I never cease to be amazed by the hostility people in some of Oakland’s commercial districts have towards shops. The most stunning example of this would undoubtedly have to be the activists in the Grand Lake neighborhood, who, with the support of District 2 Councilmember Pat Kernighan, succeeded in preventing Out of the Closet opening on Lakeshore and also stopped a Fatburger from opening up in the abandoned Kwikway just a few years ago. And is the neighborhood better for it? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that one.
Anyway, with this history in mind, it didn’t surprise me at all when I started hearing complaints a few months ago about a proposed new frozen yogurt shop wanting to open in an empty space on Lakeshore (between Arizmendi and the Lakeshore Cafe). There are already too many frozen dessert shops! Nobody in the Grand Lake survey from 2 years ago said they wanted to see a yogurt shop! The competition could put the gelato shop out of business! A new yogurt shop will destroy all the businesses on Lakeshore! They should open an adorable butcher shop that sells only the highest quality organic meat but has super cheap prices instead!
I just rolled my eyes, and figured it would go away. After all, as best as I could tell, there were only a handful of people on the anti-yogurt shop bandwagon, and it didn’t seem like the rest of the neighborhood was finding their arguments particularly persuasive. So then I stopped hearing about it and I kind of figured it was all over.
Not yet! At tomorrow’s meeting (PDF), the Oakland Planning Commission will hear an appeal of the yogurt shop’s approval (PDF). Why can anyone appeal a yogurt shop to the City in the first place, you ask? It’s because businesses of the type “limited service restaurant and cafe” require a minor conditional use permit to open in this type of retail district.
Anyway, the appeal, as it turns out, is not being filed by random angry neighbors because they’d rather have a fantasy butcher. It has been filed by the owner of another frozen yogurt shop in the neighborhood. But he’s not appealing because he wants to shut out the competition. No, he’s objecting to the new yogurt shop on public safety and public health grounds:
I disagree with your decision for the new yogurt shop. The space to open the self-service, do-it-yourself frozen yogurt store at 3261 Lakeshore Ave between Arizmendi Bakery and Lakeshore Cafe within that compact area would not generate a large enough span for pedestrians to safely cross that active space without accidental incidents that could incite. Especially in the weekend, the Pedestrians would feel crowded, uncomfortable, and possibly cause some sort of conflict to arise. An elderly, handicap or a mom with a stroller would have a difficult time passing and could have the likelihood of being knocked over, shoved into others, or a car.
The self-service, do-it-yourself frozen yogurt store design to open in this small space is not big enough for tables and chairs for the costumers to sit comfortable. As customers eat on and go, the street waste and trash rates would also increase because of the higher concentration of inhabitants which would lead to foul odors and possible health hazards. This will not serve Lakeshore community as it claims under Attachment A. Please review this appeal.
Unsurprisingly, staff does not find the objections persuasive, and recommends that the Planning Commission deny the appeal. I’m guessing the Commission will agree. So watch out, Lakeshore! Frozen yogurt and the accompanying foul odors are on the way! Hold onto your strollers! You don’t want to get knocked into a car.