No sitting to eat pizza at Berkeley’s Gioia, at least for now

T-shirts, not pizza eaters, line the counter at Gioia's Pizzeria. Photo: Neil Mishalov

The marble counter at Gioia Pizzeria on Hopkins Avenue used to be crowded with people eating slices of formaggio or funghi pizza.

Not any more.

Now the counter is stacked high with black and white Gioia Pizzeria T-shirts and is verboten to customers.

In the last few weeks the pizzeria has had to stop offering patrons a place to eat their pizza pie. The restaurant, it turns out, did not have a permit for eating on site. And, before December, it did not even have a permit to operate as a take-out restaurant.

“The city of Berkeley has determined that we are to be a ‘to go’ only operation,” reads a sign perched on one of the counters. “Unfortunately, this means we may not provide seating of any kind, nor may we offer a counter at which our customers may stay and ‘dine in’ at. In addition we have been asked to remove our outside counter.”

Gioa was voted best in Berkeley by Berkeleyside readers in 2011. Photo: Christina Diaz

Art Kinsey, the pizzeria’s general manager, said when Gioia’s moved into the space once occupied by Magnani’s Poultry in 2004, the owners, Will and Karen Gioia, did not know they needed to apply for a new permit to operate a restaurant. It came to the city’s attention recently, and the Gioias and Kinsey are now working fast to make everything legal.

Kinsey said this in not a case of the city being heavy-handed, as many customers — including many Berkeleyside readers who contacted us about the case — feared.

“Until they upgrade their permit they can’t have stools there,” said Jill Martinucci, an aide to city councilmember Laurie Capitelli into whose district Gioia falls.

The pizzeria recently got permission to operate a take-out restaurant and Capitelli is working to see if the city can expedite a permit to allow patrons to sit down and eat, she said.

Gioia’s was voted best pizza restaurant in Berkeley by Berkeleyside readers in 2011.

The best pizza in Berkeley? Our readers have decided [06.10.11]
Where do you get the best pizza in Berkeley? You tell us [06.03.11]

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  • Somebody has some viable space in a basement or sturdy shed or garage.  A
    buyer’s coop  or grey market store forms for the neighbors:  shelves go
    up and an inventory of basics is maintained.

    I wonder, do they have the proper permits and licenses?

  •  If they manage to fill storefronts and provide employment, yes.

    Just because you personally don’t like those businesses doesn’t mean that the community doesn’t value their services.

  • Bruce Love

    That’s a good question.

    Generally speaking, they don’t have permits and licenses and don’t need them.  That’s because these are usually closed coops among neighbors.   For example, where hunting is popular, it’s not uncommon for one household to have big freezers which they share.   For another example, think of one household with extra storage space, serving as a shared dry goods and canned goods for a few particular neighbors.

    There is a slippery slope there.   My suggestion is to expand and formalize this practice, running caches that are more open to the general public and that are more clearly businesses (even if not-for-profit).    That (here in Berkeley as in many other places) can imply a need for permits, licenses, and other legalities associated with a bona fide business.

    We’ve seen earlier on Berkeleyside a similar case in the woman who looked into what it would take to sell boxes of produce grown in her back yard with the help of a hired farmer.   That’s arguably not a by-right use.   Issues like noise and the frequency of customer visits can be grounds for complaints.

    Craftspeople operating out of a residence (such to make and sell bird houses) can run into the same issue.

    Handling food stuffs complicates things further, of course.

    So there are, eventually, public policy challenges to this, if the idea is to grow.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know how many variables there are to setting up a business.

    The City of Berkeley might already have one, it seems like a perfect use for a combination of a flow chart in paper and online format.  If permissible, could be a great project for a High School or College intern.

    We’re delighted you want to set up a business
    Food ->
      Eat In ->
      Take Out ->
      In Certain Neighborhoods -> [Apply the “Abandon Hope” Subroutine]
    Merchandise ->
    Services ->
    Yoga or Nail Salon -> [Limited to 3 per block]
    Pizza ->


  • Bruce Love

    You misunderstood.

    The promise attached to building out Charle’s idealized urban streets is that the ground level retail space will fill up with the necessities of a “walkable” lifestyle.   Time and again I’ve heard people imaging that, any day now, there will be green grocer, a cheese store, a butcher, maybe a nice place to get some wine, a dry cleaner, a cafe, and of course some place to get ice cream.  Won’t that be nice?

    That doesn’t never work but its easy for it to fail.

    In Berkeley we apparently already have a surplus of retail spaces.   In some famous cases we’ve built more only to have it sit disappointingly empty for long periods.   Tellingly, where the pattern does more or less work in Berkeley is in the most affluent districts where the desired shops wind up being quite expensive or have trouble staying open (or both).

    When these kinds of built environment fail to achieve the walkability intent in other cities the retail spaces tend to fill up with very low overhead services, sometimes resulting in an almost comical churn of short-lived franchises like yoga studios and nail salons.

    Yoga studios and nail salons are great when they’re good, and many of them are — but there is a failure of public policy when development initiatives that promised walkable neighborhoods fail to host essential businesses.

    (Looking particularly at how modern retail grocers function — how they achieve the prices and selection they offer — small grocers are at a huge disadvantage.  That “last mile” of wholesale shipping, storage, shelving, and inventory management piles on costs quickly.  When large firms (Tesco, TJ,  Walgreens ) are able to overcome that barrier its so far at the cost of a supply chain with its own set of problems.   My point is that isn’t obviously the built environment holding back the Urban Density Utopia — a prime suspect is the economic externalities of these kinds of businesses.)

  • Charles_Siegel

    I generally like your idea of neighborhood food co-ops  and other small enterprises, but they will not take the place of transit villages or walkable shopping streets.

    Maybe there are a few people living at subsistence level who can center their lives on these small enterprises providing food and essentials.  But most people sometimes want to go to restaurants and interesting stores, and they like having walkable shopping streets near their house.  And most people have to go to work, and their commute is much less expensive and environmentally damaging if they live near and use transit.

    If you want a resilient local economy, they you should want to reduce our dependence on the global oil companies and auto manufacturers by building neighborhoods where people bicycle and walk.  The main rigidity and weakness of our economy now is its dependence on oil, whose prices are very volatile.

    Most of Berkeley is not too bad in terms of walkability, though it could be better. But most American suburbs are abysmal: you can’t leave your house without driving.  As energy prices increase, many people will want to move from these totally auto-dependent suburbs to walkable neighborhoods. 

    I don’t see why you deny this fact, which has been central to James Howard Kunstler’s writing (and to his film, “The End of Suburbia.” 

  • berkeleyhigh1999

    agreed. seems like 3 – 5 blocks is what feels walkable. anything after that is possible to walk,  but takes a lot more energy to do so. 

  • Greg

    That wasn’t mentioned in the article.  

    It isn’t surprising.  It also isn’t endemic to Berkeley. 

    That said I totally agree with you:  This is dumb.  It is especially so given they’re likely to get the permits soon with Laurie Capetelli’s help according to the article.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Maybe “walkable” is not quite the right word.  Like many urbanists, I am using “walkable” to mean “a place that attracts pedestrians” or “a pleasant place to walk.”

    For example, there is a Walgreens at the corner of Ashby and San Pablo.  There are some people who live near it.  But very few people want to walk there, because it is basically an auto-oriented street.  People who don’t have cars will walk there if possible but won’t enjoy the walk.  People who have cars will ususally drive there, even if they are only going a couple of blocks, and they will not walk up and down the street to look at nearby businesses after  they get there.

    By contrast, people who live a couple of blocks away from College Ave./Rockridge are more likely to walk to the local shopping street.  And (regardless of whether they walk or drive there) they are more likely to walk up and down the street to look at other businesses after using the store they went to.  That is what I mean by a walkable neighborhood.

  • Anonymous

    Uh Oh …  soon will




  • Anonymous

    I feel so much safer now.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Cranky, it is possible to have a yard and trees and still to have an old-fashioned Main Street shopping street within walking distance of your house, rather than having an auto-oriented strip near your house. 

    That is how most American neighborhoods were built a century ago.  They are called streetcar suburbs, and are still popular.

    New Urbanists have proven that it is still possible to build neighborhoods like the streetcar suburbs.  If you don’t know about New Urbanism, try searching in google maps for Celebration, Florida.  You will see that it is in the middle of the worst sort of suburban sprawl, but it is walkable itself: it is made up of single family houses, but it has an old-fashioned Main Street within walking distance of those houses. 

    This involves denser housing than post-war suburban sprawl, but about the same density as most of Berkeley’s residential neighborhoods.  The thing most of Berkeley is missing is Main-Street shopping near the homes. 

    There is no stigma in wanting to live in a house.  I would like to see Berkeley rebuilt so it has 1)some neighborhoods around major transit nodes that are like dense European neighborhoods 2) most neighborhoods that are like streetcar suburbs with walkable Main Streets near people’s homes.

    I would like to give people both of those choices.  Both of those choices involve developing new buildings of four to six stories with housing above shopping. 

    How about you?  Are you willing to give more people the option of living in European-style neighborhoods?  Are you willing to transform our auto-oriented strip shopping streets into walkable Main Streets?

  • Bruce Love

    Charles, our dependence on fossil fuels is, indeed, a serious problem.   It’s one of many problems that is disrupting mid-century ideals for both urban and suburban lifestyles.   To oil, add the unending financial crisis, debt crises, industrial farming crises, infrastructure crises, health care crises, global political instability, water crises, climate crises, education crises, incarceration rate crises, and probably more than I’m forgetting at the moment.   In every one of these areas we’re looking at running into hard walls within the next decade or two.   We live in Interesting Times.

    You seem enamored of the idea that we’ll develop our way out of this mess.   Anticipating a Great Migration you advocate to socially engineer the shift by building transit villages.   There are several problems with this approach.   The suburban and exurban population are growing, not shrinking.   Whether or not people are in error, nevertheless the transit village dream hasn’t proved very popular with buyers.   It’s highly doubtful that we have the capital to build enough new housing stock to make a sizable dent in where people live.   We have tremendous amounts of sunk costs in the existing stock and infrastructure.  You’re quick to assure us that people will hop on transit to get to work but you leave out the pesky question of “what work will that be, exactly”?   Even if started tomorrow, building all-out, it’s questionable how far we’d get before one or another of the crises we face brought that project to a grinding halt.

    Moreover the project of developing theory-inspired transit villages is easily corrupted.   Developers make their money up front – they aren’t economically accountable when the social engineering goals aren’t met.    The pleasant fantasy gets destructively writ large as in boondoggles like a high speed rail to nowhere.

    Much higher and more realistic priorities, in my view, are economic development of more resilient modes of production of the essentials of life.  One low-cost tactic is the creative re-purposing of existing stock.  Locally: the reimagining of how life in residential areas functions, making more productive use of what is already available.

    Hey, the people in many of those suburbs may actually find themselves in comparatively great shape with their capacity for victory gardens and community gardens, room for workshops, comparatively good telecommunications connectivity,  and their fondness for durable, high capacity, high wheel clearance vehicles for when it does become necessary to go to town for supplies or services.   The future may look more like it’s headed towards “World Made By Hand” than towards Celebration, FL.

    In Berkeley, if I were you, I’d look more to Jacobs than Kunstler, and in particular her observations about urban economics (and the Dark Age Ahead).  Our economy in Berkeley is rich (for now) but is structurally a dog in many respects.  We’re precariously dependent on the university and lab during a time when government support for these institutions is in trouble.   Our emerging policies (as in West Berkeley) are based on a very high risk gambit that high tech miracles will trickle down Strawberry creek and flood us with billion dollar IPOs.   We do next to nothing to encourage import replacement.   Our policies favor businesses that tend to import finished goods and export rather than recirculate cash.   We’re surrounded by pockets of staggering poverty, extremely high young adult unemployment, extremely high incarceration rates and failing public schools.   Our middle class is in better shape than in many places but is starting to feel the squeeze.

    Conversely, if we did concentrate on economic development of sorts that could actually start to alleviate those structural problems, then the development questions would become easier.  We wouldn’t be talking about a theoretical labor force and their proximity to work but about an actual one and could building housing and transit in response to emerging, convincingly stable economic patterns.

  • bizowner

    berkeley is WAY to tough of small businesses.

  • Bruce Love

    Also Charles, is this the film, “The End of Suburbia” that you mean?

    Please note two things about that movie:

    It’s made in 2006, prior to the housing bubble burst.  The segments with the new urbanist architect ought to be understood in that light — that’s a snapshot of a man selling into a pre-burst seller’s market.

    And note Kunstler himself, at 46:07.  He sounds more like me:

    I myself am a little pessimistic about the kind of resources that we’re going to have available to do that.  You know, we’re actually now leaving behind this tremendously affluent period when we had all this great wealth.  We’re now entering a period when we’re just going to have less money and less ability to invest in the future.  So, I think that what we’re going to see is a lot more provisional, impromptu kind of behavior.   You know, people just kind of making due the best they can with the remnants of what remains.   The suburbs that were really built in the 1960s, that are past the inner rings, are going to become deeply dysfunctional.[*]  We may see more than one family living in a McMansion.  And we may see them growing crops on what used to be the front lawn.  But I think that they’ll basically be the slums of the future.  I think that we’re going to see this great breakdown in the value of this living arrangement that we’ve created in North America — this tremendous infrastructure for daily life that is not going to function very well in a world without fossil fuel.

    [*] Kunstler trades in a lot in worst-case renderings of problems — he’s known to play the “shock jockey”.   His point is unassailable that, barring an energy miracle, the function of the suburbs (and all of the built environment) will change a lot.   To ask whether a particular case will become “dysfunctional” rather than “differently functional” is not an easy question.   Crops on what used to be the front lawn?  That sounds relatively functional, for example.   To declare these areas “slums of the future” is premature and flies in the face of practical logistics.   It’s also unfair until a similar critical gaze is also cast upon the prospects of urban economies and infrastructure — and their utter dependence on large government revenues and perpetual economic growth.

  • Can you link to any studies proving any of what you’re postulating, or is this just more of the same kind of assumptions and opinion you attack other posters for?

    PS: Wow, reading what you write is real torture. Your posts have the same quality of prose as legal documents. Almost unreadable.

  • delete

  • Great suggestion, Ira!
    Do they have courses in Information Design at Cal? Might be a great class project.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “you advocate to socially engineer…”
    Low density suburbia was also social engineered.  It wouldn’t exist without the type of zoning that became popular in the mid-twentieth century, at a time when everyone thought that oil supplies were unlimited.  Why do you advocate continuing that social engineering by keeping that low-density zoning?

    “Whether or not people are in error, nevertheless the transit village dream hasn’t proved very popular with buyers.”
    That is certainly not true.  Surveys show that most people prefer walkable suburbs over auto-dependent suburbs.  New Urbanist developments command a price premium over equivalent housing in auto-dependent suburbs.

    “It’s highly doubtful that we have the capital to build enough new housing stock to make a sizable dent in where people live.”
    One study found that 60 percent of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have not yet been built, which could make a sizable dent.  No matter how much we end up building, it makes sense that new development going forward should be walkable.

    “Much higher and more realistic priorities, in my view, are economic
    development of more resilient modes of production of the essentials of
    Housing and some amount of transportation are essentials.  They are more resilient if they are not dependent on the global market for oil. 

    “In Berkeley, if I were you, I’d look more to Jacobs than Kunstler,”
    Jacobs advocated for even higher densities than Kunstler – including highrises.  Her model for housing was Greenwich Village.

    “it’s questionable how far we’d get before one or another of the crises we face brought that project to a grinding halt.”
    This is our real disagreement.  I don’t think we are all that near the Apocalypse. 

    I think the two likely scenarios are:

    1) the world will develop tar sands, shale oil, liquid coal, and other dirty fuels to keep the fossil fuel economy going as long as possible, with some disruptions but with an ongoing increase in dirty energy consumption.  As a result, there will be catastrophic global warming during beginning in the middle of this century.

    2) people will shift to clean energy and also consume less energy (eg, by walking more and driving less), the world will agree to limit CO2 emissions, and we will have a livable world and a healthy economy.

    #1 is what has been happening.  And I think that prophets of the apocalypse, like Kunstler, make it more likely that we  will continue to do #1. 

    Imagine that you were the average American, and you heard two different predictions for the future from the two ends of the political spectrum – 1) environmentalists saying that we are headed for collapse of the modern economy and a shift to a bare subsistence economy where people survive by growing their own vegetables and 2) Republicans saying that we just have to mine more coal and to drill, baby, drill, and we will be able to preserve our way of life. 

    Honestly, now, which of those two messages do you think the average American would be more likely to vote for?

  • Bruce Love

    I’d be happy to answer honest questions that aren’t simply personal attacks.

  • Asking you to provide a source for the broad claims you’re making is not a personal attack.

    Stating that I, personally, have a difficult time reading your prose is not a personal attack.

  • Bruce Love

    You’re citing Jane Jacob’s Greenwich Village advocacy from fifty years ago in New York City while ignoring criticisms of the outcome, it’s contextual differences with the situation at hand, her later economic thinking, and her last assessment of the world in “Dark Ages Ahead”.   I think you’re ignoring her best work and way of thinking.

    Nobody making the Big Decisions seems to quite believe in either your #1 or #2 scenarios.   The energy return on investment of most expanded fossil fuel production (and for that matter, of most of the biofuels work) suggests that these resources are being developed not to keep the consumer lifestyle status quo going so much as to have liquid fuels available as an energy *store* to keep industrial and military transportation stock functioning.  For example, one “exciting” new line of engineering research is the deployment of solar and other ambient energy sources as a power supply liquid fuel production regardless of ecological impact — the army and corporate order needs such fuel to maintain its status, regardless of the lifestyle impact on consumers.

    No significant state power is seriously acting as if global carbon controls are going to happen in any way other than as a side effect of disruptions and resource wars.  There’s a big distance between here and anything close to your scenario #2.

    If you want to close the gap to bring #2 closer, observe the necessary structural economic changes needed:  a more agrarian economy, a more perma-culture oriented urbanity and sub-urbanity, a distributed and decentralized manufacturing base, a sounder system of finance, and so forth.  If we make progress on those things, we’ll have greater capacity to adapt the built stock and infrastructure that we have AND we’ll have a better chance of identifying emerging stable economic patterns that merit aggressive new development.

    On zoning questions, locally, I try to look at the land and built environment around us first and foremost through very pragmatic, engineering eyes.   What can be made here?  What will the people who live here do?   What will pay for the imports?  What will be made locally?  What will be exported?   If your petition for big zoning variances or changes glosses over those questions or gives faith-based vague theories about people hopping a bus to unspecified work then, no, I don’t think you’ve made your case.  If your petition for financial incentives from the city to developers is similarly reasoned, I think there’s a better use of our money.   Meanwhile, the developers and real estate speculators still make bank, even on half-baked projects.

  • Cranky McCrankyPants

    Charles if you were describing how we could build and support additional shopping districts like Northbrea at Hopkins/Monterey, I’d be interested to listen.  But if the Andronicos on Telegraph by Southside (a rather dense neighborhood) cannot make a go of it, I’m suspicious that this model can be replicated artificially.  Also I frankly disagree that Berkeley lacks for shopping districts.

    I’ve spent a lot of time working in Santa Monica and I fear the future
    you describe looks like it: ubiquitous 5 story apartment blocks with
    commercial businesses clustered along Santa Monica and Wilshire.  It is
    dense to be sure, but everyone owns a car.  It is also soul-crushingly ugly.

    Believe me, the fact that Berkeley’s streetcar rails were pulled out in the 1940s strikes me as the height of idiocy.  But high-density housing in Berkeley has mostly been a grab for student dollars.  Students are easy that way; they’re willing to live 2 to a room and have low standards.

    Berkeley has many neighborhoods around major transit nodes: North Berkeley, Berkeley, and Ashby Bart.  I feel that I have no problem walking/biking to “Main Street” areas from anywhere I’ve lived in Berkeley over the past 17 years.  Just tonight I biked from Downtown to the Kensington Circle (a 30 minute ride), passing at least 3 “Main Streets” in the process.

    If you are really serious about trying to reduce American Car Culture in Berkeley, I think you’re starting from the wrong place.  What would truly make a difference is:

    1) Bart to run late-night trains
    2) Bart to have bicycle cars during commute hours
    3) Berkeley to allow its businesses to run 24 hours
    4) Local shopper-shuttles between business districts

    Why can one not be in San Francisco until last-call and then (safely) take public transit home?  This is the single largest obstacle to Berkeley selling its downtown as a place where young adults will want to live.

    It is just plain ridiculous that one need drive to a neighboring town (Solano/Claremont) to get to a 24-hour grocery story!  Even the sleepy backwater of Santa Cruz has a Safeway and Saturn Cafe open 24/7.

    Finally the problem with your model may be this: new buildings seem to charge commercial rents that are sufficient to stifle business.  The “Fine Arts” building killed the eponymous (admittedly low-revenue) movie theatre and has had empty retail on its ground floor for 6 years now.  The space next to Trader Joes is empty.  All of the commercial spaces under the apartment block on Oxford at Kittredge are empty.  Many of the spaces on Shattuck at Delaware likewise.  The newer buildings on San Pablo at Solano share the same fate.  The model of residential over commercial is not, in Berkeley, an unabashed success.

    My great fear is that the downtown Ace Hardware will go the way of the Fine Arts Cinema.  Promises will be made, but at the end of the day the space will sit vacant, the employees will all be fired, and I will have to drive to OSH.  “Progress” is not always progress.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I agree with you on Ace Hardware.  It is important to keep these locally serving businesses to create neighborhoods where people can walk to services – and it is also important to develop new locally serving businesses that people can walk to, such as Trader Joes. 

    Along with virtually all environmentalists working on urban issues, I disagree with most of the other things you have said.  Environmentalists agree that the sort of walkable neighborhoods that I am talking about are a key to reducing auto dependency. 

    The higher densities reduce the distance people travel, and the higher densities are also necessary to support convenient transit service.  Without enough density, the late night BART service and the shoppers shuttles would be underused, and you would be even more Cranky about the huge tax bill that you would have to pay to support them.

    The fact that you took a 30 minute bike ride and passed three main streets has nothing to do with the issue.  To reduce car culture, we need walkable main streets within walking distance of people’s homes – the sort of streets that attract people to walk from their house to shopping. 

    If we don’t have those, very few people will bicycle 30 minutes to get to a walkable shopping street.  Most people will drive.

    I notice that you did not explicitly answer my question:

    “How about you?  Are you willing to give more people the option of living
    in European-style neighborhoods?  Are you willing to transform our
    auto-oriented strip shopping streets into walkable Main Streets?”

    But your response seems to imply that your answer is no.  Regardless of how many people want to live in European-style neighborhoods where they can easily walk to services (rather than bicycling 30 minutes to get to a walkable shopping street),  regardless of how much less environmental impact these neighborhoods have than conventional development, you do not want to give people this choice.

  • Cranky McCrankyPants

    Your question is a bit of a straw man really.  I have no idea what your vision of a “European-style neighborhood” might be: if it looks like Santa Monica or Daly City, then my answer is firmly no.  And when it comes to “auto-oriented streets” I think you’re being intentionally naive.  All of Berkeley’s plentiful shopping districts (4th St, Hopkins, College, Solano, Telegraph, Downtown, Upper Shattuck) are within walking distance of an enormous number of people: their parking lots are also generally full.

    The fact that I can reach 3 different shopping districts within 30 minutes by bike is precisely the issue.  If people _wanted_ to bike for 10 minutes to get to Monterey Market, they could from much of Berkeley.  The fact is that most people do not want to do this.

    I would argue that nearly all of Berkeley is already a town where one
    can easily walk/bike to services.  (With the demise of Andronicos, slightly
    less so.)  If Berkeley is already dense and has plentiful shopping
    districts and yet people still drive — this suggests your desire to
    engineer walkable Main Streets has already failed.

    The funny part here is that I am living your dream.  I live downtown and while I own a car I don’t drive it much (7k/year).  I walk/bike to work and shopping.  I support my local businesses.

    But I don’t believe that more giant buildings inhabited mainly by students leads to your golden future.  If it did, we would already be there.

  • Charles_Siegel

     It is no problem that we have walkable shopping streets whose parking lots are filled with cars.  Some people walk there, and some people drive there.  That is much better than the sprawl-suburb model where everyone drives.

    My model has been tried many times by New Urbanists. It has succeeded economically and environmentally.  Despite your attempts to deny it, studies show very clearly that higher densities and walkable streets reduce driving.  For a review of the literature, search for “Measuring Sprawl and its Impacts,” with lots of data to prove my point.

    Can you produce data proving your outlandish claim that, because you can bicycle to 3 shopping in 30 minutes, higher densities will not reduce auto-dependency??

    If you enjoy living downtown, and if you don’t drive much as a result of living downtown, why not give more people the same opportunity to live downtown??

    Your make this claim by writing:
    ” If people _wanted_ to bike for 10 minutes to get to Monterey Market,
    they could from much of Berkeley.  The fact is that most people do not
    want to do this.”

    If everyone wanted to bike, the world would be a better place, and if my aunt had a beard, she would be my uncle. 

    You have to plan for people as they are, not for people as they should be, and studies show that more people really will walk with the sort of densities and urban design that I have described.

    By saying ” The fact is that most people do not
    want to do this,” you are admitting that the sort of design you advocate does not really work to reduce auto-dependency.

    You write:
    “But I don’t believe that more giant buildings inhabited mainly by
    students leads to your golden future.  If it did, we would already be

    That convenient future actually is already there for students who live in downtown and can bicycle to campus in 5 minutes. 

    But the world is not so golden for students who cannot find housing near campus and who have to commute a long distance to campus. 

    Likewise, the world is not so golden for people who are too old to drive or to bicycle, who want to live in walkable neighborhoods, and who cannot find housing in those neighborhoods.  Because the population is aging, there are going to be a lot more of those people in the future.  You apparently expect all those elderly people to bicycle to Monterey market.

    The bottom line is that you want to impose your personal preference on everyone else.  Many students and seniors would like the sort of convenient housing that I am describing.  You dislike it because of some aesthetic preference or some hostility to students that I cannot understand.  And you want to impose your preference on everyone.

  • Charles_Siegel

     PS: Since you say:
    ” I have no idea what your vision of a “European-style neighborhood” might be”

    try looking at which is a good visualization of how an auto-oriented shopping street can be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly shopping street.

    There is more of the same at

  • Still wond’rin’ if you’re going to link to any studies or evidence backing up any of the statements of fact you’ve made here.

    Charles seems to be able to back up everything he’s saying with some kind of study or published work, while you seem to be long on assertions/anecdotes and short on evidence.

  • Bruce Love

    You’re talking to me?  (Sorry, the threading of messages isn’t apparent.)

    Ask a more specific question.

  • Comments don’t seem to be threading correctly on this page any more.

  • Great job deflecting the question!

    Just using questioning to point out that a lot of what you’re stating as fact is actually personal opinion and really just more of your usual “No, but what if…” chattering.

  • Mike Farrell

    Smoke opened in a location which was formerly a Taqueria; use permits go with the location, not the business. Assuming the Taqeria had a Use Permit, it would still be valid when Smoke moved in. A very different situation than the one faced by Gioia

  • Cranky McCrankypants

    1) “That is much better than the sprawl-suburb model where everyone drives” – Straw man.  Berkeley does not have a sprawl-suburb model — except in the Hills.

    2) “Can you produce data proving your outlandish claim” – Monterey Market has 6 bicycle spaces and at least 50 auto spaces.  The auto spaces are generally full.  The bicycle spaces are not.

    3) Unless you build a 50 story retirement home on top of Berkeley Hort,
    you are not going to provide housing to everyone who wants to live in
    North Berkeley.  If your plan is the Ranch 99 / 555 Pierce St model —
    be clear about it.

    4) I am not denying anyone the opportunity to live downtown.  (Check out the vacancy signs.)  I object to people lying about who lives in the new buildings downtown.  To your credit you’re being honest that these are student buildings and that not a single unit will prevent suburban development where actual families want to live.

    5) If your hirsute Aunt/Uncle had a beard, her gender issues would be between her/him and your other Uncle/Aunt.

    6) The bottom line is that you want to impose your personal preference on
    everyone else.  Many developers would like the sort of cheap high-rise student housing that you are describing.  You like it because of some
    aesthetic preference or some love of student neighbors that I can’t understand.  And you want to impose your preference on everyone.

    7) You’d be a lot more convincing if you were more specific about the density required for your golden future and the drawbacks that such density entail.

  • Can’t you and Charles just swap emails or phone numbers? Really.

  • The most remarkable thing about this thread is how little of it is actually about Gioia’s pizzeria.  One wonders if berkeleyside needs a separate “philosophical grievances with the universe” section or something.

    There is a lot of doomsday prophesizing and wishful fantasizing about miraculous auto-free neighborhoods where all goods and services are available within a 3 block radius.  Good luck on establishing a flourishing economy.