Berkeley Approves Apartments at 1500 San Pablo

Berkeley Approves Apartments at 1500 San Pablo

Yesterday, the Berkeley City Council rejected an appeal of the May 12th approval by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board for a five-story apartment building at 1500 San Pablo Ave. City staff delivered a report to the meeting summarily rejecting all of the neighborhood’s objections regarding traffic, shadows, and environmental review.

The project will demolish an existing auto parts store, replacing it with 170 residential units, 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, 179 car parking spots, and 184 parking spots for bicycles. 16 dwelling units are reserved for Very Low Income Households, qualifying the project for a 35% state density bonus (a total of 47 units beyond allowed residential density).

current view of the site, facing northwest (source: Google Maps)

current view of the site, facing northwest (source: Google Maps)

Local resident Edwin Herzog submitted an appeal with signatures from 36 neighbors contesting the 7-2 ZAB vote. The appeal reiterated opponents’ claims that they had enlisted the efforts of local architects to provide a smaller alternate proposal—one which professional architects serving on the ZAB had dismissed as being mere sketches. Neighbors defended their alternate design on the grounds that traffic impacts on the adjacent intersection of 10th & Jones had not been adequately studied, that the height would cast shadows on nearby single-family homes, and that the city had not provided adequate opportunity for public comment.

Alternate proposal designed by neighborhood opposition

Alternate proposal designed by neighborhood opposition

City staff recommended approval by the council, noting that the proposed project had been in process for 14 months prior to the public hearing at the ZAB, including completed traffic and light studies. By a vote of 7-2, the council moved to reject the appeal. Councilmember Capitelli recused himself, while Councilmember Arreguin abstained, citing a desire for further study.

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