Berkeley City Council adopted its first formal land acknowledgment, postponed the plans to repave Hopkins Corridor and discussed a housing development project that was described as potentially “detrimental” during its regular meeting Tuesday.
City Council approved its first land acknowledgment, formally recognizing that Berkeley was built on the ancestral land of the Ohlone people. The acknowledgment will be displayed in writing at all regular meetings and will be read aloud at the first regular meeting of every month.
During the meeting, the Hopkins Corridor plan was noted as being a point of contention among city residents, with many speakers contributing to the meeting during a period of public comment. The plan would repave portions of Hopkins Street with a bike path in order to promote public safety and non-car transportation, according to the city website.
Councilmembers Susan Wengraf and Sophie Hahn proposed a resolution that would place a hold on the work pending an independent study of alternatives. The resolution was passed.
Critics of the original Hopkins Corridor project noted that it would harm businesses that benefit from car accessibility as the plan results in paving over existing parking spots. However, supporters hailed it as a move to move the city in a green, bike-friendly direction, and they had urged council members to vote no on the resolution that was ultimately approved.
A supplemental resolution provided by Dee Williams-Ridley, city manager, asks that staff provide a report on potential alternatives and their benefits and constraints to City Council by Jan. 31, 2023.
“It ensures that (City Council) can have important information, but it ensures the project still moves forward,” Mayor Jesse Arreguín said during the meeting. “I think that’s important that we not slow down what the council voted to approve in May, that we get the important information to evaluate at the point where we’re going to have to decide whether to go ahead with the project or not.”
City Council also discussed the development of a six-story, multi-family residential building with 12 units on 2018 Blake St. Jordan Klein, director of the city’s planning and development department, recommended that City Council dismiss an appeal from a resident of Blake Street identified by the city as John De Domenico.
The appeal asserts that the project is “detrimental” to surrounding neighbors due to shadowing issues. It was noted, however, that City Council would be unable to stop the development of the building even if it was detrimental to neighbors because the building is compliant with California’s Housing Accountability Act, a state law that overrides city ordinances, according to a city council report.
“You can’t deny it on the basis of detriment because state law says it meets base standards,” Arreguín said during the meeting. “We have to approve this project or else we’re gonna get sued.”
City Council moved to push the decision to the Nov. 3 meeting in order to request clarification on the recommendation and seek information on the requirement for an on-site manager unit.