Berkeley officials have released a draft plan for how the city could add nearly 9,000 new homes by 2031. Now it’s time for the public to weigh in on the ideas spelled out in the Housing Element, which is set to guide Berkeley’s growth over most of the next decade.

The document, which cities across California are working to develop this year, spells out how Berkeley plans to meet ambitious state-mandated housing targets that call for local governments to allow far more new homes to be built than they have in the past. It’s likely to face close scrutiny from people on all sides of the debate over the housing crisis.

The public can review the draft Housing Element and share comments online through July 14. The city is also hosting a public workshop on the document via Zoom on June 29 at 6 p.m. — you can register for the event by clicking here.

State and regional officials are requiring Berkeley to plan to add 8,934 units of housing between 2023 and 2031, an assignment known as the city’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation. That figure is triple the number of units Berkeley was told to plan for during the current eight-year cycle.

The draft Housing Element includes a trove of data on Berkeley’s current housing situation, an inventory of properties where the city believes developers could build homes in the future and an analysis of zoning policies and other factors that could constrain housing production. State law requires Berkeley to present a plan for how it will meet its housing allocation, but the city isn’t required to directly build or finance those homes.

Berkeley is also working on a long list of policy changes as part of the Housing Element process, including an effort to write design standards for new housing and significant revisions to the zoning code that could allow for taller high-rises downtown and faster approvals for small apartment buildings in neighborhoods now mainly made up of single-family homes.

City officials will revise the draft Housing Element after taking public comments, then send the document to California’s Department of Housing and Community Development for an initial review. The final Housing Element must be submitted by the end of January.

Featured image credit: Pete Rosos

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Nico Savidge joined Berkeleyside in 2021 as a senior reporter covering city hall. Born and raised in Berkeley, he got his start in journalism at Youth Radio as a high-schooler in the mid-2000s. Since then,...