Berkeley Housing Action Plan Photo: John Morgan/Flickr

Traffic is to LA what rental prices are to the Bay Area — no one can quit talking about the issue. Relief for the Bay Area, however, might be on the way.

In an op-ed submitted to Berkeleyside on March 24th, the mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, officially announced his Housing Action Plan. He first explained why the need for affordable housing has become so pressing.

“Berkeley’s median monthly rent jumped by nearly $400, or 12 percent, in just the past year, to $3,584, while the median sales prices homes rose even faster, 15 percent over the past year, to $974,000 according to Zillow data,” wrote Bates. “Under federal guidelines allocating 30% of household income to housing costs, a renter household would need to earn an annual income of $143,360 to afford a median-rent unit.”

His policy proposals are outlined below:

  • Streamlined approval for green housing projects.
  • A new “City Density Bonus” designed to create workforce housing.
  • Policies to encourage transit-oriented development, including
  • Higher densities for housing projects on streets along major transit corridors (with step-down height limits on the backside of blocks that face lower-density residential neighborhoods).
  • Raising the height limit on buildings devoted exclusively to housing to match the height allowed for mixed-use buildings that have ground-floor commercial with housing on top.
  • Support for more student housing, such as increased multi-unit housing in the Southside area of the UC campus.
  • Incentives for landlords who rent to Section-8 tenants.

Incidentally, Bates began dramatically amending Berkeley’s housing policies earlier this year by easing restrictions for added secondary units, which BuzzBuzzHome News mentioned when Oakland pursued the same idea.

The policy proposals will go before Berkeley’s City Council on April 5th.

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