The vision of a more lively late-night commercial atmosphere on Telegraph Avenue to complement students’ and community members’ nontraditional workday is a dream that has been brewing since 2007.
In the last few months, that dream has built up steam, with more merchants latching onto the idea of transforming Telegraph into a 24-hour commercial zone, alongside the Telegraph Business Improvement District, which drafted a proposal last year that would extend businesses’ hours to 3 a.m.
Currently, businesses that want to operate beyond Berkeley’s by-right hours — allowing businesses that do not serve alcohol to stay open until 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, two hours later than establishments that do serve alcohol — can apply for an Administrative Use Permit or Use Permit.
Anna Vignet/Senior Staff
Readjusting these hours altogether would save businesses the trouble of applying for individual permits, a lengthy process that has discouraged businesses from seeking later closing times.
After reviewing a Berkeley City Council referral — based on the Telegraph district’s 3 a.m. proposal — at a Planning Commission meeting March 2, commissioners asked the city’s Planning & Development Department to draft a new report, which will restrict the proposal to establishments that do not sell alcoholic beverages and will be maintained between Bancroft and Dwight ways.
But Caffe Mediterraneum owner Craig Becker decided not to wait any longer.
About two weeks after the commission met, Becker individually applied for an administrative use permit that would allow the cafe to stay open 24 hours. However, since the permit was approved June 6, the cafe has not extended its hours beyond its current midnight closing time.
Once the city drafts the new report, a public hearing will likely take place, and then maybe after that, the 24/7 dream will finally become a reality.
Stephanie Baer is the city news editor.