OAKLAND -- Last-minute discussions have forged a compromise between Safeway and local residents on the contested supermarket expansion on College Avenue in Rockridge. The announcement came just hours before the Oakland City Council was set to vote Tuesday night on an appeal that would have blocked the project.
After vocal protest from neighborhood organizations, the appeal was withdrawn following negotiations headed by the area's outgoing councilmember, Jane Brunner. Instead, the council meeting was used to introduce the compromise plan.
"Thanks to Jane Brunner for being a great mediator. The results are stupendous," said Stuart Flashman.
Flashman, who spoke at the Tuesday night meeting, is a board member of the Rockridge Community Planning Council, one of the groups that appealed the Safeway project.
According to the Rockridge Community Planning Council, details of the settlement include reducing the size of the project by 8,000 square feet from the planned 50,400 square feet. The current store is 24,000 and was built in the 1960s. Instead of a planned second-story store, the supermarket will be moved to ground level with parking on top. A pedestrian area will also be created east of 63rd Street between College and Claremont avenues. Safeway will also pay for residential parking permits for residents who live within a surrounding two-block area.
Before the compromise, the project was approved by the city's planning commission despite much opposition from neighbors based on concerns about traffic, noise pollution and an adverse affect on the small merchants that are characteristic of that stretch of College Avenue. It was then formally appealed by the Rockridge Community Planning Council and Berkeleyans for Pedestrian-Oriented Development.
"The design was too big and was going to overwhelm College Avenue. We were concerned with how a second story would impact street-level shopping," Flashman said.
The appeal was supported by vocal group Friends and Neighbors of College Avenue, which also approved the compromise deal.
Once the settlement is finalized, the City Council will vote on the revised project Dec. 18.
Correspondent Maggie Sharpe contributed to this article.