Berkeley officials hold community workshop on Adeline Corridor development

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Kevin Cheung/Staff

On Saturday, city officials of Berkeley hosted the first public community workshop related to future development in the Adeline Corridor neighborhood.

Approximately 150 people attended the meeting, which was part of the first phase of the city’s plan to revitalize the corridor. The event, held at the Harriet Tubman Terrace on Adeline Street, was also intended to give residents of the neighborhood the chance to voice community needs and concerns.

“We want to make sure our historical assets are maintained,” said Deborah Matthews, a community member of 35 years, at the workshop. “We want to take this opportunity to clean up … our community and provide for our community.”

Mukul Malhotra of MIG, an urban design company that will work with the city on developing the corridor, shared a city report at the meeting that analyzed demographic and land-use data to make a case for future development.

Later, the workshop allotted time for small group discussions of major community needs, followed by a larger discussion during which participants voiced concerns about protecting local businesses; limiting the development of private housing; and preserving the area’s history, culture and diversity.

Community members also expressed interest in improving the experience of pedestrians and discussed a moratorium on development of private housing in South Berkeley.

The Adeline Corridor development area includes the area along Adeline Street from Ward Street to the Oakland border, along with some southern blocks of Shattuck Avenue. According to a 2014 report made by the city’s Office of Economic Development, the corridor and the surrounding area are home to about 12,700 people — approximately 11 percent of Berkeley’s total population.

At the end of the workshop, City Councilmember Max Anderson spoke about affordable housing, a major community concern.

“There have been dislocation of people all over (South Berkeley), and we’re not going to stand for it here,” Anderson said. “Our efforts to grant affordable housing cannot be undermined by development in this community.”

Participants additionally discussed gentrification, which Malhotra said was significant and ongoing in South Berkeley and in the Bay Area as a whole. Residents in the area may face “significant near-term displacement risk” without affordable housing units, Malhotra said.

“We haven’t had housing development for the last 30 years,” said Teresa Clarke, another member of the community. “In Berkeley, everyone fights development, which only makes the situation worse. Development on the corridor right now is the perfect opportunity to create more affordable housing and better parking.”

A 2014 report from the Office of Economic Development found large amounts of inactive properties in the Adeline Corridor and a lack of significant destination retail and office businesses. Findings from the report also suggested the area was an unsatisfactory environment for pedestrians.

According to Anderson, the current plan for the project will be a 24-30 month process.

City spokesperson Matthai Chakko said the city has already spent five months on community outreach. According to Chakko, the city previously collected more than 1,100 surveys and conducted more than 500 conversations with the neighborhood in order to focus on receiving community input.

“There are no plans for Adeline Street right now,” Chakko said. “The goal for the community workshop is to develop a vision so that developers and the community have a shared vision of the expectation.”

Jessie Qian covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessieq96.