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Department of Planning & Development
Department of Planning & Development


INTRODUCTION ----------------------------------- 7

- Physical Character of the Community 

- Citizen Participation 

- The Land Use Element

ISSUES -------------------------------------------------- 9

- Residential Areas 

- Commercial Areas 

- Industrial Areas 

- The University of California 

other Institutions 

Special Concerns

POLICIES ---------------------------------------- 14 

- Character of Berkeley

- Residential

- Commercial

- industrial

- The University of California

- Other Institutions

- Special Concerns following

THE LAND USE MAP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ----- 21 






Though it is perceived by each person differently, concern over the preservation of the "character of Berkeley" is expressed by all segments of the population. This distinctive character results from Berkeley's unparalled natural setting, from its myriad of tasteful architectural styles, from the presence of the University of California campus, and from its diversified lifestyles. Yet, Berkeley represents an intricate and delicate balance that is constantly undergoing subtle changes in its physical and social fabric. A continuing need exists to maintain, improve, adapt and, where necessary, replace existing development to meet changing circumstances. The Land Use Element recognizes the interdependence of residential neighborhoods, commercial centers, employment centers and the University of California. Its proposals are intended to insure that future development reinforces, rather than undermines, this mosaic of community values.

The basic land use pattern of Berkeley was established by the early 1900's. In West Berkeley, industrial uses developed adjacent to the railroad and San Pablo Avenue. Institutional and commercial activities grew around the University. Residential growth, with its accompanying commercial services and public facilities, occupied the remaining land between the early centers of development. Before World War II Berkeley accommodated new or expanding activities on vacant land. By 1950, remaining parcels were scattered and limited in their potential use by small size, location, topography and adjacent development.

The distribution of land uses west of the Eastshore Freeway has not changed significantly since 1961. * Residential uses occupy almost half of all available land. The streets occupy more than one-quarter. Public and institutional uses occupy half of the remaining land. The University occupies one half of the public land use with almost 400 acres. Other large public sites are Aquatic Park (almost 100 acres) and the State School for the Deaf and Blind (almost 50 acres). Schools, parks, churches, public facilities and hospitals occupy the remaining public and institutional land. Industrial and commercial developments occupy slightly over 600 acres with the largest concentrations in West Berkeley and the Central Business District.

The Land Use Element retains this distribution with only minor modifications to clear up existing land use conflicts and to encourage needed residential, commercial and industrial activity. The population of Berkeley has ranged between 110,000 and 115,000 since 1950. The land use policies are designed to retain this population.


As more and more Berkeleyans are affected by changes which have occurred or are proposed, they increasingly demand a more direct voice in the decision-making process. The number of official boards and commissions, neighborhood associations and community groups has increased greatly over the last ten years.

*See attached chart.


While there is broad community support for citizen participation, realization of this objective is difficult to achieve. Among the impediments perceived by citizens are inadequate information on planning issues and proposals, inadequate control over land use decisions and the often long and complicated process of plan development and implementation. The adequacy of a planning process is difficult to measure. Is lack of reaction agreement or ignorance? Is complaint with the process or its conclusions? Which decisions can be based primarily upon neighborhood wishes and which have broader implications? How can the rights of those being regulated be assured? The Plan's policies address these issues and recommend end citizen participation processes that will result in land use decisions sensitive to all concerns of the community.


Based upon the overall goals of the Master Plan, the land use policies provide general direction for and constraints upon planning and physical development in Berkeley. The policies are first defined on a city-wide basis; these are followed by policies appropriate to special concerns. The planned distribution of various kinds and intensities of land use is expressed graphically on the Land Use Plan Map. The Map does not portray the specific use of each parcel of land. Rather, it shows the planned locations of generalized activities and residential densities. The policies and Land Use Plan Map are corollary and complementary.



Berkeley's residential areas reveal its historical development. Century old Victorian homes are still found in west and central Berkeley, the areas of earliest residential development. The first quarter of the 20th Century brought the brown shingled homes identified with Berkeley and the extraordinary architecture of Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck. In the level area the need for inexpensive but adequate housing inspired a variety of residential styles, many highly innovative.

Appropriate densities for Berkeley neighborhoods and the zoning to achieve these densities have been in the forefront of Berkeley planning since the adoption of the 1955 Master Plan. Extensive apartment development during the 1960's led to "downzoning" of many neighborhoods, and ordinance revisions in 1973 reduced the intensity of development permitted in the remaining apartment zones. Many persons believe that the high density zones have been "overbuilt," contributing to traffic congestion, inadequate public parks and facilities and a high crime rate. With limitations on new development, however, the demand for existing housing produces high prices, sometimes inadequate maintenance and reduced vacancies.

The increase in overall housing demand of recent years coincides with the increase in the young adult population and a period of experimentation in living arrangements. Separately or in combination, these changes have affected many of Berkeley's traditional family neighborhoods. Small "bootleg" apartments in single-family homes find a ready market among those persons wanting relatively


inexpensive housing with the privacy and physical amenity of a low density neighborhood. Communal living arrangements have attracted people for similar reasons. Such uses in some instances have created perceptible problems of increased traffic, diminution of the parking supply, poor maintenance and lack of consideration for neighbors.

Over 13,000 elderly persons live in Berkeley. One result of the significant Proportion of elderly in the population is the appearance of specialized extended care facilities in several of Berkeley's traditional family neighborhoods. Such facilities are needed to serve the population, but criteria for their location in the city's neighborhoods need refinement. The Plan policies address these problems and provide a context for making decisions about their location.


Berkeley's commercial areas grew along its street car routes and near centers of employment and the University. Over time, they have adapted to increased use of automobiles and changing demands for goods and services. Shattuck Avenue downtown and at Vine; University; Telegraph Avenue south of the campus; and Alcatraz at Adeline have been reconstructed to improve their amenity and efficiency as commercial areas. San Pablo Avenue has recently been reconstructed.

Even with these improvements, Berkeley's retail sales are not increasing when the effect of inflation is removed. Automobile sales, home furnishing and general merchandise have shown declines; eating and drinking, specialty shops and drug sales continue strong. An increasing share of Berkeley's retail sales are to persons living outside the city who come here for shopping, working or entertainment.

Effects of this change in the character of retail sales are felt in many Berkeley retail centers. In community commercial centers, cars are parking in adjacent residential areas. Residents must travel further to find businesses serving their day-to-day needs such as hardware and grocery stores, adding further to traffic congestion.

On the other hand, commercial areas that have not reached this regional market have declined. Some commercial locations are vacant, underutilized or physically deteriorated. Revitalization of ' commercial uses and the replacement of excess commercial development with suitable housing and open space is needed. The Land Use Element deals with these problems by encouraging appropriate and compatible groupings of commercial establishments through land use controls and economic development activities.


The industrial zone is located in an are around the West Berkeley resident -area between the Eastshore Freeway and San Pablo Avenue. Its location near the center of the region and close to freeway and rail transportation make it attractive for many types of industry. Those areas near the residential area are controlled in their development and activities to insure compatibility with the adjacent neighborhood. The Berkeley Redevelopment Agency is presently 


implementing an industrial park project in the area bounded by University Avenue, Sixth Street, Cedar and the Eastshore Freeway. Several businesses have developed or expanded their operations under this plan. issues relating to the planned removal of all existing housing in the redevelopment area have not yet been completely worked out.

Scattered industrial concerns exist in residential areas, primarily along the Santa Fe Tracks and in the Central District. The Plan policies call for the relocation of these to industrial sites and their redevelopment to appropriate residential or commercial uses.

A number of problem , however, retard the development and improvement of the industrial area: Many of the vacant and underused parcels are small by current standards; some existing development is deteriorating; some streets and utilities need improvement: high taxes are a further deterrent.

Industrial uses generally provide more in property taxes than they cost the city in service. Except for the industrial park, however, the city has not actively solicited new industry in spite of its persistent high unemployment and the large amount of land off the tax rolls. The Plan policies encourage the further development of the industrial area to improve the city's tax base and the relocation of industries conflicting with residential neighborhoods.


Since its earliest days, the University has been a major factor in the physical, social and economic development of Berkeley. The University provides a wide range of cultural opportunities not available in most cities the size of Berkeley, and is a major contributor to the economic health of the city.

The University's growth over the past twenty years, however, has proved difficult for Berkeley to successfully accommodate. The increased commercial and institutional activity related to the University brought significant changes. Its expansion into the areas north and south of the campus with large dormitories, classroom buildings and parking structures, and lots has converted these areas into intensely congested urban areas in extreme contrast with their former modest scale and relatively quiet environment. Traffic destined for the campus has congested many neighborhoods, especially in southeast Berkeley.

Although the university contributes significantly to the economic functioning of the city, its tax-exempt status means that Berkeley's largest landholder, employer and center of activity pays no property tax. It is difficult to measure the cost of the direct services provided by the city such as police and fire service; it is even more difficult to measure the indirect costs such as accommodating high levels of traffic. Since both direct and indirect costs can result in an increased burden for taxpayers, methods of compensating the city for lost property taxes or alternative funding sources to replace dependence on the property tax have been suggested for further consideration.


Some University facilities are not open to use by non-University related persona while city facilities are open to all. Although indications are that University expansion will be very limited in the future if present trends continue, enrollments may even decline -- closer coordination is being maintained with the University in the hopes that expanded joint use of facilities can be attained.

The only major new facilities on the University's horizon are an Engineering Building and an intramural athletic/recreation structure to be financed by student fees, alumni contributions and/or other private support. The sports facility represents a significant opportunity for joint University and city planning and use.


The prominent role which the University plays in many aspects of Berkeley life has tended to overshadow the importance of other institutions in the life of the community. Some -- such as churches, schools and local government -- serve the local population. others -- such as the Schools for the Deaf and Blind, Graduate Theological Union, research institutes and Herrick and Alta Bates Hospitals -- serve a Much broader clientele.

At a time when housing has become increasingly scarce, however, institutional expansion has demolished good housing or converted it to office use. The results of a lack of attention to or adequate control over the character and scale of institutional expansion in the past is evident. Large-scale developments of the recent past have led to concern in the community that the city's needs are being compromised to meet institutional needs.

As demands for public services increase and Berkeley's tax revenues do not, the city is seeking to minimize the diversion of land from the tax rolls by tax exempt institutions. In the future, the larger institutions will be required to submit master Plans that indicate their future needs. The Planning Commission and community would review these plans applying such criteria as: optimum use of the land and buildings presently owned; the return of surplus properties to private tax-paying ownership; limitations on expansion to avoid conflict with the surrounding area; and the ways in which the institution meets the needs of or adds a cultural dimension to the city.


Its long-established pattern of residential, commercial, institutional and industrial uses gives Berkeley much of its character. This pattern, how ever leaves little room for change. Many neighborhoods have inadequate park and recreation facilities. Housing, especially for low and moderate income households, is in short supply. Economic development which would increase the tax base and job opportunities is difficult to accommodate. New development in the past has sometimes been disruptive to surrounding areas. opportunities for significant change are scarce and must be planned to produce the maximum benefit for the community -- socially, economically and physically.


Development of the Bay Area Rapid Transit produced problems and opportunities for Berkeley. The short and long range impact of the North Berkeley BART Station is one concern. Several years ago the area was rezoned to permit only lower density residential development. Residents are still concerned that its convenient location and general amenity will cat, cause the city to yield to pressures for higher density. The impact of traffic to the Station is already felt in the neighborhood. The vacant BART land north of the Station and east of the Station along the north side of Hearst Avenue is an immediate focus of concern. The Peralta Junior College District has purchased a portion of the land immediately east of the Station for an educational facility despite the city's opposition to such a major new use. A study committee recommended retention of the property for open space and community facilities. The City Council has adopted the policy that the primary use of this land should be for open space, with a portion set aside for use as a senior center.

Development above and around the South Berkeley BART Station is seen as an opportunity to revitalize the area. While a number of conceptual schemes have been proposed, a feasible and acceptable plan has not yet been devised.

The Santa Fe Railroad runs north and south through Berkeley. South of Russell Street it occupies the center of Sacramento Street, and north of Russell Street it cuts through low density residential areas between Sacramento and San Pablo Avenues and continues on through Albany. The railroad plans to discontinue service and has offered to sell its right-of-way in Berkeley. The City Council is presently negotiating for purchase of this land. Preliminary planning calls for an assessment of recreation and open space potential for the right-of-way. On larger parcels more detailed planning will seek to effectively serve open space, park and possibly housing needs.

Located in a largely low density residential area, the city's Corporation Yard is one of the largest "non-conforming" uses in Berkeley. The policy of the city has long been to relocate it to a more suitable location in the industrial area. The site of the Corporation Yard offers a singular opportunity to satisfy long-standing open space needs.

The California Schools for the Deaf and Blind, presently located on a 50-acre site in southeast Berkeley, will be relocated to another community. Because of the earthquake hazards and rugged character of much of the site, development will require careful design which integrates the potentials and constraints of the location. The nature of this institution has been to generate little traffic or other problems while providing an attractive backdrop of buildings and open space for the area. Any future use (even a park) is apt to bring more traffic into an area already overburdened with cars. The state, the University, the East Bay Regional Park District and the city are all studying possible future uses.

Berkeley's Central Business District (bounded by Fulton-oxford on the east, Channing on the south, Grove on the west and Hearst Avenue on the north)* includes intense retail and office activity, the Civic Center, the high school and community theater. The city is purchasing the Farm Credit Building across Civic Center Park from the City Hall to consolidate its offices. Alameda County will be expanding their courthouse facilities on the west side of Grove Street south of Addison. These changes will increase somewhat the total public employment the Central area and improve the accessibility to city offices.

To stimulate Central Business District development, policies for the remainder of the CBD will encourage appropriate housing in the area, improvements to the relationship with the campus, and increased retail and office activity.

*These are boundaries utilized for continuity in data collection; the actual core area for policy and zoning questions is smaller.






Evaluate proposed zoning changes and major new development proposals using the following considerations:

--Master Plan Land Use Policies and Map Designation

--Existing Land Use

--Environmental Impact

--Social Impact:

--Fiscal Impact an School District and Municipal Services

--Neighborhood Resident, Merchant and Property Owner Concerns


Identify, restore and preserve historic buildings; protect historic structures through careful design and location of adjacent new structures or, if appropriate, by relocation to another site; alleviate potential economic hardships to tenants and owners.


Permit development to accommodate a maximum population of 120,000.


Modify procedures to assure the effective participation of local residents and community groups in decisions regarding land use.


Prevent traffic and parking generated by commercial, industrial, or institutional activities from being detrimental to adjoining residential areas.




Preserve the character of lower density residential areas (less than 50 persons per residential acre) and their complementary churches, schools and parks.


In existing higher density areas (50 or more persons per residential acre) permit new development only if its projected density does not exceed the Master Plan density for the area and the project is compatible with surrounding existing uses.


Encourage new residential development in appropriate locations in the Central District and along major commercial arterials.


Provide each residential area with adequate municipal facilities and services such as parks, street landscaping, fire and police protection and refuse collection.


To the greatest extent feasible, protect residential streets from hazardous or heavy traffic.


Locate convalescent homes, elderly citizen housing and other extended care facilities in higher density residential areas, near convenience shopping facilities and in areas well served by public transit.


Preserve the existing residential density along the residentially-zoned portions of Grove Street. Discourage expansion of commercial uses into existing residential areas.



Encourage the revitalization of Ashby Avenue with medium low density residential uses between College and San Pablo Avenue by refurbishing the street and other public lands, and discouraging further expansion of medical uses east of Telegraph Avenue.

Policy 1.18

Maintain lower density residential uses along Sacramento Street with a sound commercial area between Oregon Street and Ashby Avenue. Improve the commercial area between Ashby and Alcatraz Avenue.


POLICY 1. 20

Recognize the distinct functions of four types of commercial areas with appropriate land use controls for each type:

--The Central District: Diverse center of commerce, government and cultural activities for Berkeley.

--Commercial Service Districts: Auto-oriented commercial activities.

--Community Commercial Districts.: Intermediate sized commercial centers which provide a wide variety of shopping goods and services to residents.

--Neighborhood Commercial Districts: Small-sized commercial centers which provide for day-to-day needs of adjacent residents.

POLICY 1. 21

Encourage commercial activities serving a regional market to locate in the Central District or a commercial service district, and discourage them in neighborhood and community commercial districts.

POLICY 1. 22

Identify the neighborhood, community and commercial service districts where a parking deficiency exists and develop zoning regulations to require the provisions of off-street parking and loading in conjunction with new building construction as necessary.



Protect residential streets from traffic and parking generated by adjacent commercial uses.


Control the design and operation of commercial establishments to insure their compatibility with adjacent residential areas.


Stimulate and encourage new commercial investment and new multiple-family housing on San Pablo Avenue.


Along University Avenue, encourage development of underutilized sites for commercial or service activities that serve a regional or city-wide market.



Encourage industries which will provide modem, attractive plants which meet applicable standards for air quality, noise generation and liquid waste disposal.


Require industrial uses presently located in residential areas to relocate in the industrial area.

POLICY 1. 32

Limit development in the manufacturing area to industrial and related commercial uses.


Improve streets and public utilities to encourage investment in new and existing industrial uses.


POLICY 1. 34

Retain the Harrison Tract in University ownership until a joint City/University study determines the appropriate use for the parcel.


Require adequate off-street loading and parking facilities in new or expanded industrial uses.


Policy 1.40

Urge the University to maintain a maximum en enrollment of 27,500 students to avoid undue strain on public facilities and housing resources; coordinate planning for transportation and community development.


oppose the acquisition or leasing of additional property by the University unless the property remains on the tax rolls.


Coordinate with University to maximize joint use of such facilities as libraries and recreational resources that will serve the, total community.


Recommend that: the University implement the following proposals regarding its off-campus holdings:

1) Oxford Tract - Develop with higher intensity University or student housing uses or return to private ownership for high-density residential use.

2) Hill. Lands - Develop as an open space/recreational resource in cooperation with the city and consistent with the Master Plan Open Spare Element.

3) Haste Tract (people's Park) - Develop primarily for open space/recreational purposes in conjunction with the city.


4) Parking Lot East of Fulton Between Bancroft and Durant - Utilize for the proposed intramural athletic complex.

5) Anna Head School Site - Determine appropriate use after evaluation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

6) La Loma and Ridge - Develop for medium-density residential use or return to private ownership.


Recognizing that the main campus is becoming overbuilt, endangering its remaining open spare and beauty, oppose the construction of major new buildings on sites having significant open space values. Urge the University to adopt campus development standards and policies designed to conserve and enhance present open space resources.


Encourage the University to lease space for needed administrative and research activities in privately-owned existing and new buildings in the Central area.



Discourage to the maximum extent possible additional institutional uses that take property off the tax rolls.


Persuade federal, state, county, schools and other governmental institutions (including the University of California) exempt from municipal regulations to adhere to Berkeley's laws, ordinances and policies.


Influence public and private institutions to use their existing contiguous landholdings, to return unused landholdings or facilities to the tax rolls, and to make payments for municipal services such as police, fire, etc.



Wherever possible, locate or relocate public and private institutional uses that serve the entire city or have a regional-service orientation on major arterials so that they Are accessible to public transportation and will not disrupt adjacent residential areas.


Maximize joint city/Unified School District use of and planning for facilities such as recreation, libraries and cultural centers.


Urge institutions with total holdings in Berkeley of more than two acres, whether contiguous or not, to develop Master Plans (including housing elements when appropriate); preparation should include participation from the city, community groups and neighborhood residents.



Retain the North Berkeley BART Station and parking lot in their present use and current size and scale; acquire the "Hearst Strip" and other excess BART property in the North Station area to be used primarily for park and community facilities with small areas devoted to housing.


Intensively develop the Ashby BART Station air rights and related adjacent commercial areas to fully realize their economic potential.


Acquire the Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way and undertake a comprehensive study to determine appropriate development.


Relocate the City Corporation Yard to an appropriate location in the industrial area and develop the site for parks, recreation and housing.


POLICY 1. 64

Retain Civic Center Park as the focal point of the Civic Center; do not expand the complex beyond McKinley on the west, Addison on the north, Milvia on the east or Allston Way on the south.


Encourage high-density residential use -- especially student oriented housing -- on privately owned land along oxford Street and the side street between oxford and Shattuck Avenue.


Acquire or-have another public agency retain the site of the California State Schools for the Deaf and Blind for use predominantly for open space; subject to geologic studies, permit housing in the northwest quadrant of the site. If found feasible, such housing shall be a modest-scale development not containing high density buildings.

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