Community members convened Wednesday night to discuss developments in two Berkeley neighborhoods, particularly regarding the revitalization of the Adeline Corridor and proposed construction of a six-story residential and commercial building on Telegraph Avenue.
The third Berkeley Neighborhoods Council forum, a community organized meeting, also held panels on air quality in West Berkeley and affordable housing in the city, in addition to the two panels on neighborhood development.
“(The goal of the forum) is mainly to educate the neighborhood people as to what is going on in the different neighborhoods in Berkeley,” said Dean Metzger, chair of the Berkeley Neighborhoods Council, which organizes and runs the forum.
The Adeline Corridor project, which aims to improve and develop the area, has raised community concerns about Berkeley’s “African American population being pushed out of the city,” according to Metzger. The project’s organizers are currently reaching out for community input on how to best improve the space.
Residents such as Richie Smith, who has lived in South Berkeley since 1949, hope to see affordable housing built in the Adeline Corridor. According to Smith, who sat on a panel at the meeting, many African American and low-income residents have already had to leave the area because of a lack of affordable housing, and she said even more will have to leave if no action is taken.
Smith said that the project needs to build “economical or low-rent housing that will accommodate seniors and people with fixed income” in order to rebuild the community.
In the future, Smith hopes to see the Adeline Corridor project incorporate more beautification as well as healthful food markets to “uplift the community.”
Additionally, members at the meeting discussed the planned development of 2539 Telegraph Ave. The lot is slated to house a six-story residential and commercial building.
Panelist Edward Grylich, a Telegraph Avenue resident who lives two doors down from the construction site, said that Panoramic Interests, the development company in charge of the project, had not been especially responsive to residents’ concerns.
Doris Moskowitz, owner of Telegraph Avenue business Moe’s Books, said that while many residents are against development of the lot, business owners welcome the extra foot traffic.
“As a business community, (the project is) really good news for us,” Moskowitz said.
Other panels at the meeting included air quality in West Berkeley and the city’s lack of construction of new affordable housing. Councilmember Jesse Arreguin — who sat on the panel — called for the return of strong rent control and for the halt of the ongoing demolition of older, more affordable housing.
Metzger hopes that the forum will inspire community members to speak out against or for different causes in their neighborhoods.
Staff writer Laurel Bard contributed to this report.