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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Council Votes Ikea Down 5-0

5-0 Ikea Vote Shocker

Tonight the Emeryville City Council, faced with an overflow crowd of angry residents, voted 5-0 to uphold resident's appeal of the Ikea plan to build a retail warehouse customer pick-up for 53rd Street. The residents came out in force and some 28 spoke against the Ikea plan. Only one non-Ikea employee resident spoke in favor of the Ikea plan.
The council members were unanimous in their disapproval of the negative impacts for the residential neighborhood around 53rd Street. The Planning Commission voted in favor of the Ikea plan in a 4-3 split vote in August.

Much of the argument tonight centered on whether the warehouse could be fairly characterized as 'retail', a non-compliant use as dictated by the zoning ordinance and whether the proposal violated the letter or spirit of the general plan.
Mayor Ruth Atkin seemed to speak for her colleagues when she said "I do consider it retail and encroaching on the general plan". Ikea and the city staff attempted to argue that the proposed use was acceptable since Ikea would only use a little less than 50% of the existing building, throwing it into a 'secondary use' category rendering mute any general plan non-compliance argument. Ms Atkin agreed with the residents and characterized the "secondary use" argument proposed by Ikea as inaccurate.

Ikea used the force of two real estate experts and two lawyers including former Emeryville city council member Greg Harper to no avail. Mr Harper later said while Ikea could make changes to their plan and bring it back to the Planning Commission, he doubted the city staff would back them the second time around. "The space will be used for something else" he mused.
Meanwhile an ebullient crowd of residents assembled on the front lawn of City Hall after the historic pro-resident vote. One resident exclaimed, "I'm pleasantly shocked".


  1. This vote isn't "historic" or a surprise.

  2. I didn't care one way or the other about this project. However, I hope the Council granted the appeal for a better reason than that it wasn;t compliant with the General Plan. It clearly was. That was a weak agument. They didn't need to reject it based on the General Plan, so I hope they came up with a more sound reason.

  3. I was at the meeting. The primary reason the council members quoted was that the Ikea plan was against the General Plan. I agree with them, that was at the heart of the matter.

  4. Actually, the council responding to the wishes of the residents its quite the shocker.