Posts Tagged ‘NIMBY’

Congratulations, you played yourself

The “zoning” doesn’t exist in nature. Its rules come from city councils and landmark preservation commissions. Those with most influence over making the rules have been white homeowners and NIMBY’s – which is why for 40 years most economic gains have gone to the top.

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Now that Senator Wiener has re-introduced a watered-down housing bill, what are the chances the Nimbys get on-board? Not likely, to judge from these insane comments from Berkeley Mayor Arreguin:

In Berkeley the low-density residential neighborhood immediately around North Berkeley BART would automatically be up-zoned resulting in heights of up to 55 feet. This will create pressure on existing neighborhoods and will result in land speculation. There are historically low-income communities which do not meet the definition of “Sensitive Communities” who will face increased gentrification and displacement.

Ah yes, the millionaire slums of N. Berkeley…

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Cupertino City Council held a 9 hour(!) public hearing for NIMBY’s to express their grievances over a proposed housing development. Here was one of the slides presented:



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The City of Berkeley Zoning Board has turned down an infill housing project near the Ashby BART station, in order to preserve a gas station:

It had no residential car parking, but 48 bicycle parking spots and six commercial spaces for a planned ground-floor café. The site is less than a half-mile from the Ashby BART station.The application statement said in part: “3000 Shattuck will provide an essential combination of pricing affordability, an amenity-rich neighborhood, and easy access to public transit — key considerations for the modern workforce renter.”

“This is a way to actually get it built and provide the city with close to a million dollars into the affordable trust [affordable housing fund]. That’s the choice. Or the city can continue to have a gas station.”

It is worth noting that the South Shattuck Plan specifically calls for pedestrian-scale mixed infill development on underdeveloped lots. So once again the city doesn’t follow its adopted plans.


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The parking lot surrounding North Berkeley BART is the poster child for bad station-area planning. For decades city officials have made vague promises to put infill housing there, but nothing actually happens. The wealthy homeowners who live in the neighborhood vehemently oppose infill housing.

Sponsored by Assembly members David Chiu and Tim Grayson, AB-2923 would correct the problem by transferring planning authority to the BART Board. The bill requires the BART Board to put new transit-oriented-development on all its properties (including in Berkeley). Of course, the Berkeley City Council is siding with wealthy homeowners and opposing the measure:

The Council majority routinely opposes new apartments in the city’s many single family neighborhoods filled with homes selling for over $1 million. The area around North Berkeley BART is one such neighborhood.

Home prices in the area have skyrocketed over the past decade, and some longtime owners who have profited mightily from restricting supply do not want apartments built on the BART station. One way to accomplish this is to keep all decision making authority over the site under the Berkeley City Council rather than the region-wide BART Board.

This insistence on “local control” over a regional asset—BART stations—is why Berkeley will soon oppose AB 2923. Exclusionary zoning that produces class segregation is a way of life in Berkeley, and the Council majority aims to keep it that way.

At a March 15 community meeting to discuss building housing on the North Berkeley BART parking lot, most speakers favored housing. But as noted with Mayor Arreguin’s “support,” opponents routinely say they support the idea of housing while working against getting units built. Putting Berkeley on record against AB 2923 is part of this effort.


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At its March 6 meeting, the Dublin City Council voted unanimously to deny a permit for a 220-unit apartment near the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.

The project would have consisted of 22 studio units, 98 one-bedroom units, 96 two-bedroom units, and 4 three-bedroom units. Staff recommended approval of the project, but Council members said the project was too massive and used the wrong colors (the developer offered to hire a color consultant).

This episode is serves as further motivation for the State to scale back planning control from local cities, starting with Senator Wiener’s SB-827 bill. In the meantime, housing activists are threatening to file a lawsuit against the city for violating the Housing Accountability Act.



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Without a hint of irony, the Sierra Club blog discovers the YIMBY movement, and efforts by millennials to build infill housing:

“If you can create a land-use configuration that will encourage people to take transit more often, to bike, and to walk, you’re really making an improvement as far as reducing congestion, reducing vehicle emissions, and reducing energy use,” says Andrew Goetz, a professor of geography and the environment at the University of Denver.

Such policies can lead to tension with those residents—often older, whiter, and more affluent—who don’t want the traffic, congestion, and other effects of urban density, such as shadows from high-rise buildings. The conflicts play out before zoning boards, city councils, and other public bodies where young YIMBYs turn out to support large housing projects. The NIMBYs who oppose them are often progressive, environmentally minded individuals who believe in climate action and recognize that sprawl is unsustainable; they just want to preserve the look and feel of the neighborhoods they call home.

Those “older, whiter, progressive, environmentally minded” NIMBY’s are literally the Sierra Club itself. The YIMBY movement began as a reaction to the old guard Sierra Club leadership who continually oppose infill projects. If the Sierra Club really wants to turn NIMBY’s into YIMBY’s, then step one is to admit the Club has a problem.

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CAVE Nimbys

What is it about bike lanes that turns Nimbys into lunatics?

The plan, which is strongly supported by Mayor Mike Davis and was approved by the city council, would cut the 4-lane road to two lanes, add sidewalks and bicycle paths on each side, erect park benches and classy lighting, and do away with the leafy median. Davis said this would be a “significant first step” to giving Dunwoody something that it doesn’t have — a real downtown. The vision is that a spruced-up boulevard and stricter zoning in the area would bring new buildings closer to the road, push parking to the back and give what is now a suburban shopping area an old-timey, hometown feel.

Bikes, trees and money seem to be the driving points of debate. Bikes especially.

Joe Seconder, a retired Army major and cycling activist, said he is excited for the plan. “It’s a down payment on revitalization. I see it as a lovely place to congregate,” Seconder said, adding other nearby cities, like Roswell and Sandy Springs, are gussying up their town centers. “We’re competing with our neighbors.”

Seconder said he is frustrated by what he calls the CAVE folks — “citizens against virtually everything.”

Here is one CAVE dweller:

Norb Leahy, a 29-year Dunwoody resident and tea party leader, said the roundabout and “smart-growth” plans like the parkway redevelopment are out-of-tune with a conservative citizenry.

“We see these plans as fluff, as fads, as driven by the urban planners,” said Leahy, who likened the plans to U.N. Agenda 21, which calls for “sustainable” urban growth. “They want transit villages like in Europe, rack-and-stack housing. They want to package us into urban areas. It’s a busy-body bunch who’s pushing it. That’s the rebellion here.

“Besides,” he added. “No one takes a bike to get groceries. It’s the suburbs.”

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Bike Paths and Other Threats

I continue to be astounded at the hate and bile neighbors have for bike/ped pathway projects. For example, this letter to the Berkeley Planning Commission:

Our kindergarten and 1st grade classes are located…directly adjacent to proposed Segment 1. The youngest and most vulnerable students at our University Avenue campus, i.e., 4 to 6 year old children, will therefore have a front-row seat for, and be exposed to, all the activities and risks that can be expected to occur on.

The letter goes on:

Another major concern is that the current plan calls for paving the entire length and width of the path but does not call for the installation of any shade-providing vegetation. This will result in considerable radiant heating of the kindergarten and first-grade classrooms on the west side of the school. In the afternoons, this radiant heat will result in these classes becoming too hot to safely conduct lessons.

This was not from a random Nimby, but Mitch Bostian. Mr. Bostian is the Head Administrator of an Elementary School in Berkeley.

And what amazing luck for his school to be located directly on a rail-trail! Kids could walk/bike to school, avoiding the huge risks of car transport. But noooo, the trail will expose kids to child rapists and murders.

That is, if the sidewalk death rays don’t kill them first.

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