1930 and 1922–24 Walnut Street (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2009)
1930 and 1922–24 Walnut Street (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2009), courtesy of BAHA

Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board voted unanimously to approve Acheson Commons in December – but their vote included allowing a dangerous new interpretation of Berkeley’s Demolition Ordinance which will certainly lead to future evictions in Berkeley! Please write them NOW!

Thursday May 9 the ZAB is to reconsider allowing deep-pockets developer Sam Zell’s Equity Residential to tear down eight rent-controlled units on Walnut Street, but not replace them with affordable housing at the 205-unit development, which is one of the first under the Downtown Area Plan.

It seems the City has a new view of the Demolition Ordinance which allows destruction of empty rent controlled units without requiring replacement. They say if no one lives there, it isn’t “rent-controlled” – this will lead to evictions! This is also the view city staff were pushing for the revision of the Demo Ordinance, which should be before the City Council later in the summer, so we need to show that Berkeley won’t stand for unmitigated destruction of affordable housing while developers make billions on new bedrooms for dot-com commuters.

PLEASE WRITE TO ZAB RIGHT NOW! TBlount@CityofBerkeley.info

Ask that the units at 1922 & 1930 Walnut Street be replaced with housing for low-income renters. Empty units are still under rent control, because the rent would be controlled if it weren’t empty! Giving a free pass to developers on empty units encourages evictions and harassment. Loss of rent controlled units is loss of affordable housing, so destroying these buildings is not in compliance with the Demolition Ordinance requirement that “elimination of the dwelling units would not be materially detrimental to the housing needs and public interest” — unless they are replaced with eight permanent low-income units that are monitored by the city to make sure they go to folks who are really in need.

Stop this dangerous new interpretation of our law before its too late! It’s going to take a lot of letters to change their minds — be sure to say you agree with the Berkeley Tenants Union — and Tell Your Friends!

WRITE ZAB HERE: TBlount@CityofBerkeley.info

Even better if you can ALSO make public comment in person at the meeting THIS THURSDAY (MAY 9) 7 PM in the Council Chambers at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.


More information on Acheson Commons elimination of controlled units:

Here is what City Staff are advising (Issue 8, Page 9):

The Berkeley Rent Board’s position on this issue was in their March meeting packet, but the March link appears to be broken right now:

This item before the ZAB:

History of the property:

Previous info from BTU: