Change ahead for West Berkeley? Photo by Jingletown.

After three years of discussion, dramatic changes to the West Berkeley plan will be discussed by the City Council tonight.

The amendments to the plan will first be presented in a special worksession of the council at 5:30 p.m. At the council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., there will be a public hearing on the amendments.

The plan, approved by the planning commission on a 7-2 vote last October, would allow for more re-use of existing buildings and relax restructions on research and development facilities in areas that are currently largely reserved for manufacturing and mixed use/light industry. The amendments would also allow for a height increase from 45 feet to 75 feet, for up to six projects over the next 10 years.

If passed, it would provide space in Berkeley for start-up companies that have traditionally moved to the peninsula, South Bay or San Francisco. It would also give Berkeley a better shot at winning the second campus for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Opponents to the amendments are concerned about changing the area’s low-rise, low-density character, and about rising land values chasing out what manufacturing remains in West Berkeley.

Berkeleyside will have a full report on tonight’s meeting, but interested citizens should read the full document before the council. If you want to comment, the council allows one minute per speaker. You can also email your councilmember (addresses here) as well as the city clerk.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...