Tag Archives: Steven Donaldson

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Op-Ed: Saying no to Starbucks sets a bad precedent

Starbucks
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Earlier this month, Berkeley’s City Council rejected an application from Starbucks to open a new coffee shop on the corner of Telegraph and Ashby avenues. This despite the fact that the proposal had been approved by planning staff, and despite the fact that independent studies showed that the main objection — increased parking problems — was not substantiated.

In an Opinionator piece published on Berkeleyside, Steven Donaldson, a commissioner on the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, argues that, while … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Starbucks vote makes Berkeley seem unfriendly to business

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Several months ago, Starbucks showed up before the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board (I sit on the Board) to ask for a permit to operate a coffee shop on the corner of Ashby and Telegraph. It’s one of the busiest intersections in Berkeley, with lots of drive-by traffic and Alta Bates a short walk away. We’re not talking about a massive facility, more like a storefront that could seat about 25 people. Who would think this would be a giant … Continue reading »

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‘Moorish-style palace’ for Telegraph Ave. is step closer

Image: Kirk E. Peterson & Associates
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A six-story, mixed-use, Moorish, palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns is one step closer to being built on Berkeley’s iconic Telegraph Avenue after the project sailed through a review by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board last week.

ZAB commissioners were generally receptive to the building’s unusual design, according to Commissioner Steven Donaldson.

Addressing the architect of the project, Kirk E. Peterson, ZAB Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said she approved of the design. “It’s weird and I like that,” she said. O’Keefe said she grew up in Berkeley, had always appreciated the “weirdness” of Telegraph Avenue, and that it was good to see something unusual, “a little different,” proposed for the area. … Continue reading »

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Zoning board denies Berkeley micro-unit proposal

Image: Lowney Architecture
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Berkeley zoning board members voted 6-3 last week to reject an application from a San Francisco-based development firm that hopes to build the city’s first micro-unit housing project.

In September, many zoning board commissioners told Axis Development Group that the proposal, at 2701 Shattuck Ave., was too large and too dense for the neighborhood. They asked Axis to consider a four-story alternative, and to make more room on the northeast corner of the site, which is close to an adjacent single-family home. City staff had earlier suggested the removal of up to 12 units from the project.

Thursday night, Axis presented its latest version of the five-story project, currently set to include 67 units that range in size from 269 to 344 square feet, as well as a roughly 2,000-square-foot full service restaurant with valet parking, and a small parking garage. (Read more about the latest plans here.) Following the September zoning board meeting, Axis removed three units from the project’s fifth story. Company representatives said they felt this change addressed the board’s concerns.

Commissioners who voted against the project Thursday criticized Axis for failing to take their feedback in September seriously.

“I’m astonished at how fully the applicant has ignored our very clear suggestions. Very clear,” Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said. “From staff, from us. I was at the last meeting, I know what was said. I can’t believe you would come up here with a straight face and say you were confused as to what we were asking for.” … Continue reading »

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‘The Aquatic’ wins easy approval from Berkeley officials

The Aquatic mixed-use development at 800 University Ave. in Berkeley could open by summer 2015. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A proposal for a new University Avenue mixed-use development, set to include 58 units, sailed through Berkeley zoning board review Thursday night, winning acclaim from commissioners for what they said was its beautiful design and sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood.

The 45- to 55-foot-tall building will feature 1,175 square feet of office or retail space, and 60 parking spaces. Two structures currently on site — which have housed a construction company, a veterinary clinic (circa 1973) and, later, medical research labs — will be demolished to make way for the project, which is named “The Aquatic” and was designed by Berkeley-based Trachtenberg Architects. (See the project staff report here.)

The building project site, at 800 University Ave. on the south side of the street, straddles two different zoning designations; as a result, the north side of the property will reach five stories, and the southern portion will rise to just four. Parking will be provided in both a ground-floor garage and an open lot behind the building. Four units in the development will be available to very-low income residents, and the project will put $240,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. … Continue reading »

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Transportation

A trolley trip in Berkeley in 1906

Screen shot 2011-05-23 at 3.36.10 PM
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Check out this three-minute video of a streetcar making its way north on Oxford and east on Hearst shot in 1906. The streets are rudimentary, (in fact Hearst east of Euclid is still a hill, not a street,) there’s not a lot of housing, (except you can see the chancellor’s white house in the segment showing Hearst) and people don’t seem to be in a hurry.

The best part of the video comes towards the end, when the conductors … Continue reading »

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