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BERKELEY, Calif. -- The proposed building of a second Berkeley Bowl supermarket, an area landmark famous for its wide and unusual assortment, has unexpectedly hit a snag: a charge by local critics that owner Glenn Yasuda's plans to create a "superstore" that will flood the neighborhood with traffic from Interstate 80.
Yasuda has countered that he needs to ease congestion at his existing store, which is often packed with shoppers from all over the Bay Area. The proposed new store would be called Berkeley Bowl West. A public hearing on his proposal was to be held yesterday before the city planning commission.
Yasuda plans to build a 51,000-square-foot store, as well as 29,000 square feet of warehouse space to serve both stores and 4,120 square feet of office space on a second floor. An additional, smaller building would contain a 3,670-square-foot area providing takeout food and limited seating, and upstairs a 3,400-square-foot space for company and public functions. Currently space at the existing Berkeley Bowl is at such a premium that products are frequently stored in the parking lot, worsening customers' already considerable parking problems.
The fight is attracting a lot of local press coverage. "Leave it to Berkeley to attack its own good fortune for having this place," architect Kava Massih, who designed the proposed second store, told the San Francisco Chronicle, adding that the existing market was so esteemed that local people often bring out-of-town guests to see it.
As the proposal goes against the city's general plan and the West Berkeley plan, both of which require light industrial and manufacturing in the area, it would need a general plan amendment and rezoning of its site before it can proceed. Opponents of the second store claim that the project was "fast-tracked" without community approval, a charge denied by city planning director Dan Marks.