Starbucks plans to open 4th Berkeley store after all


By shrinking the size of its proposed new store, Starbucks plans to open a new coffee shop in South Berkeley, despite having its application revoked two months ago. Photo: Sean Winters

Two months after it looked like vocal neighborhood opposition had put a stop to Starbucks opening its fourth store in Berkeley, it has emerged that the coffee chain is planning to move into the space at 3001A Telegraph Ave. after all.

Starbucks is circumventing the city’s previous requirements — principally the need to offer a number of parking spaces relative to the size of the store — by opening in a retail space significantly smaller than the one it had originally envisaged.

In an application submitted to the city April 8, Starbucks sought approval to build a new “demising wall,” or partition, in the corner retail space of the Telegraph Gardens building at the intersection of Telegraph and Ashby in South Berkeley. In doing so, it would occupy a total of 1,333 square feet (rather than the 2,063 square feet it had hoped to have), which means the conditions of the administrative use permit (AUP) that became the focus of protests from local residents and business owners become moot. Only a building in excess of 1,500 square feet requires an AUP, according to city spokesman Matthai Chakko.

The building permit was approved May 8.

The new Starbucks will open at 3001A Telegraph Ave. in the Telegraph Gardens building at the intersection with Ashby. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The new Starbucks hopes to open at 3001A Telegraph Ave. in the Telegraph Gardens building at the intersection with Ashby. Photo: Tracey Taylor

In fact, Starbucks had been given the go-ahead by city, parking waivers included, back in March of last year. And an appeal lodged by a local neighborhood group was subsequently denied by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board. In November, the council referred the board’s decision to a public meeting, however. And, March 11, after hearing from dozens of local residents and business owners that such a high-customer-volume coffee shop would increase traffic congestion and exacerbate what they described as an already taxing parking situation, the council voted to deny Starbucks an administrative use permit.

Attempts to reach Starbucks were unsuccessful at time of writing.

Jim Smith, who, with Andrew Johnson, filed the March 2013 appeal on behalf of the Bateman Neighborhood Association, said he had not heard of Starbucks’ new plans.

“I’m not aware of any notice given to our neighborhood of any new proposal,” he said. “If Starbucks is going ahead, I think it’s unfortunate given all the information we put before the Council about the negative impacts of this particular use in this particular location.”

Smith said he still considered the local residents’ considerable efforts to stop the coffee chain to be a victory, however, “because we were able to reduce the size of the proposed use.”

Detail of a building permit application filed by Starbucks' lawyers, and approved by the city, shows how the retail space at 3001A Telefraph Ave. will be divided by a partition wall to create a 1,333 square foot space for the coffee chain to occupy. Photo: Tracey Taylor

A detail of a building permit application filed by Starbucks’ lawyers, and approved by the city, shows how the retail space at 3001A Telegraph Ave. would be divided by a partition wall to create a 1,333-square-foot space for the coffee chain to occupy. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Chakko said four parking spaces would need to be made available for a 1,349-square-foot building. The April 8 application shows four designated “Starbucks” parking spaces.

Michael Iida co-owns the Mokka coffee shop at 3075 Telegraph Ave., two blocks south of Telegraph Gardens, many of whose customers opposed the new Starbucks. Meetings were held at his café to discuss what many saw as the threat of Starbucks coming in to the neighborhood. On Friday, Iida said his concerns remain the same.

“If they are going into that same facility even though the space is smaller, it may affect their ability to serve customers, but I doubt that it really changes the demand that will be driven to that corner,” he said.

A note in the planning documents approved by the city last week makes it clear that, should a business wish to occupy the second part of the space at 3001A Telegraph once it is divided, they will have to jump through the same hoops as Starbucks did. It reads: “No new retailer can occupy this space unless more parking is provided or a parking waiver is granted.”

Op-ed: Starbucks vote makes Berkeley seem unfriendly to business (03.23.14)
Neighbors stop a new Starbucks opening in Berkeley (03.12.14)
Berkeley City Council’s Nov. 19, 2013 meeting: the highlights (11.20.14)
Berkeley neighbors bid to halt Starbucks stumbles (07.02.13)
Starbucks planning to open a new store in Berkeley (03.15.13)

Would you like to have latest Berkeley news in your email inbox once a day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , , , ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • Anonamous

    Why doesn’t Starbuck’s just open a Peet’s in the same location. Same company, different reputation. I doubt the neighborhood snobs would be up in arms about a Peets.

  • Tim

    I don’t know what Mokka is worried about. Starbucks is not exactly targeting the same customer base. Want a quick cup of coffee, go to Starbucks. Want to wait and watch 6 people run around behind the counter and ignore anyone who is under the age of 45, go to Mokka. . .

  • Why?

    The root of all parking problems in this neighborhood is the hospital. Their parking garage is too small and too expensive. Parking on my street is dominated by people coming and going from the hospital. Nurses, patients and workers. My landlord rents all of the parking for my unit to doctors who work at the hospital so all of his tenants are left SOL.

    I am sure the neighborhood association would be very open to getting the hospital to build adequate parking and providing spaces for all of their employees to park. Why is it that Alta Bates gets a pass and a less-popular coffee brand gets the shaft?

  • Woolsey

    Yes – the hospital staff come out every two hours and move their cars. It’s particularly disconcerting watching staff walk around in full surgical scrubs including shoe covers. Hopefully, they put on new shoe covers before going back into surgery. Of course the hospital staff cars (and probably visitors) use up the available parking spaces during the day. And, for some reason everyone got organized and started protesting over the coffee shop that probably attracts no cars.

  • Sarcastic unicorn

    That’s because everything that exists in Berkeley currently is perfect and was built by a now-vanished race of super beings with no profit motive, whereas any any change at all would bring about an apocalyptic dystopia in which grasping developers would openly devour live gutter punks in broad daylight for the amusement of their techie thralls.

    Oh and because this is a city in which meter maids earn twice what teachers make.

  • sam g

    Actually starbucks announced they plan to” upgrade: their food line in all stores which would put them in direct competition w/mokka.

  • allison1050

    I left Berkeley many years ago so I’m wondering what happened to all of the independent coffee houses?

  • BBnet3000

    Theres still quite a few around.

  • vp

    Tim, so totally true. Mokka deserves to fall to the competition. Worst food and service

  • allison1050

    Thank gawd for that BB but what’s up with the Starbucks stuff then?

  • EBGuy

    Since we’re going on about the neighborhood, how about a little public shaming of the blighted property on the NE corner of Telegraph and Ashby. Thank you Prop 13 (2999 Telegraph has a tax basis of $190k). The same trust also owns the adjacent parcels to the north and east of 2999 Telegraph. Hopefully we see this developed in my lifetime.

  • brycenesbittt

    Yep. No parking. The city should take care of parking on the street and in district garages. Let’s start funding this with a surcharge for each resident owned car beyond one per adult….

  • jj

    Peets is not owned by Starbucks. Maybe you are thinking about la boulange? (which I would support!)

  • jj

    I second mudrakers comment. Other than that, there is plenty of good coffee in South Berkeley. That said, plenty of people like Starbucks, I dont see what is lost by letting them take a crack at it

  • I live in Elmwood, and there are at least 5-6 independent coffee shops within a short walk of my house, in addition to a Peet’s (and soon, it seems, a Starbucks). Nobody seems to be hurting for business, so my conclusion is that we just drink a lot of coffee.

  • I always thought it would be nice to have a little park/green space on that abandoned corner, but I have no idea where the money to build/maintain would be.

  • allison1050

    I used to love all of the small independent coffee houses scattered around Berkeley in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when I still lived in Berkeley. I just am having a difficult time picturing any Starbucks in Berkeley…guess I’m just stuck in time. Thanks for your response. I scrolled over your avi and am wondering what is People Ops.

  • EBGuy

    Now open for business.

  • guest

    A nice addition to the neighborhood.

    Glad the NIMBYs lost this fight. Too bad the store is smaller and less inviting as a result of their insincere campaign against a chain store.

  • EBGuy

    Begin Mokka/Mudrackers deathwatch. Hopefully these guys can up their game to stay in business.