Berkeley City Council endorses pedestrian plaza

Written by Sven Eberlein

Success! At close to midnight last night, the Berkeley City Council voted to endorse landscape architect Walter Hood’s proposal to transform Center Street between Shattuck and the UC Campus in Berkeley into a pedestrian plaza. The vote directs staff to work with Ecocity Builders to move it forward and apply for upcoming funding opportunities.

If you’re European this is not going to strike you as an earth-shaking announcement, but for anyone familiar with how much American cities have been married to the automobile, it might as well be a coup d’etat.

After literally decades of going through an elaborate planning process and jumping through every last hoop the city finally gave the green light to a one block pedestrian plaza, including the daylighting of parts of Strawberry Creek. Kudos to the diligent and tireless advocacy and footwork by Ecocity Builders’ Kirstin Miller and Richard Register, and hooray to landscape architect Walter Hood who came up with a plan that everybody likes.

As John King wrote about Walter Hood’s design in the SF Chronicle:

Hood fuses ecological symbolism and smart urbanism. He understands that a seductive urban space can be a catalyst that makes the future come alive.

This goes to show that when you get enough people and energy behind an idea whose time has come there’s nothing that can stop it. And once it becomes clear how much everybody including the merchants is going to love this, it is going to spread to more places in town and across the country.

Bravo Berkeley for taking a huge step toward taking more steps!

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Sven Eberlein

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