Berkeley, California, Plans for a Transit-Oriented Future - Next City

There are a lot of reasons that Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín is excited for San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit to build homes on a series of parking lots around the North Berkeley BART Station.

Most obviously, the whole Bay Area — the whole state of California — is facing an acute housing crisis. North Berkeley specifically has seen little residential development over the years, he says, with exclusive housing patterns going back to racist policies like redlining and restrictive deed covenants. And then there’s the urgent need for every city, everywhere, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and placing future residents close to public transit is a good way to reduce car travel.

“Right now it’s a parking lot, and it is an incredible amount of land that’s available for us to create new homes …” Arreguín says. “I think there’s kind of a symbolism and beauty in that — in how that singular action can make a really meaningful impact in Berkeley’s efforts to address climate change.”

Conversations about developing the eight-acre property around North Berkeley Station date to the end of 2017, according to a summary that Arreguín’s office provided to the Berkeley City Council earlier this year. Public planning and “visioning” sessions were held in March and October of 2018.

Earlier this month, as Berkeleyside reported, the city council voted unanimously to authorize a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with BART that will create guidelines for planning the future of the site. The site could end up being built out with hundreds of new housing units, at least a portion of which will be affordable for low-income residents.

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