The Adeline Corridor Specific Plan, which outlines the next 20 years of development in a South Berkeley area near Ashby BART station, was approved by Berkeley City Council on Tuesday after about six years of planning.
The plan outlines development of 1,450 housing units, half of which are intended for low-income residents. In addition, the plan states that it aims to redevelop Ashby BART station into a mixed-use neighborhood center, create a Business Improvement District, strengthen community institutions and make the streets more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The vision looks back — preserving the neighborhood’s history and relevance to generations of African-American, Japanese-American, and immigrant families,” the plan states. “It also looks forward — to a future of greater economic opportunity, safer streets, more housing choices, and a greener, healthier environment for all residents.”
According to Councilmember Terry Taplin, there has been a “tremendous amount” of displacement in South Berkeley, and he hopes the plan will help people return to the area. Taplin also believes the plan will help promote public art and maintain cultural institutions such as the Berkeley Flea Market, Black-owned churches, theaters and the Juneteenth Festival.
Councilmember Rigel Robinson hopes the plan can serve as a model for equitable development.
“This plan is the roadmap to preventing displacement, reversing the effects of gentrification, and generating new affordable housing in South Berkeley,” Robinson said in an email.
Sophie Hahn, Berkeley City Council vice mayor, said putting affordable housing near BART is important for lower-income individuals who are more likely to use public transportation. Taplin added that housing near public transportation could help Berkeley meet its climate action goals by reducing vehicles on the road.
Other members of the community, however, have criticized the plan. Several members of Friends of Adeline, a community advocacy group composed of South Berkeley residents, believe their needs were not met by the plan.
Edythe Boone, a Friends of Adeline member and muralist who has lived in Berkeley for more than 40 years, noted that South Berkeley community members’ voices have not been heard.
Richie Smith, another Friends of Adeline member and South Berkeley resident since the late 1940s, echoed Boone’s sentiments, alleging that locals are “suffering” because of the city’s actions.
Both Boone and Smith said they have seen their community change over the years, largely due to the construction of BART, which has resulted in gentrification and resident displacement. They both said they want to see more low-income housing, and Boone added that she wants to see more greenery and spaces for family-friendly activities in the area.
“The plan doesn’t belong to the people of Berkeley, it belongs to developers and people who feel like they can write a plan for a community and not listen to what the community is saying,” Boone said. “We’ve been meeting with them for five years, and they’ve never listened.”