BPFP's Response


October 12, 1999

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

From: James Keene, City Manager



A large portion of the Santa Fe Right-of-Way has been developed for housing or open space or is committed to be sold off to the adjacent property owner. This leaves approximately 14 blocks in three non-contiguous sections that are available for a range of potential uses. However, an inventory of the properties, including an extensive title search, needs to be completed before a decision can be made on the use of the property. Additionally, this project needs to be considered in the context of a larger planning process.


Recently Partners for Parks raised awareness about the possibility of developing the Santa Fe Right-of-Way (ROW) for open space. Staff agrees that this can be one of the possibilities for the Right-of-Way, however, a significant investment of approximately $50,000, as well as staff to manage the project, needs to be made before the City decides how to dispose of the property.

Since this project is not in the work program, it must be weighed against the possible benefits of making this investment at this time.

Only 14 blocks of the Right-of-Way are available for development. They are:

Lincoln to Addison (7 blocks)
Block to Ward (5 blocks)
Oregon to Sacramento (2 blocks)

The balance of the Right-of-Way has been developed for:


In late December 1993, the Council authorized the City Manager to sell that portion of the Santa Fe Right-of-Way, between Channing and Dwight Way, to the adjoining property owners. Some of these parcels are still in the process of being sold due to the difficulties in obtaining unanimous consent of the adjacent property owners.

In addition, a number of adjacent property owners have begun to use parts of the right-of-way without obtaining permission from the City. Such uses include enclosing right-of-way with fences, parking, and gardening. These unauthorized uses do not give the adjacent owners any legal rights over the land but do give the appearance that the land has been transferred to them.

Prior to the disposition of the 14 blocks, the City needs to determine the status of each of the parcels. To complicate matters, there may be a different solution for each of the parcels since some are land locked and title is not clear on some of the parcels.

To clarify the status of the Right-of-Way, an inventory needs to be conducted. This will require employing a Civil Engineer (approximately 30 days) to develop a plot map for each block and a title firm to conduct a title search for each parcel. Staff will also have to be assigned to manage the process.

The ROW should be considered in the context of other planning efforts.

The 2nd Draft General Plan addresses the Right-of-Way as follows (draft language):

Encourage a community based planning process to determine the final use of the remaining 14 blocks of city owned land on the Santa Fe Right of Way. The community planning process shall consider public open space use (i.e. neighborhood parks, community gardens, and/or bicycle and pedestrian paths) as the highest priority use for the remaining vacant land, new housing development as the second highest priority use, and sale of the land to adjacent property owners as a third and final option for the use of the land.

Complete a planning process for the Right of Way that includes local residents adjacent to the Santa Fe Right of Way and community organizations to evaluate the land use options and priorities and establish the recommended final land use or uses for the remaining 14 blocks of the Right of Way.

Proposed use of the remaining 14 blocks may be a single use or a combination of the three uses based upon the characteristics of the different blocks of the Right of Way and the needs of the neighborhood and the City.

For those blocks of the Right of Way that are not appropriate for public open space, pathways, or community gardens consider the use of those blocks for new housing development as the second priority use.

For portions of the remaining Right of Way that are not appropriate for either public open space, pathways, or community gardens, or new housing development consider sale of the land to adjoining property owners as a third priority use for the remaining portions of the Right of Way.

For those portions of the Right of Way that have been determined appropriate for public open space, pathways, or community gardens through a community planning process, pursue funds for right of way improvements through local initiatives and federal and state grant programs and designate those portions of the Right of Way as "receiver sites" for potential revenues sources that may be developed in the future, such as open space impact fees, in-lieu fees, or funds that might be generated by a local transfer of development rights ordinance.

The South Berkeley Plan addresses the Right-of Way as follows: (Proposed Amendments 1999)

The South Berkeley Plan Policy adopted 1990. Amendments proposed 1999. (Amendments underlined and crossed out [crossed out portion is bolded])

Develop those portions of the Santa Fe Right of Ways in South Berkeley that are inappropriate for opens space as housing. If a portion is not appropriate for either open space or housing then consider selling the property to adjacent property owners.

Identify and examine the issues surrounding the status of the Santa Fe right of way, including a survey of surrounding residents to determine their preference for reuse of these sites, and determine whether the original owners were compensated by Santa Fe when the right of way was acquired. Any evaluation of options for reuse of this land should include:

Title research, and the implication of realigning the right of way and returning the land to the adjacent properties, fee simple

Returning some of the land and keeping a public walkway through the center

Retaining some or all of the.land for various public uses, including: public park, community garden, bike path, and pedestrian path.

(Note: It is not possible for the City to determine whether original owners were compensated.)

These policies have to be reconciled and therefore this project will be included in upcoming work programs.


None by this action. An inventory and title search of the 14 blocks will be approximately $50,000. This will be considered in future budgets.



Phil Kamlarz, Deputy City Manager, 644-6580
Lisa Caronna, Director of Parks and Waterfront, 644-6943 x229
Stephen Barton, Director of Housing, 665-3481