The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
June 20, 2008

My Busy, Busy, Unbloggy Week

I started writing this post last night and then all of a sudden felt like I was whacked in the head… sniffles, sneezing, stuffed up nose… and couldn’t sit upright anymore. So I slept for a few hours and now I’m trying again because I have a lot I want to write about before I go back to sleep.

It’s been a really busy week, and I’m excited to talk about a few things. Last night, I had just gotten back from a heated community hearing addressing a proposed Safeway expansion in our neighborhood. Oh, did I say expansion? I meant domination. Look at the hugeness of the Monstropolis they want to construct on the entire block of College Ave between Claremont and Alcatraz:


As you probably know, I’m no lover of Safeway. I’ve written about the problems of shopping there and my letters to the CEO about plastic bags. But what those of you who don’t live here may not understand is the threat to the unique quality of this neighborhood that a Safeway expansion represents. Safeway is one of the very few chain stores here, and it’s currently a manageable 23,000 square feet with a small parking lot. Across the street are an independent produce market, flower shop, meat market, pharmacy, bakery, cafe, and other small businesses. Oh, yeah. There is a Noah’s Bagels, but it’s the original one.

So when the Safeway rep told us we needed the store to expand to 59,000 square feet so that they could bring us the departments that were missing from our current store: bakery, florist, meat counter, pharmacy, etc. we were livid. We have those things. They are right across the street. And they are owned by local people, not a multinational corporation.

And not only do they want to expand the Safeway to 59,000 square feet, but they also want to add 16,000 square feet of retail space for smaller stores along Alcatraz. Anyone envision a Cold Stone Creamery here? Starbucks? World Wraps? People are attracted to this little shopping area because it looks different from every street in the U.S. and because it’s pedestrian-friendly. Safeway intends to destroy that uniqueness, and the residents are intent on stopping them. Sure, Safeway could remodel their existing store to make it more energy efficient. But we don’t need it to be bigger.

Here’s Safeway’s web site explaining what they want to do here, including drawings and plans. If you are a local resident, please leave a comment. Right now, the positive comments on the site do not reflect the level of opposition I witnessed at that meeting last night. You can also sign up for the mailing list to get updates on public hearings by sending an email to safewayneighbors@sbcglobal.net.

Moving on down the list of Busy Beth Business, check out the cool interviews with me and three other “garbloggers,” as we are apparently called, on Karen Cannard’s Rubbish Diet web site. The Rubbish Diet is a project of a U.K. woman to reduce her garbage to zero. This week, she interviewed several bloggers from outside the U.K. and intends to begin a regular Carnival of Trash to be hosted on various blogs just as Carnival of the Green is currently. I’m certainly looking forward to that.

This past Tuesday, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Deborah Lindsay on her radio show “Tomorrow Matters” on Monterey radio station KRXA. “Tomorrow Matters” is a show focusing on environmental issues. The interview was great fun, and you can listen to the whole hour-long show here. Please keep in mind that the show is completely live and unedited, so all of my “ums” and “uhs” are preserved for the world to enjoy.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If the player doesn’t work, you can download the audio file here.

There are more things I was going to write about, like the fact that I started the Low Carbon Diet program with Terry and Chris, a couple of guys from my Green Sangha Group, to find more ways to reduce our carbon footprint. But all of a sudden I feel like I’m going to fall out of my chair again, my head is so heavy so I’m just gonna leave it there. Yes, it’s been a busy week, and I have to go out later today and set up a Brita filter collection bin at the Berkeley Ecology Center for the Take Back The Filter campaign, so no rest for the sniffles, right?

I’ll be back again on Sunday for the Year 2, Week 1 plastic tally. Have fun this weekend!

15 comments
Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Hi uskowronski. You can leave a comment on the site, safewayoncollege.com. You can also send an email to the opposition group safewayneighbors@sbcglobal.net and ask to be added to their mailing list. They will let you know of upcoming hearings or protests.Other than that, write to the CEO of Safeway. Click the link in the paragraph where I mention my letters to Safeway. The address will be in there.Beth

uskowronski
uskowronski

So who can I write to in opposition? Politicians? Safeway itself to tell them I'll never shop there?

jennconspiracy
jennconspiracy

Does Safeway really treat their employees like cattle, Rob?I'm curious because there was a strike a few years ago - and to my best recollection, everyone at Safeway is a union member. In fact, I tried getting a job there during the dot bomb around 2001 or 2002. At that time, cashiers got $18/hour starting wage. My 2 years of cashiering in high school and college (and college degrees) weren't enough "experience" to qualify me to scan items at a cash register and balance a drawer!!I know people who have worked at Safeway for a long time and are very happy with it.

Allison
Allison

Oh, not only are the locally owned stores in danger of Safeway but in my town they even pushed out Albertsons and Raley's is hurting too. (They can all go, but I like Trader Joe's.) I don't shop any of those stores nearly as much as I use to but that just gives you an idea of what you are up against.

Jeanne
Jeanne

I've never liked Safeway to begin with, and now I have another reason not to shop there...

Robj98168
Robj98168

*I shouldn't say that they treat their employees like cattle- there are laws to insure cattle are treated better than safeway employees

Robj98168
Robj98168

The safeway does nothing for me- put the little guys outta bidness, treat their employeess like cattle*, and sock it to the consumer. I like independent supermarkets- few and far between- for the times i want/need a supermarket.Welcome back beth- I was afraid you went away forever! Hope you're feeling better

Green Bean
Green Bean

Yikes! There is nothing that I hate more than a huge monolith taking over what few vibrant, local neighborhoods we have left. I cringe every time I come across a strip mall that has been "remodeled". There will always be a Starbucks (possibly two in case the walk from one end of the strip mall to the other is a tad long), often a Jamba Juice, some cell phone store, and some crappy fast food chain restaurant. Fight on, Beth! I was bemoaning my busy week but yours was twice as busy. Go take a nap.

ALMOST MRS AVERAGE
ALMOST MRS AVERAGE

Glad to say we don't have a Safeway in our area (although we have a couple of other contenders). Thanks for doing the interview this week I really enjoyed your feedback.

Jennifer
Jennifer

Good luck with the Safeway fight... I've never been a big fan of their stores. The produce is never fresh. HOwever, I always manage to live walking distance from one, so so a lot of shopping there... which is worse?

Aurora
Aurora

I am so with you on this one! I live in this neighborhood (but in Berkeley--this Safeway is right on the Berkeley/Oakland dividing line)and I do not consider this an "improvment"!Quite an oxymoron to call their store "safe"-way? since this expansion is the oppositte of that!so I find the name ironic. What about the extra traffic to that street that such a large store will generate? College is already almost impossible to drive on most of the time...chain stores do not in any way benefit a community--they benefit the shareholders who own stock in the chains.Who do they think will shop there? with a Trader Joe's just 2 blocks away? I never shop there--I really do prefer my little local grocery store--which has been in business for 3 generations (same Greek Family) ---The Star Market!---which is really a neighborhood store AND has more and much better organic and locally grown produce than Safeway does, plus their prices are much of the time much cheaper than any of the chains.We should organize picket line outside the store to inform folks...since most of the current Safeway shoppers probably have no idea how much this will impact and change that neighborhood!sorry about yout cold--hope you feel better soon...

arduous
arduous

Wow that Safeway seems like a huge bummer. But good for you guys for making sure to register your opposition and attending the community meetings!

jennconspiracy
jennconspiracy

Let's not forget that the Safeway at Claremont & College is 1 mile from a GIGANTIC Safeway at Broadway/51st (practically Broadway/College).ONE MILE!!!!The 51 goes down there - easy if you realllllly need to get something from the Safeway bakery department.Let's also not forget that there is a bakery across the street from Safeway AND there's Great Harvest across from the Trader Joe's, about .5 mi away or less.That little Safeway sucks. I hate it - I never even shop at the Safeway by me (even though it is closer) because it is horrifying - there's hardly anything in there that actually resembles REAL food. It's all packaged crap, overly bright lighting... and why would we need a Cold Stone or any of that other stuff? There are so many shops on that street that are far better. Doesn't Cold Stone Creamery just make you ill walking past? It's sickly sweet (and I've got a MAJOR sweet tooth).

Sara
Sara

Argh, that Safeway is already huge in my opinion! And where would they even expand into? Are they putting in a Cold Stone instead of current shops?

lauren
lauren

Aackkk! I hate Safeway already, now I hate them more. I live in the neighborhood also, as I've commented before (just west of College between Ashby and Alcatraz). Our neighborhood is such a treasure; what a shame.News of a behemoth Safeway makes me want to cry. I will go to any future meetings, write letters, carry signs, whatever it takes.My email will have to wait until later today when I don't want to spew curse words throughout it. Thanks so much for putting this on my radar. Great job with the box at the Ecology Center. I have two headed that way soon!