City council to discuss fate of vacant Telegraph lot

Levy Yun/Staff
The City Council voted Tuesday to foreclose on the lot on the corner of Haste Street and Telegraph Avenue.

In a special closed meeting of the Berkeley City Council Tuesday evening, the city will discuss the possibility of seeking legal action against the owner of a Southside lot that has been vacant for 20 years.

The council will meet with legal council at tonight’s meeting to decide whether or not to foreclose on a longstanding lien with Ken Sarachan, who owns Rasputin Music and Blondie’s Pizza as well as the vacant lot at 2501 Haste St., at the corner of Telegraph Avenue.

The lot — which is both unseemly and insanitary due to the rats that have been known to call it home — has been empty for over 20 years, since the demolition of the Berkeley Inn that used to stand there.

Sarachan bought the lot in 1994, assuming the liens acquired when the city was forced to demolish the building on the property. In 2006, he offered plans for an elaborate building proposal but never submitted a complete application.

“I’ve received more complaints about this lot than all the student parties in city,” said city councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes the lot. “This is the single worst property on Telegraph.”

According to Worthington, the city has been trying to develop the lot for many years. One option they are considering is to foreclose on the lien for the property, which he says is nearing $500,000. Worthington hopes this kind of incentive would encourage Sarachan to submit a complete application to the city so that they can move forward.

Although the city would like to see a plan for affordable housing, the ultimate goal is to improve the cleanliness and appearance of the location.

“This is long overdue,” Worthington said. “My dream is to see affordable housing or student housing built, or both, but whatever we can get would be an improvement on the current situation.”

Adelyn Baxter covers city government.