City Council to discuss Southside Plan Tuesday night

The Berkeley City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday to discuss the final implementation of the Southside Plan, which has been in the planning stages for nearly 15 years.

The plan promotes economic and housing development in the area directly south of the UC Berkeley campus, from Bancroft Way to the north, Dwight Way to the south, Prospect Street to the east and Shattuck Avenue to the west.

The council will meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the City Council chambers, where they are expected to certify the final Environmental Impact Report and adopt several resolutions and ordinances.

According to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes the area, a single sentence omitted from the final plan will be a major topic of discussion at tonight’s meeting. The language apparently reaffirmed the city’s policy exempting UC Berkeley student housing and Berkeley Student Cooperative housing from having to pay to create replacement parking for land they develop.

Worthington said land designated for student housing as long as 20 years ago has been used for parking because the students lacked the money to develop the land. Now the campus has a policy that student housing must pay for additional parking to be built elsewhere if they build on the land.

“This single sentence affects students to the millions of dollars,” Worthington said.

One particular location between Rochdale and Fenwick apartments — both located just west of Telegraph Avenue — where another co-op could be built, would cost $1.5 million if this policy is not adopted.

“Adding that sentence is the single most important change we can make,” Worthington said. “I don’t know why they dumped it out.”

Worthington said city staff may have been worried about possible legal issues tied to the sentence, but he has since been told that it was removed due to policy concerns rather than legal. There will be a proposal to put the language back in the plan tonight.

Jan Stokely, executive director of the Berkeley Student Cooperative, said in an email that she is encouraging students to attend tonight’s public hearing. A Facebook event has also been created to encourage students to attend.

“The Berkeley Student Cooperative will be advocating for a greater emphasis on low-cost student housing in the plan,” said Stokely in an email. “But apart from the BSC’s organizational goals, the Southside Plan will affect the lives of thousands of UC students for decades to come, and we feel strongly that UC students should have notice of the hearing.”

Adelyn Baxter covers city government.