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 city of Berkeley will have a new tool to halt the proliferation of large drugstores around town if a law to create buffer zones between them is approved by officials later this month.
Regulation to limit the number of large drugstores in Berkeley was approved by the city’s Planning Commission on Wednesday night, sending the proposed zoning change to the City Council for a final decision.
Berkeley is set to consider whether to limit the number of larger drugstores in the city, at least in certain neighborhoods, which may put a halt to disputed plans by Walgreens to open a new store on upper Solano Avenue.
UPDATE, 01.17.14: About 50 people showed up to the Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday and about half of them expressed their concerns about the proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue. The commission discussed the issues but did not reach any conclusions. It asked Berkeley senior planner Alex Amoroso to come back to the commission having done further research. In particular, the commission wants direction of the definition of the word ‘drugstore,’ and questioned whether stores like Walgreens can be classified as department stores. It has not been decided when the issue will come back to the commission.
A rumor circulating among those following the path of a proposed Walgreens on upper Solano Avenue that Berkeley architect Charles Kahn is no longer with the project is true. But extrapolations that this means efforts to build the store are in trouble are far from accurate, Khan said.
A proposed Walgreens on upper Solano Avenue is meeting feisty resistance from neighbors, even before the developer has started the city’s official permit process for the project.
Construction workers have been spotted on Telegraph Avenue in the former Andronico’s location north of Derby Street, which is set to feature a CVS store and pharmacy in the 26,455-square-foot space.
City officials are lobbying the owners of the soon-to-be-vacated Andronico’s on Telegraph to rent the building to another grocery chain rather than a pharmacy.
Plans to rebuild the Safeway store on College and Claremont on the Oakland-Berkeley border have been on the drawing board for more than two years. In fact, the store has put a number of different proposals in front of the city of Oakland and local residents. And, while the latest design, by Lowney Architecture, has met with broad approval, the scale of the project and its impact on local traffic are still stumbling blocks to development.
Chimes Pharmacy, one of the last remaining independent pharmacies in Berkeley, will be turned into a Safeway Pharmacy on July 23.
[This story was updated on 4/19/11.]