I am one of the rent-strikers who helped create the cooperative at the corner of University and San Pablo Avenues, and I am concerned about the unwillingness of the council, and of planning and zoning officials, to take the livability of a neighborhood into consideration.
Our building (1970 San Pablo) was built before the custom of providing for only a small portion of the necessary parking came into fashion, and we have a waiting list for parking spaces in our building. Buses run right in front of our building, we are a ten-minute walk from BART, but tenants can not rely on public transportation to get their small children to childcare and to school, among other necessities.
The Berkeley City Council and the Zoning Adjustments Board decided it was acceptable to take the commercial space in front of our building and allow its conversion to office space which does not serve daily neighborhood needs, necessitating more trips further from the neighborhood to get basic services.
More recently, the little market next to us (Halal Food Market at 1964 San Pablo Avenue) bought the Caribbean Spice Restaurant location, and while their business expansion draws many customers, these customers buy enormous quantities of supplies (25 lb bags of grain, for example) for very large families, and there is no parking whatsoever for these customers.
The property owners, as part of this expansion, eliminated a driveway along San Pablo Avenue which used to be used to unload supplies for the Caribbean Spice Restaurant, and now truck drivers who need to unload palettes to supply the market must double park and block a lane along San Pablo at University, one of the busiest intersections in Berkeley, or try parking along Hearst just around the corner, which is often filled with backed up traffic from the busy intersection.
Adding to this picture is the smog inspection station at the corner of Hearst and San Pablo, whose customers also cannot leave their cars at home for obvious reasons, and who also have no parking whatsoever arranged for them. These customers vie for parking around 10th and Hearst with all the other shoppers, tenants, and homeowners whose garages have long since been converted to office and storage space, and the scarcity, aggravated by events at Finn Hall, creates conflict between neighbors and customers.
That's not all. The drivers of trucks large and small have decided, with the blessing of the owners of the Halal Food Market at 1964 San Pablo Avenue, to unload trucks in the alley off Hearst between San Pablo Avenue and 10th Street, which is the only garage access for the tenants in our building. The property owners fenced off their property up to the edge of the alley to create palette storage, making it impossible for large trucks to get into the area they in fact own. Each palette must be individually unloaded with a forklift, which means the alley which serves as sole access to our building is completely blocked for a half-hour at a time, as this is a job which requires careful maneuvering.
None of these difficulties was unforeseeable.
Please take seriously the real difficulties you necessitate when you ignore the needs of the totality of a neighborhood, no citizen of which opposes affordable housing or new businesses, but which suffers enormously when short-sighted decisions are fueled by profit and fly-by-night fashions in planning.