Le Conte Neighbors Fume Over Storage Facility Construction

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday June 23, 2006

Le Conte neighborhood residents have raised several concerns to the city of Berkeley about the storage facility on 2721 Shattuck Ave. They claim that since developer Patrick Kennedy bought the property in January the building has been undergoing construction non-stop without adequate permits.  

According to Jim Hultman, a neighborhood resident, neighbors have turned in nine requests for service since January with no response from the city. 

“I have hand-delivered three myself,” said Hultman. “In April permits were finally taken out for the installation of a new elevator. However, the work being done goes way beyond elevator work, sometimes beginning as early as 6:30 a.m.” 

Jim Hynes, assistant to the city manager, said that although there were discrepancies on the file about the permits, the application was under review at the moment. 

“Only after this has been reviewed can we comment on the case,” he said. “However, it is my understanding that the construction is going on at the site with all the proper permits.” 

Kennedy did not return calls for comment. 

Neighbors have also complained about storage lockers being installed in the loading area where vehicles are supposed to be able to pull into the building to offload on the Ward Street side. 

“Additionally, the required ‘no offloading vehicles’ sign on the outside of the building has been removed,” Hultman said. “Keep in mind that offloading of vehicles is clearly prohibited under Section 23E.32.010 Off-street Loading Spaces C, F. They have been noticed in the past that no vehicles may offload on Ward Street. Instead, vehicles must pull entirely inside the building to offload. If unable to do so they are supposed to use the Shattuck Avenue lot.” 

A resident who has lived on Ward Street for more than 20 years but did not want to be named said that the neighbors wanted the facility to stop ignoring the zoning laws. 

“We do not want the streets, sidewalks, or entrances blocked because of the trucks offloading or being parked in the area,” the resident said. “We don’t want them to sell parking space—it’s really surprising to see that the last two parking spaces the storage facility had in the Shattuck Avenue lot are now painted City Carshare vehicles only.” 

The resident said “City Carshare is a great program, but we are furious that neighbors were not contacted, just like the time when the previous owners began renting Ryder Trucks, which we put a stop to. There should be some kind of an input from the residents about what can be done in the neighborhood, but instead we continue to be ignored.” 

Neighbors also oppose the construction of 18 cellphone towers on the same property. Karl Reeh, president of the Le Conte Neighborhood Association, told The Planet that the association had recently sent a letter to the city council to stop this construction. 

“We feel the decision where [the city] did not allow antennas on Gilman Street also applies to us,” Reeh said. “We think we should have been notified before they started construction on the towers a month ago. It is really inappropriate to start building even before the appeal has been passed.”