Brower Center Permits Win ZAB Endorsement

| Publication: Berkeley Daily Planet
Members of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved the use permits that would allow construction of the David Brower Center on the city’s Oxford Street parking lot.

Bob Allen was the only member who voted against the permits for the two-building complex.

Allen said he would support what was otherwise “a wonderful project from the ground up” if his fellow board members would send the project to the City Council with a call for two levels of underground parking instead of one.

Deborah Badhia of the Downtown Berkeley Association, which wanted two levels of parking, said her group endorsed the project with either one or two levels. Similarly, bicycle activist Jim Doherty—an outspoken opponent of any parking at the complex—gave his blessings.

By the time the hearing closed, no one from the audience had spoken against the project, and the board approved it, subject to the addition of a note to the council that members preferred—but did not insist on—two levels of parking.

Board member Jesse Anthony noted that the poor often need cars to commute to work.

“Not everyone can ride bicycles and motorcycles and certainly not everyone can walk. We saw in New Orleans what can happen when people can’t get out of town,” he said. “But I’m going to vote for it, though I hope you keep in mind what I said.”

The project consists of two buildings. One, the four-story David Brower Center itself, would house offices of environmental organizations, a restaurant and a Patagonia outdoor gear shop. The second structure, the six-story Oxford Plaza housing component, would include 96 housing units—many with two and three bedrooms—reserved for lower-income tenants.

Funding issues still remain, particularly with the housing structure.

2538 Hillegass Ave.

David Meyers, the landlord who is seeking approval of his plans to add three units and a third story to the two-floor, four-unit student housing building he owns at 2358 Hillegass Ave. was back before ZAB Thursday in a more conciliatory mood than in his last appearance in August.

“I realize I could be a better neighbor,” Meyers said.

And to prove it, he offered to meet one of the demands of members of the Willard Neighborhood Association (WNA), who had called for a resident manager they could contact in the event of loud parties. Meyers also said he would post hours at the expanded apartment house as well as at the four-building complex he owns at 2609 Hillegass.

Cell woes

Members also voted to delay a decision on Cal Com Systems’ request to install four wireless cell phone antennae and a series of ground-level equipment cabinets at the Phillips Temple at 3332 Adeline St.

Betty Jay Gray, who lives next to the building, objected, saying that cell equipment already installed at the building wakes her up in the middle of the night.

“It’s like having a refrigerator running in the corner of your bedroom,” she explained. Cal Com representative Linda Spranz agreed to a request to conduct a noise test on site before the equipment was installed.

The proposal was tabled until the Sept. 22 meeting to allow time for testing.