Berkeley: Tiny living spaces concept gaining city support

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Berkeley: Tiny living spaces concept gaining city support

Berkeley: Tiny living spaces concept gaining city support

BERKELEY — The idea of miniature living spaces as a novel approach by the city to the housing shortage appears to be gaining traction.

The City Council this week endorsed a “Step Up Housing” initiative, co-sponsored by Council members Ben Bartlett, Linda Maio and Lori Droste, to encourage the creation of “supportive housing”  for homeless and very low-income people with city help. An earlier iteration of the proposal had specified modular micro-units.

And in December, the council endorsed a proposal by Councilman Kriss Worthington and Mayor Jesse Arreguin to explore supportive housing for homeless, disabled, and veterans in the city, and allowing for tiny home displays for a week to a month. The accompanying report had touted a 160-square-foot MicroPAD — “PAD” stands for “Prefabricated Affordable Dwelling” — produced by San Francisco-based Panoramic Interests as “a feasible option to the urgent demand of housing in Berkeley.” A prototype of the MicroPAD stood on display outside City Hall on Allston Way at Milvia Street at the time.

The Bartlett-Maio-Droste proposal, with recent revisions offered by Bartlett, seeks to:

  • Identify city-owned parcels for assisted-living modular micro-unit buildings.
  • Amend the permitting and approvals process to ease creation of below-market housing.
  • Start a competitive bidding process for a development of up to 100 housing units.
  • Identify potential obstacles to the timely creation of pre-fabricated micro-units.
  • Arrange for management and operation of the building by a nonprofit, in partnership with a federally qualified health care center.
  • Establish need-based criteria for eligibility, taking into account seniors, disabled people, and former Berkeley residents who have become homeless.
  • Ensure that the project adheres to the community workforce agreement, with prevailing wage requirements
  • Prioritize proposals that provide the most units at the lowest cost.

An earlier version of the Bartlett-Maio-Droste proposal was on the Jan. 24 council meeting agenda and was continued to Feb. 14. The original staff report made reference to an unnamed Bay Area developer’s proposal to build about 100 units at reduced cost above a city-owned parking lot, with the developer financing the construction and the city paying the developer $1,000 a month per unit under a lease.

The Feb. 14 agenda item, before revisions, had called for getting zoning approval and a building permit for a 4-story building with about 100 stackable modular units; and allocating $1,000 a month to lease the building, with construction to be privately financed. That language is not in the version of the proposal the council eventually approved this week.

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Published at Wed, 15 Feb 2017 19:54:32 +0000