Objective Design Standards
at North Berkeley BART

North Berkeley BART will have Objective Design Standards with input from the community

NBB = North Berkeley BART     |     ODS = Objective Design Standards

NBHP = North Berkeley Housing Partners, NBB's developers led by BRIDGE housing

Final ODS vote on December 12

On October 18, the Planning Commission made North Berkeley BART’s ODS better able to accommodate well-designed density. Along with NBHP, East Bay YIMBY, BNHCA, local planning+design experts, and other pro-housing neighbors we made ourselves clear: Improving the ODS now will lead to better design and more homes in the future.

We are now approaching a big (and hopefully final) step! On December 12 at 3pm, Berkeley City Council will consider the ODS for North Berkeley BART. Agenda Here. This is a pivotal moment and we must unite to ensure that Berkeley’s Mayor and Councilmembers approve the Planning Commission's version of the ODS.

Here's how you can make a difference:

Key Points to Include:

Show up!

Tuesday, December 12 3-6pm
BUSD boardroom at 1231 Addison or on Zoom

Send an email using the template below and make sure to sign with your name and what district you live in. Map here

Subject: Support the Planning Commission's ODS for North Berkeley BART


I live in Berkeley and I am writing to express my strong support for the Objective Design Standards approved by the Planning Commission for North Berkeley BART on Oct 18, 2023. Members of the planning commission are appointed by elected officials like you and their recommendations reflect both good urban design principles as well as the wishes of many North Berkeley residents and the team tasked with implementing the ODS on site. 

I urge you to approve the Planning Commission's version of the ODS on December 12 without delay. Give the 50% on site affordable housing at North Berkeley BART its best chance for success and don’t allow the ODS to be wordsmithed on the dais or otherwise open the door for last-minute tweaks to the language. Excessive delays would threaten the development team’s ability to access funding for the large amount of subsidized affordable housing at the site. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to a North Berkeley BART with a design that will inspire awe for many years to come.


Councilmembers for districts 2, 4, 5, and 7 as well as the mayor are running for office next year. Their fundraising and campaigning efforts are already under way. If you live in districts 2, 4, 5, or 7 this may be a good time to tell them how their vote on issues like this affects whether you’ll cast a vote for them in 2024.

What happened on October 18? 

Even though the meeting started at 5:30 and there was effectively one item on the Planning Commission agenda, public comment for NBB’s ODS didn’t start until about 7pm. Here’s what NBNow’s Libby Lee-Egan said

My name is Libby Lee-Egan and I'm speaking on behalf of North Berkeley Now!, a local group of residents who want more neighbors to walk and bike with in North Berkeley and I'm here to tell you that we support what the developer team is asking for as far as changes to ODS. Please recommend that City Council adopt the ODS with the changes they defined in their letter dated October 13th.

In particular the setbacks cut into the capacity for housing while the sidewalks and planting strip cut are more than adequate for space from the street. In the presentation it was said that changing the setbacks to the minimum of 5 feet will restore 10,000-14,000 sq ft which is absolutely a significant amount of space. Can we really say that plants are more important than housing 10-14 families in a place that is almost certainly more transit accessible than where they lived before? Plants are great but we should prioritize homes for humans.

To echo Commissioner Ghosh I also have concerns about the excessive amount of parking. I am curious about in the event that the amount of parking be lowered, how do we ensure that freed up space becomes more homes? Is there a mechanism for that? Storage for private vehicles is obviously not more important than homes for people.

Public transit is a public resource. Taking a short walk to the train station or bus stop ought to be available to as many people as possible. The collection of circumstances, sentiments, and beliefs that led to a subway station in a growing metropolitan area being surrounded by a surface parking lot is a mistake that we are well on our way to rectify. This is not the time to think small.

The ODS as written is a good starting point but some parts of it seem to be trying to please a small group of naysayers who do not represent my neighbors and I. You want to please the people of Berkeley? Think big.

In the last decade the people of Berkeley have shown with their votes that they want more homes. Pro-housing candidates for state senate, assembly, city council and more are winning and their opponents -- who espouse a less welcoming view to adding new residents -- are losing.

We have shown with our votes that we want more housing and more neighbors. You want to give the community what they want? Give us more neighbors. Make it possible for more people to live and thrive in Berkeley.

Let's think big, make North Berkeley more welcoming to new neighbors of all kinds, and right the wrongs of the past. Maximize the capacity for homes at North Berkeley BART and make sure as much of the public can enjoy the North Berkeley BART parking lot as possible. Thank you

Check out Berkeleyside's coverage but the main takeaway is that the ODS got better! Commissioners were receptive to our and the NBHP's positive changes that would make room for more homes. City Council is set to vote on the plancom’s recommendation before the end of 2023.

Paradise instead of a parking lot is within reach! 

North Berkeley BART’s objective design standards (ODS) are coming to the planning commission next Wednesday, October 18 for a vote. We can help ensure that they approve an ODS that will lead to as many homes as possible!

Re: Item #10: North Berkeley BART Objective Design Standards (ODS)

Planning Commissioners,

Please recommend that City Council adopt the North Berkeley BART ODS with the following changes:

1. Reduce setbacks and massing breaks. In its current form, the ODS setbacks and massing breaks lead to fewer family-sized homes and fewer homes overall. 

2. More height = more homes. Bring the overall height up to 85 feet and increase the height to four stories for the stepped-down perimeter along Delaware, Acton, and Virginia.

3. Narrow streets are slow streets. Surrounding streets must be narrowed for the safety of pedestrians AND it will make more space for homes so please add a recommendation to include this. 

These changes will ensure flexibility in the ODS so that North Berkeley BART’s architects and designers can make a nice place to live for our future neighbors. By approving a flexible ODS, you will help ensure these positive changes:

+ Maximize the number of climate change-fighting homes adjacent to transit,

+ Put the biggest dent in the bay area housing shortage as possible, and

+ Maintain the walkable and bikeable character of our transit-oriented neighborhood.

Give Feedback on the ODS & NBB design by Sept 29

Give the ODS a read

Take the Survey and copy+paste the following into the field that says “What do you think could be improved?”

Please make changes to the Objective Design Standards (ODS) that allow for as many homes to be created as possible, while following the zoning rules and Joint Vision and Priorities that promote good design at the North Berkeley BART station.


Feast your eyes on NBB’s design and take notes on what you like and what could be better

Take the Survey about NBB’s design concept, no specific feedback recommended here.

✅ Save the date: Wednesday, October 18 for the Planning Commission meeting where they’ll take up North Berkeley BART’s ODS. Stay tuned for actions and talking points for that as well!

Not sure what ODS are? You’re not alone! Here’s how BART explains them:

The Objective Design Standards will be the rules approved by the City of Berkeley to govern how the developer designs the new buildings to be constructed on each BART property. These standards will set additional limits on what kind of construction can be built on the properties, and city planning staff will review the architect’s designs for consistency with the standards. If the TOD qualifies for streamlined approvals under AB 2923, as expected, then it will be eligible to be approved via this staff-level review rather than at boards, commissions, or City Council. The Objective Design Standards will be developed through an inclusive process that will include input from residents and other stakeholders, and will be finalized for each station individually following the selection of a developer.

We should start thinking about what kinds of “additional limits” on the design will lead to a more viable project, a more beautiful building, more affordable homes, public spaces that thrive instead of whither. Bring your best ideas to the upcoming ODS meetings! 

We are so close to paradise instead of a parking lot.
Keep it up, let's do this!

Scroll down to learn about previous ODS meetings and actions (most recent at the top, oldest at the bottom)

Since November 2022, the city of Berkeley, BART, and NBHP have been hosting community meetings about Objective Design Standards (ODS) for North Berkeley BART.  

Residents who have been opposed to apartments at NBB are using every ODS meeting to voice their displeasure about the process so far, repeat their opposition to height, and influence the design to make the NBB homes as small as possible. At the same time, there’s been a noticeable showing of pro-housing neighbors like us at every meeting too - and we need to keep it up! If you haven’t been to an ODS meeting yet, please try to make it to at least one. The date for the next meeting is TBD. In the meantime, send an email today. Copy and paste the info below, sign with your name and location and please include an original anecdote at the beginning since unique letters have more impact.

To: council@cityofberkeley.info, bartplanning@cityofberkeley.info, nbb@bridgehousing.com

Talking Points: Bridge has proposed a plan that meets the affordability levels and unit counts set forth in the Joint Vision and Priorities document. Do not approve reductions to the project’s size or create Objective Design Standards that make it more difficult to meet the unit counts and affordability levels in their proposal. I support the general direction of Bridge’s plan without reduction to the density proposed or significant changes to the allowable building envelope.

March 5: NBB ODS site walk

Since last November, the city of Berkeley, BART, and NBHP (North Berkeley Housing Partners, i.e. the developer team) have been hosting community meetings about Objective Design Standards (ODS) for North Berkeley BART.  

Residents who have been opposed to apartments at NBB are using every ODS meeting to voice their displeasure about the process so far, repeat their opposition to height, and influence the design to make the NBB homes as small as possible. At the same time, there’s been a noticeable showing of pro-housing neighbors like us at every meeting too - and we need to keep it up! If you haven’t been to an ODS meeting yet, please try to make it to at least one. The next one is in person at NBB itself on Sunday, March 5 at 2pm. Take action today and on March 5:

Feb 15 & 16: North Berkeley BART Objective Design Standards

It’s back! Another opportunity to give feedback on the form and shape of the future homes at North Berkeley BART. More info on past meetings on our website. Do you want to participate in person or online? Take your pick

Wednesday, February 15
Learn More

Berkeley Unified School District Boardroom 

1231 Addison Street, Berkeley 

Virtual Meeting
Thursday, February 16
Learn More

Zoom Meeting ID: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84090881838 

Meeting ID: 840 9088 1838   

Call-In: (669) 444-9171

Dec 1 & 5: North Berkeley BART Objective Design Standards

From City of Berkeley:

The Office Hours sessions offer an opportunity for community members to ask additional questions and provide feedback to the materials covered in the first ODS Community Meeting. The Office Hours sessions are informal, drop-in events for community members. There will be no staff presentations and no new material will be introduced.

Check out the presentation from the ODS meeting on Nov 16 here

ODS Office Hours #1
(Zoom Only)

Thursday, Dec 1, 2022
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
On-Line: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83922787814
Phone-In: (669) 900-6833
Meeting ID: 839 2278 7814

ODS Office Hours #2
(In Person Only)

Monday, Dec 5, 2022
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
West Berkeley Branch Library
Community Room
1125 University Avenue

November 16, 2022: ODS #1

Agenda   |    Presentation

In June the city of Berkeley and BART entered into another agreement that sets up a process to give everyone a better sense of what the actual development at North Berkeley BART will look like. This is an important phase as we will be looking at the actual development for many years to come! 

Wednesday, November 16, 7-9pm
Join via Zoom or phone: (669) 900 6833
Meeting ID: 818 0401 9386  Meeting Password: 092751