Rendering of a new pedestrian walk-way, part of the proposal for a revamped College Ave Safeway which was approved by Oakland Planning Commission this week. Photo: Lowney Architecture

On Wednesday, the Oakland Planning Commission unanimously certified the final EIR and approved Safeway’s proposed plans for its College Avenue store which sits on the Oakland-Berkeley border.

A statement released by Aroner, Jewel & Ellis Partners, who have been retained by Safeway, said the grocery store was “heartened by the commission’s support and their comments in support of the design, the size and the community benefit our proposal would convey on Rockridge.”

The statement continued: “The commission did not agree with the opponent’s assertions that our project violated zoning, or that traffic was unmitigatable. They did not buy arguments that the store would negatively affect the small merchants across the street, or that the EIR was in any way inadequate.”

The Commission’s decision is likely to be appealed by opponents of the project, possibly before it goes before Oakland City Council for final approval.

Berkeley’s City Council has made its opposition to the project clear. At its July 17 meeting, councilmembers were unanimous in raising objections to the scale of the proposed store and its potential impact on local traffic and air pollution. About 20 members of the public most of whom live near the site of the store, at the intersection of College and Claremont, also voiced their concerns.

Berkeley is powerless to stop the project going ahead. It has been offered funds from Safeway to mitigate the impact on traffic of the larger store. So far it has not accepted the money for fear it would send a tacit message of approval.

For more information, read the city’s documentation on the proposed mitigation agreement with Safeway and Safeway’s College Avenue website.

Berkeley unites in opposing Safeway project [07.18.12]
Berkeley City Council to hold hearing on Safeway project [09.20.11]
Locals protest scale, traffic of proposed Rockridge Safeway [08.01.11]
Safeway buys Berkeley’s Chimes Pharmacy, to consolidate [07.12.11]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...