Berkeley Planning Commission votes unanimously to review More Student Housing Now proposals

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Ketki Samel/Staff

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UC Berkeley students attended a city Planning Commission meeting Wednesday night to voice their support for the More Student Housing Now Resolution, and a motion was passed unanimously to review the proposals outlined in the resolution.

The proposals outlined in the More Student Housing Now Resolution include adding 20 feet of height to buildings on Southside, no longer requiring parking spots per housing unit, constructing two high-rise student housing complexes and funding low-income housing.

“Students have been priced out of the Southside area and the campus neighborhoods and forced to compete in other low-income neighborhoods in the city because there isn’t enough housing stock,” ASUC Senator Amir Wright said during the meeting. “The More Student Housing Now Resolution will allow more students to live closer to campus, thereby reducing gentrification in other parts of the city.”

More than 20 UC Berkeley students held blue and yellow posters that stated “campus densification reduces Berkeley gentrification” during the meeting. Many of them also addressed gentrification during public comment, asking the commission to explore proposals that will change zoning ordinances to allow for denser housing developments in the Southside area.

“Housing security is a huge issue for students,” campus junior Mark Green said at the meeting.I and others face real-world consequences for the lack of housing at Berkeley, and because of that I think it’s an important issue for students to mobilize around. I’m really glad to see so many students coming out and supporting this.”

The Planning Commission agreed that student housing is a priority and that solutions should continue to be explored, according to Planning Commissioner Benjamin Fong. Fong said the commission needed to take action that night during the meeting and introduced a motion to move forward with the resolution’s items.

According to Matthew Lewis, a city Housing Advisory commissioner and the chair of the Student Housing Subcommittee, the meeting was a success and the commission will likely move forward with the proposals sooner than is expected.

“We always try to get students engaged with city-level politics and policymaking, and it’s really exciting to see students come out,” ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay said. “I think this speaks to larger culture of UC Berkeley students being active, engaged Berkeley community members.”

Councilmember Kriss Worthington urged the commissioners to support every one of the resolution’s proposals. Rent Board Commissioner Leah Simon-Weisberg said the campus needs to “take responsibility” and create change to increase affordable housing.

“Students have consistently asked for more student housing and quickly. The lack of affordable housing has affected everything from students’ grades to their mental health,” Fong said in an email. “It is paramount that Cal students continue to show up at these meetings to ensure that their voices are heard.”

Mariam Zagub is the lead race and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MZagub.