Mixed feelings on plans for new Rockridge Safeway


Patrick Ansari is worried the view from his flower shop is about to change.

"If you turn around and you look at the blue sky, it won't be there," Ansari said.

That's because Safeway wants to replace the 40-year-old supermarket across the street with a new one twice the size.

"They're going to impact this street and I think really truthfully that by the time my kids have kids, a block like this, if they do what they do, will be gone," Ansari said.

Just like Ansari, Safeway sells flowers. It also sells meat, just like the local butcher, bread like the local baker and a growing selection of wine -- at discount prices.

"I don't think they want us to be here," Ansari said.

"Our goal is to absolutely not have a negative impact on the local neighbors," Safeway spokesperson Susan Houghton said. "In fact, we hope that this building will enhance it."

Safeway has launched an outreach campaign to let people know this is no ordinary big box store. The three-story building will have storefronts for other small retailers facing the street, the supermarket upstairs and parking underground.

"So you'll get more of a feel of a neighborhood rather than an open parking lot," Houghton said

"Even though the store is larger, it feels like it's more in character with the rest of Rockridge," xxx said.

Jeff Small, who used to be on the neighborhood council, says he likes the design and doubts it will hurt business.

"I think that the, the customer that goes to Safeway is a different customer than would shop at one of the finer stores in Rockridge," small said.

The ultimate decision on a new Safeway store rests not with the neighbors, but with the city of Oakland. Both sides of the debate will have a chance to try to convince the city at a planning commission meeting on Wednesday.

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