Southside Plan Land Use and Housing Element

Draft Amendments

Note to Reviewers:  This is the latest version of the Land Use and Housing Element. This version has been translated from Publisher software to MSWord, and as a result, many graphics were temporarily dropped in the conversion between software's,  but will be returned in the final draft, as applicable.

This draft  represents an attempt to incorporate the recommendations of the Land Use and Housing Working Group into the Draft Southside Land Use and Housing Element. Some additional changes were also made to reflect comments from other Southside Working Groups that addressed issues common to the Land Use Element, such as open space and safety.  Members of the Working Group are encouraged to review the changes and to comment on whether the changes reflect the intentions of the Working Group.

Throughout the document there are other “Notes to Reviewers”.  These “notes” will always be in italics to differentiate them from the policy text. They will not be included in the final drafts of this document. They represent the opinions, suggestions, or concerns of the staff working on this document. They are for the purpose of identifying potential problems or improvements.  They have not been reviewed by the working group and do not represent the opinion of the working group.


IV.  Objectives and policies
The land use and housing policies recommended in this Plan are intended to guide new development and land use changes in the Southside in a manner that is sensitive to the existing land use patterns while meeting the expansion and development needs of its many property owners. The policies are informed by a recognition of the diverse mix of land uses that exist and will continue to exist in the Southside, the need for new housing near the University, the desirability of infill development, and the many public comments received during this planning process.

The land use objectives and policies are organized around the following goals:

  • Create additional housing in the Southside for both students and year-round residents, built by the University, the private sector, student cooperatives, non-profits or a combination of these groups working in partnership;
  • Encourage the construction of infill buildings, particularly new housing and mixed-use developments, on suitable sites. Suitable sites that are the highest priority for redevelopment and reuse in the Southside include in order of priority:
  1. Vacant properties,
  2. Surface parking lots and single level parking garages on Bancroft, Durant, and Telegraph Avenue,
  3. Properties with single story structures that are not historically significant resources on Bancroft, Durant, and Telegraph,
  4. Surface parking lots and single level parking lots on all other streets, and
  5. Properties with single story structures that are not historically significant resources on all other streets
  • Protect and conserve the unique physical, historic, and social character of the Southside;
  • Protect and enhance historic and architecturally significant buildings, ensure that new development complements the existing architectural character of the area through design review; and
  • Encourage reinvestment in deteriorating housing stock to improve the overall physical quality of the neighborhood;
  • Enhance the pedestrian orientation of the Southside;
  • Improve the Bancroft Way corridor as a physical connection and transition between the University and the Southside;
  • Encourage a land use pattern in the Southside, which provides for a high density residential and commercial mixed-use edge to the University of California Campus and “spine” along Telegraph Avenue. The high density edge and spine are filled in with a less dense areas which progressively become less dense and more residential in use and provide a buffer and transition to the lower density residential areas to the east and south of the Southside Area.
  • Limit office and institutional development to areas closest to the UC campus and to transit corridors.  Establish a cap on the amount of new office and institutional development in the Southside;
  • Give preference to housing over new office and institutional development throughout the Southside;
  • Encourage relocation of office and institutional uses from residential sub areas to appropriate locations closer to campus and to transit corridors.

A.  Land Use Sub areas in the Southside
The Land Use and Housing Element divides the Southside into four  sub areas in order to assign land use policies based on the distinct  character of each area.  The sub areas are:

  1. A Residential Medium Density Sub area (R-3) applying to areas that are predominantly medium density residential in use and character including areas of fraternities, sororities, smaller residential buildings, and single family homes;
  2. A Residential High Density Sub area (R-S) applying to areas that are predominately high density residential in use and character and located in close proximity to the University of California;
  3. A Residential  Mixed Use (R-SMU) Sub area applying to areas containing a mix of University, office and institutional uses as well as multi-family housing and small scale neighborhood serving commercial uses;  and
  4. A  Commercial Sub area applying to the  retail district (CT) on Telegraph and adjacent portions of Bancroft and Durant.  See Map LU-11 at the left for sub area locations.

While the Element states preferred land uses for each of the three sub areas as part of its policy recommendations, a priority of the Element is to establish policies that encourage new housing development at appropriate locations throughout the Southside.

The specific sub area policies are included as Objective LU-E, following the general land use objectives and policies that apply to the entire Southside.


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Map LU-11 Southside Plan Sub-Areas


Map LU-11 shows the Working Group’s four sub areas superimposed on the existing zoning map. The table at the end of this document provides some  information on how the new sub-areas would affect existing property and future development potential.

Objective LU-A: Increase the amount of housing in the Southside for both students and year-round residents.

Policy LU-A1:   Provide incentives to encourage development of a variety of different housing types that are affordable to students, and to employees of Southside businesses and the University.

A.   Encourage a variety of housing types to be built in the Southside, including houses, condominiums, townhouses, apartment buildings, group living quarters and loft-style housing, and encourage owner-occupied housing, rental housing, cooperatives and co-housing.

B.   Require that all new housing developments include units that are affordable to households that qualify as low and moderate income through the City’s inclusionary housing ordinance or other regulatory mechanism.

C.       Provide Density Bonuses in most sub areas in the form of an extra story or stories of housing for housing projects that provide a greater percentage of affordable housing units than required by the inclusionary housing ordinance or  for projects that provide a deeper subsidy for the “inclusionary units” making them more affordable to households with lower incomes.

D.       Annually review housing production in the Southside and affordable housing bonus standards established by the plan to determine if  these standards have been successful in encouraging the production of more affordable housing.  Consider modifying standards if review suggests that change could result in production of more affordable housing.

E.       Revise the existing zoning regulations in R-SMU, R-S and CT), pertaining to parking, open space, lot coverage and other development standards to encourage additional housing development.

F.      Improve the discretionary review process for projects that comply with the recommendations of this Plan to increase certainty for neighbors and project developers. Encourage early stage notification of and discussion with neighbors of proposed projects.

Note to Reviewers: The discretionary review process in Berkeley is consistently brought up by housing developers as one of the major deterrents to new housing development in Berkeley. Interestingly, residents and  citizens also regularly criticize the project review process as being unpredictable and unreliable with no clear standards. There may be several alternative ways to improve the process in the Southside without eliminating the right of citizens to participate in the review process.

  1. The Public Hearing on the project could be limited to the architectural design of the building, if the building is consistent with the height and density requirements of the Southside Plan and revised zoning. This approach would ensure that projects would be well designed architecturally, but also that the  project density (number of units) would not be reduced below that allowed by the Plan through the project review process;
  2. Projects that are consistent with the height and density requirements of the Southside Plan and zoning could be made subject to an Administrative Use Permit. This would eliminate the need for a public hearing, unless someone objected to the approval of the AUP (by staff) and appealed the decision to the Zoning Adjustments Board; and
  3. Some variation of either options 1 or 2  for certain sub areas (i.e. R-SMU , CT, and/or R-S).

Policy LU-A2   Housing for students should be the University of California’s highest priority for the use of its land holdings in the Southside.

 

A.    Urge the University to change its parking replacement policy to eliminate the requirement that new housing projects built on University surface parking lots cover the cost of replacing parking on the site;

B.     Initiate partnerships between the University and private developers to build additional housing; and

C.     Encourage the University to build apartment style housing units for undergraduates, graduate students and junior faculty.

 

Policy LU-A3:  Maintain the current supply of housing in the Southside.

A.    Continue to enforce the City’s zoning regulations that discourage the conversion of dwelling units to non-residential uses; and

B.  Preserve  group living facilities. Restrict conversion of group living facilities to institutional and non-residential uses.

Policy LU-A4:   Encourage and promote the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing housing in the area, especially older buildings with architectural and/or historic merit.     

A.     Promote the City’s existing programs to assist property owners in maintaining their property;

B.     Promote the City’s existing incentives for owners to seismically improve their buildings; and

C.     Promote and encourage use of the State Historical Building Code and the Mills Act as a means to preserve and rehabilitate historic architectural resources in the Southside.

Policy LU-A5: Take all feasible actions to preserve historic resources in the Southside.

A.     Allow demolition of a historic resource only upon finding that:

  1. No reasonable use of the property is possible without demolition; and
  2. Relocation of the resource is not feasible.

B.   Whenever feasible, a historic resource should be relocated to an area of similar architectural context within the Southside Area as an alternative to demolition;

C.  A historically significant resource shall be defined as any building, site or other feature contributing to the special character of the Southside; any building, site or other feature designated by the City of Berkeley as a Berkeley Landmark, Structure of Merit or contributing structure within a designated Historic District or any building, site, or other feature listed by the State of California as a historic resource.

Note to reviewers: The definition should be amended to read:

A historically significant resource shall be defined as any building, site or other feature contributing to the special character of the Southside; any building, site or other feature designated by the City of Berkeley as a Berkeley Landmark, Structure of Merit or contributing structure within a designated Historic District or any building, site, or other feature listed by the State of California as a historic resource.

There must be a public process for determining when a property becomes a “historic resource” in the State of California (and incurs the associated benefits and impacts of that designation). This is an issue of due process under city and state law.  It is also essential that there be no misunderstanding about how a resource gets designated and whether a property is currently designated as such or not.

Policy LU-A6:  Identify and landmark additional historic properties in the Southside Area

Objective LU-B:  Increase the amount of open space in the Southside for both students and year-round residents.
Policy LU-B1:   Consider opportunities to provide open space as part of potential future housing at sites such as at the Ellsworth parking lot and other large scale development projects.

Policy LU-B2:  Continue to use weekend street closures for special events, festivals, outdoor public markets, cultural  events, and public recreational opportunities.

Policy LU-B3:  Retain People’s Park as a public open space “commons” for the Southside.

A.    Improve People’s Park to be a user friendly and safe city park;

B.   Improve and possibly relocate the bathrooms and maintenance facilities;

C.    Increase lighting in the park and on surrounding streets;

D.    Continue to explore ways in which People’s Park can better serve the Southside neighborhood as open space. (See also Community Character Policy CC-F6);

E.    Encourage strong physical connections between the Park and the mixed-use and retail activities and land uses that border it:

  1. Encourage infill buildings on sites around the park to create more “eyes on the Park;” and
  2. Consider the Haste Street frontage of the Anna Head parking lot as a UC housing site to create a residential constituency who could use the Park. (This recommendation is also included in the University’s 1990 LRDP).


F.     Continue the existing maintenance program to improve the park including lighting and landscaping improvements; and

G.    Continue recreational programs, festivals and weekend activities designed to bring a broader group of users to the park, particularly students and neighborhood residents

Objective LU-C Encourage development consistent with the objectives of the Southside Plan on  underutilized sites in the Southside
Policy LU-C1 Suitable sites that are the highest priority for redevelopment and reuse in the Southside, in order of priority, include:

Vacant properties;

  1. Surface parking lots and single level parking garages on Bancroft, Durant, and Telegraph Avenue;
  2. Underutilized lots with single story structures that are not historically significant resources on Bancroft, Durant, and Telegraph;
  3. Surface parking lots and single level parking lots on all other streets; and
  4. Underutilized lots with single story structures that are not historically significant resources on all other street.

Objective LU-D: Improve the Bancroft Way corridor as a transition and seam between the University and the Southside. See also Community Character Element.

Policy LU-D1:  Encourage development of infill buildings along the south side of Bancroft Way so that it becomes a more vital corridor serving students and other users of the Southside.

A.  Encourage mixed-use buildings. See Urban Mixed Use and Commercial Sub area policy sections (Objective LU-E) for recommended zoning changes and preferred land uses;

B.  Encourage pedestrian-oriented uses on ground floor street frontages; and

C.  Screen parking from view.  Locate pedestrian–oriented uses on the ground floor street frontage.

Policy LU-D2:   Encourage the University to consider modifications to some of the existing campus buildings and facilities along  Bancroft Way to create a better connection between the campus and the Southside, such as:

A.  Development of retail and pedestrian spaces along the north side of Bancroft Way, between Telegraph Avenue and Dana Street;

B.  Provide a more inviting entrance to Zellerbach Hall along Bancroft Way;

C.  As the University contemplates changes to the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) on Bancroft Way, consider ways to make the building more street friendly, such as locating the existing cafe along the street frontage and adding windows to make interior uses visible from the street;

D.  Improve the connection between Upper and Lower Sproul Plaza and Bancroft Way as part of the University’s seismic upgrade program and related studies;

E.  Study potential modifications to the MLK Student Union Building and the CAL Student Store to bring pedestrian- oriented and retail uses closer to Bancroft Way;

E.  Reposition the food vendor carts, or relocate them into attractive kiosks, to create an inviting main entry to the campus at Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way; and

F.  Develop a signage program for the facilities located along Bancroft Way including the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, the Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Zellerbach Hall, and the Haas Pavilion.

Policy LU-D3:   Improve the pedestrian environment along Bancroft Way with better bus stops, wider sidewalks wherever possible, sidewalk lighting, additional street trees and other streetscape amenities.  See the Community Character and Transportation and Parking Elements for more specific policies.        

Policy LU-D4:  Make the entries to all public buildings and public parking along Bancroft Way more visible from the street.  See Community Character Element for more specific policies.

Objective LU-E:  Maintain and locate neighborhood services in the Southside so residents can meet their needs without increasing auto trips to and from the area. Also see Transportation and Community Character policies

Policy LU-E1:  Develop incentives to create new housing within easy walking distance of the University and Telegraph Avenue in the Southside and in Downtown Berkeley.

Policy LU-E2:  Encourage development of neighborhood serving commercial uses , such as cafes, small grocery and convenience stores, Laundromats, shoe repairs, and dry cleaners.

A.  Revise residential zoning restrictions to allow limited neighborhood serving commercial uses in appropriate locations.

Policy LU-E3:   The specific location of land uses and the design of new buildings in each sub area should reinforce the pedestrian,  bicycle and transit orientation of the Southside.  See Community Character for more specific policies.

Objective LU-F:  Designate four land use sub areas in the Southside (and modify the City of Berkeley Zoning Ordinance accordingly):

  1. Residential Medium Density (R-3) sub area
  2. Residential High Density (R-S) Sub area
  3. Residential  Mixed Use (R-SMU) Sub area
  4. Commercial (CT) Sub area

See Map LU-11 for sub area locations.  Implement the following policies for each sub area in order to refine and reinforce existing land use patterns in the Southside.

Residential Sub areas: R-3 and R-S

Two areas in the Southside shall be designated as Residential Sub areas..  Housing is currently the predominant land use in these areas and their existing residential character should be retained and reinforced. The R-S is located  close to the University of California Campus and Telegraph Avenue and is generally characterized by existing higher density housing and dormitories. The RM is generally located at the eastern and southern edges of the Southside Area furthest from the Campus and adjacent to the neighboring lower density residential neighborhoods outside the Southside area. The R-3 sub area is generally characterized by a mix of housing types including fraternities, sororities, apartment buildings and single family homes.

The objective  of the new R-S  sub area is to encourage the development of new housing that serves a variety of housing needs, is compatible with the height and bulk of existing buildings, and that complements the existing architectural character of this  sub area.   An additional objective is to conserve the existing supply of housing.

Policies for the Residential Sub areas

Policy LU-F1: Housing is the recommended land use in this sub area and is the preferred land use for all opportunity sites in the residential sub area.

Policy LU-F2: A variety of building types are recommended, including houses, condominiums, townhouses, apartment buildings, group living facilities and loft-style housing that would serve a variety of populations including students, families, UC staff and faculty, and others who desire to live in this vibrant, easily-accessible neighborhood.

Policy LU-F3: Conserve, rehabilitate and improve the maintenance of existing housing in this area.

Policy LU-F4: Encourage new residential development in the RS residential sub area.

A. Revise the R-4 and R-4H zoning regulations in the residential sub areas to encourage construction of new housing, prohibit new office uses, reduce parking requirements for residential uses, and increase allowable lot coverage.

Policy LU-F5: Encourage housing to be built on surface parking lots in the Residential Sub areas.

A.   Urge the University to build student housing on University owned surface parking lots.

B.  To the extent that replacement for parking on surface lots is needed, whenever feasible, relocate parking into consolidated parking sites in the R-SMU sub area when new housing is proposed for parking lot sites in the C-T, R-S, or R-3 sub areas.  Some of the existing parking may need to be retained or underneath  these sites.

C.    New parking lots and parking structures should not be located in the RS or R-3 sub areas.

Policy LU-F6: Ensure high quality architectural design for new construction in the residential sub areas.

A. Require project conformance with the Southside Design Guidelines (see Appendix) to ensure that new buildings are compatible with the architectural character in these sub areas.

Policy LU-F7: Amend the Design Review Ordinance to require design review for all new buildings or major alterations in these sub areas.

Residential  Mixed Use (R-SMU) Sub area

Two areas in the Southside shall be designated as Urban Mixed Use Sub areas (see Map LU-11 on page 56).  These are the areas where the greatest diversity of land uses currently exists, including housing, offices, religious facilities, schools, social institutions, parking lots, cultural facilities, a hotel and several retail uses.  This area also contains much University property, including a wide range of academic and student serving uses and administrative offices.

The objectives for these sub areas are to: allow a wider variety of land uses than is allowed in other sub areas in order to maintain the existing diversity of land uses; meet the future needs of the many different users and property owners in this sub area; and to reduce pressure to locate non-residential or non-retail uses in the other two sub areas.

A broad variety of land uses are recommended for this sub area, including: housing, University academic facilities and offices, religious facilities, schools, social institutions, parking, cultural facilities, hotel uses, and retail uses when they are ancillary to the primary use of a building.  Mixed-use developments that include housing are a preferred use.

The Urban Mixed Use Sub area contains many of the sites where development is possible: on surface parking lots, as additions to existing buildings, and on sites that contain single story buildings with no architectural or historic merit.

Residential  Mixed Use Sub area Policies

Policy LU-F8:   Allow a variety of different land uses including housing; university facilities, offices and student support services; religious, social and cultural institutions with associated offices, facilities and ancillary uses; educational uses; recreation facilities; hotels; ancillary retail uses and parking garages.  Mixed-use developments that include housing are a preferred use.

Policy LU-F9:  Encourage new infill development in the R-SMU district.

A. Revise the R-4 zoning designation to encourage new infill development.

Policy LU-F10: Encourage mixed-use buildings that combine two or more of the allowed land uses.

Policy LU-F11: Encourage infill buildings on surface parking lots.

A. New or replacement parking should be placed inside or underneath new buildings, or in consolidated parking garages, and serve multiple users whenever possible.

B. Prohibit new public surface parking lots or expansion of existing public surface parking lots. .

Policy LU-F12: Conserve and rehabilitate the existing architectural and historic resources in this area.  See Community Character  Element for more specific policies.

Policy LU-F13:  Utilize the Southside Plan design guidelines  to ensure that the design of new buildings is  compatible with existing buildings in this area and will not detract from the significance of nearby  landmark and historically significant buildings and sites. See Community Character Element. Require review under the Design Review Ordinance for new buildings built in this sub area. (Most new buildings in the R-4 zoning district are currently not subject to the City’s Design Review Ordinance).

Commercial (CT)  Sub area

The existing commercial core of the Southside shall be designated as the Commercial Sub area.  Mixed-use buildings, with housing above retail are the preferred use for this sub area.  See the Economic Development Element for detailed policies regarding improvements to the retail district.

Commercial Sub area Policies

Policy LU-F14: Mixed-use buildings with housing above retail uses are the preferred land use throughout this sub area.

A. Revise the C-T zoning to encourage the construction of new mixed-use buildings or additions to existing buildings.

Policy LU-F15:  Employ Southside Design Guidelines (see Appendix) to ensure that new buildings are compatible with existing buildings in this sub area and do not detract from the significance of  existing landmark and historically significant  buildings.  See Community Character Element for additional policies.

Parking and Transportation Policies for Multiple Sub areas

Policy LU-F16  Encourage and support transit and other alternative modes of transportation to the automobile in the Southside.
A. Amend the Zoning Ordinance to eliminate residential parking requirements in the Car-Free Housing Overlay area shown above.

B.  Residents of new housing that is constructed without parking in the Car-Free Overlay area shall not be eligible for Residential Parking Permits.

C. In the CT, R-SMU and R-S sub areas, new development shall pay a Transportation Services Fee (T.S.F) that will be used to fund transit, pedestrian and bicycle related programs needed for the mobility of new residents and employees of the area.