Berkeley City Council delays decision on Zoning Adjustments Board appeal at 970 Santa Barbara Rd.

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Aren Saunders-Gonzales/Staff

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Berkeley City Council discussed a Zoning Adjustments Board, or ZAB, appeal and alternative sources of funding for homeless service nonprofit agencies at its regular meeting Tuesday.

At the meeting, ZAB presented an appeal to the council that requested an addition to single-family home at 970 Santa Barbara Rd. Shannon Allen, the city’s principal planner, said during the meeting that ZAB determined that the proposed project would have a “non-detrimental” impact on obstructing views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline.

Residents of neighboring homes, however, opposed the appeal, and instead suggested design modifications that would limit view obstructions. Some council members also visited homes on Santa Barbara Road to better understand the proposed project’s effects on view obstruction.

“The value of a view to an individual is very subjective,” said Councilmember Susan Wengraf at the meeting.

Paul Grandfors, who lives with his wife in a neighboring home that would be affected by the project, attended the meeting and expressed concern about the project. He said that his family’s view “is precious to (them),” adding that he wanted to come up with a compromise for the proposal.

The applicant, Kiran Jain, said the process of creating the proposal was “really intense and emotional.” She added that her three daughters were sharing one bedroom and their current home could not accommodate her aging parents.

“We’re tired,” Jain said at the meeting. “We thought we would be halfway in construction but have been waiting (for) 18 months.”

The council voted to carry the item over to its Oct. 31 meeting.

At the meeting, the council also discussed a resolution from the Homeless Commission, which proposes that homeless-service nonprofit agencies that receive funds from the city prepare for funding cuts that could emerge because of potential decreased funding from the federal government.

“We have so much uncertainty at the federal level,” said Councilmember Linda Maio at the meeting.

Paul Buddenhagen, director of health, housing and community services, said his department’s $50 million budget consists of almost three-quarters of state and federal funding and that no amount of philanthropic donations or fundraising will replace that amount.

He added that he believes funding cuts could also have a negative impact on the homeless community.

“We will have more homeless people,” Buddenhagen said at the meeting. “That’s just a sad reality.”

The council also debated whether the city or the Homeless Commission should look for additional funding for these agencies but ultimately decided to take no action on the item.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín said, however, that he wanted to look into how the city can better support these agencies.

“What is not on the agenda tonight, which is not going to be resolved tonight, which is what can the city of Berkeley do to support those agencies, as well as how to enhance the resources to provide (to) our homeless community in the event of additional cuts,” Arreguín said at the meeting.

Ahna Straube covers city government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @akstraube.

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