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Planners to Tour Potential West Berkeley Car Sales Sites, By: Richard Brenneman

Friday January 06, 2006

Planning commissioners will take a West Berkeley tour Saturday morning, looking at sites close to the freeway that could house car dealerships. 

The tour is the first step in Mayor Tom Bates’s proposal to open up former manufacturing and industrial sites for auto sales—a major source of sales tax revenues for a cash-hungry city. 

With dealerships eager to move from downtown to sites where they can draw freeway traffic, Bates has said he wants to give them the opening. But dealerships are currently barred from most of West Berkeley by zoning ordinances and a plan that reserves much of the area for industry and manufacturing. 

To pave the way for dealerships, the Planning Commission would have to draw up and pass amendments to the West Berkeley Plan and the accompanying zoning regulations—hence the tour as the first step. 

The day is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. when participants—including interested members of the public—will gather at McKevitt Volvo-Nissan at 2700 Shattuck Ave., where participants will hear a presentation by city staff, followed by a tour of the dealership. 

The first phase of the tour will cover manufacturing and light industrial-zoned sites (MU-LI) in the area from the Gilman Street corridor area to University Ave., followed by a walking tour of sites zoned solely for manufacturing. 

Then comes a driving tour of similarly zoned sites along the Interstate 80 frontage area and other sites between University and Ashby avenues and areas to the south. 

The tour will end with a brief gathering at Weatherford BMW’s Ashby Avenue facility, which will include a session for public comments. 

Planning commissioners will use the information gathered during the day to hold a public workshop on the issue during their meeting Wednesday, which begins at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 



The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will meet Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, with at least one controversial item on the agenda—the proposal to landmark the Bevatron building at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

The lab wants to tear down the venerable but ailing structure, which has outlived its scientific usefulness. During its heyday, the now-decommissioned particle accelerator inside yielded the data that led to a hefty bounty of Nobel Prizes for physics research that reshaped the way scientists look at the universe. 

While foes of the demolition say the structure’s rubble and the dust stirred up by deconstruction work could pose significant health risks to the public, lab officials insist that proper handling of the demolition will eliminate risks. 

Also on the agenda is a hearing on contested plans to revamp the rear of the landmarked former H.J. Heinz Company Plant at 2700 San Pablo Ave. The owner wants to replace the existing corrugated metal siding with stucco, but several commissioners expressed reservations during the LPC’s December meeting. 

Commissioners will also conduct their first hearing on a new landmarks application, which proposes to designate the Oaks Theater at 1601 Solano Ave. as either a landmark or a city structure of merit. 

The Planning Commission will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will meet Monday night at 7: 30 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center.