City Council to consider Zoning Adjustments Board appeal, Deep Green Building Initiative

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Berkeley City Council is set to resume discussion on a controversial Zoning Adjustments Board, or ZAB, appeal and the Berkeley Deep Green Building Initiative at its Tuesday regular meeting.

On Sept. 27, Berkeley resident Louise Rosenkrantz appealed ZAB’s Sept. 8 decision that permitted Berkeley Honda to move its dealership location to 2777 Shattuck Ave. and 2747 Adeline St. The appeal, which alleged that the approval does not comply with environmental law and would create dangerous traffic conditions, fell one vote short of passing at a Feb. 7 special City Council meeting, deferring the council’s decision to its next regular meeting.

A second ZAB appeal, regarding the adoption of a resolution to affirm ZAB’s decision to approve the demolition of 1310 Haskell St. and construct three new detached dwellings in its place, is also on the agenda.

“(ZAB appeals) probably are going to take up more time than any other single item on the agenda,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “(I am) literally rereading all the documents, trying to enter (Tuesday’s hearing) with a new consideration of all the information before us.”

Councilmember Sophie Hahn, who originally proposed a motion to overturn ZAB’s ruling regarding the Honda permit during the Feb. 7 special meeting, stressed her desire to keep an open mind.

“I think the Honda project will take significant time,” Hahn said. “You always come with an open mind to these hearings. Nobody predetermines their vote — that’s why you have a public hearing and a deliberative process for the council.”

ZAB chair Igor Tregub was unable to provide any new updates on either of the two ZAB appeals on Tuesday’s agenda, noting that ZAB was “not formally privy” to that information.

City spokesperson Matthai Chakko said the public hearing for the Honda appeal closed at the Feb. 7 meeting. He added that if no action is taken on the appeal within 30 days after the hearing closed, the original decision will be automatically affirmed.

The council will also discuss the Berkeley Deep Green Building Initiative at its meeting. The initiative, which was originally proposed by Mayor Jesse Arreguín while he was a council member, has been developed with the input of the Berkeley Zero Net Energy++ Working Group, according to Stefan Elgstrand, Arreguín’s chief of staff.

Hahn said the initiative would direct city staff to create a plan to achieve five goals for Berkeley’s new and old buildings: zero net energy, low embodied energy, reduced toxicity, water conservation and socially and environmentally responsible sourcing.

“Buildings are responsible for more than 50 percent of greenhouse gases in Berkeley, so it’s important to get all the new buildings as green as possible and retrofit the old buildings we have,” Hahn said.

Also on the agenda is the consideration of the Berkeley Bike Plan, which aims to improve the city’s bicycle infrastructure through recommendations such as protected bikeways.

Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.