Berkeley May Restore Centuries-Old Creek

Plan would replace parking lot with babbling brook

The Berkeley City Council has overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to radically transform Center Street.

The project, to be overseen by Ecocity Builders, would turn the parking lot-lined thoroughfare into a pristine wildlife preserve complete with a babbling brook, stretching from the Downtown Berkeley BART to the UC Berkeley Campus.

The plan is part of a movement known as "daylighting," whereby natural water sources, buried decades ago, are restored to the surface. In the case of Center Street, engineers would uncover Strawberry Creek, which was buried beneath the city beginning in the 1700s.

Remnants of Strawberry creek can be found throughout the UC Berkeley campus, and the water makes a few brief above-ground appearance throughout the city before draining into the bay.

It wouldn't be Berkeley's first daylighting success story. Beginning in the 1990s, neighborhood groups began to uncover and restore Codornices Creek. The revitalized habitat now winds through the northern border of the city and emerges in University Park in Albany.

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