The Editor's Back Fence

Follow the Money in West Berkeley Development

Friday July 18, 2014 - 10:53:00 AM

After last week’s story on the planned demolition of the Grocery Outlet store in West Berkeley, a reader forwarded the 2012 California Form 460 campaign expenditure reports filed by the “Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley for Measure 'T'”, the front organization for property owners trying to overturn the citizen-created West Berkeley Plan. It turns out that Read family members, who own the property where Grocery Outlet is located and hope to replace it with an apartment building, were the major contributors to that campaign, which was ultimately defeated by Berkeley voters. A grand total of $7,500, which is big money in a Berkeley initiative election, was attributed to Reads: $2,500 from Read Real Estate LLC and $5, 000 from Peter Read, Owner, Read Investments. The family seems to have been tired of the low-end grocery trade and ready to shift into presumably more lucrative property development for a while now. For Berkeley, that means the loss not only of affordable groceries but also of union jobs and sales tax revenue.