Land Use Update

Saturday, October 12, 2013

College Avenue Safeway Project at College Claremont

As reported in last month's Rockridge News, Safeway violated its settlement agreement with RCPC and two other community groups by submitting its building permit application to the city without first meeting with the groups to discuss major design changes from the plan approved by the city. The city agreed to stop processing the application until Safeway complied with the agreement, and Safeway has now met with the groups and reviewed its intended changes.

Some changes were considered acceptable, but several are problematic. At the meeting, Safeway and the groups discussed the changes, and how to bring the project closer to what the city had approved. A few issues remain. Another meeting is planned for early October to try to reach consensus and avoid impacts to the community beyond those assumed in the city-approved plans. For the time being, the parties have agreed not to reveal details of the disagreements.

Prudential Real Estate office: 5410 College Avenue

Prudential Real Estate, based in San Ramon, wants to lease a storefront in the Boero Building (between Manila and Kales avenues). Several women's clothing stores had previously occupied the space.

This is only the latest of various proposals to locate a real estate office in a College Avenue storefront. RCPC has traditionally opposed such proposals, the latest being Red Oak Realty's plan to use the space now occupied by Crossroads Trading Co. RCPC's opposition is tied to the organization's strong belief that College Avenue street frontage is best devoted to retail uses. Office uses, including real estate offices, dilute the critical mass of retail neighborhood-serving businesses needed to attract the customers to keep the street a thriving commercial area.

Nevertheless, the Land Use Committee heard Prudential's proposal. The committee's biggest concern was not with this specific office use, but that under the city's zoning rules, once a use permit was granted, the storefront would be permanently available for future office uses without further city approval. The committee has therefore recommended that RCPC not oppose a use permit if it would be limited to just this tenant, but to oppose it if the permit would be permanent. The board will make a decision at its October 3 meeting.

If you have thoughts on RCPC's policy regarding the preservation of retail use along College Avenue, send them to the committee at stuflash@aol.com, or mail to RCPC, 4123 Broadway, PMB 311, Oakland, 94611.