Land Use (News)

Planning Commission Leaps Tall Buildings

Berkeley planning commissioners continued their march through the Downtown Area Plan last week with a side excursion through a controversial economic study.

During its two-year term the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) has struggled to decide how many buildings should be built in Berkeley’s downtown area and how high they should be.

Buildings of seven stories or higher have long been a focus of controversy in the city, pitting “smart growth” advocates against preservationists and neighborhood activists.
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Chinatown more pedestrian-friendly

Inside Bay Area

WITH steady drumbeats keeping rhythm and neon-vested police volunteers keeping traffic at bay, Dragon Lion Dance performers turned Webster and Ninth streets into their own stage Wednesday to celebrate the completion of a $2.2 million project to make Oakland Chinatown more pedestrian-friendly and safe.

The project, which brought patterned crosswalks, bilingual signage, special lighting and pedestrian countdown signals to four intersections in the heart of Chinatown, was a collaboration among the city of Oakland, Asian Health Services and the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

Press Release: Chevron Offers Richmond $61 Million to Approve Refinery Expansion

Richmond Residents and Bay Area Community say, “Our Health is Not for Sale.” In a last minute effort to lock-in City Council approval for Chevron’s refinery expansion, yesterday Chevron presented the City of Richmond with a $61 million dollar ‘Community Benefit Agreement’ (CBA). The Agreement, submitted to the city council in closed session immediately before the public council hearing, would reportedly include $6.75 million for jobs and education programs, $6 million for community health programs, and requires the City Council’s approval of the expansion project.

Lively meeting expected on Chevron expansion

by Carolyn Jones

More than 1,000 people jammed a Richmond City Council meeting Tuesday night to make impassioned pleas for and against Chevron's plan to expand its waterfront refinery.

The City Council is expected to meet again tonight to vote on the issue, which has galvanized environmentalists, community groups and labor unions.

"We're driving to the hospital while Chevron goes to the bank," said Rev. Kenneth Davis, a Richmond resident. "My health is not for sale."

Richmond council to resume Chevron deliberations tonight

By Katherine Tam

Deliberation on Chevron's contentious bid to upgrade decades-old equipment at its Richmond refinery continues tonight.

The Richmond City Council recessed its decision-making hearing at about 12:05 a.m. today and will resume at 7 p.m. at Kennedy High School's multipurpose room.

The council must decide whether Chevron's plan to replace its power plant, hydrogen plant and reformer will move forward. The Planning Commission last month approved a permit along with about 70 provisions, but neither Chevron nor environmental activists are satisfied. Both are appealing that ruling to the council.

Bio-Rad fills up business park

Inside bay Area

RICHMOND — A big new lease by Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. has completely filled up an industrial park here and spurred the developers of the complex to launch a major expansion of the project.

Bio-Rad has rented 116,000 square feet of industrial warehouse and distribution space in Pinole Point Business Park in Richmond. The life sciences equipment company is moving to the business park in northern Richmond from a site at the south end of the same city.

Tensions Run High Over Refinery Expansion Plan

RICHMOND, Calif. -- More than 400 people packed Richmond's City Council chambers Tuesday night as the council debated Chevron's controversial request to expand and upgrade its Richmond refinery.

But the Council put off a decision until Wednesday, when it will hold a special session.

Union members were on hand to support the project and to demand that Chevron guarantee them some of the hundreds of jobs the energy giant says the upgrade would create.

But environmentalists said the upgrade would enable Chevron to process dirtier crude oil, creating additional pollution and other health risks to nearby residents.

San Leandro may redefine community input on redevelopment projects

SAN LEANDRO — A committed group of residents and property and business owners have helped set the policies and priorities for a number of the city's redevelopment projects over the years — by serving as members of advisory committees.

But lately, now that many projects have been completed, some are beginning to wonder: What role do the redevelopment advisory committees play for both the Joint and West San Leandro-MacArthur Boulevard project areas?

City officials hope to answer that question by figuring out the best way to maintain community input on redevelopment projects without wasting committee members' time or putting unnecessary burdens on city staff.

Suburbia's not dead yet

LA Times

While millions of American families struggle with falling house prices, soaring gasoline costs and tightening credit, some environmentalists, urban planners and urban real estate speculators are welcoming the bad news as signaling what they have long dreamed of -- the demise of suburbia.

In a March Atlantic article, Christopher B. Leinberger, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor of urban planning, contended that yesterday's new suburbs will become "the slums" of tomorrow because high gas prices and the housing meltdown will force Americans back to the urban core. Leinberger is not alone. Other pundits, among them author James Howard Kunstler, who despises suburban aesthetics, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, see the pain in suburbia as a silver lining for urban revival.

Will Richmond, Calif., Be the First to Stand Up to Chevron?

Richmond could be the first US city to decide to stand up to the Chevron oil company and impose a cap on its plans for further expansion.

On July 15 the Richmond, California City Council has a chance to make history. On that day it could be the first city in the United States to decide to protect the health of its residents and stand up to the Chevron oil company and impose a cap on its plans for further expansion.
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