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Campus Unveils Plans for Southside

City, University and Community Create Strategies for Enhancing Area

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted January 26, 2000

A sweeping new plan for improving housing, safety, parking, transit and retail in the campus's Southside neighborhood was unveiled last week.

The plan is the product of an unprecedented collaboration between community members, neighborhood associations and business groups, as well as staff and policy makers from the university and city of Berkeley.

"The main goals of this plan are to improve and enhance the Southside's unique architectural and social character, meet the area's housing needs, create a safe area for residents and shoppers and promote a strong physical connection between the university and the neighborhood," said David Duncan, principal planner with the university. "These are areas of common concern for both the city and university, so it's important that we work together on these issues."

The 28-block area, bounded by Bancroft Way, Prospect Ave., Fulton St. and Dwight Way, is home to nearly 11,000 people, 9,000 of which are students. In recent years, the neighborhood has been plagued by limited housing and parking availability, traffic congestion and crime.

Under the plan, the campus will be adding approximately 800 beds of new student housing in the Underhill area, to be built on various sites.

But planners want to encourage housing development by the private sector, student cooperatives and other non-profits by providing incentives, such as revising zoning regulations and limiting review processes for projects that meet plan guidelines.

Though the area is pretty much "built out," said Duncan, opportunities for development include building on surface parking lots, replacing deteriorating or poor quality residential structures that are not historically significant and construction on two vacant lots, one at the corner of Telegraph Ave. and Haste St. and the other at the northwest corner of Durant Ave. and Fulton St.

"The goal is not to have a total student concentration in this area, rather to have a diverse mix of people, including faculty, staff and other members of the community, living there," said Duncan.

Planners predict that with increased housing, more university-affiliated residents will be within walking or bike-riding distance from campus.

Other suggestions for improving traffic include converting Dana St. and Ellsworth St. to two-way traffic.

The plan recommends exploring special bus lanes on Durant Ave. and Bancroft Way to improve the flow of mass transit. Final recommendations for parking and transit will not be made until a separate transportation demand study, jointly sponsored by the city and university, is completed, said Duncan.

Public safety in the area will be improved with the creation of "safety corridors." The corridors will feature sidewalk lighting, emergency telephones, signs to encourage night-time use of these streets, and increased police patrolling.

With improved public safety, the Telegraph Avenue commercial district should see an increase in business, according to the plan. Additional strategies to encourage shopping include more evening use, with businesses staying open later, creating discount coupon booklets and improving the physical appearance of the strip with regular trash collection, graffiti abatement and landscaping.

The plan, still in draft form, was presented to Berkeley's Planning Commission on Jan. 26. Upon further refinement and revision, based on university, city and community input, an implementation section will be added. A final version, which will be incorporated in the New Century Plan, should be completed sometime in May.



January 26 - February 1, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 19)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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