Public Hearing Extended for Telegraph Business Changes

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday January 26, 2007

The Berkeley Planning Commission agreed to continue through February the public hearing for zoning changes on Telegraph Avenue designed to help businesses on the strip which has experienced an economic downturn according to the city. 

The proposed zoning amendments would extend hours of operation from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and midnight Sunday through Thursday for businesses that don’t sell alcohol. The hours can be extended with a permit.  

For businesses that do sell alcohol, the hours of operation would be extended from 10 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. A permit would be required to extend these hours further. The by-right hours for other evenings would remain 10 p.m. 

The amendments would also make it easier for new businesses to open on the avenue and ease requirements to change the use and size of the business space. 

The board unanimously passed a motion to continue the public hearing to Feb. 28 because residents of Le Conte and Willard neighborhoods had not received notice of Wednesday’s hearing. 

Roland Peterson, director of the Telegraph Improvement Business District, told the board that Telegraph Avenue merchants supported the proposed zoning changes. 

“The Telegraph shopping district has suffered a steady, slow, long-term decline in business that results in loss of revenue to the city and business vitality for all merchants here,” Peterson said, adding that it could be very difficult for prospective merchants to open a business in the Telegraph district. 

“For example, it required 88 letters from nearby neighbors to persuade the Zoning Adjustments Board to approve a popular Peet’s store at Dwight Way and Telegraph Avenue,” he said. “This was necessary because of the antiquated quotas that restrict the numbers of certain types of business. Most entrepreneurs will not endeavor to overturn quota restrictions or wait for months for a permit to be approved because of arcane restrictions.” 

Robia S. Chang, a representative of Munger Properties—owner of the Granada Building on Bancroft and Telegraph—told the commission that Munger Properties supported the proposed amendments to the extent that they made starting a new business easier on Telegraph Avenue. 

Chang added that Munger did not support the extended hours of operation for businesses because it would lead to noise and safety issues for area residents. 


Other matters 

The board approved the Tentative Tract Map for a 16-unit condominium project at 2628 Telegraph Ave. The building is currently under construction.  

The board asked staff to come back with the Zoning Ordinance amendments clarifying roles and limiting appeal of final design review action.