I. Strategic Statement
As West Berkeley grows and evolves, its need for efficient and environmentally sound
transportation increases. Intensification of land uses--the conversion of formerly
industrial sites to other uses--has strained the West Berkeley street and road system.
Traffic congestion has become a serious problem along some streets and at some major
intersections. Parking is adequate in many areas, but newly developed commercial and
retail areas are beginning to experience shortages. The level of transit ridership in West
Berkeley is lower than other parts of the City, reflecting both the historical ease of
parking there and the relatively poor transit service. As an area with a high rate of solo
commuting, the West Berkeley industrial and commercial area contributes more than its
"share" to automobile generated air pollution.
This Element, in conjunction with the Land Use and Environmental Quality Elements,
presents a strategy for maintaining and improving both the efficiency and
environmental soundness of transportation in West Berkeley. The Element foresees a
West Berkeley where the automobile is less dominant. The Element seeks a balance
between the moderate growth policies of the Preferred Land Use Concept and the
City's long term goals to limit street expansion and to accommodate growth through
expanded transit use and other non-automobile transportation. The Economic
Development Element's goal of increasing the proportion of Berkeley resident workers
would if successful also reduce the proportion of single occupant auto drivers. This
Transportation Element seeks:
- First of all to reduce the use of single occupant automobiles, with improvements in
public transit and private transit like employer shuttles, bike routes, and pedestrian
access. This is both a transportation and an air quality strategy.
- Minimize traffic congestion without creating the incentive for additional auto travel.
- Sensitively improve the street system to reduce congestion and to accommodate
current traffic patterns and changes in land use patterns.
- Protect local residential streets from through traffic.
- Maintain adequate parking consistent with the goal of reducing commuting by
The goals and policies in this element are best understood in the context of the current
transportation situation in West Berkeley. This section discusses the circulation system,
including both streets and other transportation networks, the travel patterns of West
Berkeley commuters, traffic growth and the causes of congestion, and anticipated
changes which will have an impact on the West Berkeley transportation system. This
section also discusses the concept of "Level of Service", one of the principal ways the
City and community can keep track of changes in the transportation system.
A. The West Berkeley Circulation Network
West Berkeley has the most varied circulation system of any area of the city. Within the
limits of West Berkeley are a major freeway, two state highways, major and minor local
streets, a rail line carrying both freight and passengers, as well as many local spurs,
sidewalks and bikeways. In addition to automobiles, the street system serves a
substantial volume of truck traffic, buses and transit vans. The numbers of pedestrians
and bicyclists, although small compared to other sections of town, are growing as West
1. Streets and Roads
West Berkeley's roadways are classified as follows:
Major streets--San Pablo Ave., Gilman St., University Ave., Ashby Ave.,
Collectors--Eastshore Hwy., 4th St., 6th-7th-Hollis, Cedar St., and Hearst-
Local streets--remaining streets.
The Freeway, major streets, and collectors are mapped on Figure 1. In addition to their
status as major streets in the City's classification system, San Pablo Ave. and Ashby
Ave. are both designated State Highways. San Pablo is State Route 123, Ashby is State
Route 13. Because they are State Highways, the California Department of
Transportation (Caltrans) controls many key decisions affecting these streets, such as
the installation of signals and crosswalks. As state highways, the state pays for the
maintenance and improvement of 123 and 13. The removal of Ashby from the State
Highway system was a stated goal of the City's 1977 Master Plan and is currently the
subject of a feasibility study to determine the long term costs and benefits to the City.
Parking is not technically part of the circulation network, but is obviously necessary if
an automobile circulation network is to function. The historic absence of a parking
problem is suggested by the fact that until the 1980's there was no parking requirement
for West Berkeley development. Recently, however, with intensified retail and other
development, areas with potential parking shortfalls have been identified in West
Berkeley. These are 2 very successful retail areas--4th & University and 7th & Ashby,
along with the 7th & Parker industrial/office area. The City, along with property
owners in the effected areas, has begun to explore possible solutions to the shortfalls.
As West Berkeley continues to develop, City policy must balance reasonable parking
needs with pursuit of a policy which will not attract excess cars, exacerbating traffic
3. Rail Service
The Southern Pacific railroad tracks are an important non-highway circulation element
in West Berkeley. They serve primarily as a freight route, but also carry S.P.'s passenger
trains running north to Oregon and Washington, east to Chicago, and South to Southern
California. In addition to long haul trains to these destinations the line serves several
short haul services to Sacramento. Only the short haul services stop in Berkeley, near
3rd and University.
The railroad restricts access in the northern part of West Berkeley, with University,
Hearst, Virginia, Cedar, Camelia, and Gilman being the only streets that cross it, while
other streets do not. West Berkeley is also filled with rail spurs once serving individual
plants and industries. Now many, but not all, of the spurs are unused, but the
abandoned tracks present and real hindrance to pedestrian and bicycle travel, and an
inconvenience to cars and trucks.
4. Transit and Shuttles
West Berkeley's transit service has improved, but it remains among the poorest of any
economically active area of Berkeley. AC Transit operates frequent service along
University Ave. (route 51) and San Pablo Ave. (#72). Other lines run less frequently --
Gilman/6th St. (#9), Ashby Ave. (#6), Dwight Way (#65), and San Pablo/Cedar St.
(#52). There is no all day bus along job- rich 7th St. south of Dwight. Routes 9, 51, and
65 converge at the Berkeley rail station, though waiting arrangements are poor. There is
no BART station in West Berkeley and no bus line which goes from West Berkeley to
the North Berkeley BART station, the station closest to much of West Berkeley. There
are buses from (south) West Berkeley to Ashby BART and (north and central) West
Berkeley to Downtown Berkeley BART. To go from most West Berkeley locations to
most other East Bay locations by transit requires at least one transfer and sometimes
more. In addition, recent gains in AC Transit service may erode, as the agency faces a
funding shortfall of up to $18 million in its 1992/93 budget of $100 million.
There is some privately provided transit service in West Berkeley. A few large
employers (for example, Kaiser and Miles) provide shuttle service for their employees
to BART stations. A voluntary organization of employers, the Gateway Transportation
Management Association (TMA) is working to expand and improve this service and
well as to find other ways for employers to work cooperatively to solve transportation
problems. In August, 1993, the City received a grant from the Air Quality District to
initiate a shuttle that would connect several large employers to BART.
Frequent transit service geared toward commuters is currently limited to buses
although business travelers are beginning to use the new San Jose-Sacramento service
which stops in Berkeley.
Figure 5-2: West Berkeley Transit Map (PDF 27.89KB)
5. Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation
Outside of a few enclaves (notably around 4th & Hearst, and San Pablo & University),
West Berkeley could not be called bicycle or pedestrian-friendly. Large streets with
heavy traffic and (generally) few street trees do not invite the walker or the cyclist. The
entrances to Aquatic Park are somewhat obscure, and the pedestrian/bicycle crossing to
the Marina across I-80 is difficult to follow and potentially hazardous. In some cases
sidewalks are narrowed or absent. Paving is often poor, and negotiating railroad tracks
(abandoned or operating) can be difficult.
At present, designated bikeways are limited to 9th St. north of Dwight, Bancroft and
Channing Way, and Gilman St. The 1977 Master Plan envisions the existing bikeway
network expanded to Aquatic Park, as well as linked by shoreline trails to North
Waterfront Park. A study proposing revisions of the bikeway system in West Berkeley
and throughout the city is expected in late 1993.
The City has begun to take action, particularly in the Redevelopment Area (bounded by
University, Cedar, I-80, and 6th St.), to improve the pedestrian environment. The
Agency plans to plant street trees along those major streets in the Area which do not
already have them. It is also planning to designate parts of 5th and 4th St. as a
"pedestrian pocket", and will install sidewalks on the parts of 5th St. which do not have
B. Potential Changes to Transit Service and the Circulation Network by Regional
Several important changes can be anticipated around West Berkeley in the next few
years. First, Caltrans has begun a major project to add a High Occupancy Vehicle
(HOV) lane on I-80 in each direction from the Bay Bridge to Route 4 in Richmond.
Although the City has not succeeded in forcing Caltrans to redo the 1984 EIR studying
the impacts of the project, the City's continued pressure has caused major changes in the
project. One significant change is that the lanes are to be designated for high occupancy
vehicles all day--not just at the peak hours. Construction on I- 80 may require San Pablo
Ave. to take additional load during a 3-4 year construction period, although no freeway
lanes will be closed during the construction. Caltrans has worked with the cities and
counties on the corridor to develop improvements and expanded transit service to help
mitigate any negative impacts the construction will have. In addition a "mobile
commute store" along the lines of a catering truck will be providing transit information
and tickets to West Berkeley workers as part of the I-80 mitigation's.
West Frontage Road will be significantly changed in the next few years. It will be
reduced from three lanes to two and the extra space used to create a bicycle/pedestrian
path completely separate from traffic. The intersections at Ashby, University, and
Gilman with West Frontage Road will remain largely unchanged so it should be capable
of carrying as much traffic as it does now--although at a slower speed.
Rail service on the Southern Pacific line has increased. The "Capital Rail Service"
recently added four daily trips between Sacramento and San Jose. There is interest in
establishing frequent service aimed toward commuters on this line, although there is no
current funding for it. Frequent commuter trains would have both a positive and
negative impact on West Berkeley, in that it would provide transit service to West
Berkeley but would also further disrupt the existing street system.
Two developments at AC Transit may have an effect on West Berkeley. First, as
discussed above, AC's precarious operating budget may mean that there will be
cutbacks on current bus service to West Berkeley. This would make it difficult to
achieve the plan objective of reducing auto traffic. On the other hand, AC is also
studying eventual electrification of some of their more heavily used corridors--San
Pablo Ave. among them. Electrification could offer more frequent and convenient
service but it is unlikely to be implemented within the next decade even if found to be
feasible. Some kinds of electrification (like the light rail line recommended for San
Pablo Ave. might require replacing one or more auto lanes. In addition to the
electrification of AC's lines, regional agencies will be looking at the possibility of re-
electrification of lines across the Bay Bridge.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission--in a region wide study of potential ferry
routes--recommended that ferry service be established from West Berkeley (Gilman St.)
to San Francisco. The study in fact cited Berkeley as the location which has the greatest
potential for ferry commuting of any new site in the Bay Area. Gilman St. was chosen
because of the presence of Caltrans owned parking lots, and because the proximity of
Golden Gate Fields would encourage "reverse commuter" ridership to the horse races. A
great deal of fundraising, planning, and environmental assessment will need to be done
if this recommendation is to become a reality.
Not all of these projects and ideas will come to fruition. However, if only a few do it
will change the transportation system in West Berkeley significantly.
C. West Berkeley Commuting Patterns
Analysis of West Berkeley commute patterns is hampered by the fact that the most
recent available comprehensive data for West Berkeley specifically is from the 1980
Census (1990 data is available for the city as a whole). That data suggests that people
working in West Berkeley live farther away from their jobs than other Berkeley workers,
and that they are more likely to drive alone to their jobs than other Berkeley workers.
While slightly over half of all Berkeley workers (54%) drove alone to work in 1980, in
West Berkeley over 2/3 did (68%). Berkeley and Albany residents represented a mere
18% of the West Berkeley workforce, but 39% of the Citywide total. West Berkeley
conversely drew a greater proportion of its workforce (than the city as a whole) from
other parts of the Bay Area--Western Contra Costa County, Southern Alameda County,
San Francisco, etc. West Berkeley workers were more likely to carpool than overall
Berkeley workers (21% vs. 16%). Thus only 11% of West Berkeley workers took transit,
biked, or walked to their jobs, compared to 30% of Citywide workers.
This difference in residence in significant part explains the greater propensity to drive
alone to West Berkeley. Local residents are far more likely to walk, bike, or take transit
to work than are residents of farther away cities. However, this difference is not as great
in West Berkeley as in better transit served parts of the city such as Downtown. West
Berkeley is also relatively easy to drive to--just off the freeway, with free parking often
awaiting the worker at the jobsite. Transit is relatively difficult--no BART station,
transit lines connecting only to a few points. Thus efforts to improve the West Berkeley
commute pattern must seek to both increase local employment, and shift the mode of
D. Traffic and Congestion
1. Traffic Growth
Figure 5-3 Average Daily Trips, Percentage Increase 1977 - 1987 (PDF 28.99KB)
Traffic in West Berkeley has increased in recent years. Between 1977 and 1987, traffic
increased in varying amounts along virtually every West Berkeley Major Street. In
addition demolition of the Cypress structure has changed traffic patterns, apparently
adding traffic on San Pablo Ave. and other major north-south routes. Traffic generally
increased faster in West Berkeley than in other parts of Berkeley, both because streets in
other parts of the City were already full and because West Berkeley is changing faster
than other parts of town.
There are several reasons for the growth of traffic in West Berkeley. Car ownership and
auto use have increased everywhere in California, including all of Berkeley. These
effects are related largely to social and economic factors, including such diverse changes
as increased household income, the entrance of women into the workforce, and the
dispersal of workplaces to the suburbs.
Simple population growth in the Bay Area--in Emeryville, in Richmond, and other
cities, especially those along the I-80 corridor--is another cause of increased traffic. The
approximately 35% increase of traffic along I-80 is a particularly clear indicator of
regional effects, although other streets are impacted by it as well.
Intensification of land use in West Berkeley is another reason, particularly for traffic
growth in local areas such as 4th & Hearst. As figure 2 indicates, Hearst St. west of 6th
experienced an 128% increase in traffic from 1977 to 1987, far above the increase on
most streets. The doubling of traffic on 7th St. south of Dwight presumably results from
both commercial growth around 7th & Ashby and activity in Emeryville, particularly
along the Hollis St. corridor.
Regional growth is likely to continue to contribute to traffic growth. Between 1985 and
2010, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) projects a 39% increase in
regional population (223,000 additional residents) along the I-80 corridor from Berkeley
to Fairfield. Over the same period, ABAG projects a 43% increase in employment
(96,000 additional jobs) in this corridor. In Berkeley's immediate vicinity, Emeryville
plans to add hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail and office space immediately
south of Powell St. Plaza and on Catellus land in southern Emeryville (and West
Oakland), and hundreds of housing units at the former Del Monte Cannery on Powell
St. The Albany Waterfront, currently largely occupied by Golden Gate Fields, is a very
large site which may well experience more intense development, although plans are not
yet determined. Figures 5-3 and 5-4 relate to the growth in traffic in Berkeley since
Figure 5-4: 24 Hour Traffic Volumes, 1977 and Figure 5-5: 24 Hour Traffic Volumes, 1987 (PDF 87.84KB)
2. Operation of West Berkeley Intersections
Whenever a major project is proposed, whenever Caltrans proposes changing
signalization on a state highway, whenever an EIR is done (including for the West
Berkeley Plan), Level of Service Calculations are made for affected intersections.
Through information gathered in this way we know that there are a number of
intersections in West Berkeley which are already operating below the desirable Level of
D (see next section for explanation), at least at their peak hour of afternoon traffic
(although not necessarily other times). There may be others, as yet unstudied, which
are also operating at E or F.
a. City Action against Congestion--Opportunities & Constraints
While the City can and does seek to minimize traffic congestion, there are important
limitations on its ability to do so. The City has the most direct control over the portion
of traffic growth which comes from new development in Berkeley. Control over traffic
growth resulting from development elsewhere or from increasing levels of car
ownership and usage is very indirect.
There are several ways municipalities attempt to control congestion. One way is to
control congestion by increasing the capacity of the street system to keep up with
projected increases in traffic or development. Another way is to seek to limit traffic
growth through limiting development either in quantify or in type to that which
produces little or no traffic. Lastly, municipalities can secure "mitigations" from
development in the form of agreements to influence employee or client travel behavior
away from automobile travel. For West Berkeley, all methods have potential
Increasing street capacity to deal with congestion has soon lead many East Bay
communities to create giant intersections--often eight to ten lanes across a single leg
since multiple turn lanes are a common congestion reliever. The size of these
intersections makes pedestrian use impossible or unpleasant and can mean the
destruction of surrounding buildings in order to gain space for them. Measure S--a
citizen passed advisory measure-- opposed street widening as a way to reduce
congestion. Berkeley has been very restrained in increasing street capacity through
The City can attempt to check traffic congestion by controlling the level of development
in West Berkeley. Indeed, the Preferred Land Use Concept lays out a moderate growth
scenario for West Berkeley. The Plan's projections site a potential net increase of some
1,800,000 square feet (residential and non-residential), on an existing base of over
approximately 12,000,000 built square feet. The major traffic impact would come from
the 680,000 square feet of projected office and laboratory growth, and the 325,000 square
feet of added retail space.
In addition, the City will attempt to mitigate the impact of all traffic producing
development through encouraging West Berkeley travelers to use alternatives to the
solo automobile. Mitigation agreements are incorporated into new development in
several ways--through the EIR process, through permit conditions, or through
development agreements. The City's efforts have been strengthened and extended to
existing employers through the adoption of a "Trip Reduction Ordinance" requiring that
all employers conduct information campaigns about alternative travel modes. In
addition, regional air quality regulations will soon require all large employers in the
Bay Area to meet goals related to reducing the number of commuters traveling by auto.
b. Measuring Traffic Congestion-the Concept of Level of Service
Level of Service (LOS) has become the commonly accepted method for cities and other
agencies to keep track of congestion. LOS calculations can be used in many ways
including to compare congestion at the same location over time, to compare two
locations, to anticipate the operation of a street in the future, and to compare how
alternative projects will impact a street system. LOS is analogous to grades in school.
Like grades Levels of Service range from A to F (but with E added). Also like grades,
there are several different ways to compute Levels of Service and without knowing how
two particular Levels Of Service were computed, one cannot know how they really
The interpretation of the meaning of A, B, C, D, E, and F in level of service is less
straightforward than the interpretation of school grades.
LOS A represents completely free flow--no impediment to speedy travel. On a freeway
it would mean a nearly empty lane; at an intersection it would mean sailing through on
the green light nearly all the time. LOS B and C represent slightly more crowded
conditions. In all but the least crowded rural areas and suburbs, or least successful
commercial districts, it is difficult to build major streets large enough to operate at A, B,
or C, at least at the rush hour. LOS D is often cited as a desirable "minimum operating
condition" for intersections or streets, and was recommended as a city-wide standard
for collectors, arterials, and key intersections in advisory measure S, passed by the
voters in 1988. LOS D might be considered the most cost-effective balance between an
investment in street capacity and the inconvenience of some delay in travel. LOS E is
where an intersection or traffic lane is handling all the traffic it can. In a sense it is the
most "productive" Level of Service, although to the individual traveler it can be
frustratingly slow. For example, on a freeway, LOS E occurs when traffic is traveling at
a steady speed of about 35 miles per hour. LOS E is also unstable and can degenerate to
LOS F quickly. Level F is failure, just as in a normal grading system. It represents
jammed conditions--stop and go on the freeway, or waiting through several lights to get
through an intersection.
In order to make comparisons, traffic engineers have codified the calculation of Level of
Service into equations which include a number of factors, commonly and principally the
volume of traffic on a lane or through an intersection, and the configuration of the street
or intersection. It is important when making comparisons across time or location that
the same equations be used and the factors be interpreted consistently.
It is also important to remember that LOS is a moving target. Automobile drivers are
continually seeking uncongested routes. Left to their own devices they soon find
alternatives to intersections or road operating at LOS E or F. Thus, roads operating at
A, B, C, or D may attract enough traffic to become E or F themselves.
c. LOS Standards and Measuring Success against Congestion
When the Preferred Land Use Concept was drafted, the goal of the West Berkeley Plan
Committee was to maintain intersection performance at or above Level of Service D.
However, further analysis demonstrated that this goal was infeasible, and not
necessarily desirable. Restoring the 9 intersections known at that time to rate below
LOS D to a D rating was estimated to cost at least $3.1 million in 1991 dollars. If other
intersections were to be found to be performing poorly, additional costs would be
incurred. Most of these projects, since they relieve existing congestion, would have to be
paid for with City funds or an assessment on current landowners. In general
developers are required to pay to mitigate their contribution to future congestion, or to
maintain an existing level of service.
In addition, the likely increases of traffic originating in Emeryville and other
communities outside Berkeley may also make it difficult to maintain LOS D. In this
regard however, the City will be helped by new state "congestion management"
requirements which will require communities to report anticipated traffic impacts on
other communities to county Congestion Management Agencies.
For these reasons, the Plan moved to a more nuanced approach. It uses LOS D as a
standard for those intersections which are currently performing at or above that level.
For intersections already performing below that level, it uses the standard that these
intersections not be degraded below LOS E as a result of development in Berkeley, and
that intersections performing at F be upgraded to at least E.
III. Goals and Policies
Improve traffic flow and air quality by reducing reliance on single occupant
automobiles, by encouraging use of alternatives means of transportation
West Berkeley is one of the most automobile-dependent parts of the city. People
working in West Berkeley are 30% more likely than their counterparts citywide to drive
alone to work. There is no BART station within the area, and no direct transit
connection to the nearby North Berkeley BART station. This is a particular problem
because of the high proportion of long distance commuters into West Berkeley. AC
Transit has improved service, but it is still less extensive in West Berkeley than in other
parts of the city. Improvements in transit service, the use of carpooling, and other
means of transportation can reduce single occupant automobile trips and air emissions,
and perhaps ultimately free land used for parking for other purposes.
1.1 Seek trip reduction--reduction of single occupant automobile trips--through a
variety of education and regulatory efforts including implementation of a City of
Berkeley Trip Reduction Ordinance, cooperation with the Air Quality Management
District's transportation control measures, conditions on development and other
1.2 Monitor and regulate (in the policy framework established by the West Berkeley
Plan) the amount and location of added development, intensified land use, and added
parking in West Berkeley so that development in West Berkeley does not exceed
transportation system capacity.
1.3 Seek the improvement of AC Transit service to and within West Berkeley, with one
objective being the creation of a transit hub at the Berkeley train station.
1.4 Encourage AC Transit to reduce bus emissions
1.5 Encourage transit usage and improve amenities for riders by providing bus stop
benches and bus shelters.
1.6 Through the Transportation Management Association, individual companies, and
other appropriate mechanisms, improve shuttle service from West Berkeley to BART
stations and to Downtown Berkeley.
1.7 Find ways to make information about transit, carpooling, and other alternatives to
driving more easily available to West Berkeley workers and residents.
1.8 Take aggressive action to develop an adequate Berkeley train station near University
Ave. for San Jose--Sacramento and other long distance service.
1.9 Over the long run, cooperate with Caltrans, the Alameda County Congestion
Management Agency, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to create direct
bus access from Berkeley freeway entrances to any HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes
1.10 Support programs to increase the share of West Berkeley jobs held by Berkeley
resident workers, as a means of reducing automobile use (see Economic Development
Minimize traffic at West Berkeley intersections to the extent consistent with other plan
goals and city policies.
Traffic congestion has worsened in West Berkeley in recent years. Deteriorating "Levels
of Service" at intersections--showing longer times to pass through the intersection--are
indicators of this problem. The deterioration is unsurprising, given that more traffic is
attempting to flow through a street system which has received little improvement in
recent decades. This traffic stems from Berkeley development and development in
neighboring cities, as well as in large part from a regionwide increase in the use of cars.
In future years, Berkeley can seek to control congestion through controlling its own
development (and seeking to influence to our neighbors'). Street system improvements,
however, are constrained both by cost and by long term city policies including our
Master Plan and Measure S. Level of Service goals are set for signalized intersections--
at unsignalized intersections cars on side streets seeking to turn (particularly left) onto
the main street almost inevitably experience waits, generating low LOS ratings.
Congestion management must be handled carefully, however, to assure that it does not
induce more people to drive alone to and through West Berkeley than otherwise would
2.1 At those signalized intersections where intersection performance is currently rated
at Level of Service (LOS) "D" or better, do not allow intersection performance to fall
below LOS D.
2.2 At those signalized intersections where intersection performance is currently rated
below LOS "D", prevent these intersections from falling below LOS "E" as a result of
development in Berkeley. If intersections are already below "E", take necessary
measures to improve performance to at least LOS "E".
2.3 Install and improve traffic control devices such as signals, turn lanes, and turn
arrows which will speed and smooth traffic flows along major streets.
2.4 Improve the street maintenance program as a means of facilitating traffic flow.
2.5 Seek to reduce the impact of regional traffic on West Berkeley, by working with
Albany, Emeryville, and other cities and agencies.
Improve the circulation system where necessary, particularly around Ashby Ave.
With streets that were laid out many years ago and properties largely built up, there is
little room or reason to change the basic features of West Berkeley's circulation system,
the streets themselves. One area where change may be possible is around Ashby Ave.,
where there is an unusually thin network of streets handling heavier and heavier traffic.
The area surrounding 7th & Ashby, especially the area north of Ashby, has developed
rapidly in recent years. The growth of retail stores such as Whole Earth Access, and the
creation of offices and laboratories (along with background regional traffic growth) has
generated congested conditions in the area. While recent improvements (such as a left
turn light at 7th & Ashby) have improved conditions, the circulation system remains
poor. 7th St. is the only through street (and the only signalized street) which intersects
Ashby between the Freeway and San Pablo, placing a heavy burden on it. Therefore,
diverting traffic onto streets such as 5th St. and 9th St., and possibly extending them,
should be explored. The emphasis on the Ashby Ave. vicinity is not meant to exclude
the possibility of improvements elsewhere. Rather it implies that plans and possibilities
for street improvements have been more solidly identified here than elsewhere.
More remotely, the area between Gilman St. and the Albany border, Eastshore and the
railroad tracks (3rd St.) may bear reexamination. The City of Albany views its lands to
the north of this area (but which are accessed by Gilman St.) as important potential
development sites, which may generate more traffic.
3.1 Develop and implement strategies to reduce traffic congestion at the intersection of
7th & Ashby.
3.2 Assess the implications of opening 9th St. between Heinz St. and Anthony St.
Consider the possible impacts of this on local streets in the Grayson area and on rail
service on the 9th St. rail spur, and how these could be mitigated.
3.3 Actively explore the extension of 5th St.--on some alignment-- from Potter St. to
3.4 Work with the City of Albany to review existing circulation conditions and potential
impact of projects in the area west of the railroad tracks and north of Gilman.
Create and maintain adequate parking to support West Berkeley land use without
creating increased incentives for single occupant automobile use.
Historically, parking was not a major problem in West Berkeley, but this has changed in
recent years. Originally industrial buildings, often initially built with little or no parking
space, have been converted to retail and office use, intensifying parking demand. These
areas may well need centralized parking facilities. While meeting expanding parking
needs is important, it is also important not to provide so much free parking that people
are encouraged to drive more than they would otherwise (a la suburban shopping
malls). Therefore, the policies call for consideration of parking charges in some
4.1 Actively pursue opportunities for the creation of centralized parking facilities in the
4th & University, 7th & Parker, and 7th & Ashby areas, and other locations in which
they prove to be needed.
4.2 Seek to preserve needed parking in and near commercial districts for short term,
rather than long term parking.
4.3 If necessary, protect the availability of parking in residential neighborhoods through
Residential Permit Parking programs.
4.4 Where necessary and feasible, work with developers of new buildings to institute
charges for parking.
4.5 Where necessary and feasible, work with owners and managers of existing
businesses to institute charges for parking.
Protect local residential streets from through traffic
Local residential streets are streets dominated by residential land use which are not
major streets or collectors. Because of the proximity of West Berkeley residential areas
to industrial and commercial areas, local streets here are somewhat more vulnerable to
intrusive through traffic than in other parts of the city. Such through traffic can cause
safety problems for pedestrians and bicyclists, and could conceivably lead to a spill of
hazardous materials. The City has already taken some action to improve the situation
by amending the Truck Route Ordinance to prohibit large trucks on local residential
streets in the northern part of the residential core.
5.1 Adopt and implement a revised Truck Route Ordinance.
5.2 Improve and install traffic control devices--such as traffic signals, stop signs, full or
partial barriers, and others--which will inhibit through traffic on local residential streets,
while providing bicycle access where needed.
Improve pedestrian and bicycle access in and around West Berkeley
From the environmental standpoint of reducing single occupant autos, good pedestrian
and bicycle access is key. Yet many parts of West Berkeley are unnecessarily
"unfriendly" for pedestrians and bicycles. Some streets with significant numbers of
residents have no sidewalks. Bikeways are little known and poorly marked. These
conditions need to be improved.
6.1 Develop and implement a bikeway plan for West Berkeley, using information
developed during the West Berkeley Plan development, which would define bike routes
and suggest needed capital improvements to make these routes bikeways.
6.2 Complete the sidewalk system in locations where sidewalks would be used.
6.3 Require appropriate levels of bicycle parking in new developments.
6.4 Develop an improved bicycle/pedestrian connection across I-80 from West Berkeley
to the Marina
IV. Implementation Measures
A. Ordinance and Regulatory Changes
Note: Please see the Appendix for recommended changes in parking standards.
Funding Sources are possible sources.
1. Trip Reduction Ordinance--Pass Citywide Ordinance to decrease the percentage of
people driving alone through programs at larger employers, initially through the
provision of information on commute alternatives to employees. The Ordinance should
implement the Bay Area Air Quality Management District program when that program
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 1; Policies 1.1, 1.6, 1.7, 1.10
Responsibility: City Planning Department, Berkeley TRIP (contract agency)
Funding Sources/Status: Employers, Motor Vehicle Registration fees (AB 434), Measure
B funds. Ordinance and BAAQMD Regulation passed.
2. Bikeway Redesignations--Revise the system of bikeways in and around West
Berkeley so that they more effectively and safely serve residents and workers.
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 6; Policies 6.1,6.4
Responsibility: City Planning Department with Public Works (Traffic Engineering)
Funding Sources/Status: Miles Development Agreement, TDA Article 3 for capital
improvement, Prop. 116 grants. Bikeway study recommending route changes is being
B. Projects--Capital Improvements and Other
1. Employee Shuttles--Work with the West Berkeley Transportation Management
Association to increase shuttle service from West Berkeley companies to BART, and
other employer-based transit options.
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 1; Policies 1.1,1.5
Responsibility: City Planning Department, Transportation Management Assn. (TMA)
Funding Sources/Status: Caltrans funding for start-up phase of TMA. BAAQMD has
provided operational grant for shuttle, to be matched by West Berkeley employers.
Shuttle to start-up in late '93.
2. Transit improvements--Work with AC Transit to maintain and improve transit
service in West Berkeley. Objectives for transit service provision include:
- Frequent service (every 15 minutes or more during weekday daytimes) on San Pablo
Ave., 6th/7th St., Gilman St., University Ave., Dwight Way, Ashby Ave.
- In conjunction with employee shuttles, improved transit from West Berkeley
employment centers to BART stations.
Shopper-oriented service from West Berkeley to Downtown Berkeley
- The need and demand for additional service from other areas (such as the Berkeley
Hills) should be explored. The City should work with AC Transit in whatever
assessments (and subsequent implementation) it makes concerning the feasibility and
desirability of ferries to West Berkeley and light-rail service on San Pablo and/or
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 1; Policy 1.3
Responsibility: City Planning Department, AC Transit, BART
Funding Sources/Status: Costs not yet analyzed, funds not yet identified
3. Freeway reconfiguration--Work with Caltrans to reconfigure entrances to I-80 at
University Ave. to improve bicycle/pedestrian access to the Marina and at Ashby Ave.
to reduce the impact on Aquatic Park. When High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane is
constructed, work with Caltrans to assure that buses have direct access from streets to
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goals 1,6; Policy 1.9,6.4, also Urban Design, Historic
Preservation & Open Space Element goals and policies)
Responsibility: City Planning Department, Caltrans
Funding Sources/Status: State of California on application by Alameda Co. Congestion
Management Agency, MTC. City beginning discussions with Caltrans on Aquatic Park
4. Bikeway improvements--Improve the visibility and usability of existing and
proposing bikeways by adding markings and signs, repairing pavement, and removing
abandoned railroad spurs.
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 6, Policy 6.1
Responsibility: City Planning Dept., Public Works (Traffic Engineering)
Funding Sources/Status: Miles Development Agreement, TDA Article 3 for capital
improvement, Prop. 116 grants. No comprehensive program of improvements
5. Bicycle facilities--Install bicycle facilities, such as storage racks and/or parking
lockers at key destinations such as major retail areas, public facilities, and recreational
sites. The Train Station would be a likely installation area in West Berkeley.
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 6, Policy 6.1
Responsibility: City Planning Department and Public Works (Traffic -Engineering)
Funding Sources/Status: Miles Development Agreement, TDA Article 3 for capital
improvement, Prop. 116 grants.
6. Improvements for pedestrians--In order to improve the West Berkeley environment
for pedestrians, in situations where there is or could be significant pedestrian use, install
sidewalks where none exist and improve sidewalks, crosswalks, and wheelchair ramps
where they are inadequate. Eliminate sidewalk parking. Concentrate on reinforcing
commercial districts and nodes such as 4th & University, 7th & Ashby, San Pablo &
University, San Pablo & Dwight, and San Pablo & Ashby. As a first step, install
pedestrian improvements in the Redevelopment Area (see also Urban Design Element)
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 6, Policy 6.2
Responsibility: City Planning Department, Public Works (Engineering), Redevelopment
Funding Sources/Status: Redevelopment tax increment, outside Redevelopment Area
TDA Article 3. Redevelopment Area improvements being constructed, no
comprehensive program outside Redevelopment Area.
7. 5th St. Extension--Seriously assess the possibility of extending 5th St. from Potter St.
to Ashby Ave. as a congestion relief measure, particularly in the context of development
proposals on the Oscar Krenz site.
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goals 2,3; Policy 3.3
Responsibility: Public Works (Traffic Engineering) with City Planning Dept.
Funding Sources/Status: Costs not yet analyzed, funds not yet identified
8. Street System Improvements--Identify and implement street system improvements
necessary to achieve and maintain Plan traffic congestion and Level of Service goals.
Actions could include changes to signal timing, traffic controls, turn lanes, and
elimination or reduction of curbside parking.
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goals 2,3,5; Policies 2.1,2.2,2.3,5.2
Responsibility: Public Works (Traffic Engineering) with City Planning Dept.
Funding Sources/Status: Miles Development Agreement for southern area, future
development mitigation's. 7th & Parker projects under development.
1. Train Station Design Concept--Develop design concept in order to gain construction
funding for a new train station in the vicinity of 3rd & University. The station should
serve as a transit hub, as well as a gateway to West Berkeley and the Marina. Design
should occur in the context of the Central West Berkeley Specific Plan (see Land Use
Goals and Policies Implemented Goal 1, Goal 6; Policies 1.2, 1.7
Responsibility: City Planning Department, with Redevelopment Agency
Funding Sources/Status: Capital funds from state rail bonds.
2. Centralized Parking Demand and Cost Analysis--Analyze the physical and financial
feasibility (including demand, traffic patterns, conceptual design) of creating centralized
parking structures/facilities, initially concentrating on 3 areas: 1) 4th & University; 2)
7th & Parker (per Miles Development Agreement); and 3) 7th & Ashby.
Goals and Policies Implemented:
Responsibility: Community Development Department, with City Planning Department,
Public Works (Traffic Engineering)
Funding Sources/Status: Study underway, fall 1993.
3. Aquatic Park Access Study--Study and assess alternatives for improving vehicular,
bicycle, and pedestrian access to Aquatic Park, particularly the southern end of the
park. This would be an implementation study for the Aquatic Park Master Plan.
Alternatives could include extension of streets across the railroad right-of-way and/or
creation of grade-separated (e.g. elevated) crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists (see
also Urban Design, Historic Preservation and Open Space Element
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 6, Policy 6.1
Responsibility: Public Works (Parks/Marina, Traffic Engineering) and City Planning
Funding Sources/Status: Not yet identified, funding from developers of adjacent sites
4. 9th St. Connection Study--Study the feasibility of connecting 9th St. between
Anthony St. and Heinz St., so as to provide a connection to Ashby Ave. Consider how
this would be compatible with existing railroad spur operations, and how this
connection would relate to the Grayson Mixed Use/Residential area.
Goals and Policies Implemented: Goal 3, Policy 3.2
Responsibility: City Planning and Public Works (Traffic Engineering) Departments
Funding Sources/Status: Miles Development Agreement, Study not yet initiated
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