Ordinance Prevents Glass Shop From Opening on Telegraph

Photo: Dustin Revere's glass-blowing gallery may not be able to open on Telegraph Avenue because of a city zoning ordinance prohibiting any new stores that sell drug paraphernalia from obtaining a business permit.
Emma Lantos/Staff
Dustin Revere's glass-blowing gallery may not be able to open on Telegraph Avenue because of a city zoning ordinance prohibiting any new stores that sell drug paraphernalia from obtaining a business permit.

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While father and son duo Alan and Dustin Revere have their sights set on opening a high-end glass blowing gallery and shop on Telegraph Avenue, their plan to fill one of the street's multiple vacancies is barred by a Berkeley city zoning ordinance.

The city's Permit Service Center has classified the business as selling drug paraphernalia such as glass pipes - a possibility the two allowed for in their business model - and the glass artists are consequently unlikely to obtain a use permit in the business district, though they are appealing to Mayor Tom Bates and other members of the Berkeley City Council to amend the ordinance as it was approved more than a decade ago.

Under the "quota" zoning system in the Commercial Telegraph area - along both sides of Telegraph and extending up Bancroft Way and one block up Durant Avenue - "any new retail sales of drug paraphernalia (head shops) are prohibited," according to the city's Planning and Development Department website.

"There are six businesses that do sell bongs or smoking apparatuses for marijuana (in the district)," said Dave Fogarty, Berkeley's economic project development coordinator. "One of the reasons there's a prohibition against new paraphernalia businesses is they don't want any more competition."

Property owners concerned with the area's image also fueled the campaign for the ordinance's original passage through council, although in the implementation its effects are "scattershot," as the ordinance is now preventing a glass blowing studio from opening in the area, Fogarty said.

"In the midst of an economic depression in a district where there are a number of vacancies, here's someone who's denied the opportunity to invest," he said.

If granted a business permit for the area, the gallery would feature glassware ranging in price from $20 to $20,000 by local artists - including both Reveres - which would also be made on-site.

Dustin Revere added that the shop and gallery would add "another clientele to Telegraph Avenue."

"People who spend thousands of dollars on an art piece are not looking for what you would classify as a piece of drug paraphernalia," he said. "Drug addicts by definition don't have a lot of money."

Alan Revere, who founded and is current director of the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco, said that the business would not be "primarily a pipe shop," but "a space for art glass on commission."

Fogarty advised the pair to distribute letters and copies of their business proposal to Bates and other council members, who he said may review it at their upcoming Sept. 28 meeting. He added that the absolute prohibition of the business by the city's Planning and Development Department under the ordinance does not seem to align with its original intent.

"I don't think the council intended that regulation to apply to a glass blowing studio," Fogarty said.

Tags: BERKELEY CITY COUNCIL, TELEGRAPH AVENUE, PLANNING COMMISSION


Hannah Moulthrop covers local business. Contact her at [email protected]



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