Berkeley City Council to hold hearing on Safeway project

Even though the new Safeway store proposed for College and Claremont Avenues is in Oakland, the project will have significant impacts on Berkeley. To assess how the new supermarket will affect the Rockridge area, the Berkeley City Council will hold a special work session Tuesday night at 5:30 pm.

The city of Oakland sent a draft Environmental Impact Report about the store to Berkeley in July when the council was on recess. Berkeley is holding the special session to gather comments as part of its response to Oakland about the project.

Safeway wants to tear down the 1950s building and build a new structure that is double the size. The proposed project would be two to three stories high with an underground garage, and would have a set of retail shops facing College Avenue.

Berkeley’s Transportation Manager, Farid Javandal, reviewed the DEIR and expressed concern about the adequacy of the traffic report. Javandal noted that the developer only conducted a parking survey on one weekday and a Saturday, which he thought was insufficient.  (Read his memo here.)

The special meeting is open to the public and starts at 5:30pm in Council Chambers.

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  • I’m confused. Is Farid Javandel both Berkeley’s Transportation Manager and the Mayor of Albany? That seems like a lot of hats, but it’s a sufficiently unusual name that I can’t believe there are two, both working in city governments in northern Alameda County.

  • One and the same.

  • Wow, two high-level local government jobs?
    I wonder what his pension is going to be like.

  • berkopinionator

    Safeway’s new projects should go forward as a matter of public safety.  We want our major grocery stores to survive a large earthquake so that they can make food and beverages available to the community.  Face it people, Safeway grocery stores are among the largest collections of emergency food supplies we have in our community.  New reinforced large stores are more likely to be open for business with their food intact in the aftermath of a major disaster.

  • Solano Supporter

    Safeway may be wonderful to have around in the aftermath of a major disaster, but the current traffic issues around the store are on the verge of disaster. And who really needs a store going from around 22,000 sq ft to over 50,000 square feet? The store needs a remodel, no one is denying that — but we need to speak out on what it is going to do to a great neighborhood.

  • Safeway Supporter

    “And who really needs a store going from around 22,000 sq ft to over 50,000 square feet?”

    The people who shop there and want more spacious aisles and a wider selection of goods that will better fit the neighborhood.

  • Charles_Siegel

    There is no way that so much extra square footage could be supported by the people who already shop there. 

  • Peter

    If you live in Berkeley’s District 7, please ask Kriss why he didn’t inform his constituency of this meeting.  It surely affects the Elmwood.

  • Barton Johnson

    City council people in Albany (including the mayor)  are compensated $300 a month for their service and receive no pension benefits.  Any suggestion to the contrary would seem to be “college dropout amateur legal armchair theatrics” of the lowest sort.  

  • Berkeley resident

    I’m sure they are hoping to attact new customers with the additional and more customer friendly space.

    Berkeley Bowl seems to be doing very well in both locations.  The new location is huge with wide aisles and lots of space, while the old location is awesome in a differen way so maybe Safeway is hoping to attract new customers after the improvements…. 

  • jjohannson

    A wider selection of “Safeway Select” products, you mean.  People who shop there regularly know Safeway has crowded out the shelves with their own products in virtually every area of packaged food.  It’s the future of supermarketing; actually, it’s supermarketing’s last chance.


  • The traffic along College and Ashby is already awful almost all the time. I don’t own a car. Often, I find myself on a bus that has to wait three traffic lights to travel one block, just to get through that particular intersection.

    With a massive new grocery store PLUS many additional retail shops on the ground level, how could there not be even more traffic?  It seems to me College Ave already carries way more traffic than it actually should. How could the new gigantic Safeway NOT make the situation much, much worse.  It might bring more traffic to Safeway’s profits but I bet it would hurt many, if not all of the small businesses.

    I am comfortably on a bus, not dealing with the stop and go, parking-lot traffic so I patronage shops on College but if I were still driving, I doubt that I would head there much. And with the new jumbo store?

    Of course this is a Berkeley impacting issue.

    And some of the comments here read like they were written by paid Safeway PR hacks, don’t they?

  • Guest

    “Local NIMBYs Block Retailer from Expanding & Improving Services”

    File under: Only in Berkeley


  • Welcome to Berkeleyside, Barton! This is a very interesting first post for a new user. I hope you’ll continue to post here and take part in the community.

    Thanks for the information about the salaries of city council members in Albany. I guess they aren’t as well-compensated as city council members here in Berkeley.

    In the future, it might behoove you to note that asking a question is not the same thing as making a suggestion, nor was any of what I said legal commentary.

    Have a nice day!  :)

  • Just because someone disagrees with you on this issue doesn’t make them a “paid Safeway PR hack.”

    More square footage does not necessarily mean more products or more customers. The newer and improved style of Safeway stores have more spacious aisles, in-house production facilities for certain food items (deli, baked goods, etc), and expanded sections for produce & bulk foods.

    As I have stated in other discussions about this issue, if you have not been to one of the newer style of Safeway stores I strongly recommend people go and look at one, and then compare it to the current store so that they can have a better understanding of what Safeway wants to do in their two Berkeley locations.

  • libraterian

    The traffic is bad on College because of the neighborhood diverters originally designed to force it there. Let’s try it without them for a couple of years.

  • Anonymous

    Berkeley city council members are compensated $29,276 a year. Berkeley’s mayor receives no compensation at all.

  • berkopinionator

    With a wider selection of products you can more easily skip buying Safeway branded items.

  • Zelda Bronstein

    Tom Bates takes no money from the City, because if he did, he would lose his pension from his years in the State Assembly.

    The most important issue here, though, isn’t compensation but power, policy and integrity. It’s inappropriate, to put it politely, for Javandel to be running Berkeley’s transportation department and to be serving as mayor of Berkeley’s neighbor to the north. If there’s a conflict about transportation between the two jurisdictions–the controversy over eliminating two lanes of two auto traffic on Marin comes to mind–how can he expected to act in the interests of both entities? It would be good to know if he serves at the pleasure of Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamalarz. 

  • Anonymous

    Here we go again.  The fact is that the Safeway is intended to attract new customers and be a destination.  They say so themselves.  Last Saturday, to pick a random weekend day with no football game in town, at 4 pm, there was a solid line of cars from Ashby to Woolsey, three blocks away.  Often it is longer.  It would be a terrible planning decision to bring more cars into that situation.  Safeway should improve and modestly expand the existing store, not create a mini-mall.

  • Anonymous

    Nonetheless, Zelda, it is 100% true that your former opponent is not compensated by the citizens of Berkeley for his mayorship. Tom Bates works for Berkeley for free.

    Javandel, manager of Berkeley’s Transportation _Division_, reports to the Director of Public Works, Claudette Ford, who in turn reports to the City Manager. All of this information is available on the city’s web site and, presumably, to mayoral candidates.

    Javandel was not the Transportation Manager when Marin was restriped, and your recollection that the project involved a conflict between Berkeley and Albany is weird. It was a conflict between drivers and non-drivers, plenty of whom live in each city. If you’re aware of an actual conflict arising from Javandel’s dual roles, it would be interesting to hear of it.

  • Are Berkeley and Oakland residents for some reason unable to walk to destinations in the Rockridge area?

  • Anonymous

    What if we are driving to, say, the campus, which is a mile away?  What if we are driving back from Amoeba Records?  I am sure you can think of other examples.

  • Berkeley resident

    Trader Joe’s seems to be very successful with mostly selling their own brand so although I may not be a fan of the Safeway Select products, it may be a great business decision for Safeway.

  • I think we’re talking about different things kind of.

    I am asking why you are assuming that everyone who shops at the store will be driving, especially giving the limited and frustrating parking in the area.

    People made similar predictions about the Trader Joe’s location at University & MLK creating a “traffic nightmare” but it turns out that the majority of patrons walk to the store, and despite the popularity of the store traffic at the corner hasn’t changed at all.