While housing policy battles continue in California’s legislature, communities across the East Bay are grappling with housing solutions on the local level.
On May 9, Berkeley residents, including members of the Greenbelt Alliance community, filled the auditorium at Longfellow Middle School for a special City Council meeting to discuss the possibility of housing at the North Berkeley BART Station. While opinions varied on the specifics of the project—from building height to parking requirements to the number of affordable units—there was a shared sense that the North Berkeley BART Station represents an opportunity for the City of Berkeley to model the patterns of development we want to see across the state.
Many of the comments made highlighted the importance of changing development patterns in the face of climate change—when 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, constructing cities around low-emission transportation options is essential. Dense housing near transit with walkable, bikeable amenities—like what is being considered in Berkeley—can greatly reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.
The Berkeley City Council unanimously voted to create a Memorandum of Understanding with BART, adopted a set of goals, and directed the Planning Commission to study the site to determine the zoning. The decisions made through this planning process will shape the urban environment for decades, and determine how Berkeley residents live, move, and play.
Further south, Randy Shaw, Founder and Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and author of Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America spoke to Fremont residents on May 11 about the need for more multi-family homes near transit, especially in transit-accessible cities like Fremont. At the event, co-hosted by Greenbelt Alliance and The League of Women Voters, residents shared their frustration at the way some in the city were opposing new development. They spoke about the need for the community to come together to advocate for more of the right kind of development—multi-family homes near BART with on-site affordable units. Greenbelt Alliance will be working to support community advocacy and local housing solutions in Fremont for this needed development of compact, walkable neighborhoods for people of all income levels.
While each community is facing its own unique challenges and needs, there are opportunities across the East Bay for our cities to grow in a way that builds community and a climate-smart future.