The Sierra Club website says all the right things about livable communities, but try telling that to the local Berkeley Chapter. For over a decade, the Berkeley Chapter (Northern Alameda Group) has opposed everything from bike lanes to infill development. The group even endorsed two BRT opponents for Berkeley City Council.
And now comes the West Berkeley Plan. It envisions mixed-use development, taking advantage of two AC Transit trunk lines. Again, the Sierra Club is against:
“To minimize conflict, to protect inhabitants from noise, odors and pollutants, and to retain and attract recycling/reuse activities, green collar and manufacturing jobs, residential development should not be permitted in the industrial zones of West Berkeley,” said Igor Tregub, speaking on behalf of the Sierra Club.
But proponents of the plan say detractors are creating a smoke screen that is obscuring reality. Housing and industry have coexisted in West Berkeley for decades. “If you look at how West Berkeley was created way back, it was all about housing next to industry, but it was smoke stack industry,” said Michael Goldin, a developer whose home and business, Swerve, is on Seventh Street. “It’s what the neighborhood has been since its inception.” Goldin thinks that the plan’s detractors are the same people who predicted a terrible outcome if Berkeley Bowl West was built. And those predictions proved wrong, he said. There is ample parking and the grocery store has become an integral part of the community.
These West Berkeley parcels are situated along the Bay waterfront. What kind of environmental group proposes using valuable waterfront property for polluting industry?