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Berkeley approves plan for fast-tracked 100 units for the homeless

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Prime opportunity for local micro developer’s prefab module homes

A modular MicroPAD apartment on the back of a truck.
A showcase MicroPAD in front of Kennedy’s office last year.
Adam L Brinklow

In January, newly seated Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett showed interest in commissioning 100 of San Francisco developer Patrick Kennedy’s experimental MicroPAD homes to accommodate Berkeley’s homeless.

Although Bartlett told Curbed SF the city must take proposals from other developers on his plan to fast track construction of emergency housing, it was very clear that Kennedy was an early favorite for the job.

Bartlett acknowledged that he had the MicroPAD in mind when conceiving the legislation. “It’s the best thing out there,” he said of the 160-square foot prefab apartments that snap together like Legos.

A model in Kennedy’s office approximates modular construction.

The proposal breezed through City Council on a unanimous vote Tuesday, although the modified version removes most of the specific language about modular building and micro homes.

The legislation now simply says that the city wants “up to 100 units of housing in an expedited manner,” for which the council promises to “amend the permitting and approval process” and build as fast as possible.

Kennedy has long courted San Francisco to erect a building out of his MicroPADs on city land to house the homeless, but has found few friends at SF City Hall. The East Bay appears to be more fertile territory for him.

Bartlett was not immediately available for comment. Kennedy told Curbed SF, “We’re looking forward to submitting a proposal, along with anyone else who’ll respond.”

Berkeleyside notes that city staff identified two potential sites for building on Tuesday, both parking lots, one at 2012 Berkeley Way and another at 2642 Russell Way.