As all of you who live or own property on Panoramic Hill know, there is only one paved road in and out of our neighborhood. That road is narrow and winding, in poor condition in many locations, and can be totally blocked by a fallen tree or an inoperable vehicle. In addition to these concerns about access and egress, Panoramic Hill sits directly on top of the Hayward fault – recently judged to have a 27% likelihood of a major earthquake (magnitude 6.7 or greater) within the next 26 years. If this is not enough of a concern, Panoramic Hill is considered to be a neighborhood of extreme danger for wildfire, as it is located adjacent to wildlands and stands of dangerous eucalyptus trees. Of course, at the very bottom of Panoramic Hill sits Memorial Stadium, a venue that may contain 80,000 people for an event, day or night, with attendant parking and road blockage concerns. A fire, earthquake, or other disaster during a Stadium event might be considered a worst-case scenario.
As a result of all these factors, the City of Berkeley has given Panoramic Hill the most restrictive zoning in the City, “Environmental Safety Residential,” and the City of Oakland is also considering future zoning restrictions. Officials from both Cities have been in dialog with each other about the special concerns about Panoramic Hill.
The Panoramic Hill Association and our concerned neighbors have been very active for many years in our efforts to address both prevention and response to the threat of such natural disasters. We hold an Annual Emergency Preparedness Event; we frequently disseminate disaster preparedness literature to our neighbors; we work with Emergency Responders from both cities to ensure that they keep our neighborhood in mind; we work to get dangerous road conditions improved; we form clusters and hold cluster meetings to keep ourselves prepared and alert.
One issue that has been discussed by Panoramic Hill residents as well as both Berkeley and Oakland governments for more than 40 years, has been the pros and cons of constructing a secondary road on Panoramic Hill. That nothing has been done to develop such a road speaks to the complexity and difficulty of this issue. We currently have the opportunity to receive a financial grant to help us explore the engineering feasibility of a secondary road. However, this money will not be made available to us unless we know the sentiment of the Panoramic Hill community, including absentee owners as well as those who live here.
An electronic copy of the survey can be found here: