Public Comment

Once bitten, twice cautious:
Berkeley Bowl and Honda

Jane Kitchel
Friday February 10, 2017 - 11:31:00 AM

To Berkeley City Council Members,

It is sometimes said that we like Berkeley Bowl but don't like Honda. Please read my comments on this mischaracterization, and on the history of Berkeley Bowl at their original location.

I was at the neighborhood meeting on Derby Street in about 1976 when Glen Yasuda and Willie Ide came to tell us about their vision for a marketplace that would sell fresh produce, fresh fish, and meat and cheese that would be cut and weighed to order.

It sounded wonderful to us, as what we had then was cellophane-wrapped Safeway.

None of us, not even Glenn, anticipated that Berkeley Bowl would be so popular and successful. Jack, who owned the meat and cheese counter, told me that never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that he would make so much money.  


The traffic started out small and manageable in terms of both customers and deliveries. But as Berkeley Bowl grew so did the detriments to the neighborhood, not limited to huge, noisy semi trucks, with motors running, double parked, unloading on Ward St beginning very early in the morning; unlicensed fork lifts crossing Ward St and obstructing traffic all day long; traffic snarls at the single lane entrance to the Ward St. parking lot; and a lot of parked cars getting hit by drivers going in and out of the lot. Some of my neighbors had their cars crashed into more than once. 

So we worked with Glenn Yasuda to reduce the detriments to our lives. Glenn agreed to comply with city code and have all deliveries made on Shattuck. A neighbor helped design a new entry door on Shattuck next to the Kirala building. Since there was no use permit allowing commercial entries on Ward, the Ward Street parking lot was closed except for employee and business vehicles. Neighbors withdrew their opposition to the Bowl's expansion onto the Shattuck side walk, and agreed that Kirala could build a handicapped ramp onto Ward Street. These terms were spelled out in a signed mediation agreement. 

And the condition that the Ward St. parking lot would be closed except for employees and company vehicles carried over to the lease with Any Mountain.  

When the Safeway site on Oregon became available, we eagerly worked to help Berkeley Bowl move. We loved the Bowl, and wanted to see it stay in our neighborhood in a better location. 

To characterize our concerns with traffic and safety about Honda as "they liked Berkeley Bowl, they don't like Honda," is to mischaracterize the situation. We are acutely aware of the massive traffic and safety problems that developed during the years of Berkeley Bowl's occupancy, and the dangerous traffic and safety issues that a left-turn into Honda would bring.  

"Once burned, twice cautious" might be more like it.