Berkeley holds equity workshop to discuss Adeline Corridor redevelopment

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Debbie Yuen/Staff

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Since 2015, the city of Berkeley has been developing a plan for the Adeline Corridor, a street that runs through the historically Black neighborhood of South Berkeley.

On Saturday, city residents gathered to discuss institutional racism and equity, among other concepts, in creating a community vision for the historic street. The city opened the equity workshop and a two-week Adeline Community Open House as a part of an ongoing effort to determine how the neighborhood will be reshaped.

The process for developing the Adeline Corridor Specific Plan launched in 2015. The city planners are still working to collect the community’s priorities, establish goals and outline specific actions, according to Alisa Shen, the project manager for the planning process. Shen said her priority is “working with the community to maximize implementability and equity.”

“We want to do more targeted outreach with our equity experts. We reach out in a better way,” Shen said. “We also brought back information from all the feedback we’ve collected to date. We want to get into more detailed discussions in the workshops about issues relating to land use, affordable housing, community benefits and zoning.”

The city hosted a similar event in January 2017, during which the community provided its feedback. Shen said that moving forward, there will be a commitment to include more voices in the conversation.

The open house showcases the priorities and visions of the plan, based on the feedback collected from a series of community events, stakeholder meetings and working sessions.

One of the posters at the exhibit explained that since 2015, the city has used community feedback to develop five priority areas: housing affordability, land use and community character, economic opportunity, transportation and public space.

At the equity workshop, many expressed the sentiment that low-income communities and people of color are typically left out of urban planning. Adding to this conversation, Heather Haxo Phillips, a board member of the Lorin Business Association, said these workshops help emphasize “the realities of development.” Haxo Phillips said she has been involved with the Adeline Corridor Specific Plan as a community member and leader.

“The emphasis (is) that it has to come from the people who work, live and own businesses here,” Haxo Phillips said. “(It’s) important to start the process of deciding what we want.”

As a business owner, Haxo Phillips said she hopes to see the Adeline Corridor area revitalized through continued investment from the city.

In 2014, Berkeley received a a $750,000 planning grant from the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The grant is for the city to develop a plan and invest in the southern portions of Shattuck Avenue and Adeline Street.

“People are bringing up important issues that can’t be effectively addressed in the plan,” Shen said. “They can make the information available to city staff and decision-makers and that’s how we can keep the conversation going.”

Contact Ella Smith at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @EllaSmithCA.