CREAM appeals opening of Dream ice cream shop

Mary Zheng/Staff

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Berkeley City Council accepted a zoning appeal Tuesday night in a vote of 8-1, stalling a plan to develop a new takeout ice cream shop on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Channing Way directly across from CREAM.

The plan, proposed by Ken Sarachan, owner of Rasputin Music, would allow an ice cream restaurant named Dream to open inside his record store. The new shop was approved in September by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board and will include a takeout window that opens to Channing Way.

Gus Shamieh, manager of CREAM, an ice cream and cookie store, appealed the decision in February, saying increased traffic generated by the store would limit access for the disabled on Channing Way and negatively impact ongoing economic improvement on Telegraph Avenue.

“Takeout windows where people wait for and pick up orders will create congregation,” Shamieh said. “There is already a lot of structures that hinder ADA accessibility. We believe this could create a potentially hazardous situation for (disabled individuals). It is also a red zone and bicycle zone.”

About 15 CREAM employees attended the council meeting to voice concerns about the proposed development. Some, including Sarachan and the intended ice cream supplier for Dream, argued for the continuation of the plans.

At the meeting, Sarachan said his ice cream shop would not represent unfair competition. The record business was ailing, and he needed alternatives like ice cream to stay in business, he said.

Citing the need for more public comment, council members resolved to discuss the issue further at a public hearing in the near future but did not set a date.

Shamieh said the appeal is not about ice cream store competition but about how Dream would affect all of Telegraph Avenue. The special advantage of a takeout window could create more empty storefronts by drawing fewer customers to other dessert stores in the area, he said.

The Zoning Adjustments Board, however, found no substantial evidence in September that such traffic issues would occur or that Dream would affect other businesses.

“They had voiced their concerns about traffic and the fact that (Dream) was a dessert store,” said Claudine Asbagh, the city’s assistant planner, about the Zoning Adjustments Board meeting in September. “The zoning ordinance is regulated by category, not by the type of food that is served.”

At the council meeting, council members said the similarity between the names, Dream and CREAM, was “provocative” and questioned why Sarachan was not building the ice cream shop in one of his vacant properties in the area.

“It is a very confrontational place,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “If it was in another place, there might not have been issues.”

Alyssa Neumann covers city government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @AlyNeumann.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the proposed ice cream shop would include a drive-thru window. In fact the proposed shop would include a takeout window.