Oakland residents fighting a mysterious startup taking over their quiet street

By Georgia Freedman, SFGate, August 23, 2021

“After just a couple minutes, any reasonable person could see that [the Golden Gate neighborhood, located on Emeryville and Berkeley’s border,] is not exactly an ideal spot for [a new business called CloudKitchens] that plans to house more than 30 pocket-sized ‘ghost kitchens,’ all of them depending on attracting a daily stream of hundreds of delivery drivers as the crux of their business model.

“The edge of this neighborhood — the area along Adeline and Lowell — is a mix of residential and commercial properties governed by HBX (housing business mix) zoning codes, which allow ‘compatible’ business activities, with the promise that the mix ‘respects environmental quality and historic patterns of development.’

“[The neighborhood’s residents, including this article’s author, have argued to local officials] that CloudKitchens was improperly designated as ‘light industry,’ specifically a commissary kitchen, when it is actually a ‘limited-service restaurant and cafe’ (or, rather, a number of limited-service restaurants all sandwiched into one location) … When CloudKitchens filed for their permit, they only listed 20 employees — the number of people employed by the business to help run the site — and left out the fact that they would be subleasing to businesses that will, collectively, have upward of 100 workers.

“In the meantime, the ramifications of this classification — or misclassification, depending on your stance — will be just as costly to the city as to the neighbors dealing with the disruptions the business causes. […]

“[At the beginning of August, Oakland’s city attorney] assigned a senior deputy to investigate and help the planning department determine whether there should be a public hearing about possibly revoking the business’s permit — a rarely used process, but one that could potentially be merited in this case.

“Even if CloudKitchens’ permit is revoked (which is somewhat unlikely), they probably won’t have to move out of the building; they could simply apply for another permit, under a different classification … Whatever happens, one thing is clear: Everyone is in for a long fight, and this quiet community will probably never be the same.”

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