Berkeleyside Opinion

Berkeleyside Opinion: Bringing affordable housing to Ashby BART will enhance South Berkeley

Published on Berkeleyside, 08/01/2018

The Adeline Corridor and Ashby BART station can become the community assets that neighbors deserve. It’s been fifty years in the making.

By Peter Waller, Betsy Thagard, Jon Lau-South, Lilli Lew Hailer, Matt Nichols, Teresa Clarke, Aug. 1, 2018, 11:24 a.m.

As South Berkeley neighbors, we are excited that the Ashby BART station is on course to realize its full potential as an asset to the Adeline Corridor community, and we thank Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Councilman Ben Bartlett, and BART Director Lateefah Simon for hosting the upcoming meeting on Thursday to address the future of the Ashby BART station.

More than 50 years ago, Mabel Howard and her neighbors fought to ensure that their neighborhood would not be permanently divided by an elevated BART line through south Berkeley. Now it’s time to complete their legacy by developing the BART parking lot and knitting the neighborhood back together with public space and housing. We are strong supporters of the Berkeley Flea Market and we call on the city and BART to ensure that the plan for the Adeline Corridor and the Ashby BART station includes a public open space known as Mabel Howard Plaza that will become a permanent home where the flea market can thrive an grow.

A significant portion of the BART station parking lot should be devoted to affordable housing designed to serve neighborhood residents. With the city of Berkeley putting a $135 million bond for affordable housing on November’s ballot, we believe there is a real chance to get this affordable housing built. That bond measure will dovetail with the Adeline Corridor Plan, which the planning department has been working on for several years. That plan should include programs to end the displacement of long-time community members that has been occurring in part due to the lack of overall housing supply and especially the lack of subsidized affordable housing.

We also recognize that the development of responsible market-rate housing is critical to addressing the larger housing crisis in the East Bay. Small, locally-owned businesses along the Adeline Corridor have been hurt by the lack of housing and economic development in the Adeline/Alcatraz area. Additional housing along the corridor will benefit those locally-owned businesses by providing more customers. Additional housing will also generate the investment to support public benefits, including traffic calming and other safety measures, greening of public spaces and financial support for affordable housing in the neighborhood.

The plan should include developer requirements and incentives that support affordable units at Ashby BART and along the corridor in general. It should also ensure that when rezoning occurs, there is land-value recapture from any up-zoning that will be committed to creating community benefits efforts such as tenant support and focused case management of those at-risk of losing their housing. The Adeline Corridor Plan should also include programs that avoid business displacement along the corridor as it becomes more attractive.

The Adeline Corridor and Ashby BART station can become the community assets that neighbors deserve. It’s been fifty years in the making. Let’s find a path forward that has broad community support and get it done!

The meeting about the future the Ashby BART lot will be at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 2 at Longfellow Middle School, 1500 Derby St.

Peter Waller, Betsy Thagard, Jon Lau-South, Lilli Lew Hailer, Matt Nichols, and Teresa Clarke are all South Berkeley residents.