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General Information
General Information

City of Berkeley 2009 Housing Element

Opportunity Sites Inventory and Residential Capacity Analysis – Background Information


State Requirements and RHNA

State law requires the City to show adequate land capacity to build 2,431 new residential units.  This unit amount was determined through a regional process by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and is based on a statewide assessment of population growth.  All cities and counties in the state get a unit amount to help them plan their share of adequate housing for the state.  In addition, the units are broken down into income categories to encourage cities to plan for an equitable distribution of low-income housing throughout the state and their communities.

For the 2009 Housing Element, the City is required to show that 2,431 new units could be built under our current laws and regulations. The City is not required to build the units, nor are property owners required to build. In order to demonstrate this capacity, city staff reviewed information about Berkeley parcels to identify those that potentially could be developed with residential buildings.


City of Berkeley RHNA 2007-2014


Income Category

Income Range

No. of units

% of Total





Extremely Low Income

up to 30 percent of AMI



Very Low Income (VLI)

31% - 50% of AMI



Low Income (LI)

51% - 80% of AMI



Moderate Income (MOD)

81% - 120% of AMI



Above Moderate Incomt (Above MOD)

Above 120% of AMI








AMI = Area Medain Income; for a family of four in Alameda County it is $89,300 (2009).

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Opportunity Sites Inventory Methodology

The City identified “underutilized” sites, which are those that have a small amount of existing built area relative to other sites. We focused on areas with the greatest potential for new units based on our current zoning standards, which included larger lots on the main commercial avenues, the Downtown area, and the Southside area. The properties identified along the main commercial avenues are larger than 10,000 square feet and have a small amount of existing built area based on our records.  The properties in the Downtown and Southside areas were identified as part of a specific-plan process for those areas.

Additional information is available at the Downtown Area Plan and Southside Plan websites.

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Residential Unit Capacity

The City then estimated the potential number of units that could be built on each site based on the density of past residential development on nearby sites.  The potential number of units identified for each property is shown on our “opportunity site inventory”. This is an estimate.  All residential development projects require approval by the City and a smaller or greater number of units could ultimately approved.

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