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Berkeley Greenlights Higher Structures for More Housing Opportunities

The area surrounding the University of California, Berkeley campus is ready for transformations as city officials in the East Bay are responding to a growing housing shortage. In an effort to alleviate this issue, the Berkeley City Council gave unanimous approval to modifications in the planning code, specifically permitting increased heights for multifamily developments near the campus and the densely populated downtown area. 

Under the approved plans, proposed housing developments can now reach up to 12 stories, significantly expanding the neighborhood’s development potential. With these new rules, there are already some projects in the works that can take advantage of the new height limits, like the proposal for a 25-floor building at 2190 Shattuck Ave., which would be one of the tallest in Berkeley.

Even though Berkeley has seen some building activity in the past five years, with around 1,300 new homes finished, it’s not keeping up with the growing need. This is less than what’s needed to match the city’s population increase of more than 10% since 2010.

The city’s proactive response to its housing shortage has prompted necessary changes to address rising prices. Heightened demand for housing by students, while adding pressure to an already high-cost region, has spurred positive efforts to explore solutions. 

The proposed changes to building height regulations align with the city’s commitment to address California’s widespread housing shortage. Although Berkeley’s initial plan to build up to 9,000 new units faced challenges, the city is actively reassessing and adapting strategies to meet the demand for housing. The zoning changes signify a positive step forward by increasing the maximum building height by 85 feet on specific streets near the university campus. Additionally, the encouragement of developers to include options for low-income renters in their projects, reflects a positive approach to fostering affordable housing solutions. This permits builders to exceed height and unit-count restrictions in exchange for incorporating a certain amount of affordable housing on-site.

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Source: CoStar

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