Zoning Board Denies Expansion of South Berkeley Police Substation

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday November 14, 2006

The Zoning Adjustments Board denied the expansion of the South Berkeley Police Substation for employee lockers and vehicle storage on Thursday. 

The proposed expansion on 3192 Adeline St.—which had first been heard by ZAB on August 10, 2006—had been the subject of a long battle between the neighbors and the Berkeley Police Department. 

Some residents on the Adeline Corridor protested the project and wanted the property to be put to commercial use. 

Police Chief Doug Hambleton told the board that the BPD had met with neighbors on several occasions and had been able to come to an agreement on the facade design. 

“Although we met with opposition from certain neighbors, we need to have an increased space for the betterment of the city,” he said. “Our long-term goal is to stay in the neighborhood. If we don’t get the space, we will be required to look for another place.” 

Property owner Huck Rorick told the board that it was not feasible to put the space to commercial use at the moment. 

“If the police department is not able to extend into the space, then we are looking at an extended vacancy,” he said.  

ZAB member Bob Allen said that neighbors had expressed a lack of faith in the Police Department and had complained about the absence of police presence in the area despite the substation. 

“This use has not been a good neighbor,” he said. 

“We don’t have an officer in the building for the purpose of serving someone who walks into the front door,” Humbleton said. “That would be good but not cost-effective.” 

Board member Dean Metzger said that if the substation could not make police presence visible in the area, then it would not be of any help to neighbors.  

Sam Dyke, owner of People’s Bazaar on Adeline Street, said that the project would not add economic viability to the area. 

“Granted we need the BPD, but not in that location,” he said. “This is the main corridor, the gateway to South Berkeley. We need businesses there that will attract foot traffic.” 

Board member Jesse Anthony commented that the substation did not contribute in any way to the community and was instead a place to store junk. 

Board member Jesse Arreguin said that he would have been more compelled to support the project if there had been beat officers stationed there.  

“From what I hear, it doesn’t really address the safety issues,” he said. “The Adeline Corridor needs help. Economic development is what we need to focus on.” 

Board member Allen made the motion to deny the use permit, which was seconded by board member Anthony. The denial could be appealed to the City Council. 


Hummingbird Cafe 

ZAB continued the hearing for a carry-out food service store (no seating) in an existing commercial space at 1842 Euclid Ave. with no off-street parking to Nov. 27. 

The board asked staff to come back with more information to consider the use permit for the Hummingbird Cafe. 

Opponents of the cafe asked the board to deny the permit citing oversaturation of restaurants on Euclid Avenue. Jamal Fares, the applicant and owner of Hummingbird Cafe, said that competition was healthy and that his business was in demand. 

Rena Rickles, attorney for Fares, told the board that the cafe would not take customer orders and it would be limited to carry-out only. 

“All the food served there would be cold,” she said. “Some of it may be prepared in the backroom. Customers will be able to make their own smoothies, but the main purpose is to make it a quick-service store.”