ZAB Hears Sacramento St. Drug Problem Reports

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday April 24, 2007

The Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) is scheduled to hear a nuisance proceeding Thursday. 

The City of Berkeley Code Enforcement Division has requested ZAB to hold a public hearing to consider recommending to the City Council that the property at 2973 Sacramento St. be declared a public nuisance because of alleged drug activity at the location. The discount store which operates on the site is called B-Town. The property is owned by the Chul J. Kim family and is managed by the son, Joo H. Kim, a San Francisco police officer, and is leased to Nayef Ayesh, the owner and operator of B-Town, according to the Zoning Adjustments Board staff report. 

The report states that the Berkeley Police Department had originally pursued the nuisance designation in 2004 with the incorrect belief that the a discretionary permit was required and had not been obtained for the retail use. However, the Planning Department has since concluded that this was not the case, so the report now recommends that the City Council order abatement by termination of use.  

The report provides a detailed summary of information from the Berkeley Police Department regarding drug activity in and around B-Town from 2003 through February 21 of this year. Police allege that drug dealers were hanging out in front of the building and using it as a place to carry out drug transactions. After a series of discussions with the owners in 2004, the report says that the problem momentarily stopped, but that it began again in 2005 and has been going on ever since. 

In March, the City Council passed a resolution which stated that ZAB would act only as an advisory board to the council in nuisance cases. The ZAB now can recommend the case to the City Council and the council will decide how to abate the nuisance. 


New hearings 

• MG Pacific, Inc. will request the modification of a use permit to change the use of an approved restaurant addition from a waiting area to a reception/cocktail lounge at Chester’s Bayview Cafe at 1508 Walnut St. 

• Robert Gaustad of San Rafael will request a use permit to add wine and beer service and live entertainment to Bobby G’s at 2072 University Ave.  

• Chris Worthen, a Berkeley resident, will request a use permit to add windows, skylights and a door to an existing house, to replace the foundation, and to raise the building 2.5 ft., from 18.25 ft. in average height to 22.75 ft., in order to create a habitable basement level with a garage on a parcel that is non-conforming for minimum front and side yard setbacks, minimum building separation, maximum residential density and lot coverage at 1740 Addison St. 

• Peter David Gilbert of Oakland will request a use permit to construct a single-family dwelling and accessory dwelling unit with an average height of 37.75 feet, 3,546 square feet of floor area and two parking spaces on a vacant lot of 6,717 square feet at 482 Michigan Ave. 


Consent items 

• Peter David Gilbert of Oakland will request a use permit to correct discrepancies in the approved plans for a single-family dwelling on a vacant lot, and to conform to arborist recommendations for redwood trees along the south property line at 122 Avenida Dr. 

• Adeline Studios of Emeryville will request a use permit to modify the plan approved by a earlier use permit to replace a proposed entry lobby with two off-street parking spaces at 2750 Adeline St. Off-street parking spaces would occupy the former loading area. 

• Affordable Housing Associates of Berkeley will request a use permit to modify the plan approved by an earlier permit to remove four projecting bays on the south elevation, to vary open space dimensions and to replace the paving of the plaza along Ashby Avenue with asphalt at 1001 Ashby Ave.