Dream ice cream shop across from CREAM approved by City Council

Mary Zheng/Staff

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Berkeley City Council approved the construction of an ice cream shop named Dream on Telegraph Avenue across from CREAM at its meeting Tuesday on the condition that a proposed takeout window would be removed from the plans, due to ADA accessibility and traffic concerns.

The Dream project was submitted by Rasputin Music owner Ken Sarachan and approved by the city’s Department of Planning and Development in September 2012. CREAM manager Gus Shamieh appealed the decision later that month to the Zoning Adjustments Board, citing concerns that a takeout window might generate harmful amounts of traffic.

The board affirmed the city’s approval of the project January, but in February, Shamieh appealed the board’s decision to the City Council.

“This is not an issue about competition,” Shamieh said. “This is an issue about safeguarding the right of ADA persons to freely and safely access the sidewalk. This is about protecting bicyclists and motorists from potentially hazardous situations.”

The proposed window would have looked out onto Channing Way, the sidewalk of which is narrowest at 8 feet and widest at 16 feet and 9 inches.

At the meeting, Councilmember Max Anderson raised concerns of space for balance- and sight-impaired people, and Councilmember Jesse Arreguin added that the takeout window would increase the incidence of double-parking and parking in the red curb parking zone.

However, most of the public comment from both sides of the appeal focused on concerns with competition and maintenance of small, local businesses pertinent to the cultural character of the city.

“We have a Dreyer’s and a Breyer’s,” said Councilmember Susan Wengraf in response to these comments. “They are both doing really well … CREAM has a niche market. It has a loyal following. It’s very popular, and other businesses deserve the same chance to make it.”

According to Sarachan, Rasputin recently had a 75 percent drop in sales. Sarachan also closed down some of his stores in other cities and believes Dream would boost sales. As an owner of an organic farm in Fairfield, Calif., Sarachan said he plans to start a line of more organic ice cream products that would offer a healthier alternative.

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli also argued that an additional ice cream store would reduce waiting time and actually increase the number of people coming to Telegraph Avenue. Councilmember Kriss Worthington argued, however, that the crowd around Dream may be located perpendicular to the street, as opposed to huddled against a wall like at CREAM, and cause more disturbance.

Chandna Agarwal, a former CREAM employee, said that the same arguments for overcrowding at Dream could also apply to CREAM.

“(CREAM) may be a store, but it’s practically a booth, a window,” Agarwal said. “In there, there are at most six people being served, and the rest eat standing outside.”

All councilmembers except Worthington voted to pass Councilmember Linda Maio’s motion to allow Dream to open but with no takeout window.

Contact Mary Zhou at [email protected]

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Zoning Adjustment Board approved the project in September. In fact, the city Department of Planning and Development approved the project.

A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Chandna Agarwal’s name.