ASUC Senate passes resolution, prioritizes housing development over parking spaces

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The ASUC Senate passed a resolution regarding affordable housing and heard updates from UCPD about body-worn cameras at Wednesday night’s regular meeting.

The Green Affordable Housing Package, passed by Berkeley City Council in 2015, requested that the city manager and city planning commission explore ways to reduce barriers and hasten the development of affordable housing. Senators passed a resolution Wednesday night in support of the 2015 package, which was also discussed at a city planning commission meeting Wednesday.

The package includes proposals to implement residential parking maximums, reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements and streamline the development review process. For most development projects, the city of Berkeley requires a minimum number of parking spaces but does not have a maximum parking limit.

In a letter addressed to the city’s planning commission, ASUC representatives said that students are driving at “profoundly low rates” and demanded increased housing density in “student-heavy” areas.

“Requiring parking in new developments limits how densely we can build,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay, primary sponsor of the resolution, in an email. “I think it will be effective because it will allow for more units in developments and also discourage car usage in Berkeley, an urban city connected by public transit.”

Khalfay added that current policies do not allow for flexibility and encourage use of cars over public transit. The package addresses both environmental and housing crises in the city of Berkeley, she said in an email.

Also during the meeting, chief legal officer Claire Goudy announced that Kairui Zeng, the ASUC’s chief technology officer, or CTO, who is no longer a student at UC Berkeley, submitted an official letter of resignation, meaning that it can move forward with hiring a new CTO. Leon Ming, Zeng’s chief of staff, gave announcements in his place once again.

During his guest announcement, Sgt. Nicolas Hernandez said that UCPD plans to implement body-worn cameras by March 1. He said the new policy ensures cameras for each officer along with dashboard cameras for all patrol cars, and that it is a part of a “systemwide project” bigger than UC Berkeley’s campus.

Hernandez, however, could not provide details regarding when footage would be made available to the public in incidents of interest, or details about situations in which officers would be required to turn on the cameras. The policy, once further refined, will address those issues, he said during the meeting.

“It’s still in its very infant stage — we don’t even have our hands on the software yet,” Hernandez said during the meeting. “This is just another tool for (officers) to help them do their jobs better.”

Anjali Shrivastava is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.