Berkeley step closer to limiting number of large drugstores

Walgreens. Photo: Luke Chan
Walgreens objects to regulations that would put limits to the distance between large drugstores in Berkeley. Photo: Luke Chan

Berkeley City Council last night adopted a first reading of regulations that will limit the number of large drugstores from opening in certain areas of the city.

The law, which prohibits the location of drugstores over 5,000 square feet from locating within 1,000 linear feet of each other in some commercial districts — including the Elmwood, Solano Avenue, and North Shattuck — would prevent a controversial new Walgreens from being built at 1830 Solano Ave., currently the site of a 76 gas station.

The Council was essentially approving the zoning change recommendation made by the city’s Planning Commission in March. The ordinance will likely be passed after a second hearing at the July 1 council meeting.

Opposition to Walgreens opening on Solano Avenue has been vocal, mobilized in a “No on Walgreens” campaign, driven by residents in the Solano Avenue area. There are two pharmacies within 1,000 feet of 1830 Solano — Sal’s Pharmacy at 1831 Solano, and Pharmaca at number 1744. Andronico’s at 1850 is also close by.


In a letter submitted to the Council, Andrew Sabey an attorney representing Walgreens, called the regulation “anti-competitive” and a “protectionist action.” Sabey had previously threatened that the drugstore chain might sue the city, arguing that “courts strike down ordinances designed to protect local economic interests and burden out-of-state competitors.”

Calls to Sabey had not been returned at press time.

For full details on the regulation, and its progress through city government, read Berkeleyside’s previous coverage:

Potential Walgreens lawsuit brews as Berkeley officials tackle new drugstore ordinance (06.05.14)
Berkeley to consider redistricting of large drugstores (03.17.14)
Opponents of proposed Walgreens hope for zoning change (01.15.14)
Walgreens’ Berkeley store plan inches divisively along (12.09.13)
Testy response to proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue (10.28.13)
Bates: City needs another grocery store, not pharmacy (12.14.11)
Will pharmacy war lead to new restrictions in Berkeley? (04.18.11)

This story was amended on June 19 to include details of where the ordinance will apply in Berkeley.

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