Marine Office OK, Says Manager

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday October 23, 2007

Does the Marine Recruiting Center in downtown Berkeley have a proper use permit? 

That question was raised by Councilmember Dona Spring two weeks ago at a City Council meeting. City Manager Phil Kamlarz responded Monday in a brief memo, stating that the former use was a photo shop, considered an “office use,” just like the present use. Therefore, only an over-the-counter permit was required. 

On June 6, said the memo, the Planning Department approved an over-the-counter permit for an “officer selection office.” 

In a phone interview Monday, Spring argued that the city should have the right to regulate recruiting downtown, just as it can regulate where to allow massage parlors and medical marijuana outlets. 

“Downtown isn’t an appropriate area for this type of service,” she said, noting that it doesn’t support the mix of retail businesses there.  

Kamlarz, however, said that the council “may not regulate land uses based on the identity of the applicant or the applicant’s viewpoint with respect to matters of public interest.” 

He goes on to write: “In addition, any prohibition of recruiting offices could be subject to challenge under the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution.”  

Kamlarz noted that, similarly, high school campuses must allow access to military recruiters.