Amid neighborhood concerns, the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, or ZAB, granted use permits to Berkeley Honda Sept. 8 that will allow its full service car dealership to move to a new location on Shattuck Ave.
The company is relocating to the former site of the original Berkeley Bowl and, more recently, the outdoor equipment store Any Mountain. Residents in the area are concerned about the business’s connection to private automobile use and the move’s potential impact on noise and traffic flow in the area.
Berkeley Honda — which has been located in the south Shattuck area for more than 40 years — moved out of its longtime location at 2600 Shattuck Ave. at the end of 2014, said Ali Kashani, a Berkeley Honda representative who applied for the use permits. Since then, the business has had plans to move into 2777 Shattuck Ave. as a permanent location, but has been temporarily operating out of two locations, with sales at 2627 Shattuck Ave. and service at 1500 San Pablo Ave.
Berkeley Honda’s owner Tim Beinke said he chose the new location because it would allow the dealership to stay within the vicinity of its current locations. He added that it is “the perfect size” for the business.
After considering the building for landmark status, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission instead classified it as a “structure of merit” in December 2015. Berkeley Municipal Code designates a “structure of merit” as “worthy of preservation as a part of a neighborhood.”
Berkeley City Council, however, overturned the decision in March on the grounds that alterations made to the structure in the 90s disqualified it from the classification. One of the use permits approved will allow for the construction of more than 3,000 square feet of new floor area at the location.
Following the ZAB’s vote to approve Berkeley Honda’s use permits, residents in the area released a statement in which they raised concerns about the move’s potential lack of alignment with the city’s South Shattuck Strategic Plan. The plan calls for a reduction of private automobile use and promotes “small retail storefronts, modern public transportation infrastructure, bike lanes and (discourages) auto dealerships in South Berkeley,” according to the statement.
The press release stated that a group of south Shattuck residents is considering appealing the ZAB’s decision to Berkeley City Council. The group could not be reached for comment.
“We are a good neighbor and want to continue to be a great neighbor,” Beinke said.
In the process of acquiring the building, Beinke has attended several public hearings concerning the project. Beinke said Berkeley Honda has made changes to the plan, such as moving the service entrance of the building off of Shattuck Avenue and onto Stuart Street in response to neighborhood concerns.
Beinke added that Berkeley Honda hopes to move to the location as soon as possible and noted that the business will be a large source of tax revenue and will create jobs.
The city clerk has reserved Nov. 17 for a hearing in the event that the public decides to appeal, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.