City of Berkeley Zoning Ordinance Amendments, Measure R (November 2014)
|Voting on Property|
|Not on ballot|
If approved, Measure R makes several amendments to the zoning ordinance of the city.
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
Shall an ordinance amending Zoning Ordinance provisions for downtown Berkeley be adopted to: establish new requirements for new buildings over 60 feet; eliminate current historic resource determination for Green Pathway projects; establish a Civic Center Historic District overlay; amend LEED requirements; change parking requirements; restrict some permitted uses; change prevailing-wage requirements for workers in specified categories; and reduce hours of operation for businesses selling or serving alcohol?
The impartial analysis of Measure R produced by the office of the city attorney:
This measure would amend Zoning Ordinance provisions in the Downtown area.
Currently, the maximum heights generally permitted in the Downtown area are 75’, and 60’ in the buffer area. A map depicting these areas is at http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Planning_and_Development/Level_3_- _DAP/DAP%20Zoning%20And%20Addresses_4-25-12(1).pdf.
The initiative would reduce these height limits to 60’ in the Downtown, and 50’ in the buffer area, with a 10’ penthouse bonus for extra parking.
The existing Downtown Area Plan and zoning allow up to two buildings in the core area at heights up to of 120’ and three in the core area with heights up to 180’. The initiative would not change these height limits.
Under the Green Pathway in Measure R, and the Downtown Area Plan and Zoning Ordinance, applicants may offer certain community benefits in return for either “as of right” approval (buildings 75’ and under) or priority processing (buildings over 75’). The initiative would replace these provisions with requirements for various community benefits in order to build over certain heights. For buildings over 60’: additional affordable housing;; prevailing wage for some categories of workers; and increased local hire and new apprenticeship requirements for construction workers. In addition, for buildings over 75’: additional affordable housing; units with 2 and 3 bedrooms; public restrooms; and of LEED Platinum rather than LEED Gold ratings.
These requirements would apply to all new applications as well as applications pending as of November 4, 2014.
Pre-application landmarks review
Currently an applicant must obtain pre-application review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission of all affected buildings before submitting a Green Pathway application, and a building that is a historic resource is ineligible for the Green Pathway. The initiative eliminates these provisions.
Downtown C-DMU Zoning District
The measure would amend the existing C-DMU (Commercial Downtown Mixed-Use) zoning district to: prohibit columbaria and adult uses; limit the hours of uses involving alcohol; eliminate the ability to modify setbacks; increase parking requirements in the “buffer” subarea; require additional bike parking; limit parking waivers and require payment of an in lieu fee for them; add a requirement for electric vehicle charging stations; require all parking to be provided onsite; require new buildings to attain a LEED Gold rating; prohibit any new project from creating runoff; and require onsite composting and recycling facilities.
Fees and exactions
Requirements for buildings over 75’ include public restrooms and an additional fee for streets and open space improvements. Requirements for all projects would include a new in-lieu fee for projects not providing the required open space and a new fee to fund a loan program for businesses seeking to retain or create jobs in Berkeley. The legal validity of these requirements is uncertain.
Historic District Overlay
The measure would create a Civic Center Historic District overlay zone that limit permissible uses in the commercial parts of the zone, and permit new uses in the residential parts of the zone.
This measure was placed on the ballot as the result of a voter petition.
—Zach Cowan, Berkeley City Attorney
Councilman Jesse Arreguin, acting simply as a registered voter, proceeded to court, arguing that Mayor Tom Bates provided an inaccurate and biased ballot question. Arreguin argued that Bates picked and chose the items of the initiative that were not the most significant provisions, giving voters an inaccurate representation of the measure. Bates insisted his summary, which is limited by law to 75 words, was as unbiased and accurate as possible. A judge will ultimately decide what elements of the 28-page initiative voters should see in order to make the most informed decision.
The ballot question formulated by Bates can be seen above. Arreguin had different ideas about what parts of the initiative should be highlighted for voters. He said, "The most significant elements of the initiative are that (1) the Public/Community Benefit requirements for buildings over 60 feet are increased [...] and (2) buildings over 75 feet provide additional public benefits."
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that the phrase "reduce height limits" in the original ballot question was misleading and removed them. Below are the changes that were made to the ballot question by this lawsuit, with added words in bold and removed words
Shall an ordinance amending Zoning Ordinance provisions for downtown
Berkeley be adopted to:
- Local zoning, land use and development on the ballot
- Alameda County, California ballot measures
- November 4, 2014 ballot measures in California
- Alameda County Elections Office website
- Berkeleyside, "Berkeleyside guide to the downtown initiative," accessed September 4, 2014
- Alameda County Elections Office, "Ballot Measure information document," archived August 15, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Inside Bay Area, "Berkeley: Downtown Initiative ballot question heads to court," August 6, 2014
- Berkeleyside, "Judge tweaks downtown ballot summary after lawsuit," September 3, 2014