Coming up later this year, the city of Berkeley has pledged to focus some of its resources on the Adeline Street corridor in South Berkeley to address chronic problems and try to capitalize on the momentum of improvements already underway.
Last weekend, city staff and officials held a public meeting at the South Berkeley Senior Center to begin to brainstorm with local residents and merchants what some of the local priorities are.
Mayor Tom Bates, Councilman Max Anderson and city manager Christine Daniel were in attendance, along with nearly 10 other city staffers, and more than 30 members of the public, said Charles Burress from the mayor’s office.
The city is preparing to apply for a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to help fund a planning process to take a comprehensive look at the corridor from Ward Street south to the Oakland border. The meeting, held Saturday, was the city’s first invitation to the general public to weigh in.
After initial comments from the mayor, who called the meeting, and District 3 representative Anderson, who helped run it, officials opened up the floor to community members for comments and questions.
Burress said attendees spoke about a desire for a more pedestrian-friendly street, commercial development opportunities, the possibility of more affordable housing in the area, and an increase in the use of transit.
City spokesman Matthai Chakko said the issue of the future of Adeline Street initially came to the forefront at a Berkeley City Council meeting last spring as officials were approving money to make improvements on Telegraph Avenue. As part of that discussion, council agreed to shift some of its focus in the coming fiscal year to South Berkeley.
Chakko said the MTC grant — due April 2 — would help the city undertake a planning process related to community goals, job opportunities, affordable housing, historic preservation, transit options and other amenities. The city would also look at possible physical improvements in the roadway, he said, related to public art, pedestrian and bicycle paths, improved accessibility, and the role the Ashby BART parking lot could play in achieving those goals.
The Adeline corridor as well as the southern part of Shattuck Avenue will be included in the application.
The city expects to hear about the outcome of its application to the MTC in May. If approved, the city would have 30 months to complete related work. But even if the city doesn’t get the grant, he added, there are plans to take a “focused look” at the area.
Mayor Tom Bates said the goal of the meeting was to make sure city officials and staff had a chance to hear from the public before submitting the application.
“People were interested in making sure what we have now in South Berkeley is continuing to improve,” Bates said. “This is an opportunity to make it even better.”
If the application is successful, Bates said the city would create an advisory body made up of stakeholders to ensure that the public is heard.
“People’s involvement won’t end with one meeting,” he said. “There’s really an opportunity to shape the design and what we come up with.”
Councilman Max Anderson said Thursday he, too, is committed to an “open process where all the stakeholders in the community will be engaged and invited to participate in a very meaningful way, with no preconceptions and no assumptions being made.”
He said meeting participants on Saturday evidenced broad enthusiasm about the focus on Adeline Street. Anderson pointed to “new energy” in the area driven in part by demographic changes in South Berkeley over the past decade.
“It’s a vibrant corridor,” said Anderson. “It had a vibrant history before the BART came in and distorted the landscape and the streetscape. I hope, through this process, we’ll be able to mitigate some of the problems created by the wide streets and fast-moving traffic. And, hopefully, it will result in something positive for everyone in the area.”
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