During its session Tuesday, Berkeley City Council conducted a public hearing regarding an appeal to the Zoning Adjustments Board to approve a use permit which would allow the demolition of existing buildings and construction of housing on 2065 Kittredge Street.
Kelilah Federman, attorney representing the East Bay Residents for Responsible Development, or EBRRD, who raised the appeal, asked the council to uphold it, a decision which Federman claimed would modify the project with conditions that “benefit” construction workers.
“What’s in front of you tonight is a series of modest conditions… modest reporting requirements that we’re asking for,” said EBRRD representative Vincent Sugrue. “We are not asking for everything, but what we’re asking for is some level of accountability because our voices time and time again aren’t heard.”
Those who supported the appeal asserted that modifying the project’s conditions would improve the general welfare of the city, its residents and its workers.
Keith Brown, a representative of the Alameda Labor Council, also supported the appeal. He stated that the city must stop exploiting its workers.
“We must bring an end to developers taking advantage of our housing crisis and enriching their investors while they exacerbate inequality in our communities,” Brown said.
Former City Mayor Shirley Dean joined public comments in support of the appeal, stating that the council should “work on modifying the conditions” so that workers are “taken care of.”
Bill Schrader, owner of the East Bay development company Austin Group, asked the council to deny the appeal, alleging that no other private housing development project had been subject to the proposals made by the appellant.
“The council should not make a premature decision, but make policy in accordance with proper legislative procedures, not on a case-by-case basis, and especially not in such a rushed fashion,” Schrader said.
Schrader alleged that he had only received the conditions provided by the appellant the day of the meeting and expressed that the process to start the project had been extensive and collaborative.
Councilmembers voted to deny the appeal but approved the permit with conditions as agreed to by the applicant during the public hearing.
Mayor Jesse Arreguín concluded the council meeting.
“Having these standards is really critical to make sure that as we are building needed housing that we’re also not building it on the backs of low-wage workers, we are not putting people at risk [and] that we’re prioritizing the health and safety of our construction workforce,” Arreguín said.