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Department of Planning & Development
Department of Planning & Development


There are many City and University planning and transportation studies either recently completed or currently underway that have bearing on the Southside planning effort.  These plans and their relationship to the Southside Plan are summarized below. 



A. City of Berkeley General Plan

The City of Berkeley is in the process of updating its General Plan, which is the foundation upon which land use and capital improvement decisions for the City of Berkeley are based.  The new General Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2001, will contain city-wide policy recommendations in the areas of land use, transportation, housing, open space, conservation, noise, public safety, economic development and employment, urban design and preservation, and citizen participation.  The City’s more detailed planning documents, called area plans, previously adopted by the City Council, will be readopted as part of the new General Plan.  Similarly, when the Southside Plan is adopted by the City Council, it will be adopted as an amendment to the General Plan.  Since all General Plan and Area Plan policies must be internally consistent and are of equal importance, the Planning Commission will work to ensure that the policies of the two documents are consistent.

Elements of the General Plan

Area Plans and Strategic Plans

Land Use Element  Waterfront Plan 
Transportation Element  West Berkeley Plan 
Housing Element  South Berkeley Plan 
Open Space and Recreation Element  South Shattuck Strategic Plan 
Environmental Management Element  University Avenue Strategic Plan 
Disaster Preparedness and Safety Element  Downtown Plan 
Economic Development Element  Bicycle Plan 
Urban Design and Preservation Element  Southside Plan 
Citizen Participation Element    

B. City of Berkeley Bicycle Plan

The City’s Bicycle Plan, adopted in January 1999, established bicycle-related policies and identified a bicycle network for the City.  The recommended bicycle network includes bicycle lanes, routes and paths.  In addition, the Plan established two new bikeway types: the class 2.5 bikeway and the bicycle boulevard. Seven bicycle boulevards form the backbone of the City’s bikeway network.  The City’s bicycle network also includes planned and existing UC campus bikeways.  During the development of the Bicycle Plan, cyclists mentioned many problems with bicycle circulation and parking in the Southside area.  As a result, the Bicycle Plan makes recommendations for bikeway routing in the Southside area, which are discussed in more detail in the Transportation and Parking Element.


A. The University’s Long Range Development Plan, 1990-2005

The University’s Long Range Development Plan 1990-2005 (LRDP), adopted by the Board of Regents in 1990, is the University’s overall plan to guide growth and change on the central campus and University-owned property off the campus.  The Long Range Development Plan sets out specific facilities needs in terms of uses, square footage, potential locations, and changes in campus population.  The LRDP describes the following vision for the Southside: "the Southside is, and should be, a place where students, faculty and community can develop an intellectual synergy supported by a mixture of bookstores, shops, coffee houses, and other commercial and recreational facilities in an environment that is attractive and safe, both day and night.  It's a place where students living in nearby campus housing can find contrasts and relief from institutional living with an odd-hour meal, a study space without the constrained atmosphere of traditional study halls, or an opportunity to meet friends for casual conversation in a well-lit and safe neighborhood.  And it is a place where pedestrians and bicyclists are given priority and feel safe on the streets, where through-traffic is separated from local traffic, and where parking demand is controlled.”  This vision has informed the goals of the Southside Plan.  The LRDP recommends that the following types of uses be located off the central campus and, to the extent possible, in the Southside. 

Academic support activities and offices
Administrative offices, such as Housing & Dining and Parking & Transportation
Cultural facilities, such as the UC Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive
Organized research units, such as the Institute of Industrial Relations and the Survey Research Center
Parking for faculty, staff, students, and visitors
Student life facilities including residence halls, dining facilities, and recreational space
Student services and support facilities such as the Anna Head Child Care Center and the Tang Center, University Health Services
Many of these uses are already located in the Southside.

B. The University’s Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal (SAFER)

In 1997 the University completed a seismic safety analysis of its buildings on and off the main campus.  The analysis revealed that nearly 27% of campus space is poor or very poor in terms of life safety in the event of a major earthquake and resulted in the SAFER 10-Point Action Plan for the University to follow.  The analysis also ranked the seismic condition of University buildings so the campus could prioritize its seismic repairs program.  The University has begun repairs on those buildings with the poorest ratings.  In order to undertake the remaining seismic upgrades in a coordinated and strategic way, the University will utilize the policy framework of the New Century Plan to evaluate and prioritize future projects.

The SAFER Plan included these ten action items:

  1. Create a new position titled Vice Chancellor for Capital Projects.
  2. Form an Executive Campus Planning Committee.
  3. Establish campus precinct planning committees.
  4. Determine the need for full or partial closure of facilities.
  5. Create a master plan for facilities renewal.
  6. Streamline capital project management.
  7. Develop plans for obtaining temporary space.
  8. Initiate a multiple source financing plan.
  9. Ensure comprehensive emergency preparedness and provide training.
  10. Develop a comprehensive campus and community communications plan.
  11. Most of these SAFER actions have been completed or are underway.

C. The University’s New Century Plan

As part of its Safer 10-Point Action Plan, the University is preparing a strategic master plan that will define a campus planning vision to guide changes to the University’s facilities.  The New Century Plan will comprehensively address the seismic upgrading of campus buildings, the renewal and maintenance of facilities, housing and access strategies, and campus programmatic needs.  It will also suggest priorities for the allocation of resources and identify alternative implementation strategies to realize its vision for the campus.  The New Century Plan differs from the LRDP in that it develops a broad physical vision for the campus and a policy framework for investment decisions.  The LRDP, on the other hand, defines the investment program for a specific timeframe, based on this policy framework. Work on the New Century Plan, which began in the fall of 1999, will incorporate the goals and recommendations of the Southside Plan into its vision for the University’s south of campus properties.  The initial version of the New Century Plan, covering the core campus and adjacent blocks is complete and published on the UC Berkeley Capital Projects web site, http:/

D. Underhill Area Projects

In 1993, the University had to immediately demolish the Underhill parking structure located along College Avenue between Channing Way and Haste Street when, during scheduled repair work, it was discovered to be structurally unsound and unsafe.  Prior to demolition, the University stated its intent to rebuild the structure to its previous capacity including striped spaces and attendant parking, as well as to rebuild the sports fields located on the top deck of the garage.

The University restated its intent to rebuild the Underhill garage in the 1997 Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the University.  The MOU states “the City acknowledges that, within the Plan process, study of and decisions about the Underhill parking replacement project will need to occur in advance of completing and adopting the entire Plan.”

In 1997, the University undertook the Auxiliary Facilities Replacement Project, a plan to replace the parking garage and provide permanent buildings for the Housing, Dining, and Child Care Service’s temporary facilities on the site.  In early discussions about that plan, community members expressed opposition to the parking garage and argued that housing would be a better use for the site.  The Long Range Development Plan had proposed 475-550 beds of housing for the block involved.

In 1999, after internal review of the initial project proposal, public input on the project, and public comment as part of the Southside Plan process, the University expanded the scope of its plan to include housing at sites proximate to the former parking structure, but continued to include an expanded three-level parking garage on the Underhill site despite community opposition.  The University changed the name of the proposals to the Underhill Area Projects. Several public meetings were held in the spring of 1999, and extensive exchanges with neighbors and students on a Master Plan for the Underhill Area included a scoping session for the Projects’ environmental impact report (EIR).  The City, along with students, neighbors, environmentalists, and transit and bicycle advocates, continued to urge the University to consider alternatives to the proposed Underhill parking structure.

  • In November 2000 the UC Regents certified the Underhill Area Projects EIR.
  • The Underhill Area Projects, as examined in the 2000 EIR and its later addendum, includes:
  • Housing for approximately 120 students at the corner of College Avenue and Durant Avenue, replacing a UC surface parking lot.
  • Housing for approximately 871 students at infill buildings along the street frontages of Residence Hall Units 1 and 2.
  • Housing for approximately 228 students at Channing Way and Bowditch Street, replacing prefabricated office buildings used by Parking and Transportation services and a UC parking lot.
  • Expanding the previous parking garage to include1000 marked spaces and additional attendant parking for special events.  If the campus parking inventory is reduced at other lots in the
  • Southside, the parking spaces would be replaced at Underhill by increasing its capacity with attendant parking.
  • Replacing the previous sports fields atop the parking structure.
  • A new dining commons serving Units 1 and 2, replacing the old dining pavilions for seismic safety reasons.
  • An office building of approximately 51,000 gross square feet for the offices of Housing, Dining, and Child Care Services.

As of summer 2003, housing at College and Durant is built and occupied, the new central dining commons is operating, the office building is built and occupied, and the Fox Cottage has been relocated and refurbished.  Construction of the housing at Channing Way and Bowditch, and of the infill housing buildings at Residence Hall Units 1 and 2, is underway.

Map RP-1: Underhill Master Plan Sites (PDF 160.36KB) 

E. Campus Parking Studies

The University’s office of Physical and Environmental Planning prepared a Campus Parking Study in 1998 that describes the University’s parking needs, policies and operations.  A 1999 study, prepared for the University’s Physical and Environmental Planning Office and Parking and Transportation Services Department, recommends an optimum number of parking spaces for the main campus area.  Data from these studies informs the Draft Southside Plan Transportation Element and was made use of in preparing the Transportation Demand Management Study.


A. Southside of Campus Circulation Study, Phase 1 & 2

In 1996, the City and University undertook the first phase of a Southside of Campus Circulation Study, analyzing the existing traffic and circulation conditions in the Southside.  The overall goal of the study was to identify ways to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety, reduce automobile speeds, and enhance transit service in the Southside.

The study examined returning all east-west streets from Bancroft Way to Dwight Way to two-way streets, returning only Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue to two-way, reversing the directions of Dwight Way and Haste Street, and closing Telegraph to auto traffic north of Haste Street.  The consultants' preliminary recommendation  was to convert Bancroft Way and Durant Street  to two-way traffic with a ban on through automobile traffic on Bancroft Way at Telegraph.

After review and public discussion of the analysis, Phase 2 of the South of Campus Circulation Study was undertaken.  It examined more closely two options favored by the community: turning all streets in the Southside to two-way, or returning only Durant and Bancroft to two-way.  In either case, two-way bus and shuttle service would be placed on Bancroft.  Other variations of these two options were also examined, including the creation of a bus only lane or lanes on Bancroft and Durant.  Phase 2 recommended that the City pursue the option of returning Bancroft and Durant to two-way traffic.  This would allow Bancroft to be used for two-way transit buses and shuttles, and would not preclude trolley buses or light rail transit from using Bancroft in the future.  This would also improve travel and safety conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The study did not recommend converting Haste Street and Dwight Way to two-way at the present time because such a change would reduce the east-west vehicular capacity in the Southside by 40%, which would slow traffic to the point that drivers might seek alternate routes through the adjacent neighborhoods.

B. Transportation Demand Management Study (TDM)

In the Spring of 2001, the City and the University jointly published the Southside/Downtown Transportation Demand Management Study.  The concept of the TDM study evolved out of the 1997 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and University.  In the MOU a “coordinated circulation and parking measures” study was outlined to be undertaken as part of the circulation planning portion of the Southside Area Plan.  During the scoping period at the initiation of the planning effort, the City Council requested staff to address transportation and parking with a more comprehensive geographic and strategic scope.  While this change caused delay in the commencement of a transportation study, it produced an agreement to do a TDM Study that addresses the Southside, the University, and the Downtown in its scope. The TDM Study commenced in fall 1999.

The Study found that 75% of commute trips to the Southside and Downtown are generated by employees living within five miles and that there is great potential to increase the share of trips made by transit, bicycle, and walking.  The Study concluded that expected growth can be accommodated by mode shift from driving to use of alternative modes without adding new parking.  Some perceived parking shortages can be eliminated by better management of existing parking.

The transportation policies in this Draft of the Southside Plan and in the General Plan incorporate recommendations of the TDM Study.

Recommended TDM programs and activities include:

  • Development of an EcoPass program to provide area employees with transit passes
  • Expansion of shuttle systems
  • Installation of bus shelters and improved provision of transit information
  • Working with AC Transit to improve frequency and reliability of transit service
  • Promotion of bicycling as everyday transportation
  • Additional bicycle parking
  • Better management of the existing parking supply
  • Possible reallocation of existing parking to better serve users
  • Refining the Residential Parking Permit program to reduce abuse
  • Eliminating minimum parking requirements for housing
  • Incentives for employees, students and visitors to live locally


AC Transit is currently undertaking a Major Investment Study for the Berkeley/Oakland/San Leandro corridor with the goal of evaluating alternative transportation improvements in the corridor.  The Southside, the UC Berkeley campus, and Downtown Berkeley are at one end of the corridor.  Representatives from the City of Berkeley and UC Berkeley sit on the technical advisory committee for this study.

There is a significant need to improve both the speed and reliability of bus service in the corridor.  In addition, there are pockets of special needs in the corridor, with large concentrations of households with minimal or no access to automobiles.  Economic development is key to a number of other communities along the corridor. Improved access to businesses in the corridor would enhance their economic vitality.  Bus riders would benefit from faster travel times and faster, more frequent and convenient service would attract new riders who would use the services in the corridor.

The study identified and presented a set of alternatives for the corridor.  The three alternatives presented were:

  • Light rail
  • Bus rapid transit (similar to light rail with its own right of way and stations)
  • Enhanced bus (low-cost improvements to the existing bus system)

With respect to Berkeley, both Telegraph and College Avenue were considered for the improved service.  The Berkeley City Council expressed its support for bus rapid transit.

In July 2001, an AC Transit steering committee recommended bus rapid transit with a Telegraph Avenue route alignment.  The important features of bus rapid transit that are designed to improve service include:

  • Dedicated bus lanes where buses would not have to compete with other traffic
  • Bus drivers can trigger traffic signals so that buses don't get stuck at red lights
  • Low floor, low-emission buses
  • Stations with boarding platforms and pre-paid ticketing

Some removal of parking spaces would be necessary to implement bus rapid transit and achieve improvements in service.  It is anticipated that bus travel time between Berkeley and Oakland would decrease from 30 minutes to 20 minutes. It is hoped that buses would run as frequently as every four minutes.

The AC Transit Major Investment Study produced the result of defining bus rapid transit as the desired mode, and established Telegraph Avenue as the general corridor.  In the next phase, AC Transit will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), estimated to take two years (to 2004).  The EIS process will include a scoping effort, beginning in 2003.  At that time, the District will do extensive outreach to neighborhoods to solicit input.  The information gained will be used to evaluate alternatives.


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