Berkeley’s growing neighborhood could soon rise higher. The Berkeley City Council is scheduled to vote today to upzone Southside, a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood dominated by college students and small businesses on the south side of the UC Berkeley Campus. If approved, the rezoning would increase the area’s maximum housing capacity up by over 2,500 dwellings.
The proposed Southside Zoning Code amendment can potentially increase the city’s housing capacity by roughly 2,650 more units through several zoning code changes. There is a focus on creating student-oriented housing in the neighborhood to capture the immense demand for housing from UC Berkeley students. The rezoning is required by the City’s 2023-2031 Housing Element.
The most immediate change will shift eight blocks of the neighborhood to Residential Southside Mixed-Use, or R-SMU zoning. Likewise, the city will adjust the maximum allowable height of R-SMU and Telegraph Commercial (C-T) to 85 feet. Zoning for the eastern hillside portion of the neighborhood will remain unchanged.
Another consequential change is the establishment of minimum densities, ranging from 60 dwelling units per acre on the outskirts of Southside, to 200 units per acre for parcels along the busy Telegraph Avenue. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the amendment will remove all lot coverage standards and eliminate a cap to maximum density. The public document states that “a unit per acre measurement does not correlate direclt with population density for student-oriented typologies, which can range widely from small studios to group living accommodations to large shared units.”
The Berkeley City Council meeting is scheduled to start today, November 14th, starting at 6 PM. The hybrid meeting will be held virtually and in person at 1231 Addison Street in the School District Board Room. For more information about how to attend and participate, visit the meeting agenda here.
Documents relating to the Southside Neighborhood Zoning Amendment can be found here. The amendment is scheduled to be the 13th item of the City Council meeting.