffer from such problems. There is also more data available
on these groups at a city, county, and state level than there is strictly within West
E. A Matrix of Care-- West Berkeley Social Service Agencies
For an American community of less than 8,000 souls, West Berkeley is unusually well
provided with a range of social service agencies. The City itself has developed a senior
center, a library (immediately east of San Pablo Ave. on University), and a health clinic
(see Map). BUSD operates Franklin School on San Pablo Ave. and a child care facility,
and is considering has committed itself to reopening Columbus School, where an after
school program currently operates. Adelante operates a job training center, as does the
Veterans Assistance Center, although both of these serve citywide and broader
clienteles. Oceanview Neighborhood Services is one of the agencies which operates a
feeding program in West Berkeley. In fact, West Berkeley has a fuller set of
social/public services than it does private commercial ones (see the Economic
In what we have called the informal sector, there are 13 churches in West Berkeley, 7 of
them Baptist. A Buddhist "fellowship" and the gay-oriented Metropolitan Community
Church (which shares facilities with another congregation) are among the churches.
Many West Berkeley residents attend church outside the area, particularly in South
Berkeley. While no unions are headquartered in West Berkeley, at least 15 union locals
represent workers at various West Berkeley locations. West Berkeley residents working
outside the area may also be union members, particularly if they work in
manufacturing, at grocery or department stores, or in the public sector (including the
V. Goals and Policies
Take all reasonable steps in housing policy to maintain and foster the social and
economic diversity of West Berkeley's residents
Diversity has been the touchstone of Berkeley's housing and social policies. West
Berkeley is the part of the city which is truly most diverse. West Berkeley houses many
people who would have difficulty finding housing elsewhere in Berkeley. West
Berkeley tenants in particular are overwhelmingly low income. Thus, to maintain
diversity both in West Berkeley and in Berkeley as a whole, policies which foster
diversity in West Berkeley are important. One of the key strategies for maintaining this
diversity is to maintain West Berkeley's stock of affordable rental housing.
1.1. In the context of citywide programs affecting historically low rents and rent control,
maintain the affordability of West Berkeley rental housing.
1.2 Avoid removing buildings which are serving as or have served as affordable rental
1.3 Provide housing assistance to West Berkeley tenants, as well as to lower income
Maintain the maximum level of social service provision in West Berkeley that City
resources will permit, to support the policy of maintaining diversity in West Berkeley
Many West Berkeley residents are low income, unemployed or poorly employed. Many
have limited English language proficiency. Therefore, they do not enjoy the same
access to health care, child care, and other important services that middle and upper
income people have. One important strategy to improve their access is to assist
residents in moving into better paid, better benefited jobs (see the Economic
Development Element). Nevertheless, (inter)national social realities mean that many
West Berkeleyans are likely to remain unemployed or in low wage jobs. Therefore, in
order to allow people in such jobs to remain in West Berkeley at all, and to improve
their quality of life, maximum feasible provision of services is central. This
responsibility falls on not only the City government, but the County, State, and Federal
government as well.
2.1. Assure that services are available to needy individuals in a language they can
Encourage the development of housing which provides on-site supportive services.
In recent years, increasing efforts have been made to develop housing which provides
on-site supportive services, such as child care, counseling, or cooked meals. This is one
of the most direct means to assure that people receive needed services. While such
services are needed throughout Berkeley, West Berkeley, with its large population who
speak limited English, and its high number of children, is particularly appropriate for
such housing. The City could provide direct financial support to such housing if funds
are available and/or modify zoning requirements to assist such projects.
Encourage appropriately scaled and located housing development.
West Berkeley must contribute to the citywide goal of adding housing units. The
commercial corridors--particularly San Pablo Ave.--and the Mixed Use/Residential
zone provide locations where this can be done without interfering with other Plan
goals. Indeed, housing in the Mixed Use/Residential zone will serve the positive
purpose of strengthening the residential character of that area's residential enclaves.
Similarly, housing on San Pablo Ave. will add vitality to its commercial activities.
Another appropriate housing form is second units added to single family houses
(although some West Berkeley lots are too small to allow convenient creation of a
second unit). This method of housing creation is specifically encouraged as a potential
"Community Program" to be supported from Miles' Community Program contribution
of $100,000 annually under its Development Agreement.
4.1. Develop planning incentives for housing at commercial "nodes." Such incentives
might include allowing the same parking spaces to serve both residential and
commercial uses in the building.
4.2. Encourage the creation of second units with single family houses in the Residential
and Mixed-Use Residential district. Develop policies to allow the waiver of parking
requirements for a second unit when appropriate.
Encourage the development of Live-Work Units in appropriate locations
Live-work units represent West Berkeley's unique contribution to housing Berkeley's
population. Live-work units, especially ones with modest prices or rents, can provide
housing for the artists and craftspeople who are so important to West Berkeley's
character. While some previous live-work projects have interfered with industrial
operations, the West Berkeley Plan designates areas for live-work where this should not
be the case. In these locations, the City should encourage live-work and recognize its
5.1. Support the development of live-work units in appropriate locations as set forth in
the Land Use Element under appropriate development standards.
5.2. Use "inclusionary" requirements for low income units or other means to assure that
live-work units serve their original population of low income artists and craftspeople.
VI. Implementation Measures
This Element does not have a general independent implementation section. While West
Berkeley presents its own unique economic, environmental, land use, transportation,
and design problems, its housing issues (with only 7% of the city's housing units) are
largely shared with South Berkeley and with the city as a whole. Issues of zoning for
residential use are discussed in the Land Use Element (live-work development, which is
concentrated in West Berkeley, is being considered in Zoning Ordinance amendments).
The implementation section is largely omitted here because there is only one housing
program which is unique to West Berkeley are being planned.
Miles Development Agreement Housing Programs
There is one source of funding which is at least 50% dedicated to West Berkeley--the
Miles Development Agreement Affordable Housing program. The Planning
Commission and City Council designated these funds for use in rehabilitating homes
owned by low income owners, and also for creation of second units if that is feasible.
The fund will provide $615,000 over 10 years. The City is currently in the process of
designing a program for use of these funds. In addition, Miles will be contributing
$100,000 per year for 10 years to a Community Programs fund, which can fund a broad
range of housing, social service, and youth programs. While these funds will not be
sufficient to start new housing programs in West Berkeley, they should make it easier to
implement the City's construction, rehabilitation, second unit, or other housing
City Housing Programs Generally
West Berkeley's housing programs will generally be those adopted in the 1990 Housing
Element, and such Citywide efforts as the multifamily housing acquisition program.
In general, the situation seems similar for social service provision issues. West Berkeley
tends to share social service problems and service providers with South Berkeley, and to
some extent the city at large. One special need is West Berkeleyans' greater need for
services in Spanish and to a lesser extent Asian languages. However, this is not a need
for a specific service per se, but rather a cross-cutting need for all services to be available
in a language the client can understand (see Goal 2, Policy A). The General Plan is
assessing the need for social services in Berkeley, and reviewing what geographic
models seem to be most effective, given the populations and needs in Berkeley.
The West Berkeley population, with its high percentages of low income renters, low and
moderate income homeowners, and non-traditional household forms, does lend special
weight to certain housing programs. One important note is that the concept of "housing
for families" must include rental housing in West Berkeley, since there are numerous
renting families. The expansion of property transfer tax coverage in the 1991 budget
was targeted for affordable housing programs, which should aid West Berkeley. In
addition to federal housing tax policy (the most important housing program in any
city), these are, in rough order of importance:
- Rent Stabilization and Eviction Control
- Section 8 housing assistance
- Rental Rehabilitation Program
- Low Income Weatherization Program
- Mortgage Credit Certificate Program
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