Public Comment

Points of appeal re: 2211 Harold Way

Margot Smith
Monday November 30, 2015 - 03:04:00 PM

These are my continuing concerns about the 2211 Harold Way development
to be included in my presentation on Tuesday, Dec. 8th.

The City and outside consultants relied solely on information provided by
Mr. Rhoades and company. What proof do you have that this information is accurate?

Is the Planning Department required to prove the statements of the developer are in fact accurate?
If the Planning Department is not required to check on the validity of the developer's data, who is?
Must it be we appellants? Shouldn't it be the City? There is something wrong with this process.

1. Earthquake Safety: The report from Tipping Structural Engineers regarding the
basement cinema construction under the Shattuck Hotel was based on documents
provided by Rhoades and company, and did not involve an actual inspection of the site.
Can theaters really be built there? In case of structure failure, who is liable?

2. Economic Viability:
The staff and outside consultant state that the theater complex built by Rhoades et al
will require a subsidy of $1.35 million into perpetuity and that the city would need to
subsidize the theater by $525,000 a year. Can you guarantee that the city and developer
will be willing to subsidize the theater into perpetuity?

Landmark theaters may well look at the theater's low capacity, earthquake vulnerability and
low profit margin and say "No, thank you."

Since the movie theaters are a major economic engine for downtown Berkeley,
what will happen to the downtown businesses that rely on movie patronage?

3. ABAG Requirements are not met.
In ABAG’s Determination for Berkeley, Berkeley residents should have access
to quality housing at a range of prices and rents,and that new housing should be
developed to expand housing opportunities in Berkeley to meet the needs of all groups.”

2211 Harold Way housing rents are affordable only for those with yearly incomes of at
least $155,625 to $465,000, assuming that housing is one third of their earnings.

The staff report states the "Project will include residential, commercial and cinema
uses that allow people who live, work and learn in Downtown to meet daily needs on foot."
However, according to the US Census, 2013, the average time to work for Berkeley
residents is 26.9 minutes. They are not working in Downtown Berkeley.

"The Project will promote transit as an efficient and attractive choice through its location."
This is wishful thinking at best given our already crowded public transit system.

4. The 2211 Harold Way project proposed by Rhoades et al violate
provisions of Measure R passed in 2010.

“Measure R: Shall the City of Berkeley adopt policies to revitalize the downtown and help
make Berkeley one of the greenest cities in the United States by meeting our climate
action goals; concentrating housing, jobs and cultural destinations near transit, shops
and amenities; preserving historic resources; enhancing open space; promoting green
buildings; and calling for 2 residential buildings and 1 hotel no taller than our existing
180 foot buildings and 2 smaller office buildings up to 120 feet?”

2211 Harold way is taller than 180 feet.
The only jobs it provides are people working at the building.
It increases strain on the existing infrastructure without relief.
The theaters are an historic resource which is not guaranteed.

Lack of earthquake safety, questionable economic viability and green goals, noncompliance
with Measure R passed by Berkeley voters in 2010, and the inadequate staff report should
be sufficient reasons for the Berkeley City Council to reject the permit allowing 2211 Harold
Way to proceed.