City Council to vote on program to let Telegraph businesses expand to sidewalk

A street vendor works his stall on Telegraph Avenue.
Michael Gethers/Staff
A street vendor works his stall on Telegraph Avenue.

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Telegraph Avenue’s street vendors may soon see a little more competition.

Berkeley City Council will vote at its meeting Tuesday on whether or not to implement the Telegraph Pilot Program. Proposed by Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the program deals exclusively with store owners who wish to establish a street presence with a display and merchandising outside their storefronts. This is something store owners are currently not allowed to do, according to Worthington.

The item takes inspiration from a law already in place in San Francisco. The San Francisco law requires permits and city oversight on businesses expanding their operations to the sidewalks. Officially called the Sidewalk Display of Merchandise Pilot Program on Telegraph, the item lists out a number of regulations governing street displays and merchandising — ranging from display height to the size of awnings.

“We’ve had some businesses express an interest in being able to set up tables in front of their stores with some of the same things they have inside of their stores to sort of add to the vitality of the street,” Worthington said. “I think that sort of contributes to the feeling of positive things happening and certainly gives the store the chance to give out a high visibility.”

The Telegraph Pilot Program, however, will be limited specifically to Telegraph Avenue and is essentially a test run to see if the program can be expanded into citywide policy, Worthington said.

If the pilot program proves to be successful during its time on Telegraph, the city will most likely work on expanding this for all businesses in the city if there is strong interest from other parts of the city, Worthington added.

“(Sidewalk vending) is one of the things that makes Telegraph unique,” said Craig Becker, president of the Telegraph Business Improvement District and the owner of Caffe Mediterraneum. “That’s just something to expand on.”

If passed on Tuesday, the item will go to the city manager and the Berkeley Planning Commission for consideration on how it would be implemented, according to the report.

The city manager may either implement the program, if deemed feasible, or more likely return to the council in a few months with a recommendation on the implementation, Worthington added.

Twig, a street vendor who currently sells T-shirts and hair accessories at the intersection of Telegraph and Durant avenues, welcomed the idea, saying it would always help to create a more vibrant atmosphere in the area.

“The more the merrier,” Twig said. “We need more people out here to make it more vibrant.”

Jaehak Yu covers city government.

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  • crusty

    A very novel way to move sidewalk vendors out of the way.Proposals from or endorsed by tbid ought to be looked at skeptically and accepted withcaution.