Berkeley Property Owner Given Ultimatum To Develop Vacant Lot

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 9, 2012 in Rat News | Subscribe

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BERKELEY, Calif. — The Berkeley City Council took action Tuesday night to force a property owner to improve a vacant lot many consider an eyesore.

The Council voted unanimously to require businessman Ken Saracan to develop the lot at 2501 Haste Street or be subject to foreclosure.

The lot at the corner of Telegraph and Haste was once the location of a hotel that burned down. The hotel’s owner abandoned it and Saracan bought it in 1994. Some have argued that the purchase was made to keep Amoeba Records from opening an annex to their nearby store on the lot.

Merchants near the lot told the city council it has become a problem between the rats and trash that gather there..

“We have people from the streets come in and ask us for food to feed their pet rats that they get from that spot,” said Andy Albright of the Intermezzo Cafe.

Saracan, who owns other properties and businesses in the area including Rasputin Records, defended himself at the meeting. Saracan said it’s a lengthy process to get permission from the city to build on the property.

“A private person like myself cannot just hire a contractor and an architect and build a building,” said Saracan. “It’s not that simple”.

The Berkeley City Council said it has given Saracan enough time to act. It wants him to begin the building process within the next three months, or it will start foreclosure proceedings.

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