Land Use Update

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College Ave. Safeway, Rockridge Shopping Center, Smitten, Barrel Room, Off-street Parking
Saturday, July 6, 2013

College Avenue Safeway Project, College & Claremont Avenues

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the current store will be closing early in July, possibly as soon as July 8. Demolition will begin shortly thereafter, once hazardous material removal is complete. Construction of the new store will likely begin early in the fall.

RCPC and the other community groups who reached a settlement with Safeway on the new store have reviewed the 60 percent completion stage construction drawings, and will be meeting with Safeway to discuss several concerns, primarily concerning modifications to the design of the retail building at College and Claremont. Safeway indicates the 90 percent construction drawings will be completed in mid-July, and it will apply for building permits shortly after that.

Rockridge Shopping Center, Rebuild and Expansion Project, Broadway and Pleasant Valley Road

Safeway's second Rockridge-area project is to rebuild and enlarge this major shopping area, adding about 120,000 sq. ft. and including a larger (65,000 sq.ft.) Safeway. According to Darin Ranelletti (238-3663; DRanelletti@oaklandnet.com), the city planner working on the project, a consultant study and draft report on impacts from project-related neighborhood cut-through traffic has been completed and is being reviewed by planning staff. He doesn't expect the final EIR to be completed and published until September.

After a short review period, the Planning Commission will meet to consider the EIR and the project. The city is working with Safeway to arrange a meeting with the landowner to discuss whether the master lease can be modified to allow residential development on the site, something both the Planning Commission and Councilmember Dan Kalb have said they highly favor for this large and centrally located site.

RCPC is continuing to push to improve project access for transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Smitten Ice Cream, 5800 College Avenue at the Corner of Birch Court

The committee heard from founder Robyn Fisher and manager Nick Wood about this proposed ice cream parlor at the former site of Great Harvest Bakery.

Both the ice cream and associated waffle cones would be made fresh on-site, they said. The ice cream making involves a new, patented, technique using liquid nitrogen to quick-freeze the ice cream, so it can be made to order for each customer. The owners are committed to using local, organic ingredients and plan to use 100 percent recyclable or compostable materials to minimize waste.

They have already met with and had an ice cream social with nearby neighbors and plan a food-focused science program in cooperation with local schools. The committee felt the proposal was a good fit for the location and would be a unique addition to the commercial area.

The proposal will be considered by the RCPC board at its September meeting. The project planner is Mike Rivera (238-6417, MRivera@oaklandnet.com).

The Barrel Room Wine Shop and Bar, 5330 College Avenue

This is a proposal for a wine and beer bar/tasting room, which would also serve light meals to accompany tastings and have wine available for purchase by the bottle. This would be its second location, the first being in San Francisco in the Hayes Valley area. It would be the fourth similar shop to open on College Avenue in the past few years, the other three being The Trappist, near 63rd Street, Toast at the corner of Chabot Road and Enoteca Molinari near Taft Avenue.

Unlike the others, however, it would serve both wine and beer, with an emphasis on unusual and little-known varieties, and serve "flights" of related wines or beers to give customers a sense of the particular varietals being featured.

Hours are still being finalized, but would be roughly from 11 a.m. to midnight, perhaps somewhat later on weekends.

The committee generally reacted favorably, feeling that the store could be a welcome addition to this section of the Avenue. Some concern was expressed about parking availability, but given the size of the store (1,000 sq. ft.), it was felt this would probably not be a serious problem. The committee also felt that the owners should be cautioned to respect nearby residential neighbors, particularly in terms of late-night operations.

This proposal will also go to the RCPC board at its September meeting. To RCPC's knowledge, no planner has yet been assigned.

Off-street Parking Requirements "Citywide Rezoning, Phase II"

The city, as part of Phase II of the citywide rezoning, is considering modifying off-street parking requirements for new construction. The aim is to reduce parking requirements in areas with good public transit availability (such as Rockridge) where the need for private autos may be less. This could raise concerns if it led to more severe parking "crunches" in the bordering residential areas.

According to planner Darin Ranelletti, (238-3663; DRanelletti@oaklandnet.com) the city expects to release a study/report on residential off-street parking in July for public review and comment. Those interested should contact the planner to receive notification when the report issues and to learn how to get a copy.