Question 7: Safeway design

7. The current Safeway design does not have an adequate bike parking area and has the potential to negatively impact sidewalk users on Solano. Will you require resolving these issues prior to approval?

[Sheri Spellwoman] Yes! I strongly believe the project should include state of the art bicycle access and parking, including spaces for bike trailers. I also want the City to improve our sidewalks, not approve projects that worsen them. Safeway is the second largest supermarket chain in North America. They are rebuilding their Albany store from the ground up. The way we build has a huge effect on the way we live. If we are serious about sustainability, we have to design our City to promote sustainable lifestyles.

[Pete Maass] The Safeway design still has a ways to go. I think it’s premature to be publically pushing them on bike parking, particularly after what’s gone down recently with UC and WF. There will be plenty of bike parking in a future Safeway design, whether I’m on City Council or still on the P&Z.

[Peggy Thomsen] As a sitting council member, I also cannot speak to this question at the present time as the public hearing process for this project has yet to occur.

[Nick Pilch] Yes, very likely. AS&R had been effectively working with the previous architects to produce a bicycle-friendly design. A new redesign eliminated many of the gains that were made. Bicycle access and parking must be brought back to the level of the previous design. This bigger store has the potential to attract more cars, and therefore it’s our duty to make sure that everyone who wants to bicycle to the store can do so without fear of not having good, safe parking. Bicycle parking is a much more efficient use of land than automobile parking. As regards the driveway on Solano impacting sidewalk users, yes, I am concerned. However, I think this might be able to be mitigated by only allowing trucks at certain hours, or another such solution. Also, this may be an improvement over the current design which has two driveways across the sidewalk.

[Michael Barnes] If I were elected to council, any course of action that I would prefer would require the votes of two other council members. As an individual council member, I would not in the position to require anything. I’d weigh all the factors, and work out the best accommodation I could given the situation at the time and the preferences of my fellow council members. But I can’t guarantee any particular outcome in advance. This is a hard question to answer because it is abstract.

[Tod Abbott] I understand the concerns about the Safeway design. I am concerned that the primary bicycle parking is located in what could become a significant pedestrian walkway, but I believe that can be managed.
I would not require complete resolution of the longtail bike parking problem before approving this project. The current plans offer many possible locations for future installation of bike racks that would be suitable for longtail bikes. With that in mind, I am comfortable with the current plans. I would not be surprised if the next generation of plans (if there are any) includes bike parking for longtail bikes, but if it doesn’t I think this is something the community or business community could manage installing.
Frankly, I think we have asked for as much from Safeway as they are going to take. The project has already been near shutdown. With their new, larger stores in El Cerrito and Berkeley, they could easily leave the Albany store as-is or even leave altogether. We squander the leverage we have when we are unwilling to compromise. If our tactics mean that no reasonable development can take place in a timely manner, then we have no leverage, and development just moves across the border into Berkeley or El Cerrito.


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