Safeway submits application, but “concerned neighbors” are not so happy about it

7 May

I had hoped to have a post up about the Oakland Airport Connector this morning, but I spent too long reading TransForm’s brand new report on the subject and didn’t have any time to write. Check back tomorrow though because I’ll have a lengthy post up about it.

For now though, a brief update on Safeway. Today, their consultant, Elisabeth Jewel, sent out a brief update about the College Avenue store:

Yesterday, Safeway submitted its development application to the City of Oakland.  The application reflects two years of work by the Safeway team along with countless citizens who offered their ideas and opinions.  The current proposed development designed by architect Ken Lowney is vastly different from where we started two years ago.  After 20 hours of community meetings, hundreds of emails and many phone calls, the design evolved in large measure due to community input.  While some people don’t feel comfortable with the proposed size, others appreciate that what we are proposing delivers unique retail and public spaces and revitalizes the current intersection to one of activity and excitement.

The city’s process from here is long and multi-faceted.  There will be noise studies, traffic studies, environmental review, and zoning conformance checks.  There will be many meetings between city departments such as traffic, engineering, planning, and zoning.  After these issues have been studied to the satisfaction of the Planning Department, the Planning Commission will call for public hearings.

I’m so glad to hear that they’ve finally submitted their application, and I’m mostly pleased with their plan.

But not everyone is so pleased. A friend forwarded me a link to the Concerned Neighbors of College Avenue Safeway blog, where the writers and readers are, uh, not so happy.

Their most recent post asks for comments on the new plan. I highly recommend heading over there to check them out and add your comments, but here are some of the highlights:

  • I choose to live in Rockridge, not Walnut Creek.
  • Since we’re neighbors, let’s be friends? Remember that jingle. Well, it apparently it is only true if you see eye-to-eye with Safeway.
  • Bike racks can’t mitigate traffic (and air & noise pollution) for a massive grocery store and up to 12 chain-type retail stores on this small stretch of College Avenue. It’s a mall, designed as a big-box shopping destination . . . which means multiple shopping bags & cars, cars, and more cars.
  • Safeway is ignoring the character of this neighborhood, as well it’s geography. As everyone learns in kindergarten, one can’t squeeze a large rectangle into a small triangle without breaking one or the other. Same goes for neighborhoods.

Looks like the Planning Commission meetings on this proposal are going to be interesting.

2 Responses to “Safeway submits application, but “concerned neighbors” are not so happy about it”

  1. VivekB May 8, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    Alas, too bad there isn’t a site for “Unconcerned, rather Excited Neighbors”. That current building is an eyesore, and the new plans look great.

  2. JHorner May 11, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    Vivek:
    You should post your comments there. I did, and they are definitely off-the-beaten narrative over there. I favor the project and am particularly frustrated by the masquerading of design opposition under the veil of “protecting local economies.” For me, it’s a big deal that Safeway’s a union shop, for one.

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