Neighbors sue city over 2902 Adeline St. project

Yukun Zhang/Staff

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The 2902 Adeline Street Neighbors, an unincorporated nonprofit neighborhood association to protect low-income housing, is suing the city of Berkeley over a mixed-use construction project at its namesake address.

The city of Berkeley has approved Realtex’s project to demolish one single-family dwelling and one mixed-use building at 2902 and 2908 Adeline St. and 1946 Russell St. in order to build a six-story mixed-use building. Realtex Apartments, LLC. will be carrying out the development.

Cody Fornari, CEO of Realtex, declined to comment. The city of Berkeley could not be reached for comment.

The new building is going to have five live/work spaces and 50 dwelling units, along with 56 bicycle spaces and stacked parking for 24 vehicles. The building is allotted for four units of the 50 to be low-income housing, four more units to be very-low-income housing and one unit to be moderate-income housing.

The lawsuit states that the proposed building was approved for a density bonus by the Zoning Adjustments Board, which granted the project an increase in its size.

The author of the legislation that allows for the bonus, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, commented that he believes the ability to preserve and promote affordable housing is very important.

The suit alleges, however, that the project violated government code “which prohibits a density bonus based on the provision of low, very low, or moderate income housing unless the Project replaces pre-existing low or very low income housing that would be lost as a result of the Project.”

The suit argues that the new building’s allotment of eight low-income units and one moderate-income unit does not properly replace the low-income housing lost and essentially harms the low-income community.

Robert Lauriston, a member of the 2902 Adeline Street Neighbors, alleges that a low-income occupant was evicted from the Russell Street property to further the project.

“(The developers) were required to replace the two five-bedroom units, but there are no five-bedroom units in the building,” Lauriston said. “The ways that the owners got rid of the tenants at the Russell Street house (was that) they doubled the rent. … I presume they were directed by Realtex to do that because Realtex wanted the house empty before they got into contract with the owners.”

In November of last year, 30 people living within 300 feet of the project (including Lauriston) appealed the Zoning Adjustments Board’s decision to the City Council that the density bonus was unlawfully granted but were denied the appeal, according to the suit. The city approved the project this May.

“We hope to get some consideration in how much these places are renting for and how large they are,” said Richie Smith, a member of Friends of Adeline. “Low-income housing is very much in demand. … I’m a senior citizen, like a number of people living in this community who are retired on fixed incomes, and we can’t afford to pay that affordable rent.”

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected]

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that all the people appealing the Berkeley Zoning Board’s decision were members of the 2902 Adeline Street Neighbors.

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  • Jonathan Morris

    According to the staff report from the ZAB appeal, the City verified that 2902 and 2908 Adeline St. were owner occupied with owners’ incomes above low income. The staff report also indicates that the city verified with the property owner of 1946 Russell St. that the unit was rented to an individual at $2000/mo and was verified as having 3x the monthly rent in income, above the low income threshold.

    Communications show rooms listed on ‘hotbeds’ but rooms rented in owner occupied houses or as subtenants of master tenants have next to no rights or protections compared to tenants of an individual dwelling unit, and likely don’t count as tennants under the state density bonus law.

  • ScumbreonJones

    Robert, you’re a hypocrite and a gigantic piece of trash

    • Pietro Gambadilegno

      Yep, Lauriston is a gentrifier, a techie who works in silicon valley. He is a NIMBY who uses affordable housing as a talking point for his opposition to housing generally.

      Maybe he should provide an affordable unit to compensate for the affordable home that he bought and gentrified.

    • As usual, YIMBYs have nothing to say and just spit.

      • rlauriston

        I can’t imagine why cartoon characters would care about Berkeley land use issues.

      • ScumbreonJones

        Thomas, you’re a total loon and a carpetbagger yourself. I love how everyone’s favorite tankie troll does nothing but defend rich landowners who have made a 5x windfall gain on their real estate assets (without the tax rate catching up) and rant about there being too many Cal students. Great class consciousness there, comrade.

        Go back to rubbing yourself up against your musty Marx and Malthus books. But please make another incoherent rant about capital as an animate entity before you go.

        • Is that the best you’ve got?

          • ScumbreonJones

            I save my best for the landed aristocrats like Robert Lauriston, whose house quintupled in value since its purchase. You’re just a hapless pawn drunk on your own feel-good Berkeley Barb snobbery.

          • Well, there you go.