Thursday, January 31, 2008
It may be impossible to turn today’s sprawling cities into European cities where one can walk everywhere. However, progress can be made. What's needed is research into urban planning policies that encourage sensibly dense environments and cut down on the amount of time we spend behind the wheel. What's needed is research into ways of making the automobile a servant instead of a master. In addition, governments must stop subsidizing the sprawling activities and governments must engage in more land-use planning.
Richard Moe, Growing Smarter: Fighting Sprawl and Restoring Community in America, Address Presented at San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Fresno, California, (Nov. 20, 1996) (transcript available at http://www.smartgrowth.org/library/Richard_Moe.html)
The “eyes on the street” theory was developed by Jane Jacobs in her 1961 book The Death and Life Great American Cities. The book critiqued architectural trends that prevented residents from keeping their eyes on the street and reducing the number of street users. Jacob and her contemporaries were met with criticism by people who felt neighborhood crime was caused mainly by social processes (like area reputations, child density, etc.) rather than architecture.
I had a difficult time finding studies that directly tested Jacobs’ theory that physical diversity in cities encourages neighbors to relate to each other and discourages crime. The one quantitative study I could find was conducted in Toronto and compared neighborhood physical characteristics with crime statistics. The researchers examined Jacobs’ four independent variables of physical diversity: (1) a mixture of land uses, (2) a concentration of uses, and (3) a mixture of old and new buildings, and (4) short blocks. The data supported the first part of Jacobs’ thesis: there was a relationship between physical diversity and neighbor contact, lower rates of juvenile delinquency, and fewer incidents reported by residents. However, no relationship was found between neighbor contact and resident-reported crime. I note that this article did cite a number of studies, mainly from the 1970s, that attempted to document the link between physical environment and social behavior, but none applied to directly to the “eyes on the street” theory.
A qualitative study from the UK tested the “eyes on the street” hypothesis as it applies to the impact of housing located over stores on crime, vandalism, and anti-social behavior. The researchers relied on interviews with police, property owners and managers of commercial operations, residents, insurers and housing associations. They found a widespread belief that homes located over retail had the potential to reduce crime because the residents would provide additional eyes and ears. They also found from discussions with young offenders that evidence of occupation of the space over stores can discourage burglary and street crime. Additionally, virtually all of the residents interviewed said they would report suspicious behavior. However, when faced with a specific incident, many people did not take action, and of the residents who had seen something, only 35% had told someone.
The theory by having more “eyes on the street” to discourage criminal activity and increase reports of crime intuitively makes sense. However, given the tendency of people to over-estimate their willingness to report crime, I would like to see documentation showing that implementation of specific strategies to increase the amount of eyes on the street is linked actual reductions in criminal incidents.
 Paul Ekblom, Less Crime, by Design, 539 Annals of the Am. Acad. of Pol. and Soc. Sci. 114, 117 (1995).
 E.P. Fowler, Street Management and City Design, 66 Soc. Forces 365, 367 (1987).
 Id. at 367-68.
 Id. at 381.
 Barry Goodchild, Oliver Chamberlain, Karl Dalgleish and Bob Lawrence, Crime and the Homefront: The Impact on Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour of Housing People in Town and City Centres, York Publishing Services 1997, available at http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/housing/H203.asp.
- a series of general recommendations (including: increasing access to public toilets; expanding services to transition-age youth 18-25 years old; developing a centralized intake system for providing shelter beds; supporting job training and peer outreach), and
- a series of recommendations to respond to specific behaviors (including modifying existing laws on lying on the sidewalks and public lodging and continuing enforcement of state and local laws prohibiting public intoxication, assault, drug use, and “coercive or intimidating solicitation”).
The PCI arose out of a request by the Berkeley City Council on
In addition to the plans currently being implemented, the PCI also forecasts one notable plan that could heavily affect public conduct downtown: establishing a
Most importantly, the PCI modifies current
I would like to add one note briefly. On the basis of the DAPAC report and the redrafting of the homelessness ordinance,
Patrick Kennedy lauded the Downtown Berkeley Arts District as a rare example of efficient ‘best and highest use’ development. I wanted to examine the district, located on Addison Street between Milvia Street and Shattuck Avenue, from the perspective of the artists themselves, thinking they would have a somewhat different idea of their place in the community than that espoused by Mr. Kennedy. These notes are from a conference on artists and community development held last week here at UC Berkeley.
Developers’ and policy makers’ interest in arts districts implies that artists are positive economic change agents in neighborhoods. Should the artists be used to improve a neighborhood only to be priced out as property values increase? How can the public process be used to help artists who help neighborhoods?
From artists’ perspective, their contributions to an improving measurement can be measured just as well by smiles and public pride than increases in property tax basis. Given this disconnect, artists, developers, and planners are uncomfortable bedfellows. Artists find affordable spaces to support their work and lifestyle and developers eventually commodify that. Planners, in turn, see arts districts as a cash register along the lines of the
There are well-established theories of community economic development (CED). Artist-led neighborhood revitalization is similar but different – call it cultural community development (CCD). CED facilitates flows of capital and CCD similarly facilitates flows of cultural information to allow impoverished areas fully participate in intangible aspects of society. Artists help the dispossessed find a voice with which to buy into the more influential external community. This is far more inclusive for the community than having external developers and municipal officials come into a community and tell them how to improve themselves. Artists have an advantage in terms of authenticity (as perceived by the community) because they aren’t consciously building desirable communities – that improvement is simply a happenstance of their craft.
For an example of an artist-friendly developer, look no further than Art Space. They are a nonprofit developer with over thirty mixed-use live/work spaces under management or construction across the
Even closer to home in East Oakland’s
The Legal Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national leader in community economic development, has a publication titled ‘Developing Affordable Space for Artists’. I have sent away for the PDF and will post it once available.
After our discussion last week regarding the live/work developments at Santana Row and Emeryville, and the retail development at
Beyond the issues of whether it is prudent building such development outside of existing public transportation infrastructure (at least, outside of bart/light rail lines), one of the other main problems I personally have with these developments are the domination of retail space by chain stores. On the one hand, I can see the benefit of such stores for developers and the general public. Given their pre-existing business infrastructure, I assume they are more willing to sign leases earlier in project development when compared to smaller retail. They bring a known quality to a retail environment – both consumers and developers generally know what they are getting. And often, they bring in consumer options that are cheaper than locally owned retail. Perhaps most importantly, chain stores seem to dominate the American retail market – perhaps it is naïve to advocate against them.
On the other hand, politically-active residents in
For this week’s readings, I looked into the
The City has successfully used the Use Permit process and its zoning code to limit the encroachment of [chain and big-box] businesses that threaten the sometimes delicate balance in neighborhood, commercial, and downtown areas. For example, the City used the Use Permit process to enable the Berkeley Bowl, a unique
The “limits on number of businesses of a certain type” refers to a quota system established to preserve the balance in five retail districts in
It might be worthwhile to take a more in-depth look at this part of the zoning ordinance. Perhaps like the art district requirements, the quota system is contributing to the vacancy rate in the downtown. We might consider looking other options for promoting small-scale, locally owned stores, including strengthening the programs to provide loans to small businesses, increasing support of the “Shop Local, Shop Berkeley” initiative, further zoning restrictions on “formula business,” creating neighborhood-serving zones, and limiting the foot-print of retail (It seems like Berkeley might already do some of these – we could see how well they are working).
 The others are Solano, the Elmwood, Telegraph, and
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Larry Mitchell, Harnessing the wind: Chico firm helps Berkeley with wind power, Chico Enterprise-Record (July 20, 2007), http://www.windenergy.com/news/news_chico_er_7-20-07.html
Berkley has annual daily wind speeds averaging close to 10 miles per hour, making it a viable place to generate wind energy. One Berkeley building already operates on wind and solar energy alone. The Berkeley-owned Shorebird Nature Center uses a small, 1.8-kilowatt wind turbine to produce energy for the saltwater aquariums, computers and lighting. The Shorebird Center will likely become the first Berkeley building to meet the City’s Measure G goals of an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The wind turbine was donated by Southwest Windpower in Flaggstaff, Arizona. The turbine supplements the building’s existing solar electric system and solar hot water system. The turbine, Skystream 3.7, is specifically designed to produce energy at low wind speeds. It has three curved 6-foot blades that produce 1.8 kilowatts. The tower and turbine combined are 40 feet tall, operate quietly, and have no wires or lattice structures that may attract birds.
Evergreen Development Group, a firm based in Chico, CA installed the small wind-power system at Berkeley’s Shoreline nature center. The center also showcases the use of alternate energy. The main building, which is made of hay bales, has a solar hot-water system to provide heating year round. It also has a solar electric system to power the aquariums, computers, lighting and other equipment.
Private individuals in California have also worked to install wind energy. One couple’s Skystream turbine sits on a 70-foot tower and provides them with 400 kilowatts of electricity per month. The turbine cost $12,500 installed. The couple received a $4,500 rebate on it from the California Energy Commission.
Scott Jackson, CEO of Evergreen Development Group, said he recommends combinations of solar and wind power for private homes. Such installations require a sizable investment but can more than pay for themselves over time.
To completely do away with a PG&E bill for a typical, 2,200-square-foot family home might take an alternate-energy system costing $60,000, Jackson said. To cut the bill to a manageable level might cost $25,000. Often it makes more sense to install such a system on a new home than on an existing house.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
With regard to specific policy, Litman offers a few proposals. One, the city should “[u]nbundle parking, so parking spaces are rented separately from building space. For example, rather than paying $1,000 per month for an apartment with two parking spaces renters pay $800 per month for the apartment and $100 per month for each parking space. This typically reduces parking requirements by 20%.” Id. at 5. Two, businesses should be encouraged to implement programs that reduce employee use of nearby parking, including “offered $50 per month if they don’t use a parking space.” Id. “This typically reduces automobile commuting by 20%.” Id. Three, the city should “[p]rovide information to resident, employees and visitors about transit, rideshare and taxi services, bicycling facilities, and overflow parking options.” Id. at 5.
The third point – parking “user information” – warrants further examination. “User information refers to information for travelers about parking availability, regulations and price, and about travel options, such as walking, ridesharing and transit. Many parking problems result in part from inadequate user information. User information can be provided by signs, maps, brochures, websites, and electronic guidance systems. It is particularly useful if there is a perceived parking shortage, although space are actually available in an area.” Id. at 21.
A parking shortage can be addressed via overflow parking options. An obvious overflow option is remote parking. "Remote Parking (also called Satellite Parking) refers to the use of off-site parking facilities. This often involves shared facilities, such as office workers parking at a restaurant parking lot during the day, in exchange for restaurant employees using the office parking lot evenings and weekends. It can involve use of public facilities, such as commercial parking lots. Remote parking can also involve use of parking facilities located at the periphery of a business district or other activity center…Special shuttle buses or free transit service may be provided to connect destinations with remote parking facilities, allowing them to be farther apart than would otherwise be acceptable…Remote parking requires providing adequate use information and incentives to encourage motorists to use more distant facilities. For example, signs and maps should indicate the location of peripheral parking facilities, and they should be significantly cheaper to use than in the core. Without such incentives, peripheral parking facilities are often underused while core parking is congested." Id. at 15.
Workshop on Development and the Environment (week 3)
This series of articles highlights Oakland's emergence as a "green" city, winning awards for its use of renewable energy, installation of solar power, and strategies for improving waterways and restoring watershed habitat (p. 3). It is the first city in the Bay Area to host two LEED platinum certified buildings, and plans are in place for more (p. 3). The city of Oakland recently partnered with the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to form a "Green Business and Technology Cluster," in which key institutions and companies work towards building more green businesses and clean technology industries in Oakland and the Bay Area (p. 3).
"Oakland goes platinum"
One of the LEED platinum certified buildings is the Natural Sciences building at Mills College. The building, which consists of two labs, classrooms and offices, features green innovations such as a rainwater collection system, displacement ventilation, evaporative cooling, daylighting, and solar energy (p. 4). Downtown, StopWaste.Org's new renovated headquarters, also LEED platinum certified, takes advantage of daylight by having 90% of workspaces contain windows and preserves more than 95% of the original structure. The construction was done with 75% recycled materials and the building is powered by a solar electric system (p. 4).
"Downtown Living: Oakland's Green Scene Grows Up"
Oakland's downtown has undergone a recent renaissance, including an influx of residents, restaurants, shops and an art scene. While some of the buildings are LEED certified, all are environmentally friendly in that infill development in high-density neighborhoods fosters more sustainable living than the suburbs. Much of the infill is also due to former Mayor Jerry Brown's 10K Housing Initiative, which once encouraged developers to build even in neighborhoods that didn¹t at the time seem desirable and which have since become attractive "even in the midst of a nationwide housing slump" (p. 5). One example is The Uptown, slated to open in spring 2008, a "four-city-block development [that] will include 665 rental apartments,
9,000 square feet of retail and a 25,000-square-foot neighborhood park." Since the BART station is only one block away and the development is close to bus lines and will feature an on-site car share, developers expect residents to be much less dependent on private cars for transportation (p. 5).
"Green design a hallmark of building quality"
Many of Oakland¹s commercial buildings are also environmentally friendly. Old construction has been transformed with LEED-certified interiors in the case of the UC Office of the President, the Uptown Arts Building, and the Earthjustice National Headquarters, located in the restored Wakefield building. 1100 Broadway, a new development situated right above the 12th Street BART station, is slated to be restored and rebuilt with green aspects like a roof garden (p. 8). Other large commericial buildings in the pipeline are expected to pursue LEED certification as well (p. 8).
As mentioned by the DAPAC speakers, part of the downtown plan is to make downtown a model for green business and environmental practices and a specific goal is to create more environmental sustainability. The Oakland "green renaissance" is a model for how Berkeley can also become a center for environmentally friendly policies and practices, interwoven with a desire for development, revitalization and growth.
Map presented by Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC).
The RDS provides some interesting demographic figures for the Berkeley community:
• The average Berkeley household has $33,000 in disposable income to spend on retail purchases;
• There are roughly 23,500 office workers, and thousands more students, within a 1-mile radius of downtown;
• The vacancy rate for retail businesses was reduced from 16% to 4% between 1992 and 2000;
• Although strong in the Arts and restaurant sectors, downtown Berkeley’s commercial development is underrepresented in apparel.
The RDS offers five strategies to be employed to attract new businesses, including increasing access to parking, improving “safety and sidewalks,” and an expansion of the available housing in the area.
Regarding transportation and parking, the RDS advocates improved shuttle services from off-site parking locations into the area, improved infrastructure to promote walking and bicycling, and a renovation and expansion of the existing parking infrastructure including the construction of a new parking structure. Although increased shuttle service and the encouragement of alternative transportation are laudable goals, the RDS lists these and similar measures at the top of the priority list, giving unrealistic importance to these measures. The simple fact is that even in the Bay Area, consumers’ preferred transportation means remains personal automobiles, especially when it comes to retail excursions, which are likely to burden the consumer beyond the point that walking and cycling remain viable options.
The RDS recognizes the lack of available housing stock, and announces the DBA’s intent to advocate for legislation that would encourage and facilitate an expansion in the housing stock, including expedited permitting and bonuses for high-density housing projects. Again, these are laudable goals but, to hear Patrick Kennedy tell it, appear to remain unimplemented at this time.
In terms of “safety and sidewalks,” the RDS lists nine steps, only two of which appear related to the homeless problem in the area. Both of these measures appear near the bottom of the list, appearing to indicate them to be low-priority measures. Given the class’s expressed concern about the homeless issue’s impact on the area, this appears to demonstrate an under-appreciation for the issue within the DBA.
Downtown Berkeley Association, Retail Development Strategy (2001), http://www.downtownberkeley.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=30.
Monday, January 28, 2008
This piece on social investment in general presents some interesting and relevant ideas with regard to development, specifically, although indirectly, real estate investment. Although the piece focuses largely on wholly philanthropic projects and foundations, the discussion of the fundamental themes of eco-friendly investing, sustainable development and development of underprivileged communities are highly relevant for our purposes.
Perhaps most relevant, the section entitled “Community Investing: Uplifting Low-Income Communities” proposes a community investing loan system resembling the micro-finance approach which has proven highly successful in the realm of global development. Although this proposal does not translate directly to the Downtown Berkeley scenario, it could be applied. For example, if we are concerned that the retail spaces will not be community-member run, one potential approach could be financial reforms designed to bring community members into the fold as retailers.
Also, by the very nature of the piece, namely its focus on the public interest sector and nonprofit sources of community and other development, it raises a key question which we have not yet thoroughly addressed – is private development (in any form and by any developer) appropriate, or should instead Downtown Berkeley be developed under a public or Foundation program. Of course, practical considerations would likely prevent such public programs as Downtown Berkeley is hardly perceived to be as in need of such public aid and attention as other areas of the country and the world.
In addition, I think this piece raises an interesting issue with regard to private developers specifically. In one of our sessions with Patrick Kennedy, one of my classmates asked about the effect of the sometimes costly and/or profit reducing socio- and eco- friendly policies where the developer is a public company; are they somehow liable to their shareholders for not placing profit first? The Mission in the Marketplace speaks directly to this very issue making the argument that investment in projects which are ecologically sustainable and socially conscious are financially sound and thus serve the fiduciary duty between company and investor.
The Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) is a “nonprofit organization that represents over 800 businesses, non-profits, financial institutions, and property owners.” It has published a report entitled “Retail Development Strategy” that highlights the DBA’s goals, strategies, as well as analysis for attracting as well as retaining businesses in Downtown Berkeley.
Like Patrick Kennedy, the authors of the report discuss the need for higher quality retail that complements the expansion of art and entertainment. Interestingly, the report points out that one of the biggest challenges to attracting new retailers is the small size and rundown condition of both available and existing spaces in Downtown, stating that “These buildings do not attract high quality retailers.” One of the Association’s goals remains to encourage property owners to rehabilitate spaces in order to attract desired tenants; in the case of the Francis K. Shattuck building, for instance, once it had been renovated it was able to attract retail, offices, and a white table cloth restaurant.
In our discussions we have pinpointed homelessness and the lack of preexisting higher quality businesses in Downtown as main factors for why businesses are hesitant to commit to a Downtown Berkeley location. The physical conditions of the actual spaces likely play a key role in businesses’ decisions, however, and is a problem that can be more easily remedied on an individual basis (in comparison to homelessness, for instance).
The Report additionally addresses marketing and promotion activities, maintaining a historic downtown that is attractive and safe, providing adequate parking, and encouraging downtown housing.
Facts from a 2000 study indicate that the demand for high quality retail can certainly be present: the average Berkeley household has an estimated $33,000 of disposable income to spend annually on retail purchases, or nearly $2.19 billion citywide. Approximately 23,500 people work within a one-mile radius of Downtown Berkeley.Downtown Berkeley Association's Retail Development Strategy, available at http://www.downtownberkeley.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=30#reports
Fourth Street is approximately two blocks of development in the formerly industrial and martime center of Berkeley. Fourth Street itself is accessible from the end of University Avenue by turning right just before University rises to pass above the train tracks. The surrounding land is still industrial although now there are many art studios in the nearby warehouses. Truitt White Lumber is just west of the development and attracts day laborers to the streets looking for temporary work in construction. The San Francisco Chronicle's impressions and suggestions for the area in terms of shopping and dining can be viewed here: http://www.sfgate.com/traveler/guide/eastbay/neighborhoods/fourth.shtml
The development's website (Abrams/Milliken and Drew Properties), including advertisement and some history is here: http://www.fourthstreet.com/index.html
Santana Row: "Our mission is to create urban spaces that are not just shopping centers, but dynamic, people- and pedestrian-oriented places that everyone can look forward to visiting again and again." To accomplish this, the developers at Santana Row have created a space with "70 shops, 20 restaurants, 5 spas" according to their website. Hotels and residential units are also incorporated in the property. The property covers 558,000 square feet, please see http://www.federalrealty.com/pdf/site_plan_80.pdf for a graphic of planning information for the site. Leasing is handled by the Federal Realty Investment Trust which also manages properties such as the Third street Promenade in Santa Monica, and the Westgate Mall in San Jose (http://www.federalrealty.com/broker_leasing/?state=California).
The City of Berkeley has filed a lawsuit against the University of California, Berkeley in order to prevent the school from building a new sport facility and a parking garage next to Memorial Stadium. The city cites major public health reasons as the reason for the lawsuit. The city contents that the stadium is built on top of a major fault line and is already in need of major repair; thus the stadium’s and the new facilities location pose a great earthquake threat to more than 60, 000 fans who attend the games every week. The city is concerned that the University has not taken sufficient planning to retrofit the stadium and instead has opted to build several projects that would be next to and partially underneath the stadium. New facilities around the fault line would mean more events and attendees at an earthquake-prone site, which is difficult to evacuate. Furthermore, the University’s plans would pose a threat to the area’s historic landscape and would lead to increased traffic, which the site will not be able to sustain.
They envisioned downtown
They listed 12 goals for development in downtown. Those goals are:
- Create a downtown that more accurately reflects the heart and culture of
- Create new shopping, services, and offices to attract the private sector and residents of all ages,
- Support grocery stores and retail shops to attract people during the day and encourage night-time activity such as entertainment and dining to attract people at night,
- Develop an economy in downtown that can help support social change for the homeless and mentally ill,
- Work with the University to serve city needs and integrate the University into downtown by re-designing
Oxford Streetinto open space,
Shattuck Avenueinto a pedestrian friendly area,
- Create a unified transportation and parking plan that integrates city and University needs through such programs as ride-shares,
- Preserve historic buildings in downtown and promote greater density for new buildings,
- Create usable green spaces,
- Promote architectural variety,
- Promote more retail in downtown to capture
’s wealth, and Berkeley
- Encourage owners to redevelop under-utilized properties
The brochure also listed seven ways to make downtown a destination. Those ideas are:
- Encourage the use of alleys to open up downtown for pedestrians,
Oxford Streetnarrower and widen the sidewalks,
- Encourage the university to re-design
Oxford Streetto create more usable open space,
- Re-design Shattuck for more pedestrian use,
- Create larger parking lots on the edges of downtown,
- Increase residential density downtown, and
- Re-develop buildings north of University into denser retail and office spa
Sunday, January 27, 2008
In 2006 the citizens of Berkeley adopted Ballot Measure G which aims to reduce the city’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions to 80% below year 2000 emissions levels by the year 2050. To that end, the city has developed a Climate Action Plan which targets a 33% reduction below 2000 levels by 2020. In order to evaluate where the city stands regarding this goal, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) conducted an “Emissions Inventory” for Berkeley for the year 2005.
The study revealed that transportation accounted for 47% of total emissions, commercial buildings 27% and residential buildings 26%. Community per capita emissions were approximately 7 tons of CO2e6, which was “significantly” below state and national averages. The study also found that emissions decreased nearly nine percent between 2000 and 2005, which was “one of the largest” documented reductions for any city in the U.S. This reduction primarily occurred in the residential and commercial contributions which decreased by 13.2% and and 13.8% respectively, while the transportation contribution remained almost constant (it showed a 2.7% reduction but this fell within the margin of error).
The inventory includes all electricity and natural gas used in Berkeley, including that which is produced elsewhere. The inventory does not, however, include UC Berkeley energy consumption, given that the city has limited ability to affect university decisions. Furthermore, the transportation inventory only includes emissions from vehicles driven within the city limits, and, therefore, does not include emissions generated by, for example, residents who drive outside of the city limits. Moreover, the inventory does not include emissions from solid waste sent to landfills given that it is too difficult to accurately measure such solid waste emissions.
The chapter astutely points out that development decisions in Berkeley can have an affect on surrounding communities. For example, downtown residential development could increase Berkeley’s overall emissions by increasing the city’s population, but this would likely ultimately reduce the emissions of the greater area by placing more individuals closer to public transportation. Accordingly, policy decisions cannot be made without due regard for this greater context.
Additionally, the chapter points out that this “emissions inventory” is a much more limited measure of a community’s contribution to GHG emissions than is the notion of the community’s “carbon footprint.” While the inventory measures only emissions that result from actions taking place within the city itself, the carbon footprint of the Berkeley community would take into account “lifestyle and consumption choices” such as the energy required to travel and to produce and transport the food that is consumed in the community.
"Should the People of the City of Berkeley have a goal of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and advise the Mayor to work with the community to develop a plan for Council adoption in 2007, which sets a ten year emissions reduction target and identifies actions by the City and residents to achieve both the ten year target and the ultimate goal of 80% emissions reduction?"
Note that Measure G passed with 81% of the vote. See http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Mayor/GHG/index.htm
This L.A. Times article discusses the Berkeley City Council’s passing of a law that increases the enforcement of restrictions against camping in public places. The restrictions, which ban “lying down on commercial streets during the day” and “smoking on sidewalks on main commercial corridors,” reflect a departure from Berkeley’s reputation for tolerance that has helped attract many homeless to the area.
According to merchants, Berkeley’s “openness to the unorthodox has given way to discomfort over aggressive panhandling and public urination and defecation”—discomfort which has in turn affected development in Berkeley. The article points out that in one instance, residents and merchants helped block a project that would have brought a public plaza to North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto “for fear that the homeless would just take over.”
While it is clear that increased enforcement will impact the homeless, Mayor Tom Bates and other city officials maintain that they are not targeting the homeless but are addressing bad behavior by anyone. The laws come as part of the larger plan the city calls “Public Commons for Everyone,” which also includes provisions for increasing housing and public toilets and day programs for young adults.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Hatuka and D’Hooghe challenge urban design to confront what changes societies are currently undergoing today, including population growth, rise of dual economics, and transnational migration. So far, urban design today is a product of the Modern Movement’s “reassessment of actual places.” In this reassessment of actual places, public spaces have become arenas for spectacle. Examples include the
The authors suggest that it is necessary to engage in the reformulation of urban ideals and visions of utopia. While utopia may be both a “good place,” as well as a “no place,” the utopian promise is a prerequisite for social change and contributes to the development of society. It is the “concrete utopias grounded in the possible” that challenge people to become more active in the production of a better world. Utopia can be embedded into actual projects that people and societies still inhabit.
Utopic visions indeed can go awry, but it is a better alterative than the postmodernist concentration on championing everyday life and the consumer society. Hatuka and D’Hooghe rhetorically ask, “Can a discourse on the everyday provide more than an anesthetization of urbanity?” “Does a corresponding architecture of the everyday merely legitimate the use of spatial resources without social vision?” They view that it is difficult to keep alive the possibility of socio-political culture without an “alternate” vision of utopia on the horizon.
The utopian methodology of visionary thinking can be particularly useful in the following areas: 1) finding new ways to deal with highly conflicted urban situations; 2) inventing city structures that give formal expression to socio-political ideas; 3) creating new forms of affordable housing that address population growth and ecological crises.
The current Massachusetts Institute of Technology project on
Tali Hatuka and Alexander D’Hooghe, After Postmodernism: Readdressing the Role of Utopia in Urban Design and Planning, 19 Places No. 2 (2007).
This posting summarizes several articles that discuss the possibility of daylighting Strawberry Creek in Downtown Berkeley. I specifically avoided using information from the various interest groups, such as Friends of Strawberry Creek Plaza, to focus on the marginally more objective coverage from the SF Chronicle.
Strawberry Creek flows down from the hills above UC Berkeley’s campus to the
A review of the Strawberry Creek daylighting effort suggests the issue is more complex than presented to us by Patrick Kennedy. While Mr. Kennedy casually suggested that the
With regards to alternative funding sources, we can look back to how
There is yet another benefit to daylighting; for the past several years the city and private landowners have been struggling over how to deal with repairing the miles of century-old culverts underlying
Compounding the repair cost conflict, in 1989
Unfortunately for daylighting proponents, neither the city nor UC Berkeley appear very interested in the project, whatever its cost. Mayor Bates is on record as saying that daylighting, if it should happen at all, should occur on the stretch between City Hall and
Patrick Hoge, Creek considerations; City mulls logistics, costs of opening up covered waterway, S.F. Chron., May 24, 2004, at B1.
Patrick Hoge, Who owns the creeks, culverts? Homeowners, city fight over costly question, S.F. Chron., March 23, 2004, at B1.
Carolyn Jones, Creeks proposal making waves; Environmentalists, homeowners clash over proposed rules, May 30, 2006, S.F. Chron., at B1.
Carolyn Jones, UC Berkeley seeks public’s views to plan new path for Peoples’ Park, S.F. Chron., January 13, 2007, at B1.
Katherine Redding, Water Warriors; United Creeks Council quietly brings streams to light, S.F. Chron., April 4, 2003, at EB1.
UC Berkeley is coming up with a plan to change People’s Park into something more hip and accessible. To deal with the homeless problem in the park, the University is planning to work with the city of Berkeley on services such as homeless outreach programs. Apparently the key issue in changing the park is to get people to want to use it, without excluding anyone. In addition to wireless Internet and wellness seminars, a recent report suggests adding a skateboard ramp, playground and well-lit pathways, thinning the vegetation, upgrading the stage and bathrooms, improving the community garden and somehow honoring the park’s role in Berkeley history. Any changes are at least one year away but it is good that the University is looking into integrating a key piece of Berkeley back into the community by attempting to make the park accessible to everybody.
Tomorrow: Arts, Neighborhoods, and Social Practice: The arts and processes of urban community revitalization and engagement
Conference/Symposium January 25 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Stephens Hall, Townsend Center for the Humanities, Room 220
Speakers/Performers: Shannon Jackson, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies; Karen Chapple, Center for Community Innovation
Sponsor: Center for Community Innovation
Art and artists have come to be seen as catalysts for neighborhood change, both positive and negative. This symposium is part of a larger endeavor at UC-Berkeley to construct a multi-disciplinary understanding of the arts as integral to processes of community revitalization and civic engagement, both in the United States and abroad. Over the day, we will examine what creative venues mean for neighborhood identity from the perspective of community-based arts organizations, neighborhood advocates, funders and the artists themselves. Speakers will explore the roles that arts and cultural activities can play in neighborhood improvement and community-building. How can the arts reshape community perceptions and provoke unanticipated debate and exchange? Do arts organizations inevitably destabilize neighborhoods, or are some organizations able to foster community stability by enhancing individual life chances? What are the challenges for artists who are charged with the task of community building? How might the arts as social practices be better integrated into neighborhood fabrics?
RSVP info: RSVP online.
Event Contact: 510-643-9103
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Summary by Jayni Foley
This article is an interview with Randy Jewart, the founder of Austin Green Art in Austin, Texas. Austin Green Art is a program which encourages schools to use old, recycled materials to create art. This article discusses Jewart’s newest endeavor: a community gardening project called “Grow Austin Weird.”
Grow Austin Weird is a program to promote community gardening—at home, in shared public spaces, or in large-scale development projects. Eating locally has become a major international issue, as it reduces C02 emissions caused by food transportation, and local gardening often promotes organic practices. Grow Austin Weird is also about community and aesthetics. As Austin is increasing in population, the program aims to “re-examine landscape and public space and the community's connection to the land itself.” One way of doing this is to experiment with growing gardens in a variety of public and private spaces. The program aims to work with teachers, children, and businesses. It will also have a web site to share information on growing tips and information on the program itself.
Berkeley, with its temperate climate and eco-savvy citizens, may be a great place to start a similar program. The Edible Schoolyard in North Berkeley, run by the Alice Waters Foundation, is already one such example. For this class, we might consider the idea of expanding community gardening to the downtown area. This might be done on rooftops of new buildings. Further, perhaps UC Berkeley would be interested in participating. We can also tie this to the idea of feeding the homeless and reducing CO2 emissions.
I love Berkeley. I must confess, its self-righteous citizens can indeed drive one crazy. However, I have yet to find a more beautiful, vibrant, and individualist city in the US. In this essay, author Michael Chabon captures the spirit of Berkeley in four pages and highlights the stubborn mentality of this city which is either its greatest downfall, or its key to survival.
“This town drives me crazy,” Chabon writes, as he affectionately explores all the eccentricities which define life in Berkeley. The beautiful aspects of Berkeley are not lost on Chabon: the tree-lined streets, eucalyptus-covered hills, and the spontaneous parks and artsy nooks. Relevant to this class, Chabon hits upon the “attractive old industrial district steadfastly prevent[ing] new-economy businesses from taking over…leaving them empty cenotaphs to the vanished noble laborer of other days.” Yet Chabon recognizes the benefits of this perhaps stunted view of development, writing, “If there were a hundred good small cities in America fifty years ago - towns built to suit the people who settled them, according to their tastes, aspirations, and the sovereign peculiarities of landscape and weather - today there are no more than twenty-five… I believe that Berkeley will be the last town in America with the ingrained perversity to hold onto its idea of itself.”
What can we learn from Chabon? First, this essay captures a city we all know, and hopefully love in some way. Second, downtown Berkeley needs to display the things that make Berkeley so wonderful: More tree-lined streets, perhaps eucalyptus; more art venues; more technology centers which lead the nation; and more environmentally-friendly buildings serving as laboratories of experimentation. Berkeley is an enraptured place; downtown needs to express this. I actually just returned from a semester at Harvard, and I would never wish Berkeley to become Cambridge. In fact, I came back because I missed it here too much. However, I can envision a Berkeley-ized version of the Charles Hotel: Instead of day-lighting the creek, plant a tree-grove in the center of pedestrian walk-way. Make the Hotel an eco-friendly resort; and have it cater to scientists, academics, and political leaders who aspire to change. Keep Berkeley as Berkeley, but make it thrive.
Waldron explores the relation between the rules of public and privateproperty, and the underlying freedom, or lack thereof, of homelessness.This is a moral philosophical inquiry that relates something we allvalue, freedom, with something many of us would choose to ignore: poorpeople performing basic human functions, which many of us do in a privateplace on private property, in a public place on public property.
The author describes the plight of homelessness as “no place governed bya private property rule where he is allowed to be whenever he chooses, noplace governed by a private property rule from which he may not at anytime be excluded as a result of someone else’s say-so.” Id. at 299.
In alibertarian paradise where all land would be held in private propertythere could be literally nowhere a homeless person is allowed to be.Since we live in such a society with some public, common property it isthese places – streets, parks, under bridges – where homeless people canlegally be. Yet there is increasing regulation that aim to restrict theactivities that can be performed in public places.
Waldron points out that a person who is not allowed to being a place isunfree to be there and thus a person who is not free to be in any placeis not free to do anything. “Such a person is comprehensively unfree.”Id. at 302. Thus the freedom of a homeless person depends on commonproperty unlike someone who does have a home. This condition requires agreat deal of agency since the mundane life tasks we with homes take forgranted require much resourcefulness to achieve in public. Waldron thenasks, since we as a society are willing to tolerate an economic system inwhich large numbers of people are homeless, are we then wiling to allowhomeless to act as free agents, looking after their own needs in publicplaces? The answer to this question is increasingly, “no.”
Whether a person is free to sleep or wash we must ask whether there areany prohibitions of place that apply to actions of this type. Thus ifsleeping is prohibited in public places, then sleeping is comprehensivelyprohibited to the homeless. Waldron points out some traits of theseprohibitions of place that limit behavior per se but have a specific typeof person in mind: People who know they have some place where they arepermitted to sleep, which allows them to infer a certain public place isnot a place for sleeping. People who do not want to be confronted withthe sight of the homeless are willing to deprive homeless people theopportunity to sleep to protect themselves from this discomfort.
How serious are anti-homeless laws as a prohibition on freedom? Theyclose off actions basic to the sustenance of a decent or healthy lifethat form a precondition for the kind of autonomous life celebrated andaffirmed by the Bill of Rights. This lack of liberty makes it harder forhomeless people to do the things that may get them a job to affordhousing. The irony of anti-homeless laws is that it makes it moredifficult for homeless people to improve the condition that is sooffensive.
Waldron characterizes out system of property as rules that providefreedom for some by imposing restrictions on other. Where a certainclass of people bear all of the restrictions and none of the benefitsthen property functions as nothing but a way of limiting their freedom. He urges readers to see homelessness as issue of freedom where people areagents who can satisfy their own basic needs.
Another major aspect to rehabilitation is its ability to revitalize downtown areas. For the last fifty years, there has been a departure from the cities to the suburbs, which has created major negative economic, social and political problems. Downtowns are beginning to turn around and historical preservation has always played a major role. Stable residential neighborhoods are essential for revitalizing downtowns, and rehabilitation is key to creating this stability.
For the future, rehabilitation has five major roles to play: 1) dealing with a globalized economy, 2) preventing a globalized culture, 3) building communities, 4) protecting the environment, and 5) being a vehicle of fiscal responsibility.
Donovan D. Rypkema, The Economic Power of Restoration, Address Before the Restoration & Renovation Conference (Jan. 15, 2001) (transcript available at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/hp/smartgrowth/economic_power_of_restoration.pdf).
According to this article, the city of Berkeley has been turning away groups that would like to hold conferences here because of a total lack of conference space and hotel rooms. Berkeley only has approximately 1,200 hotel rooms, which means that it is unable to bid on conferences that would bring more than a few hundred people into the city at one time. It only hosts about 10 conferences a year that are not affiliated with UC Berkeley (another 30 conferences per year are university-related). The author cites this fact as a reason that economic development in downtown Berkeley has been “stunted,” but predicts that with the development of the Berkeley Charles hotel, slated to break ground in 2009, the problem will eventually be ameliorated. The article also predicts an expansion of the Berkeley arts district, beginning with the relocation of Berkeley’s art museum, which will draw more visitors to the city.
I was curious about crime rates in Berkeley and if safety is actually an issue or just a perceived issue. I found a 2006 crime report from the Berkeley Office of the City Manager to the Mayor and City Counsel. The report stated that overall crime in Berkeley has declined over the past few years. Violent crime rates in Berkeley have increased and property crime rates have decreased.
The report indicated several factors that impact crime rates, including poverty, homelessness, drug abuse, availability of youth programs, educational opportunities, the state of the economy, and employment opportunities.
The report also listed several crime reduction strategies such as more proactive law enforcement for property crimes, better communication and coordination within law enforcement itself and between law enforcement and the community, public education regarding crime prevention, and community involvement.
The report had graphical comparisons of the crime rates in Berkeley to other cities in the East Bay. While Berkeley’s crime rates were in the middle for violent crimes (26.3 per 10,000), Berkeley had the highest rates for property crimes (379.1 per 10,000).
The report also included 3 maps indicating the crimes rates for property crimes, violent crimes, and car thefts within the city of Berkeley. The crimes rates appear to be the highest in downtown and in South Berkeley near People’s Park though the maps are somewhat hard to read.
Specifically, high-density housing in downtown Berkeley can draw in businesses and employers. The residents of such housing, being near the BART, businesses, and employers, can more easily leave their cars behind. Thus, downtown Berkeley could be transformed into a “walkable community,” where residents take the train, cycle, or walk, rather than drive. Indeed, recent surveys conducted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission suggests that “people who live within half a mile of transit use transit extensively and are more likely to walk and bike than residents living greater than half a mile from transit.”
As Patrick Kennedy pointed out, seniors have incentives to leave their homes behind and move downtown, if it were developed. Aulakh supports Kennedy’s view: “recent studies have found that when elders in high density neighborhoods are able to walk to clusters of destinations such as the post office or grocery store, overweight and social isolation are reduced.” The benefits of high-density development to the rapidly aging population of Berkeley may encourage Berkeley’s future seniors to move downtown.
In addition, Aulakh argues that high-density downtown development will benefit the health of Berkeley’s young people by both (1) “reducing air pollution” and (2) “offering families pedestrian-friendly destinations that will increase the entire family’s access to opportunities for physical activity.”
The California Center for Physical Activity also supports the view that “compact neighborhoods make it practical to choose walking, bicycling and transit – especially for the high proportion of trips that are a few miles or shorter in length. Being able to choose these options instead of driving means less pollution, less traffic congestion, more open space, and economic vitality in our town centers.” To echo the physical-activity argument, Broderick Perkins reports that a forum among members Urban Land Institute (ULI), the National Multi-Housing Council (NMHC), and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) agreed that high-density development can help “reduce automobile trips, encourage biking and walking, and support public transit; bring the health benefits of walking and biking”; “add support for local retail and further reduce the need for car-driven errands”; and “create more secure neighborhoods because people living at higher densities are more likely to walk, shop locally, and get to know their neighbors…”
To improve the viability high-density development, the development should be transit-oriented and coupled with “neighborhood preservation, [mixed-use], and…laden[ed] with features important to those likely to live in such communities – singles, empty nesters and students among others.” In other words, if high-density development were to proceed in downtown Berkeley, the success of such development can be improved by establishing policies that attract and retain likely residents.
 Sweena Aulakh, Commentary: A Healthy Perspective on Downtown Development, Berkeley Daily Planet, May 1, 2007 available at http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/article1.cfm?archiveDate=05-01-07&storyID=26960.
 Healthy Transportation Network of the California Center for Physical Activity, Research, http://healthytransportation.net/research.html (last visited on Jan. 21, 2008).
 Broderick Perkins, Communities Dense About High-Density Development, RealtyTimes.com, July 18, 2002 available at http://www.nmhc.org/Content/ServeContent.cfm?ContentItemID=2573.
 Broderick Perkins, Communities Dense About High-Density Development, RealtyTimes.com, July 18, 2002 available at http://www.nmhc.org/Content/ServeContent.cfm?ContentItemID=2573.
Michael Southworth defines “walkability” as “the extent to which the built environment supports and encourages walking by providing for pedestrian comfort and safety, connecting people with varied destinations within a reasonable amount of time and effort, and offering visual interest in journeys throughout the network.” Among the advantages of a walkable city are environmental sustainability and the promotion of physical health for the city’s residents.
Southworth offers six factors that he argues to be important for a walkable environment: (1) connectivity; (2) linkage with other modes of transport; (3) a varied land use pattern offering the essentials of daily life; (4) safety; (5) quality of path; and (6) context of path.
Connectivity requires barrier-free sidewalks with frequent intersections between pedestrian paths and small block sizes. Southworth argues that the traditional grid layout is preferred to other city layouts, such as the cul-de-sac arrangement of many suburban developments or more intricate and irregular arrangements. Berkeley’s downtown area would appear to score highly on this count, as it offers continuous, unobstructed sidewalks with frequent intersections in a grid-like pattern. Berkeley also scores highly on Southworth’s linkage requirement, as the Downtown Berkeley BART station is a short walk from all points in the “downtown” area and numerous bus lines run through the city. Berkeley also has adequate quality of path in the Downtown area, as the sidewalks are well maintained and have handicapped-friendly ramps.
On the remaining counts, however, downtown Berkeley performs less well. Southworth defines variety in land-use as easy access to the essentials of daily life, including cafes, restaurants, schools and shops. While Berkeley does offer a variety of stores and restaurants, is situated near green spaces and contains schools, the quality and utility of the stores in the downtown area is low. Poor quality restaurants and stores offering shoe or vacuum repair do not constitute tempting commercial opportunities, and the area lacks access to essentials like a grocery store. Berkeley’s downtown area contains many unlit or poorly-lit streets and a significant homeless population, contributing to a perceived lack of safety. While pedestrian crosswalks exist, many do not offer adequate time for elderly or handicapped persons to cross the wide and heavily-trafficked streets. In terms of “path context,” Southworth advocates avoiding repetitive building designs and promotes an abundance of outdoor seating and cafes, and the inclusion of trees and other natural elements. He also claims that straight streets are preferred to winding ones because they instill a perceived sense of freedom of movement. On this count Berkeley receives a middling score: although the downtown area has straight streets and contains some natural elements, there is a lack of outdoor seating and few outdoor cafés.
Interestingly, Southworth devotes no discussion to the inclusion of residential apartments in his article, although one would assume this is implicit in a walkable city. Also lacking is discussion of the area’s weather pattern, which common sense would suggest to be important and which is one of Berkeley’s strengths.