Neighbors, city discuss 2902 Adeline St. project lawsuit

Yukun Zhang/Staff

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Legal counsels representing local advocates of low-income housing and the city of Berkeley met Jan. 9 to discuss an ongoing lawsuit over a mixed-use development project on Adeline Street.

In May, Berkeley City Council approved San Francisco-based development company Realtex’s project to demolish one single-family dwelling and one mixed-use building at 2902 and 2908 Adeline St. and 1946 Russell St. and replace them with a six-story mixed-use building.

The 2902 Adeline Street Neighbors, a nonprofit neighborhood association dedicated to preserving low-income housing in Berkeley, sued the city of Berkeley in August and called for City Council to set aside its approval of the project. The association contended that the city of Berkeley violated the law by approving a density bonus, which allows developers to build more market-rate housing than the law would normally allow when producing low-income housing units without adequately replacing existing low-income units.

According to the lawsuit, the project’s allotment of eight low-income units and one moderate-income unit does not properly replace the low-income housing that existed previously on the site.

During the Jan. 9 hearing, the parties scheduled their next hearing for March 1.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said the current project is already a “drastic compromise” and that the lawsuit only delays the project and drives up costs.

“It’s one more obstacle course to go through litigation,” Worthington said. “The opposition to development is a minority point of view, but it’s a very active and passionate point of view.”

According to Worthington, the project’s close proximity to the Ashby BART station and the number of low-income units it mandates make the project a logical response to the city’s housing crisis.

Robert Lauriston, a member of the 2902 Adeline Street Neighbors, urged the city to comply with state law in order to serve the community.

“The city fell down on their obligation,” Lauriston said. “They failed to require the replacement units that state law requires. We’re trying to hold the city accountable under state law.”

Richie Smith, who has lived in Berkeley for nearly 70 years and is a member of the organization Friends of Adeline, said she supports development as long as it contributes to the community.

“We work trying to maintain a community that thrives and is healthy and safe,” Smith said. “We are for growth, but it has to be a kind that is inclusive, that respects the residents and businesses that will come in.”

Contact Sam Levin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SamJLevin.