Berkeley City Council to discuss bike lanes, low-income housing project

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Berkeley City Council will hold its regular Tuesday night meeting to discuss the installation of bike lanes on Bancroft Way, a low-income housing project and an African American/Black Holistic Resource Center, among other items.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington highlights the proposed development for 2012 Berkeley Way, which addresses housing for Berkeley’s homeless and low-income residents. The proposed project seeks to provide 94 affordable apartments for households earning 30 percent to 60 percent of Berkeley’s median income, 30 apartments for homeless citizens, 60 shelter beds, a meal program and roughly 100 underground public parking spaces.

“(The housing project is) the most exciting project proposed in Berkeley for a decade,” Worthington said.

City Council will also discuss a prospective African American/Black Holistic Resource Center in South Berkeley to reduce health disparities between races. The proposal cites a 2013 Health Status Report showing that the annual death rates for Black men and women in Berkeley are generally double that of the population as a whole.

“Focused, culturally sensitive projects have had the most dramatic health effects,” Worthington said of the proposal, referring to precedents such as Berkeley’s Healthy Black Families program, which has reduced the number of low birth weight babies.

Additionally, City Council will discuss the installation of a bike lane and a public transit-only lane, as well as the removal of street parking and traffic lanes, on Bancroft Way. The project is intended to address a bicycle lane gap between Dana and Fulton streets as well as AC Transit bus delays, which affect 10,000 passengers every day.

According to Bike East Bay Advocacy Director Dave Campbell, his organization is in full support of the plan, emphasizing that the majority of the UC Berkeley community commutes by foot, bike or transit. He added that the installment of protected bike lanes could increase biking by an average of at least 75 percent on those streets.

“The city of Berkeley has studied the impacts, and there will be no significant travel impacts with this project,” Campbell said. “While this project does remove parking from Bancroft (Way), … (the) city is looking to add it back on Durant (Avenue).”

But daily bicycle and public transit commuter Michael Katz, who has been vocally against the installations, said the bike lane designs are antiquated and aim to convert non-bikers.

There will also be a special City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. where council members will receive updates on the development progress of the Berkeley Strategic Plan, which aims to solve long-term community goals with short-term projects, and a status report on the latest phase of 2020 Vision, a citywide initiative aimed at improving academic success in Berkeley.

The meeting will take place 7 p.m. at the Council Chambers.

Senior staff writer Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks contributed to this report. 

Contact Charlene Jin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @CharleneJin0327.