Alameda County judge rules in favor of city of Berkeley in lawsuit against 1900 Fourth Street developers

Audrey McNamara/File

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An Alameda County judge denied a petition for a mandate that would have allowed developers to build on about 28,000 square feet at the city of Berkeley’s 1900 Fourth Street location, also known as the West Berkeley Shellmound, which is considered to be a sacred burial site by Ohlone tribe members.

In December 2018, Ruegg & Ellsworth and the Frank Spenger Company filed a lawsuit against the city for allegedly violating SB 35, which expedites housing project approval processes for projects with a specified percentage of affordable housing units.

According to the denial of the petition for a mandate, the city did not abuse its discretion in rejecting the proposal. Since SB 35 allows developments to be used for nonresidential purposes, the denial declared the project ineligible for “streamlined” nonresidential uses.  

The location has been identified by Ohlone tribe members as the first inhabited village in the Bay Area, and the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the West Berkeley Shellmound as a landmark about 20 years ago.

West Berkeley Investors made multiple attempts to develop the site, and the city has rejected the proposal multiple times. 

Contact Sakura Cannestra and Alexandra Casey at [email protected].