City Council approves development project to provide housing for disabled individuals

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City Council approved a development project at 2527 San Pablo Ave. that will provide housing to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD, at its Tuesday meeting, in response to an outcry of public support for individuals with IDD.

Parents of individuals with IDD spoke in favor of the project, which will provide 12 below-market-rate units reserved for persons with such disabilities. The parents’ emotional comments during the public hearing addressed concerns for their children’s future and a lack of housing options for disabled members of the community.

“There really is a very great need,” parent Jennifer Lorvick said at the meeting. “I think this project can be approved — that a waiver can be granted — and it will not set a bad precedent.”

Councilmembers reacted to numerous parents’ testimonials with heightened support for the housing project, despite concerns about financial viability. Councilmember Cheryl Davila, along with other councilmembers, expressed appreciation for the testimonials and said she was “more aware of the issues” facing the IDD community.

“This is an extraordinary proposal … in that it is unusual,” councilmember Sophie Hahn said. “It’s also extraordinary in how ambitious it is to find a solution for members of the community for whom there are very few, if any, solutions.”

The council also announced the appointment of two new city employees: David Brannigan as Berkeley fire chief and LaTanya Bellow as director of human resources.

In addition, the city staff presented its progress in preventing a potential hepatitis A outbreak in Berkeley, in response to recent outbreaks in California. Staff members said the city has vaccinated 136 homeless individuals with the hepatitis A vaccine and 106 homeless individuals with the flu vaccine.

Deputy city manager Jovan Grogan said the $60,000 allocated by the city Dec. 5 for public health enhancements is being used to install portable toilets and wash stations at nine locations throughout the city that are located near homeless encampments.

The council, however, was unable to vote on the adoption of a resolution to further enhance these measures because of time constraints.

Tuesday’s meeting also included a presentation from manager of economic development Jordan Klein about the opening of the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza — an allocated space that is undergoing an $8,000,000 renovation to “improve the quality of (the) public space,” Klein said.

The council adopted a resolution to implement programs at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, including a pilot program for food vendors and various arts and cultural activities. Hahn said she is looking forward to renovations that will “revitalize the heart of our city.”

Danielle Kaye is the lead city government reporter.. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @danielledkaye.