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Monday, October 30, 2006

Sigh... Berkeley

This weekend I was reminded why Berkeley is a lovely place to visit, but I'd never want to live there again.

I had to run up to Berkeley Bowl during a party. Back when I lived there, that was a Safeway. Well, first it was a Safeway, and then it was a barren, empty building. After that, the closest grocery store was the Pak N' Save in Emeryville. I can't vouch for it now, but back then, you had to pay a quarter or fifty cents to get a shopping cart, which unlocked it from the station, making it more attractive for the homeless to return the carts rather than stealing them, but made it terribly annoying because you had to remember to bring quarters to the grocery store.

The other option was Trader Joe's in Emeryville, a little bit further away and in the most congested, poorly laid-out parking lot I'd ever dealt with.

Nowadays, Berkeley Bowl has moved into the old Safeway, and Walgreens has moved into the old Rite-Aid spot. Traffic in that area is still an abomination as well since they have about half the parking that those stores usually have. Finding parking usually entails vulturing someone walking out with a cart, because those that have started loading their cars already have someone waiting to take their spot. Anyway, it's no fun, which is too bad, because Berkeley Bowl has good food, but I don't want to have to do battle to shop there.

So this morning I'm browsing the news, and find that a Trader Joe's is hoping to move into Berkeley. As someone who is not a true Berkeley person, I'm astonished to read that the locals are fighting it. It's Trader Joe's - home of the socially responsible grocers! It's fabulous bread and organic food and cage-free eggs and... and... what do you mean you don't want them there?!?!?! That's just crazy talk! It turns out they're worried about increased traffic (gee, at the intersection of two major thoroughfares where there's been commercial space forever? Shocking.) and that Trader Joe's sells inexpensive alcohol that will be a draw to students and the homeless (unlike all those liquor stores already around? Hunh?) and that the associated housing project has smaller units (mostly 1 bedrooms), not intended to accomodate families (because Berkeley isn't the kind of place that carved up houses to make smaller housing locations already? But, wait...). My favorite line in the article is, ""Trader Joe's is a nonunion store owned by a secretive German family that sells specialty food and low-cost alcohol," said Steve Wollmer, who lives 250 feet from the site. "Do we really need this in our neighborhood?"" Um... yes! And how does their German-ness come into anyway? Just one of those days again where I don't quite get Berkeley. There are some things I really like about it, but I can't imagine living there. Some of them locals are just too crazy. I'd love to live in the East Bay again, but I'm pretty sure it'd have to be Alameda.


  • Oh, the crazy. It's so cute when the ex-hippies try to get righteous about something.

    By Blogger BlackSheep, at 3:27 PM  

  • Umm. I believe it was a thrifty's across the street from the abandoned safeway.

    In 1998, Rite Aid acquired and the 1,000-store west coast chain's owner Thrifty PayLess Holdings re-branded it as Rite Aid, creating a chain with over 3,500 drug stores.

    On March 26, 1999 we opened our new location at 2020 Oregon St. Though only a few blocks from our original store, the new site involved some pretty dramatic changes. Under the direction of architect David Trachtenberg a former Safeway was transformed into the 44,000 square foot produce mecca we now call home.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 1:12 PM  

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