Monday, March 31, 2008

Parking Crunch

I found an article entitled “The Parking Crunch Myth” which examined whether changes in organization of office space lead to a parking crunch as many people believe. As office put more employees in smaller spaces to save costs, many are worried that parking will become an increasing problem.

The article states that it is important for employers to accurately assess the demand for parking. This assessment involves a consideration of the correct occupied floor of the building, the percentage of employees who drive cars, and the density of employees within the building. The trend in recent years has been toward more demand for parking, often above what the buildings can handle. However, recent studies comparing current parking demand ratios to those in the 1980s reveal that parking demand hasn’t increased as dramatically as many people believe. The evidence of dramatic increases in parking demand involve isolated areas.

However, employers should be aware that parking planning is still important. Parking demands may be shifting in coming years as more people telecommute. Some new considerations include incentives to carpool, discouraging reserved parking, re-striping spaces to accommodate smaller cars, leasing spaces from nearby properties that have little weekday traffic, and adding parking decks to lots.

John Dorsett, The Parking Crunch Myth, Today’s Facility Manager, May 1998, available at

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Parking Paper Outline

Parking Paper Outline:

  1. Why this is an issue
    1. Current state

i. Garages

ii. Map

iii. Meters

iv. Employer permits

    1. Proposed developments

i. Charles Hotel

ii. Asian Art Museum

    1. Increased car use
    2. Consumer impacts
  1. Considerations in adopting a solution
    1. Wide variety of solutions
    2. Factors that affect parking demand
    3. Policy/pricing factors
    4. Spillover problems
    5. Incidental costs
    6. Transportation and land use objectives
    7. Who bears the costs?
    8. Measure demand Costs
    9. Considerations specific to downtowns
    10. Methods:

i. Copy other cities

ii. Consult data

  1. Possible solutions
    1. Parking Pricing

i. Techniques

ii. Objectives

iii. Getting the right price

iv. Benefits/Costs

1. Efficiency

2. Reduced car use

3. Efficient land use

4. Revenues

5. Transaction costs

6. Financial costs

7. spillover

8. Reduces cruising

v. New technology meters

1. Pay and display

2. Pay by space

3. in vehicle meters

4. mobile phone

vi. Examples:

1. Aspen

    1. Min/max
    2. Increase capacity

i. Increase curb parking

ii. Decrease size

    1. Employer
    2. Subsidize
    3. Remote

i. Example: Chattanooga

    1. Re-design
    2. Car stackers
    3. Information
    4. Residential
    5. Eliminate reserved parking
    6. Reduce demand

i. In lieu

ii. Shared

    1. Freezes
    2. Reduce demand

i. Ex: Portland

    1. Enforcement
  1. Examples
    1. Pasadena
    2. SF
    3. Redwood City

Saturday, March 29, 2008

NYTimes Travel on Berkeley

Friday, March 21, 2008

Green Building Paper Outline

Better for The Environment: New Green Buildings or Retrofitting Old Buildings?

I. The Goal: Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
a. California’s AB 32, City of Berkeley and UC Berkeley initiatives
b. LEED certification program: requirements and goals

II. Constructing New Green Buildings
a. Environmental Costs of construction: energy and materials
b. Environmental Savings: energy efficiency, offsets, other measures
c. Net Benefit or impact

III. Retrofit Existing Buildings to Achieve More Energy Efficiency
a. Environmental cost of leaving buildings as they are
b. Environmental costs of retrofitting existing buildings
c. Environmental Savings: energy efficiency, offsets, other measures
d. Net Benefit or impact

IV. Comparing New Green Buildings and Retrofitted Buildings

V. Implications for Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan
a. Common ground for environmentalists and preservationists?
b. Recommendation for DAPAC

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Homelessness / PCEI Paper -- Outline

Proposed Structure for Homelessness Paper:

  1. How do homelessness/crime issues relate to DAPAC? [Robert]
    1. How The Presence of The Homeless Inhibits Economic Growth
    2. How Crime Inhibits Economic Growth

  1. The Situation in Berkeley [Linda; Farhad; Efren; Jenny]
    1. Current rates / facts

i. How present are the homeless in Berkeley?

ii. What are current crime rates downtown?

iii. Is there a relationship between the presence of the homeless downtown and downtown crime rates?

    1. Berkeley’s Past (Unconstitutional) Measures to Address Homelessness

i. Measures N and O (1998)

ii. Judicial decision declaring the measures unconstitutional violation of First Amendment

    1. Berkeley’s Attempts to Address Homelessness Downtown

i. The Public Commons for Everyone Initiative (PCEI)

ii. Other Relevant Legislation or Policies / Other Social

1. Housing the homelessness

iii. Financial impact of Berkeley’s programs

    1. How Other Cities Have Tried to Address Homelessness

i. Case examples of what works and does not work

ii. Comparison to Berkeley

  1. Public Commons for Everyone Initiative [Jesse; Matt; Beverly; David]
    1. Why The PCEI Will Fail to Address Homelessness in Berkeley

i. Eighth Amendment Cruel & Unusual Analysis [Beverly]

ii. Fourteenth Amendment Due Process / Void for Vagueness Analysis [David]

iii. The merits of criminalization on homelessness [Matt]

iv. Straight Policy Discretion Analysis [Jesse]

    1. Proposed Solutions

i. A Redrafted PCEI Ordinance [Jesse, Matt, David, Beverly]

TDR Paper: Outline (Draft 1)

I. Introduction to TDR
a. Definitions and TDR Basics (Allison)
b. Why TDRs could help downtown Berkeley: addressing gaps in DAP (Allison)
i. Density
1. DAPAC height limits and cost-effective building
2. Environmental goals
a. Berkeley Greenhouse Gas plan
ii. Historic Preservation
1. Parcel assembly
2. Balancing new development with effective preservation of historic buildings
c. Legal Issues with TDRs (Natalie)
d. TDRs in Berkeley: existing plan (Josh)

II. TDRs and Density
a. Benefits of dense development (Hana)
i. Environmental
ii. Economic
iii. Safety
b. Case Studies of TDRs to achieve dense development (Hana)

III. TDRs and Historic Preservation
a. Historic Preservation in Berkeley
i. CEQA (Meg)
ii. Ramifications of listing (Meg)
b. Case Studies of Historic Preservation TDRs (Natalie)

IV. Implementation Recommendations (Sara and Michael) – Does it make sense to include sub-sections specific to recommendations for achieving density and for achieving preservation?
a. TDR Bank
b. Sending/Receiving Areas
c. Densities (?)
d. Is anything missing?

Paper Outline - Eminent Domain


Broad Questions to Answer
1) When is eminent domain legal?
2) When is eminent domain advisable? When is it unadvisable?
3) How does DAPAC square with the answers to #2?
4) Are there Berkeley-specific issues that make this a particularly good/bad idea?

  1. Eminent Domain: Basic Intro
    1. General Intro: Definition & Mechanics
    2. Legal Precedents
      1. Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954): Landmark case upholding private to private transfers as part of urban renewal schemes.
      2. Hawaii v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984)
      3. Kelo v. New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005): Recent endorsement of private→private transfers.
  2. Responses to Kelo
    1. Legislative Responses
      1. Sensenbrenner Bill: in response to Kelo, would deny federal funds to cities that use eminent domain to transfer property from one private party to another.
    2. Academic Responses
      1. “Eminent Domain for Urban Redevelopment - An essential tool for development? Or an unnecessary intervention in the market.”
    3. Public Responses: Newspaper articles, etc.
  3. Practical Guide to Eminent Domain
    1. New HUD guidelines – Jan 4 2008
  4. Case Studies: Cities that have employed eminent domain
    1. New London (Kelo)
  5. Berkeley Profile w.r.t. Eminent Domain issues
    1. Past experiences
      1. Ashby BART – specific resolution not to use ED
    2. Demographic / Infrastructural / Geographical / Geological characteristics
    3. Issues w/ Historic Preservation & Eminent Domain?
  6. Recommendation: What role should Eminent Domain play in downtown redevelopment?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mortgage crisis is creating new 'slumburbs'

Carol Lloyd, Mortgage crisis is creating new ‘slumburbs,’ March 16, 2008, S.F. Chron., at C-1.

This past Sunday, an article appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle discussing the effect of the mortgage crisis on suburban developments and how it could lead to an increase in the building of walkable urban developments.

According to the article (citing Richard Florida’s new book, “Who’s Your City”), “super cities” like San Francisco are attracting a disproportionate number of educated, creative workers. These people keep the housing prices relatively high within the urban core despite the state of the US economy at large. Outside that core, however, suburbs are experiencing “unprecedented decline”:

“Stockton, with nearly 5 percent of all its households at some stage of foreclosure, got the honor of ringing up the second-highest foreclosure rate nationwide, after Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.”

Carol Lloyd, the article's author, goes on to identify other areas that ranked high on that foreclosure list:

“Other sprawling California regions dominated the list: Modesto at No.3, Merced at No.4, Riverside-San Bernardino at No.5, Bakersfield at No.7, Vallejo-Fairfield at No.8 and Sacramento at No.9.”

These foreclosures draw attention to the importance of urban living, according to Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institute in Washington. Leinberger contends that edge suburbs are already turning into slums, and that neighborhoods populated with isolated, car-dependent single-families are not sustainable because:

(1) New suburbs tend to be far from public transport, social services and commerce;

(2) As compared to redeveloping older, sturdy urban buildings, it is difficult to create multifamily housing out of existing production-built suburban housing; and

(3) The suburbs, which depend on developers’ fees and property taxes for community needs, are financially vulnerable.

The article points out parenthetically that Leinberger’s suburbs do not include “older inner suburbs like Berkeley or Palo Alto that have walkable urban neighborhoods and public transit.”

Lloyd finishes on a positive note, citing to John Norquist, president of the Congress for the New Urbanism, for the opinion that walkable neighborhoods are being built well and that they are a desirable thing. And she cites again to Leinberger, who believes that building walkable urban developments offers no guarantee of a city’s success but is an essential first step.

The experts, Lloyd says, believe this could be an evolution of the American dream toward a “far healthier, more ecological vision.”

Paper Topic

I will be writing for the paper about homelessness. Specifically, I am going to discuss the constitutionality of the ordinance. There are 2 questions I am addressing. 1. is this ordinance void for vagueness under these cases? and 2. is the failure to designate a civil or criminal regime a violation of due process?

Downtown Planners Confront Homeless, Housing Need

In 2006, the city turned its attention to the poor and the homeless who frequent, sleep and panhandle along downtown streets.
There are multiple ways the city hoped to address the problem. One goal of the DAPAC plan should be a call for increased cooperation between the university and city on housing issues involving the poor and homeless. In addition, the new plan should include setting a priority on the need for housing and social services in the downtown; calling for a costly seismic retrofit and improvements at the Veterans’ Memorial Building at 1931 Center St., where many services for the homeless are now located; and adding more incentives for developers to create housing for the homeless and extremely low-income tenants, possibly through expediting the city approval process for projects that include the units.
The reality of street life in Berkeley is more complex than simple stereotypes would suggest, committee members learned. For one thing, many of the downtown panhandlers who seek the change of passers-by along Shattuck Avenue and other downtown streets aren’t homeless.
In addition, Berkeley’s homeless population is unique, in part because the city has 40 percent of Alameda County’s chronically homeless, largely single males, Micallef said. One reason may be the perception that Berkeley is friendlier to the down-trodden.
Another attraction is that Berkeley has its own mental health program, and people who are mentally ill feel more comfortable here than anywhere else. But the city also spends a disproportionate amount of funds on emergency services for the homeless, and those costs would probably drop if more housing could be found.
What the homeless really need, however, is housing. But, for one thing, Berkeley doesn’t have many of the vacant buildings that can be transformed into a single room occupancy (SRO) residence, with shared kitchen and bath facilities, or other types of housing. And another reality is the long time lag between approving new housing and its eventual opening.
Another problem is money—not only funds to build new units but the cash to help their tenants make the transition from street life. Housing alone isn’t a solution without social services to support the needs of a population with chemical dependency, mental health and other issues

Richard Brenneman, Downtown Planners Confront Homeless, Housing Need, Berkeley Daily Planet (Oct. 20, 2006), available at,

Paper Topic

I'm writing for the Infrastructure paper and I will be focusing on the parking problem in downtown and possible solutions. I think the Infrastructure group is going to use green building as an element to tie our three parts together.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dacey v. City of Berkeley

If anyone is interested in the writ of mandate that today's guest speakers were talking about regarding the lawsuit against Patrick Kennedy here is the link:

Click on "Case Summary"
Enter the case number as RG07314238

Monday, March 17, 2008

Coalition Support for Increased Density Housing

Emmet Pierce, Coalition stands up for density; Housing Action Network seeks to build public support, The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 2, 2003.

My contribution to the TDR memo will focus on the environmental, economic and safety benefits of high density development. This relates to the topic of TDRs in that increased density (via increased height) is our primary justification for the historic preservation TDR plan we are proposing.

As one of my continuous areas of interest has long been economic development, I began my research there. I came across this article in my research and found it interesting particularly because it focuses on San Diego, another California City, and one that has also undergone a TDR program.

The article highlights the activism of an organization that advocates along the principle “that a poorly housed work force will lead to a weakened economy” and applied this principle to the development of high-density residential development in San Diego.

I would also be interested to hear any other views on this issue – so please comment!

Price Tag of Parking

I found an article entitled “Price Tag of Parking.” The author argues that there is really no such thing as free parking. Even parking that is provided at no cost often carries a high price for parking providers. The costs associated with no cost parking include investments in land, construction costs, property and sales taxes, and maintenance and operating costs. These parking costs are usually passed on to the operator of the facility. For example, a mall owner will charge higher rent to cover the costs associated with parking. Higher rents usually translate into higher prices for customers.

The article suggests that owners should carefully consider whether more parking is needed before building new parking since this will involve additional costs. Construction costs for one parking space can be anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000. In assessing parking demand, owners should ask three questions: How long will patrons park? How many times will each space turn over? When will demand exist?

Even if more parking is needed, building a new structure isn’t necessarily the best approach. Owners should consider other options such as operating a shuttle service from remote parking, employing policies to discourage people from driving, building a surface lot on an existing vacant lot, re-striping existing facilities to increase supply, or implementing parking management strategies that allow existing parking facilities to be used more efficiently.

John Dorsett, Price Tag of Parking, Today’s Facility Manager, February 1998, available at

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Upcoming Ballot Initiatives on Eminent Domain and Rent Control

Propositions 98 and 99 – Eminent Domain and Rent Control

On June 3rd, California voters will be given the choice to vote for Propositions 98 and 99, dealing with eminent domain and rent control. The current landscape surrounding these issues is as follows:

With regards to rent control, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose all currently have some measure of rent control, limiting the amount a landlord can increase the rent charged for a unit during a tenant’s residence. Landlords are free to set the rent at any level when tenants change, however.

Respecting eminent domain, Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) held, in a 5-4 decision, that eminent domain, the right of the government to seize private property for public purposes, allowed cities to seize private property and transfer it to other private owners to further economic development. The Court held that seizure and transfer of property from one private party to another qualified as a “public use” if the new use creates new jobs, increases tax revenues and help to revitalize a depressed urban area. Kelo has generated substantial public backlash and considerable uncertainty. Propositions 98 and 99 are, to great extent, the result of this backlash.

The basics of the propositions are:
Prop. 98 limits the government’s ability to employ eminent domain to seize private property for public uses and eliminates rent control throughout California.

Eminent Domain Effects:
  • Private property may not be taken for other private use under any circumstances (i.e. Kelo-type seizures would be prohibited).
  • Property may only be taken for public uses like freeway construction, parks, or schools.
  • Open spaces and farms may not be seized for the sale of natural resources.
  • If the government’s purpose change after the seizure, the property must be offered for repurchase to the original owner at the seizure price.
Rent Control Effects
  • Tenants living in rent-controlled areas continue to receive the benefit of rent control until they move.
  • Once a unit turns over to a new tenant, that unit is no longer subject to rent control.

Prop. 99: In response to a perceived “hidden agenda” behind Prop. 98, evidenced by the substantial financial backing of apartment and mobile home owners, the California League of Cities proposed Prop. 99. The League of Cities claims that the real motivation behind Prop. 98 is the elimination of rent control in order to profit landlords. Prop. 99 also deals with eminent domain, but has no provisions regarding rent control. Under Prop. 99, the government would be prohibited from taking owner-occupied homes for sale to another private party. Prop. 99 is drafted such that if both propositions are passed, the proposition receiving more votes will become law.

• Tom Chorneau, Eminent Domain Measure on Ballot, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, MAR. 10, 2008.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tensions between Berkeley High School students and Downtown area merchants

Because Berkeley High School does not have a cafeteria, about 90 percent of students rely on Downtown merchants for lunch, according to a Berkeley High School junior.

When students leave campus for their 50-minute lunch break, some of them steal from food stores, according to local merchants. Nevertheless, the same local merchants admit that much of their income comes from Berkeley High School students.

In response, some students complain that the merchants are “rude” and discriminatory. For instance, one student alleged that the merchants stereotype black teenagers as “gangbangers.” In general, the distrust of high school students leads some merchants to kick out students who are in large groups. Kicking out students in large groups affects black students in particular, because, as one student put it, black students tend to travel “in packs.”

Landmark Berkeley Ice Rink to Reopen
The Berkeley Ice Rink was scheduled to be shut down about a year ago. The property was going to be used as development property, however a nonprofit group stepped in to raise about $12 million within the next two years to save the landmark.

The ice rink has had several skaters such as Kristi Yamaguchi, Peggy Fleming and Brian Boitano start their career there. It was open for 70 years before being shutting down sometime a year ago.

This is another example of the landmarking and attempting to save older buildings which could be used for more productive development. Society thriving on decay anyone?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Building Reuse is Green, Says Leading Architect

Richard Brenneman, “Building Reuse is Green, Says Leading Architect,” The Berkeley Daily Planet, Mar. 11, 2008 (available at

The Berkeley Daily Planet featured an article this week summarizing green development perspectives held by architect and green building expert Sandra Mendler.

Mendler, who spoke as a Green Building and Development panel member at the UC Berkeley Energy Symposium, explained that retrofits can generally match the efficiency standards of new construction. She further offered that retrofitting an existing building is generally greener than tearing it down and building a new one. Her conclusions echo findings made by DAPAC in their preparation of the Downtown Area Plan.

Other panelists at the symposium included Steve Selkowitz and Charles Huizenga of Lawrence Berkeley and Gail Brager of UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment. Each shared Mendler’s perspective that the current levels of emissions stemming from building energy use identified buildings as major targets for conservation efforts.

Among the factors contributing to energy use, “90% of a building’s embodied energy derives from five material choices: framing (steel, concrete or wood), enclosure systems (glass, masonry or metal), flooring, roofing and partitions.” Mendler offered, for example, that aluminum requires tens times the energy to produce as steel.

The article concludes with a plug for, where builders can go to calculate the green-ness of their projects.

Center Street Plaza

The Berkeley Planning Commission Task Force evaluated the proposal to build a hotel/conference center/museum complex in the heart of Downtown Berkeley. The report found that the proposed 200-room hotel and conference center and relocation of the UC museums downtown could significantly boost the Downtown economy and add nearly $1 million per year to direct City revenues.

The Task Force found that Center Street between Oxford and Shattuck is ideally suited to become a public open space closed to cars. Center Street is the major pedestrian link between the campus and Downtown. More than 10,000 walking trips per day are made on this block, while there is relatively little automobile traffic. This block’s dimensions are: Length- 460'; curb-to-curb width- 42'; total right-of-way- 80'; width of sidewalk on the south side of the street- about 22'; and width of sidewalk on the north side- 16'. Making Center Street a pedestrian block will encourage more people to walk to and from campus, bus, and BART Downtown. Trees can be planted to provide landscaping and open space.

The proposed hotel and conference center would be strategically located at the most significant transit point in Berkeley. That said, it could still generate significant traffic by hotel guests, conference-goers, museum visitors, and employees. A project transportation plan can reduce traffic impacts. The report outlines a number of strategies to reduce car use: locating parking underground; raising parking rates for all-day use; and/or providing hotel guests with a day’s free transit by means of a BART excursion ticket, perhaps a policy contributing to LEED certification.

Other suggestions for the plaza:

● Use of the hotel/conference center should flow easily to and from the street and encourage spilling into Downtown.

● Include ground-level and second-story cafes, restaurants and retail developed in conjunction with the hotel, preferably with outdoor seating.

● Feature ecological amenities that relate to the civic, environmental, arts, and economic values supported by the Berkeley General Plan.

- Jayni Foley

Report of the Planning Commission Task Force on a Downtown Hotel/Conference Center/Museums Complex and Public Open Space (April 27, 2004), available at

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another Permit for Patrick Kennedy

The Berkeley Zoning Board Adjustment approved three projects in Berkeley last week: 1) add a restaurant downtown, 2) build a bio fuels station in south Berkeley, and 3) permit a child care center for Pixar employees in West Berkeley. With regard to the most relevant project to downtown Berkeley, the first project, developer Patrick Kennedy now has a blanket use permit to establish a 13, 974 square foot full service restaurant and bar (able to serve alcohol) at the former location of the Act 1&2 Theater on the 2100 block of Center Street. Kennedy sees potential for a Spanish or Latin restaurant with live entertainment. On behalf of Kennedy, Niloo Nouri expressed, “We wanted to have the full-service restaurant necessary to attract a good reputable high end name to Berkeley.” Board member Sarah Shumer opposed the permit and expressed concern over the nature of the blanket permit, as well as the availability of parking that would accompany the development of the restaurant. Vice chair Bob Allen, in favor of the permit, asked rhetorically, “If we are not going to allow this type of a development, what use can we allow downtown? . . . Do we want more of a ghost town than we have now?” From another perspective, Doug Hambleton, Berkeley police chief, expressed concern over the noise and supervision issues.

Riya Bhattacharjee, “ ZAB Approves Center Street Restaurant Permit, BioFuels Station,” The Berkeley Daily Planet, Volume 9 Issue 96, March 7-10 2008, at 3.

Becky O'Malley Editorial on Our Class

Becky O'Malley posted an editorial reflecting on what she wanted to say to our class today.

Homeless Shelter

I found an article in the Berkeley Daily Planet about one of the homeless shelters in Berkeley. It's a useful article to get a feel for what a shelter is like. St Mark’s Episcopal Church, with funding from the city, operates an emergency storm shelter. When the weather looks bad, the church posts signs through out the city letting people know that the shelter will open at 7pm and provide beds for the night.

Prior to 2002, the emergency shelter was provided by a number of churches on a rotating basis. In 2002, J.C. Orton, the operator of the shelter, was approached by the city. The city expressed interest in creating a permanent emergency shelter with funding from the city. Orton stated that the hardest part of creating the shelter was finding a venue. Orton contacted the churches that were involved in the rotational shelter program, and St Mark’s was the only one that expressed interest.

The doors at St Mark’s are open from 7-9pm for people to sign in. Each person is given a pad, a sheet, and a blanket for the night. The sheets are collected in the morning and are taking to the Laundromat. There are usually between 50 and 60 people, mostly between the ages of 26 and 55. There are usually 4 to 6 times as many men as women. The people using the shelter leave by 7am the next morning.

The article describes some personal stories from various people who have used the shelter. Most describe the difficulties they face in trying to find employment and a permanent place to live. One person expressed concern that the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative Berkeley will lead t more harassment of people who live on the streets.

Lydia Gans, St Mark’s Provides Shelter in Bad Weather, The Berkeley Daily Planet, January 29, 2008, available at

Monday, March 10, 2008

University Ponders Prospects for People's Park

People’s Park is about to reach its fortieth birthday and it needs to change. UC Berkeley has embarked on a comprehensive process to re-think how People's Park can better serve the campus and the broader community.
Despite the diversity of perspectives of the park's many stakeholders, most recognized the park's historical significance and had a strong interest in revitalizing the park to serve the community. Stakeholders also shared a common goal of having the park be a welcoming and safe open space.
Several intriguing possibilities were suggested as part of the park study, including using the park as a performance and fine arts public venue or as a learning space devoted to sustainability, health and wellness or global peace pursuits.
As a next step, the advisory board recommended that the university hold a design competition to solicit detailed plans for the park's redesign. The board has also recommended creating a new task force devoted to addressing issues of homelessness in and around People's Park.
Whether the park ultimately includes outdoor exhibits, a cafĂ©, an amphitheater or meditation spots – or not – the goal is to create a park that can truly serve the community and campus.

University Ponders Prospects for People's Park, Cal Neighbors (Cal Neighbors, Berkeley, Cal.), Winter 2008, available at,

An Interesting Twist on Historic Preservation: “Twenty-first Century Pre-war Apartments”

Jennifer Bleyer, ‘Pre-war’ Apartments Rising Just Down the Street, March 9, 2008, New York Times, available at (last visited March 10, 2008).

I found this article in the New York Times yesterday highly amusing. It is also something of a play on, and at the same time critique of, the concept of historic classifications and preservation.

The article looks at a new high-rise residential development that recently sprouted up on the Upper West Side of New York City which is advertising its condos as “Twenty-first Century Pre-war Residences”. The article discusses the marketing value of these types of classifications.

Of course, the pro-development, New York City attitude highlighted in this article is better juxtaposed than compared to Berkeley’s anti-development sentiment, but I found it an interesting perspective for comparison, particularly for those of us planning to write on TDRs and historical preservation in this context.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Berkeley Council passes plan to stop bad street behavior

Berkeley’s City Council voted unanimously 9-0 last summer to pass the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative, a sweeping plan that seeks to address aggressive and disruptive behavior on the Berkeley’s streets. The goal of the PCEI is to improve the city’s common areas for everyone who lives in, works in, and visits Berkeley. The initiative cracks down on a wide range of behavior on the Berkeley’s streets that is regarded to be inhospitable to residents, visitors, and merchants. For example, PCEI bans smoking near buildings in commercial areas, lying on the sidewalk, public urination and defecation, drinking in public, possessing a shopping car, and shouting in public.

Another objective of PCEI is to use the criminal justice and social service systems to force the homeless population of Berkeley into counseling and rehabilitation. While Berkeley has various resources and services for its approximately 800 homeless people, many do not utilize these programs or are not reached by social workers.

Homeless advocates have fought passionately to stop the initiative, which they argue victimizes the city’s most vulnerable residents by criminalizing their behavior. They argue that the $2 million per year cost required to fund the program would be better spent on housing.

Even so, the PCEI is hoped to revitalize Berkeley, especially the downtown and northern end of Shattuck Avenue, where merchants, residents and visitors have been complaining for years about disruptive street behavior.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

City to Study Costs of Proposed Development

Sameea Kamal, "City to Study Costs of Proposed Development," The Daily Californian, Mar. 6, 2008 (available at

According to The Daily Californian, the Berkeley Planning Commission voted (6-3) to study the economic feasibility of the DAPAC downtown development plan before approving it. The study is estimated to potentially cost Berkeley $25,000 to $30,000.

Will Travis--we know him as DAPAC’s chair--voiced his support of the Planning Commission’s decision, while opponents criticized it as a tool for delaying development.

The main argument for the study was something we have heard more than once over these past few weeks: the cost of adding to a project the two additional stories permitted under DAPAC’s plan would outweigh the developer’s expected income.

The Commission will request approval for the funding at an upcoming City Council meeting, and the Council will then have to contract out for the study. Any findings would not be expected until June.

See also Richard Brenneman, Planners Make First Move to Challenge Downtown Plan, Berkeley Daily Planet (Feb. 29, 2008) (available at

David Jackson summarized Brenneman's article for the blog on 3/5.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Is "The Main Street USA Approach" right for Berkeley?

The “Main Street Approach” is a “community-driven, comprehensive methodology” to revitalize business districts, premised on encourag[ing] economic development within the context of historic preservation in ways appropriate to today's marketplace.” The Approach emphasizes that it is an “incremental” plan that is “not designed to produce immediate change,” and cautions against following in the footsteps of plans that fail to address the root causes of economic decline, choosing, rather, to go for quick-fix solutions like arena’s or pedestrian malls. Bolstering its claims, Main Street USA touts statistics proclaiming the creation of an average of 250 new jobs over 10 years, and cumulative net growth of new businesses totaling an average of 70 over the same period.

Me: “Wow! That sounds great! Where do I sign?”

Main Street USA: “Well, as it turns out, Berkeley is already a success story!”

Me: “Bees in the what now?”

Berkeley is listed among the success stories of the program, under the title “Berkeley, Calif., tackles social issues and alters perception of crime.” Listed among the achievements of the DBA’s adoption of the Main Street USA Approach are changing the city’s attitude towards the downtown area, tackling social issues (read: Homelessness), and altering the perception of crime downtown. To hear them tell it, Berkeley is already a thriving community with a strong economic outlook and a firm grip on the issues of homelessness and crime.

To understand how this might be, one need only look at the date of publication: 1997. Now, I have no idea what Berkeley was like in 1997, but I have no reason to doubt that it was well on its way towards fabulous revitalization. Berkeley circa 2008, however, appears to present a different perspective. Nevertheless, the Main Street USA Approach does appear to contain some useful advice for those contemplating a redevelopment scheme. The Approach emphasizes that the scheme must be comprehensive and incremental, incorporate Self-Help in the form of true commitment by the residents and business owners of the rewards of the program even if it requires changing their attitudes, emphasize quality in every aspect of the project, working with the existing strengths of the city, and implementing the plan in a way that yields frequent visible changes to remind those involved that the project is underway and is succeeding.

Applying these principles to the DAPAC plan, it appears that Berkeley may have a few lessons to learn. First, the DAPAC plan appears to fall victim to the urge to cut in broad swaths rather than making incremental gains. This is evident in the plan’s call for a pedestrian walkway on Center Street and the Day-Lighting of Strawberry Creek. These would constitute radical changes to the streetscape of the downtown area, not the incremental but visible improvements advised by Main Street USA. Second, from the accounts given by the various speakers and the narrow passage of the DAPAC plan (along with the veiled allegations that even some of those voting in support of the plan did so only because they doubt is real viability), Berkeley cannot claim to have built a consensus among the interested parties.

Still, all is not necessarily lost for Berkeley. Scanning the list of the “nuts-and-bolts ingredients” of a successful program, Berkeley’s situation does not seem hopeless. Of the seven ingredients listed, Berkeley satisfies five: (1) a traditional business district exists, with (2) a decent concentration of remaining businesses; (3) the area is committed to revitalizing the downtown, and (4) has adequate human and financial resources to do so (according to Mayor Bates, at least); finally, (5) there is a commitment to maintaining historical buildings. What Berkeley lacks is (1) broad-based support for the revitalization plan and (2) consensus among the affected parties. From this, it appears that Main Street USA would advise Berkeley to attempt to build a consensus in the community over the need for and implementation of a revitalization plan. Realistically, this seems unlikely. Given the creation of the DAPAC plan and the commencement of construction of the Brower Center and the new UC Berkeley Art Museum, though, the area does appear to be moving forward with incremental changes that have the potential to yield visible improvements in the area. Perhaps the success of these programs can be an end-run around the so-call consensus pre-requisite, turning public opinion in favor of the redevelopment plan after its implementation rather than before.

Planners Make First Move to Challenge Downtown Plan

The Planning Commission took its formal position recently and it contradicted the stance of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC). The commissioners asked City Council to fund a study to determine if the DAPAC plan was economically feasible.

The commission called for the evaluation to include 10-, 12-, 14- and 16-story buildings in considering what level of development would be needed to make the plan’s extensive collection of proposed amenities financially viable. This decision directly contrasts with the stated position of the DAPAC majority that height trumped other considerations in their decision to adopt the plan.

While the DAPAC plan will go to the city council, so will recommendations from the Planning Commission and city staff, leaving councilmembers to pick and choose the elements included in the version they finally approve.

The minority group in DAPAC, which wanted an economic study, contended that DAPAC’s restrictions on floor-area ratio and heights would limit development and thus reduce fees collected for parks, streetscape improvements and other amenities included in the plan.

However, the majority group believes that this study is merely a waste of time and a smokescreen in order to undo the adopted DAPAC plan.

The Planning Commission will begin its chapter-by-chapter plan review starting toward the end of March, and the commission will hand the plan on to the City Council in December.

Richard Brenneman, Planners Make First Move to Challenge Downtown Plan, Berkeley Daily Planet (Feb. 29, 2008), available at,

Becky O'Malley Editorials on Homelessness / PCEI

Bluebook Citations:

  1. Becky O’Malley, “Another Foggy Night on the Public Commons,” The Berkeley Daily Planet, May 11, 2007 (available at
  1. Becky O’Malley, “Thanks for Everything, and Why,” The Berkeley Daily Planet, Nov. 20, 2007 (available at


Becky O’Malley has written several editorial pieces in The Berkeley Daily Planet critiquing Mayor Bates’ proposal of the “Public Commons for Everyone Initiative” and its accompanying ordinance, most particularly in one editorial when the PCEI was initially proposed in May 2007 and again when the PCEI was formally passed by the City Council in November 2007.

O’Malley’s critiques are illuminating in several respects. First, she provides commentary about how the proposals were introduced and considered at the City Council meetings themselves. For example, O’Malley notes that in May 2007, the City Council did not even begin to debate the PCEI until 11:30pm, when many Berkeley citizens had gone home, and that the debate focused largely upon containing concerns about the homeless. O’Malley writes, for example, that “Councilmember Wozniak told a harrowing anecdote about the time his wife and son saw a vagrant deliberately peeing on the radiator grill of an expensive car on Telegraph—the horror! I’m sure that never happened back in Nebraska.”

Second, O’Malley notes that part of the problem with the PCEI is not simply the content of the ordinance but the way in which it will change the priorities of police enforcement of existing criminal laws. O’Malley writes in her May 2007 editorial, for example:

But perhaps Recommendation 4 would take care of that: “Provide for strict enforcement of all existing laws affecting the quality of life in public spaces and parks.” Oh sure, and in the meantime the drug dealers down around Oregon and Sacramento are cheering. This one will keep the police off the streets and out of trouble, busy handing out tickets for public smoking.

The problem, that is, is that police required to enforce the PCEI’s ordinance on public smoking and lying in the street will be drawn away from doing policing of actual drug crimes, particularly in the context of limited police resources. While I agree with O’Malley on this score, I also think it is notable that Mayor Bates indicated when he visited our class that the PCEI essentially would not be enforced at all.

Third, the final point to note is that O’Malley seems to downplay the effect of the homeless upon the environment in downtown Berkeley, referring to public urination and defecation as being the natural effect of failing to provide bathrooms to people without money and options in being able to use private restrooms. In fact, O’Malley’s November 2007 editorial is devoted entirely to the irony that the City Council considered the PCEI precisely at the time when Mayor Bates had the luxury of celebrating Thanksgiving and enforcing laws against those without the money or the homes to celebrate themselves.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Cost Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for the Homeless

The federal government authorized supportive housing as a homeless prevention strategy in 1987. The authorization was in the form of the Stuart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987.

Supportive housing entails making affordable housing units available to individuals who have need for such housing and for “support services.” Support services are services that help individuals live independently. These services include treatment for medical conditions, employment and training, referral for Medicaid, or assistance in applying for Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income.

Generally, supportive housing is designed to meet the needs of deinstitutionalized homeless persons, homeless individuals with a mental disability or other handicap, and homeless families and children.

Walsh et al. investigated whether providing affordable housing and support services to the homeless reduced the total cost of homeless-related social services. For example, helping a homeless individual manage his health care needs may decrease his total healthcare costs. This reduction in healthcare costs is achieved by encouraging the individual to rely on primary care providers rather than on hospital emergency rooms for primary care. Treatment from primary care providers generally costs less than similar treatment in hospital emergency rooms. As another example, supportive housing may lead to cost savings by decreasing the need for police to enforce laws against the homeless, which also decreases court and jail costs.

Walsh et al. gathered data on the 21 residents of the supportive housing complex Lennox Chase in Wake County, North Carolina. The data of interest were the costs of the social services—including shelter costs—used by 21 residents prior to entering Lennox Chase and the costs of the social services used by 21 residents after entering Lennox Hill. A before-after comparison of the costs indicated that overall service costs had fallen from $377,141.66 in the two years before entry to $265,785.20 in the two years after entry, a decline of $111,356.46, or 29.53%. If the cost of social worker who was stationed at Lennox Chase was excluded, the service costs decline to $210,950.00, a decline of 44%.[1]

[1] Adam Walsh, Dean Duncan, Laurie Selz-Campbell, and Jennifer Vaughn, The Cost Effectiveness of Supportive Housing, UNC-CH School of Social Work, December 2007 at 2 (

Paper topic

I would like to work on city infrastructure. I'm particularly interested in green space issues, and particularly the proposal to close a portion of Center Street and/or Shattuck Ave. I'm also interested in the parking issue.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Berkeley Mayor Went Homeless for a Night

Not exactly on point, but I thought it was really interesting ­
especially given the mayor's recent Public Commons Initiative and his
responses to questions about the homeless when he came to speak.

On April 22, 2003, Berkeley's mayor Tom Bates spent 24 hours
living as a homeless person after he was challenged to do so by a member of
Berkeley¹s permanent homeless population during his campaign.
The mayor began his 24 hours at 4 pm on a Tuesday and got his
first free meal at Trinity Baptist Church. He then did a walking tour of
Telegraph Ave, went to the Berkeley Free Clinic, and hung out in People¹s
Park. The mayor eventually went to sleep in the park behind City Hall with
about 25 other people, and was awakened at 2 a.m. by a policeman, whom he
told he had special permission from the mayor to sleep there. He was then
awakened again at 4 a.m. by gathering news crews. Finally the mayor got up
and got a free breakfast at Trinity Methodist Church. He then spent time at
the Homeless Action Center and the Center for Independent Living.
The mayor stated that he wanted to do this "to draw attention to
the problem and learn more about it himself." He apparently saw a lot of
tragic cases but was also elated by the number of volunteers that were
assisting the homeless in numerous ways.

Mayor's Office, "Media Advisory: Mayor Bates to go Homeless on April 22nd,"
Apr. 16, 2003,

Charles Burress, "Homeless for a night: Berkeley mayor keeps promise, sleeps
with city's down-and-out," The San Francisco Chronicle, Apr. 24, 2003,

Thread for "TDRs" Paper Topic

This is a thread for those interested in writing about TDRs. Hopefully, we can use it to coordinate more effectively (plus -- it helps minimize frontpage clutter).

Please "vote" for the TDRs topic by expressing your interest in the comments section below. If you have specific areas you would like to write about, please note them as well.


Homeless Services in Berkeley

I wanted to find out what services were available for homeless people in the Berkeley area. I found a Homeless Survival Guide distributed by the Berkeley Free Clinic.

For meals, breakfasts are available Monday through Saturday at the University Lutheran Chapel at College and Haste. Food is also provided by the Food Not Bombs Lunch every Monday through Friday at People’s Park. Hot lunches are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the McGee Avenue Baptist Church in Berkeley. The South Berkeley Community Church provides lunched on Thursdays and the St. Paul AME Church provides lunch on Tuesday. The only dinners I found were provided by the Emergency Food Project every Monday through Friday at 4pm.

There were also several shelters listed in Berkeley. The Harrison Home in Berkeley is available, but individuals must sign up at 9am to use the shelter. The Veterans Building in Berkeley provides a Men’s Shelter. Individuals must sign up at 10am to use the shelter. Women’s Refuge and Women’s Shelter provide shelters for women in Berkeley.

Other services that are available in Berkeley include a Berkeley Food Pantry, several drop in clinics that provide medical and mental health assistance, free clothing boxes in People’s Park and at the Ann Carter Free Clothes Center, free showers at MASC in Berkeley, a number of free legal clinics, 3 organizations providing employment assistance, and a number of care centers providing alcohol and drug assistance programs.

Berkeley Free Clinic Homeless Survival Guide.

Paper Topic

I would like to write on the Infrastructure portion of the paper. I am particularly interested in the parking issue, but I am flexible.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Topic of Interest - Homelessness

I will be writing my paper on the homeless. Hopefully I will be able to elaborate on a subsidy plan for college students taking in homeless people and legal implications of doing so. I wouldn't mind writing on other subjects as well.


Paper Topic

I would like to work on the homelessness issue. Specifically, I'm interested in Berkeley's current policies and laws addressing homelessness as well as the relationship between homelessness/crime and economic development.

Housing for the homeless: Q&A with Sam Davis, Berkeley professor and affordable-housing architect

In an article published in late 2002, architect and former chair of UC Berkeley’s architecture department Sam Davis speaks about the issues involved in providing housing for the poor and homeless. He has completed significant research on architecture for the homeless and has authored two previous books, The Form of Housing and The Architecture of Affordable Housing. He has also collaborated with other design firms and nonprofits on many homeless and affordable housing projects, including the first-phased renovation of University Village, UC Berkeley’s married-student housing in Albany; a 100-bed homeless shelter in Contra Costa County; Larkin Street Youth Services of San Francisco’s facility for homeless youth with HIV and AIDS; and Lark-Inn, a transitional shelter on San Francisco’s Ellis Street for homeless and runaway kids.

Davis says that a common misconception about the homeless population is that it is homogeneous when it is not. The homeless consist of families with children, of seniors, of people who are mentally and physically ill, of people with substance abuses, and runaway kids. Each of these populations has different housing and services needs. Thus, builders have to understand what those people’s needs, ambitions and desires are, and balance them with other things like the community context and the budget.

Another misconception is that using low-cost materials will allow for more housing. Davis says the construction costs are a relatively minor component of a project’s total, not nearly as important as the cost of financing, the cost of land, the soft costs and the political costs.

To lower costs and increase the number of affordable housing units built, Davis says it is important to balance repetition – which saves money – with architectural interest. The more elements are repeated such as structural frames, bathrooms, kitchens, cabinets, the more you save. However, focusing only on such cost-savings measures will produce the type of public housing no one likes. Instead, Davis describes the challenge as that of using architectural gestures where they have the most impact, like bay windows and covered entries. Such additions do not significantly increase costs, but they do add much to variety and function.

Davis also believes that it is important that homeless people not get isolated and that they be integrated as much as possible into mainstream housing. Most of his projects have been low-rise, freestanding units, which he attributes to the fact that most people want to live in a single-family detached house. Davis believes that the goal of affordable housing should be to supply as many of the amenities of the single-family house as possible. For instance, with University Village in Albany, the goal was to construct sets of individual houses, in which every single apartment has its own front door and own address.

While providing housing for the homeless comes at the expense of the public’s tax dollars, society itself benefits from well-designed places for the homeless. Davis speaks of the millions of dollars spent to hide the homeless and clean up after them. He believes this money can be put to better use with more and better facilities. Then, the homeless people are not only removed from the street, but they are also integrated into the community.

Please VOTE on your preferred topic.

Hi all.

Prof. Infelise asked me to post a reminder to vote online about which paper topics we wanted to choose. Please everyone post a quick note on what paper topic you'd like to work on from among the topics that Matt Sieving posted on the site and that we broke into groups to discuss on Thurs.

I would like to work on homelessness rates and crime rates in downtown Berkeley (shockingly).


Berkeley's Plan for the Homeless

This article provides an overview of Berkeley’s homeless services plan. Last November, the City Council approved a $1 million “Public Commons for Everyone Initiative,” which would include the following:

- $350,000 a year on rental subsidies and intensive support services for 10 to 15 chronically homeless adults.

- $200,000 on a "Berkeley Host Program" with people on the streets who would work among street people, visitors, residents, police and social services agencies to identify problems in the commercial districts.

- $142,000 for four new portable toilets downtown and expanded public toilet hours at two public parking garages.

- A $350-a-month stipend for business owners who want to open their bathrooms to the public.

- $100,000 in programs to help homeless youth.

- $60,000 on a central intake system to help Berkeley's approximately 800 homeless people find shelter.

-$60,000 on more seats and trash cans downtown.

- And $10,000 on new no-smoking signs.

The plan would be funded by an increase in parking meter fees—from $1.00 an hour to $1.25 per hour. The plan is design to get Berkeley’s 800 homeless people off the street and integrated back into society. Additionally, the plan bans sleeping on the sidewalks in commercial areas. It is also easier for police to issue citations for people camping on all sidewalks (the previous system required one citizen complaint and two police warnings; the current system requires one police warning). Concurrently, the Council also approved to ban smoking in public areas, namely sidewalks, parks, athletic fields, hiking trails and bike paths. The area left on the table for debate was whether or not there was an increased need for enforcement of people who sleep on the sidewalks.

Doug Oakley, "Berkeley Approves One Million for Homeless Services Plan," Oakland Tribune (Nov 29 2007).

Jenny Cheung