Should the Council adopt an Ordinance to streamline and clarify the permitting process for small businesses in commercial districts by making amendments related to parking, food service categories, change of use, new business types, recreational uses, and standards for serving beer and wine?
Should the City Council, after conducting a public hearing, adopt the first reading of an Ordinance amending the Berkeley Municipal Code to streamline and clarify the permitting process for small businesses in commercial districts by:
1. Reducing the amount of parking required for businesses moving into existing commercial spaces;
2. Simplifying food service categories by reducing them from three to one;
3. Reducing permitting time and costs for small businesses that request a change of use in existing commercial spaces;
4. Clarifying the permit process for new business types that may not be specifically defined in the City’s zoning rules;
5. Making ‘commercial recreation’ uses (such as bowling alleys, miniature golf courses or ping pong clubs) easier to permit in commercial districts; and
6. Streamlining the permit process and providing clear performance standards for restaurants that wish to serve beer and wine.
The ordinance would amend Berkeley Municipal Code Chapters 23E.16, 23E.36, 23E.40, 23E.44, 23E.48, 23E.52, 23E.56, 23E.60, 23E.64, 23E.68, and 23E.98.
The City Council asked staff to identify ways to streamline the permitting process for small businesses, in order to expand commercial district offerings and help fill vacant storefronts. Staff conducted outreach to business owners, district associations, and other stakeholders to identify the strategies described below. These changes are designed to make the permitting process for small businesses simpler, faster, and less expensive, while minimizing any adverse impacts on neighborhoods and maintaining opportunities for community participation.
How would you like them to decide, and what would you like them to consider?