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Campus releases visionary land-use plan
Draft proposal would guide development at Berkeley through 2020

| 14 April 2004

 



In anticipation of increased enrollment over the next decade and a half, providing 2,600 additional beds in student housing near the campus is an important element of long-range planning currently underway. Work is nearing completion on new southside housing at the corner of Channing Way and Bowditch St. (above), with more units on the drawing board.
Dorothy Robinson photo

UC Berkeley today (Thursday, April 15) released its draft Long Range Development Plan and environmental impact report, vital documents that could direct the development of the campus for the next 15 years.

Formally called the draft UC Berkeley 2020 Long Range Development Plan and Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies Environmental Impact Report, this comprehensive document consists of a land-use plan followed by an environmental analysis of that plan and of the Tien Center, the first project proposed under the plan.

“This remarkable document looks beyond today’s immediate concerns to a future that preserves the university’s rich architectural and cultural heritage while supporting the cutting-edge teaching and research that is so vital to California’s future,” said Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl.

The draft plan provides detailed data on how the campus may change in the coming decades. Building space for academic and support programs could grow by up to 18 percent, student housing could increase by up to 30 percent, and parking could increase by as much as 32 percent.

The public comment period for the draft 2020 LRDP and EIR opens today and will continue through June 14. Ultimately, a final document will be created and submitted in the fall to the UC Board of Regents for consideration for approval and certification.

Each campus in the UC system is required by the Board of Regents to create a new long-range development plan and environmental analysis every 15 to 20 years. UC Berkeley’s current plan was adopted in 1990.

A strong environmental ethic
Under the draft 2020 LRDP, building and landscape designs would encourage academic collaboration, social interaction, and the special sense of community and culture that is unique to the campus and city.

Some aging structures at UC Berkeley would be rebuilt to facilitate the kinds of collaborative work that faculty and students must perform to conduct cutting-edge research. Such facilities are crucial for any university that seeks to achieve and maintain academic excellence.

The 2020 LRDP incorporates a strong ethic of resource conservation and environmental stewardship. It includes provisions to protect and enhance the historic structures and features of the campus. In addition, it designates as off-limits to construction the most precious areas of the campus landscape — its beautiful creeks, woodlands, and glades. It also identifies areas for new landscaping projects and other open-space improvements.

The proposed Tien Center, two buildings that would be located on the central campus near the Doe Library and Observatory Hill, is a tangible example of how the principles of the draft 2020 LRDP would translate into building projects. The Tien Center, which would provide a new home for the East Asian Library and academic programs focused on East Asia, would include offices, classrooms, and lounges in an architectural design that would respect and complement the classical forms of nearby buildings. Among the open-space elements to be incorporated in that design are a proposed formal oval lawn and staircase feature that would provide a more cohesive link between the campus’s North Gate entrance and Memorial Glade.

Development impacts
The 2020 LRDP projects may, however, cause significant increases in traffic, add to campus construction already underway, and produce emissions that, while contributing less than four percent to pre-existing air-contaminant risk levels, may raise concern.

Other key issues addressed in the draft 2020 LRDP and environmental analysis include:

Building space. Anticipated long-term growth in research funding and student enrollment may require an increase of up to 2.2 million square feet, or an additional 18 percent over existing square footage, for academic and support programs. About 75 to 80 percent of this new space would be on the core campus and blocks just west of campus.

Student housing. Additional university housing would provide more undergraduates and graduate students with homes within walking distance or a 20-minute transit ride of campus. Such proximity is crucial for easy access to libraries, academic services, and campus life and culture. The plan calls for up to 2,600 new beds, an increase of 32 percent over the 8,200 beds existing or under construction.

Parking. More parking spaces would help accommodate increased demand and address the parking-space deficit that grew as new facilities replaced several campus parking lots. Parking spaces may increase by up to 2,300 new spaces, or 30 percent. The campus would seek to continue its success in promoting transit and ride sharing as alternatives to driving to work alone.

Collaborations that revive city and campus areas. The plan identifies the blocks west of campus as areas with enormous potential to accommodate cultural and service functions that not only serve campus programs but also create a more vital and exciting downtown. The city of Berkeley and UC Berkeley are currently working together on plans for a hotel/conference center/museum complex in this area.

Job/population projections. The plan anticipates the creation of up to 2,870 new jobs on campus by 2020. The total campus headcount — faculty, student, staff, vendors and visitors — would grow as much as 12 percent, from 45,940 in 2002 to 51,260 by 2020. This compares to a projected population growth of six percent for the city of Berkeley and 20 percent for the San Francisco Bay Area region.

The long-range plan’s potential environmental impacts have been lessened or avoided in many instances due to existing campus procedures that incorporate best practices and state-of-the-art approaches to design, construction, and energy conservation. (See Best practices...) Still, the environmental analysis found areas where “significant and unavoidable” environmental impacts would remain. They include:

Traffic problems at two intersections. The analysis projects significant and unavoidable worsening of traffic problems during commute hours at University Ave. and Sixth St., and University Ave. and San Pablo Ave. This traffic may also exacerbate congestion on other designated roadways. But in many of these cases, recommended mitigation measures such as new traffic signals are expected to reduce impacts to less-than-significant levels.

Construction-related noise. The analysis anticipates that noise levels from 2020 LRDP project demolition and construction may exceed established limits. Whenever possible, the university will seek to minimize noise by using best practice measures such as muffling equipment.

Cultural-resources impacts. In limited circumstances, 2020 LRDP projects could adversely impact historic buildings or archaeological resources, by either altering or removing an historic structure or feature. The campus would seek alternatives to such work and abide by its comprehensive design and preservation guidelines. Use of these practices have garnered awards for the campusfrom the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association and the California Preservation Foundation.

Community members are invited to view the draft 2020 LRDP and EIR and attend a formal public hearing on the draft documents. The first hearing will take place May 5, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave., Berkeley. A May 11 hearing will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Krutch Theatre on the Clark Kerr Campus, 2601 Warring St.

For more information on the draft 2020 LRDP and draft environmental analysis and to view the documents, visit lrdp.berkeley.edu/. Copies of the documents are also available at the downtown branch of the Berkeley Public Library, the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library, the Albany branch of the Alameda County Public Library, and at the reference desk of the campus’s main library.
Written comments on the EIR should be submitted to Jennifer Lawrence, Facilities Services, 1936 University Ave., Suite 300, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 94720-1380, or e-mailed to 2020LRDP@cp.berkeley.edu.