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Posts Tagged ‘NIMBY’

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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For the past 58 years, the German state of Baden-Württemberg has been governed by the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). That all ended last night in a crushing defeat to a center-left opposition, composed of the Greens and their Social Democratic Party allies. For the first time, the Greens would govern a German state.

According to media reports, the weekly Stuttgart-21 protests played a major role in CDU defeat. German voters are known for careful spending of public funds, which may explain the historic CDU defeat.

A recent Guardian article provides fascinating account of the Stuttgart-21 protests. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is one highlight:

It must help to feel the support of a weekly turnout, too. Because the Stuttgart movement isn’t just about blowing whistles or keeping trees and stations because they’re old. It’s about ensuring public money is wisely spent (Swabians are notoriously careful). So they’ve sought advice from Swiss rail experts about the number of trains the new station would process. They’ve pointed out the plan’s weaknesses in fire safety and wheelchair access. They have lawyers in their ranks who have proven it’s possible, and affordable, to withdraw from the current building contracts. And they’ve won concessions in arbitration, curbing the sell-off of public land. They’re not stopping there either: they’ve worked out an alternative, Kopfbahnhof 21, which would refurbish the existing station, and invest in the regional network instead of all those tunnels.

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