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Black & White Liquor Battle Erupts Again at ZAB By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday February 14, 2006

The battle over Black & White Liquors took a new turn Thursday when the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) voted to reject a proposed settlement imposing new hours and conditions on the store. 

Acting in response to complaints of neighbors who charged that the store was bringing badly behaved drunks into the streets and onto their porches, ZAB had signaled its intent to declare 3027 Adeline St. a public nuisance in December, then pulled in its horns last month when owner Sucha Singh Banger indicated a willingness to compromise. 

On a 5-4 vote Jan. 26, the board voted to allow the owner to negotiate a zoning certificate that would impose conditions on the business but not carry the stigma of a public nuisance declaration. 

But the terms Banger and attorney Rick Warren offered didn’t please the board, which voted unanimously to reject them. 

The key sticking point was setting time limits for Banger to sell off his remaining inventory of fortified beer and wine and single bottles of malt liquor. 

Deputy City Attorney Zac Cowan, who met with Banger, Warren and city inspector Greg Daniel, said that the store had installed a digital camera to monitor activity at the store, and that Berkeley police had approved the installation—one of the terms ZAB had insisted on. 

While Banger had agreed to stop selling liquor in smaller amounts than 200 milliliters—just less than a half-pint—he insisted on being allowed to sell off his remaining stock of smaller bottles until May 12. During the ZAB meeting, he agreed to reduce the time until April 15, which was still too long for the board. 

“I would feel better if everything was sold off by March 21,” said member Chris Tiedemann. 

Member Bob Allen said that he would consider moving to turn back the agreed-on store closing hours from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m., a time neighbors had requested. 

“We would not agree to 10 p.m. We made that clear before,” said Warren. “We voluntarily agreed to 11 p.m. for six months to demonstrate that we are not a problem and then we will apply for midnight every day.”  

In the end, the board voted to reject the proposed settlement and give Banger another month to negotiate something that would satisfy the board. 


More on Adeline 

Everything on ZAB’s agenda carried an Adeline Street address. 

ZAB members also voted unanimously to allow Spud’s Pizza to serve beer and wine with their pies, to permit unamplified live music at the 3290 Adeline St. establishment and to void a provision of the use permit that would have required a dozen parking spaces, allowing five instead. 

The pizza parlor, which the city helped finance with a $90,000 loan from the South Berkeley Revolving Loan Fund, had been unable to open for almost a year because of the parking requirements. 

A change in the city zoning ordinance, which Principal Planner Debbie Sanderson dubbed “the Spuds Memorial Parking Amendment” eased the requirements, and Thursday’s vote brings the establishment in line with the new code section. 

“We have had more support of this application than any other I can remember,” said Sanderson. “My email has melted.” 

The board was happy to approve the changes. 

The board also OKed a new Verizon cell phone repeater at the Phillips Temple CME Church at 3332 Adeline St. 

Neighbors had protested the installation because they said that generators and cooling equipment for repeaters from two other companies at the building caused objectionable noise levels. 

Verizon agreed to built a sound wall and is not installing a generator, a sore point with member David Blake, who said he believes that repeaters should have generators in case power is disrupted by an earthquake—enabling cell phone users to make emergency calls. 

Blake cast the lone dissenting vote, though colleague Carrie Sprague abstained. 



In their final business of the night, members voted by acclamation to elect Tiedemann as their new chair. A motion to elect Raudell Wilson as vice-chair was continued until the board’s next meeting.›