BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to start removing single-family zoning from the city and update the city’s general plan.
Berkeley is working to meet the requirements posed by California’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation plan, which include 9,000 new units. On top of that, University of California, Berkeley expects to see its student population expand by almost 45,000 new students by 2022.READ MORE: Cal Fire Confirms Estrada Fire Sparked by Controlled Burn, Holding at 150 Acres; Evacuations Ordered
On top of the zoning changes, the council also recommended anti-displacement and tenant protection strategies.
“This vote marks the beginning of an 18-month process that will allow for vigorous public engagement with the goal of developing zoning changes to address our housing affordability crisis,” said Mayor Jesse Arreguin in a statement released Friday. “The lead-up to this vote was certainly contentious, but by working together we can create a sense of unity that is needed to advance our progressive values that makes Berkeley the community that we all love to live in”.
California passed a law in 1969 that requires its housing department to draw up and follow a Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) plan. Last year the California ordered cities in the San Francisco Bay Area plan to build 441,176 new housing units by 2030. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), which Arreguin chairs, then divvies up those units across jurisdictions in the Bay Area, with Berkeley required to develop 8,934 new homes across different levels of income in this timeframe.READ MORE: CHP Pursuit Ends With Crash, AC Transit Bus Into West Oakland Home
Along with the zoning changes, council members approved prioritizing projects in Priority Development Areas and transit and commercial corridors. The new rules allow up to four units on lots currently zoned for just one unit.
Another proposal the council approved was updating the city’s Housing Element approval process, addressing safety concerns such as development in the hills and other high fire hazard zones. It also ensures that all levels of affordability in the RHNA goals are met.
Council members claim ending single-family zoning is the first of many steps towards creating “an equitable and sustainable community.” Other proposals include Measure O, a $135 million affordable housing bond, and developments at the Ashby, North Berkeley BART stations and along the Adeline Corridor.MORE NEWS: COVID: Bay Area Airports, Tourism Industry Gears Up As Rules Loosen For International Travelers
“By taking these actions, Berkeley officials aim to show that by working together we can achieve the goals of ending the affordable housing crisis and homelessness epidemic, while creating a rare chance to set a national example of how a courageous city can grow sustainably and responsibly,” the council’s statement said.