OAKLAND -- The Oakland City Council will vote Tuesday on a new, and most likely final, plan for a new Safeway on College Avenue in Rockridge. The new plan is the result of a last-minute compromise between the supermarket chain and neighborhood groups that had opposed the expansion.
A council "yes" vote would bring an end to years of wrangling over the scale and design of the controversial project.
"Overall, I think personally -- and I think our board feels -- pretty good about the compromise," said Stuart Flashman, board member of the Rockridge Community Planning Council, one of the neighborhood groups.
The surprise compromise was brokered by outgoing Councilmember Jane Brunner on Nov. 8, the same day the City Council was set to vote on whether to support an appeal against the project. The vote was postponed after representatives from both sides spent 13 hours hammering out a consensus that Safeway can use to redraft its plans. "These are our guiding principles," said Elisabeth Jewel, a media and community consultant for Safeway on the project.
The biggest change is that the supermarket itself will be moved to the ground floor, with parking on the roof, instead of the original plan of street level parking and a store on the second floor.
"It makes it more integrated into College Avenue," Flashman said.
A retail space of around 9,500 square feet will be leased out as small shops, and Safeway has agreed that no more than 40 percent of the retail space can be leased to national chains, in order to preserve the small-business atmosphere of the street.
A pedestrian "street" roughly 35 feet across will open from 63rd Street to Claremont Avenue, creating a plaza where the supermarket's main entrance and exit will be and keeping to some extent the view of the hills from College Avenue.
"It's going to be a much more functional area," Flashman said.
The store will be 45,500 square feet instead of the planned 51,500 square feet, and the loading dock will be covered instead of open. Safeway officials also agreed to make sure there is enough parking, assuaging locals' fears that residential streets will fill up with Safeway's customers or employees. Also, Safeway will pay for residents' parking permits for several streets in the area. Because Safeway is still meeting with neighborhood groups, details of the final plans are still being worked out and will probably not be released until the day before the council vote.
"We have to stop drawing at some point," Jewel said.
Flashman said that, like any compromise, neither side won all it wanted, but he expects little opposition at the City Council meeting. And he said he is happy, if surprised, that so much progress has been made.
"It's a heck of a lot better than it was," he said.
Correspondent Lucinda Ryan contributed to this article.