Last year, Scott Weiner sponsored SB 35 to fast track development projects with “affordable housing,” creating shortcuts around local approval processes. The first use of the new law is the West Berkeley Shellmound where Ohlone people and their allies have tried to halt a development project on the site of the oldest village and cemetery in the SF Bay Area. Now the years of negotiations, hundreds of letters and many, many hours of testimony in opposition to the development at meeting after meeting will be scrapped. Weiner said the West Berkeley development is exactly the sort of project he had in mind in drafting SB 35. “This is fantastic. The whole point of the SB 35 was to accelerate the process and allow the project and move forward that would otherwise be stymied.” The developer added “affordable” housing to take advantage of the new law.
Corrina Gould, an Ohlone who is co-founder of Indian People Organizing for Change, said she and other project opponents were blindsided by the news. “We’re still trying to figure out how this all happened,” she said. “We agree that housing should be streamlined, but when it comes to sacred sites, we as a society should think about things in a different way. This was the very first place inhabited on the entire bay — that is something that should be worth saving.”
The resistance to this project will continue.
There will be a spring equinox gathering on March 20 from 8:30 to 9:30 am at the West Berkeley Shellmound site at Spenger’s parking lot.