Talking Points

Here's some talking points to help craft your letters and public comments as well as guide your conversations with neighbors

Positive Vision

  • I want more neighbors who don’t drive! Lower income residents who live near transit are more likely to use that transit instead of driving, so it’s important to have the highest number of affordable units and lowest number of parking spots possible for our community and for our climate.

  • I support a mixed income development! Economic integration is good and fundamental to the city’s progress. Children from low-income households should be able to play, shop, and learn with children from wealthier households. Market rate units will help pay for more affordable ones than a 100% affordable project.

  • I want a high number of affordable units, not a high percentage! We need more homes NOW, not in several decades. Commit to keeping Berkeley well ahead of schedule and be a good partner to BART by respecting the MOU and abiding by state law.

  • I want homes for all! Many of us live in older buildings without wheelchair access. Statistically, people with disabilities are less likely to own or use a car. Transit with wheelchair access is better for mobility when paired with new ADA-compliant housing.

  • I want the city to fix potholes and improve services! Growing our population with new housing expands our tax base far more than $1 million bungalows paying a bit of transfer tax. Our city needs new residents and new assessments to help pay for paving streets, schools, firefighters, libraries, etc.


Counterpoints

When someone says “Public land for the public good”, you can say:

  • Housing is a public good.

  • Yes, let’s replace the parking lot with amenities we all can enjoy instead of private car storage.

  • Both the North Berkeley and Ashby BART stations can benefit all Berkeley residents, not just the immediate neighbors.

  • More new residents paying taxes in Berkeley will improve funding for public services we all benefit from.

  • It is good for public agencies to have sustainable revenue streams, so they can continue their highly valuable operations.


When someone says “contextual” or brings up height, you can say:

  • With housing affordability at its worst in the bay area, homelessness on the rise, and climate change looming it is a wasted opportunity to build fewer transit-accessible homes than possible.

  • Low rise buildings offer no inherent benefit to combating climate change, displacement, and gentrification.

  • I know many of us want as many affordable homes as possible, so we should allow for more height, not less.

  • We should be focused on housing lots of people, not protecting views.

  • BART will not move forward unless the North Berkeley development increases their ridership, which means at least 650 units and an average of 6 stories.


When someone says “This is not the only place to build housing” or doubts that the BART station is an ideal site for lots of housing, you can say:

  • This is a great place to build housing. I know because I live here!

  • This is an amazing opportunity to build lots of subsidized affordable housing, because this land is relatively cheap.

  • There are very few places of this size in Berkeley to build housing, especially that don’t involve tearing down existing homes. The solutions to the housing, environmental, and racial justice crises aren’t “either/or” but “yes, and”.

  • North Berkeley is a high opportunity neighborhood that is very walkable and more people should have the ability to take advantage of what we’ve got to offer.

  • Yes, we should build affordable housing all over Berkeley, but since lower income residents of TOD are more likely to use the transit they live next to, this is an especially important spot, to combat climate change.


When someone says “There is enough market rate housing already”, you can say:

  • No one is suggesting building 100% market rate, but because of inclusionary zoning, market rate housing is a prominent source of funding for subsidized affordable homes. Building new market rate homes leads to more affordable homes.

  • There is unmet need for new housing at all affordability levels. Creating enough homes helps keep rents and home prices from accelerating out of reach.

  • People with disabilities at all income levels deserve new, ADA-compliant, and transit-accessible housing and we have a chance to deliver a lot of it at our BART stations.

  • Much of new construction is smaller units (which are naturally affordable but don't work for families); the BART sites give us a chance to add homes large enough for families of all sizes. The new zoning can encourage a wider mix of dwelling sizes.

  • Recent research says that new market rate homes actually lower nearby rents in a neighborhood, due to increase in supply. The housing shortage constrains supply and landlords can charge whatever they want because they know tenants don't have a lot of choices.


When someone says all the housing at both BART stations should be 100% affordable, you can say:

  • A large site with 100% affordable housing takes time. Housing affordability, homelessness, and climate change are urgent issues. We need more homes, NOW.

  • We will get more affordable homes if we subsidize with some market rate. Individual buildings in the development that are 100% subsidized are welcome because they have access to additional funding that mixed buildings do not.

  • While it’s important to include a significant number of homes affordable to lower-income residents, affordable homes require significant public investment at the local and state levels, which remains scarce. Requiring 100% of the new homes to be affordable to low-income residents will result in slow delivery of new homes at the BART sites.

  • There are a lot of people who can’t benefit from subsidized affordable housing: first responders, students, undocumented residents, and more. They deserve to live close to transit as well.

  • Non-profits like affordable housing developers do not pay local taxes so in order to provide good services, there needs to be some tax revenue to pay for vital infrastructure. Market rate homes will help expand the tax base and pay for services.


When someone implies that Immediate neighbors do not want “high rise” housing at North Berkeley BART, you can say:

  • 7 stories is not “high rise.” Some immediate neighbors are opposed to living near mid-rise buildings. They do not speak for all of us.

  • A majority of neighbors do agree that we want something other than a parking lot and in order to make sure that happens we need to keep options open for the size.

  • Residents of larger multi-unit apartment buildings in Berkeley are less likely to own cars, it would be good for North Berkeley to bring in more neighbors who don’t drive.

  • North Berkeley has a subway station and before that, multiple Key Route streetcars came through here so this has always been a transit-accessible place, perfect for density. Apartment buildings (and the people who live in them!) belong in North Berkeley.

Looking for some data to back up your claims? Check out the YIMBY Canon

There's also lots of good research here in the North Berkeley Now! library