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A. District Purpose. The purpose of the C-DMU district is to implement the vision and goals of the Downtown Area Plan (adopted 2012), which include: Environmental Sustainability, Land Use, Access, Historic Preservation and Urban Design, Streets and Open Space, Housing and Community Health and Services, and Economic Development.

B. Allowed Land Use.

1. General. See Table 23.204-1: Allowed Uses in the Commercial Districts.

2. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM). An ATM inside a non-bank building is allowed with an AUP.

3. Banks and Financial Services, Retail. Retail banks and financial services in the C-DMU require permits as follows:

(i) Under 7,500 square feet outside of the Arts District Overlay: Zoning Certificate.

(ii) All other retail banks and financial service uses: AUP.

4. Media Production. Recording studios are allowed with an AUP. Broadcast studios require a Use Permit.

C. Additional Permit Requirements. See Section 23.204.030--Additional Permit Requirements.

D. Arts Overlay District.

1. Purpose. The purpose of the Downtown Arts District Overlay (ADO) is to create a core of cultural activities and supportive retail and commercial uses in the C-DMU district. The ADO is intended to generate more pedestrian vitality in the downtown, promote Berkeley’s regional leadership in the arts, and encourage broader economic revitalization of the area. The types of uses which would enhance the Arts District include ground floor retail uses which would contribute to the cultural vitality of the area, seated food service, and uses which provide pedestrian scale and siting.

2. Boundaries. The boundaries of the ADO are shown in Figure 23.204-4: C-DMU Downtown Arts District Overlay Boundaries.


3. Use Limitations; Findings. Food service establishments and offices on the ground floor adjacent to a street frontage require an AUP. To approve the AUP, the Zoning Officer must find that:

(a) The project meets the purposes of the Arts Overlay District as set forth above; and

(b) The location, size, type, appearance, and signage of the proposed use will:

i. Animate and enhance the pedestrian experience on the street; and

ii. Be generally open to the public evenings and on weekends, whenever practicable.

E. Development Standards.

1. Height.

(a) Height Limits. Table 23.204-37: C-DMU Height Limits shows height limits in the C-DMU district, except as otherwise allowed by Paragraph 2 below. See Figure 23.204-5: C-DMU Sub-Areas for district sub-area boundaries.

Figure 23.204-5. C-DMU SUB-AREAS

Table 23.204-37. C-DMU HEIGHT LIMITS





Core Area

50 ft.

60 ft.

75 ft.

Outer Core

40 ft.


40 ft.


No minimum

50 ft.

60 ft.

(b) Parapet Walls. For roofs with parapet walls, building height is measured to the top of the roof. Parapets may exceed the height limit by up to 5 feet as of right.

(c) Minimum Height. The minimum height standard applies to new buildings only, measured to the top of the plate. Theater and museum buildings are exempt.

2. Increased Height Allowance.

(a) Allowed Height. The ZAB may issue a Use Permit for up to five buildings that exceed the C-DMU height limits as shown in Table 23.204-38: C-DMU Increased Height Allowance.



Number of Buildings




Combined Core and Outer Core


75 ft.

120 ft.



120 ft.

180 ft.

(b) Application Process.

i. Applications for any of the five buildings over 75 feet in height may be submitted on July 1, 2012. If no applications that satisfy the submittal requirements as determined by the Zoning Officer are submitted on that date, then the next deadline to submit applications will be no later than six months from that date, with application opportunity dates at six-month intervals until the first application has been submitted. Once the first application has been submitted, then the application opportunity date will occur once yearly on the anniversary of the date of the first submittal.

ii. A project shall secure a position as one of the five allowed buildings over 75 feet in height following final Use Permit approval. Such Use Permits shall include a condition of approval that establishes a schedule for: submittal of a building permit application, timely response to plan check comments, payment of building permit fees such that a building permit can be issued, and beginning construction. The process for allowing extension of the timeline requirements, if any, shall be specified in the condition.

iii. Failure of a permit holder to strictly comply with the schedule established by the Use Permit is grounds for revocation of the Use Permit pursuant to Chapter 23.404.080 (Permit Revocation).

(c) Community Benefit Required.

i. To approve a Use Permit for increased building height under this section, the ZAB must find that the project will provide significant community benefits, either directly or by providing funding for such benefits to the satisfaction of the City, beyond what would otherwise be required by the City.

ii. Significant community benefits may include, but are not limited to affordable housing, supportive social services, green features, open space, transportation demand management features, job training, and/or employment opportunities.

iii. This community benefit requirements shall be included as conditions of approval and the owner shall enter into a written agreement with the City that shall be binding on all successors in interest.

3. Setbacks.

(a) Basic Standards. Table 23.204-39 shows minimum required lot line setbacks in the C-DMU district. Additional standards are listed in

Table 23.204-39. C-DMU Setback Standards

Portion of Building at Height of:


Minimum Interior Side

Minimum Rear

65’ and less from lot frontage

Over 65’ from lot frontage

Zero to 20 feet

No minimum.
5 ft. max.

No minimum

21 feet to 75 feet

No minimum.

No minimum

5 ft.

76 feet to 120 feet

15 ft. min.

5 ft.

15 ft.

Over 120 feet

15 ft. min.

15 ft.

(b) Modifications to Standards. The ZAB may modify the setback standards in Table 23.204-39 with a Use Permit upon finding that the modified setbacks will not unreasonably limit solar access or create significant increases in wind experienced on the public sidewalk.

(c) Residential Transitions. The setback standards in Table 23.204-39 shall not apply to commercial lots abutting or confronting residential zoning. Such lots shall comply with Section 23.304.030.C.2--Setbacks (Lots Adjacent to Residential Districts).

(d) Additional Standards.

i. For buildings over 120 feet in height, that portion of the building over 120 feet must be less than 120 feet in width when measured at the widest point on the diagonal in plan view.

ii. For a lot that abuts the interior side or rear lot line of a residentially-zoned lot, a new building shall be set back from the shared property line by 20 feet where the building exceeds 45 feet in height.

iii. For a lot that confronts a residentially-zoned lot, a new building shall be set back 10 feet from the street-facing property line where the building exceeds 45 feet in height, except that this provision shall not apply to lots confronting public uses with a residential zoning designation, such as Berkeley High School, Civic Center Park, and Fire Station 2. However, this provision will apply for all lots with frontage on the Martin Luther King Jr. Way right-of-way.

iv. For lots with frontage on the Shattuck Avenue right-of-way south of Durant Avenue, a new building shall be set back 15 feet from the Shattuck Avenue property line where the building exceeds 65 feet in height.

v. Architectural features such as eaves, cornices, canopies, awnings, bay windows, uncovered porches, balconies, fire escapes, stairs and landings may project up to five feet into required setbacks of this section so long as the surface area of such projections does not exceed 50 percent of the surface area of the side of the building on which the projections are located.

4. Usable Open Space. Table 23.204-40 shows minimum required usable open space in the C-DMU district.




Residential Uses

80 sq. ft./unit [1]

23.304.090—Usable Open Space

Non-Residential Uses

1 sq. ft. of privately-owned public open space per 50 sq. ft. of commercial floor area.


[1]Each square foot of usable open space provided as privately-owned public open space is counted as two square feet of required on-site open space.

5. Privately-Owned Public Open Space.

(a) If a privately-owned public open space is indoors or enclosed, it shall include natural light in the form of windows, skylights, entryways, or other openings.

(b) Privately-owned public open space must be:

i. Clearly identified with signage in a publicly conspicuous location at street level indicating the area that is open to the public, the hours the space is open, and the party responsible for maintenance; and

ii. Separated from the grade of the public sidewalk by a height no greater than 3 vertical feet unless an AUP is obtained.

6. Open Space Alternatives.

(a) In lieu of providing the open space required by this section on-site, an applicant may either:

i. Pay an in-lieu fee to help fund the Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan (SOSIP); and/or

ii. Construct public improvement consistent with the SOSIP.

(b) Payment of a fee in lieu of providing publicly accessible open space requires a Use Permit. To allow payment of an in-lieu fee, the ZAB must find that the payment will support timely development of open space improvements that will serve the needs of project residents and other people living in and using the downtown.

(c) Construction of public improvements consistent with the SOSIP in lieu of open space requires a Use Permit. To allow construction of public improvements, the ZAB must find that the public improvements:

i. Will be located within the vicinity of the project and are consistent with the SOSIP;

ii. Will be coordinated with other ongoing or approved SOSIP or other right-of-way improvements in the vicinity, and will not create a hazardous situation or an unusual appearance in the downtown; and

iii. Will be finished before issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the project, unless otherwise allowed by the project conditions of approval.

7. Ground Floor Street Frontage.

(a) Special ground floor street frontage requirements in Paragraph (b) below apply to the following uses in the C-DMU district:

i. Insurance Agents, Title Companies, Real Estate Agents, Travel Agents.

ii. Office, Business and Professional.

iii. Group Class Instruction.

iv. Gym/Health Club.

(b) New ground floor uses listed in paragraph (a) above that are adjacent to a street frontage shall either:

i. Include a storefront window display; or

ii. Be transparent and provide pedestrian viewing at least 10 feet into the storefront area.

8. Residential Entrance Limitations. In new buildings constructed on public serving frontages, as shown in Figure 23.204-6, entrances to individual dwelling units and to living quarters in group living accommodations are not permitted on the street-facing side of the street-level floor.


F. Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan (SOSIP) Fee. In addition to any other requirement of this section, projects shall be subject to payment of an impact fee to implement the Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan.

G. Green Building Provisions.

1. New Buildings. Construction of any new building shall attain either:

(a) LEED Gold rating or higher as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC); or

(b) Building performance equivalent to this rating, as determined by the Zoning Officer.

2. Additions 20,000 Square Feet or Less. Additions of 20,000 square feet or less shall be required to meet all applicable standards of the Stopwaste Small Commercial Checklist, or equivalent, as determined by the Zoning Officer. The rating shall be appropriate to the use type of the proposed construction.

3. Additions More than 20,000 Square Feet. Additions of more than 20,000 square feet shall attain either:

(a) LEED Gold rating or higher as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC); or

(b) Building performance equivalent to this rating, as determined by the Zoning Officer.

H. Environmental Impacts. Projects that may create potentially significant environmental impacts as described in the Downtown Area Plan Final EIR shall be subject to the adopted Mitigation Monitoring Program for the Downtown Area Plan.

I. Permit Findings. To approve an AUP or Use Permit for a project in the C-DMU district, the review authority must make the findings in Section 23.406.040 (Use Permits) and find that the proposed use or structure:

1. Is compatible with the purposes of the district; and

2. Is compatible with the surrounding uses and buildings. (Ord. 7835-NS § 4, 2022; Ord. 7830-NS § 4, 2022; Ord. 7810-NS § 7, 2022: Ord. 7787-NS § 2 (Exh. A), 2021)