The Editor's Back Fence
As expected, Oakland's Planning Commission, which unlike Berkeley's Planning Commission has the power to approve projects, approved Safeway's planned expansion of its neighborhood-serving supermarket at the corner of College and Claremont into a much larger mini-mall with added retail storefronts and a parking garage. Almost all speakers at the hearing were opposed to the project, but it was clear to observers that the deal had already gone down. The fact that the planned structure does not conform to Oakland's just-completed zoning plan for the area was not even discussed by the Commission.
Opponents plan to appeal the Planning Commission's decision to the Oakland City Council. If the Oakland Council denies the appeal, a lawsuit under the California Environmental Quality Act challenging the Environment Impact Report which accompanied the approval is the most likely next step.
The Berkeley City Council has overwhelmingly disapproved of Safeway's plans until now. The company has already offered to pay for some traffic light changes on Alcatraz, College and Claremont in an attempt to mitigate the negative impacts on Berkeley. If Berkeley concludes that the mitigations are inadequate, its next recourse would be to initiate or join the EEQA lawsuit.