By Maya Mirsky
The future rezoning of North Oakland was the topic of a neighborhood meeting Thursday night, hosted by the Rockridge Community Planning Council. Among the speakers were District 1 councilwoman Jane Brunner and city planning manager Eric Angstadt.
Neighbors think the current system is too lenient for developers, but are still concerned that when the area is rezoned, the city will allow more density and higher buildings than residents want on busy streets like Telegraph Avenue.
“I do think we have some significant concerns to deal with here in Rockridge,” said Stuart Flashman, an environmental and land use attorney and a board member of the community planning council. “The general plan puts a lot more density on Telegraphy Avenue than there is right now.”
The city is making an effort to bring zoning up to date across Oakland over the next several years. The old zoning, much of which dates from the 1960s, is out of step with the density proposed by the city’s 1998 general plan.
Residents say the disparity has allowed the planning commission, which approves projects, to let developers build controversial projects such as the proposed Kingfish housing project, a five-story, 33-unit planned for the intersection of Claremont and Telegraph Avenues. Residents are appealing the project.
The new zoning could allow higher buildings on busy streets, as well as of new condo developments.
Residents, however, are concerned about more cars on the road and losing the placid character of the area.
“We think we have a pretty good neighborhood in Rockridge,” Flashman said.
But Brunner reminded residents that a balance had to be struck.
“Young people that can’t afford a house in Rockridge need condos. But we have to think of what the neighborhood is already,” she said.
The first district to be rezoned will be the Temescal area, also in North Oakland. However, implementation will be delayed for at least two years while the city studies traffic and environmental impact in order to assuage residents’ fears.