West Berkeley is bordered by Interstate 80 and is dotted with a wide range of manufacturing and industrial activities. Although this area is located at the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay, it actually has much poorer air quality than is found in larger California cities such as San Jose or even San Francisco.
In the last decade, there have been significant changes in West Berkeley’s zoning and land-use policies that are reflected in the growth of its residential infill development including several city parks, numerous childcare facilities and an elementary school, All these are in, or close to, our manufacturing district that includes three foundries, asphalt and concrete facilities, micro breweries and the City of Berkeley’s own recycling and solid waste facilities.
When you add the 300,000-car daily commute on Interstate 80 (upwind) to this equation of West Berkeley’s air quality, one can begin can begin to understand the extent of the problem. This is an extremely polluted and odiferous area of Berkeley, California.
Our city’s West Berkeley redevelopment and zoning practices continue to operate under conditions that are environmentally unsustainable. While the City of Berkeley has acknowledged West Berkeley’s odor problems, we now need to do the same for the airborne toxic pollutants that are impacting the health and well-being of our families and children.
Air monitoring has always been a vehicle to better understanding these health impacts despite the fact that business and political influences have often shaped these investigations in Berkeley as much as the regulatory science.