The Berkeley Wire: 08.03.15

Alice over San Francisco Bay by Ron Rothbart. Photo taken July 18, 2015

Alice over San Francisco Bay by Ron Rothbart. Photo taken June 18, 2015

Sungevity and Cal partner for 10-year solar program (Clean Technica)
Channel 7 steps in when Berkeley couple’s Ikea purchase goes awry (ABC)
Econ 101? Berkeley’s on top (Bloomberg View)
Losing a pet (Berkeley Humane Society)

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Berkeley police defend tactics after laundromat robbery

Police search Sacramento Street, near Dwight Way, for an armed robber who robbed a laundromat, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 27. Photo: David Yee
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One week after a police operation in southwest Berkeley sparked community questions about whether military tools and tactics have been unnecessarily adopted by local departments, the Berkeley Police chief and one of his captains said safety was the overriding concern that drove decision making last Monday.

Threats to officer safety are very real. Police Chief Michael Meehan and Acting Capt. Jennifer Louis answered questions from Berkeleyside on Monday, Aug. 3, less than 24 hours after an officer-involving shooting in Oakland left a local man dead and a police sergeant in serious condition. According to a statement released by the Oakland Police, the man opened fire on officers with an assault rifle after they responded to his home during a sexual assault investigation. And, less than two weeks ago, Hayward Police Sgt. Scott Lunger was fatally shot without warning during a traffic stop.

Meehan said today, however, that it was the specifics of last week’s robbery and assault at a laundromat — “the facts of the individual case…. and the nature of the threat” — that prompted the use July 27 of a police dog from Oakland, an armored vehicle from Alameda and the Berkeley Police Special Response Team, which wears camouflage uniforms when it responds to calls.

Those decisions incited an emotional response from some in the Berkeley community and beyond who said the tactics are evidence of the increasing militarization of local police departments. Many said they were put off by the camouflage uniforms and armored vehicle, in particular. In the Berkeleyside comments, one person called the operation a sign of a “police state” and another decried the “unprecedented show of military force.” Others said police had made the right decisions, acting professionally and efficiently. But even some who made a point to say they support certain police tactics had questions. … Continue reading »

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A portrait of Amy Winehouse through film and exhibit

D 32808-05  Amy Winehouse  Obligatory Credit - CAMERA PRESS/Mark Okoh SPECIAL PRICE APPLIES. Jazz and soul singer Amy Winehouse poses for photos at her home in Camden, London.  Her debut album 'Frank' won an  Ivor Novello award and was released in October 2003.     2004
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If you’re a fan or are merely curious about the late Grammy award-winning jazz/blues singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse (1983-2011), and you’re able to get to San Francisco, you are in luck. After listening carefully to her music, there is no better way to understand the young woman behind the garish headlines than by visiting the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s detailed and remarkable exhibit, “Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait,” which contains numerous personal artifacts and ephemera from Amy Winehouse’s youth and family. And by all means see the terrific documentary, “Amy,” which deftly explores Winehouse’s rise as a superstar and fall into drugs, illness and death at the age of 27. … Continue reading »

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How quirky is Berkeley? Stan Huncilman’s Bullfighting Academy

"Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., is seen on Thursday,  June 20th, 2013."
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The first indication that something quirky be here is the “Berkeley Bullfighting Academy” sign on the front of Stan Humcilman’s house at 2125 5th St. between Allston Way and Addison Street. It is a remnant from the “How Berkeley Can You Be?” parades in which we made fun of ourselves until the City decided that we were having too much fun making fun of ourselves.

The second sign that something quirky be here is the “Valkyries do Samba” sign. It is a remnant from a towering Brunhilda float in a 1990s San Francisco Carnavale parade in which Wagner was played to a samba beat. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 07.31.15

Fire sun from Solano Hill, Albany by Katherine Walsh. Photo taken July 28, 2015

Fire sun from Solano Hill, Albany by Katherine Walsh. Photo taken July 28, 2015

Talking with a cancer survivor … who makes waves (J Weekly)
Unlocked: The understaffing of Alameda County juvenile hall (Youth Radio)
US Attorney Melinda Haag quits to relief of cannabis activists (Express)
Barbarians gather to recall the Berkeley Barb (California)
Comal team opening The Advocate in Berkeley (Eat Drink Play)
Police commission talks about police use of tear gas (Daily Cal)
Kids dance their heart out at Ailey camp (UCB News)
The most underrated UC Berkeley landmarks (The Daily Clog)

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and on Facebook where we often break news. Email us at Would you like the latest Berkeley news sent to your email inbox once a day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.

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Bites: The Advocate, Source Mini replacement

John Griffiths, executive chef at The Advocate. Photo: Postcard PR
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Openings, closings…

THE ADVOCATE GETTING CLOSE The Elmwood’s contentious new restaurant, The Advocate, is slated to open at the beginning of August. The restaurant has secured its liquor license and is in the process of passing its final inspections. As we reported in June, The Advocate will offer a menu of dishes inspired by southern Mediterranean and Moroccan/North African cooking, “all viewed through a Northern Californian lens,” according to owners Andrew Hoffman and John Paluska. Paluska and Hoffman have recruited John Griffiths to be the new restaurant’s executive chef. Griffiths was most recently at The Kitchen in Sacramento, a well-known spot where food is treated as theater and chefs are expected to emcee as well as to cook. Griffiths left The Kitchen in October after 16 months in the job to join The Advocate. The Michigan native was the opening chef at Larry Forgione’s An American Place in St. Louis, and was later executive chef at Truffles in the same city. He has been working with The Advocate team since December 2014. The Advocate will be at 2635 Ashby Ave. (at College Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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National Night Out comes to Berkeley on Tuesday

Berkeleyans are coming out in record numbers for this year's National Night Out celebration. (Scroll down for the interactive map.) Image: Google Maps
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It’s by far the biggest year yet for National Night Out in Berkeley, with nearly 100 neighborhoods and organizations signed up to hold block parties and other events Tuesday night.

And police say it’s not too late to sign up. If your neighborhood, business, church, association or community agency would like to participate, download the registration form and send it to Officer Stephanie Polizziani at

The nationwide annual event is in its 32nd year. It brings local police, firefighters, city officials and other city staffers into the neighborhoods to mingle with local residents who hold block parties and get to know each other in the interest of building community and neighborhood safety.

According to the city, the primary goal is “to help communities build relationships with their local public safety department and raise awareness about crime prevention. In general, neighborhoods participate in National Night Out by turning on their lights and having porch or street side conversations” and “strengthening neighborhood bonds.”

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Nabolom Bakery to close after 40 years in Berkeley

Nabolom Bakery sign. Photo, taken on April 14, 20015, by Raymond Yee
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Nabolom Collective Bakery, which has been cooking cinnamon twists, blueberry cheese Danishes, morning buns, snicker-doodle cookies, challah and other baked delights for almost 40 years, is shutting down Sunday Aug. 2.

The bakery, at 2708 Russell St. (at College) in the Elmwood district, put up signs Thursday announcing its imminent closure.

“Thank You Berkeley!!! For love and support since 1976,” said a sign in colorful chalk. “Sunday August 2nd will be our last day in operation. Get your favorite pastries while you still can!” … Continue reading »

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Man sodomized while sleeping at People’s Park

People's Park. Photo: Mario Antonio Pena Zapatería/Flickr
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A man woke up Thursday in People’s Park in Berkeley to discover that he had been sodomized, authorities reported Friday morning.

The University of California Police Department received notification about the rape from Alta Bates Hospital, where the man had sought treatment.

The 30-year-old man told medical staff Thursday that the assault had happened sometime during the prior night while he was sleeping.

He said he woke up and discovered “indications” he had been raped. No further information was provided.  … Continue reading »

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BART to shut transbay service this weekend

BART has put up small signs on its turnstiles to alert patrons that there won't be any Transbay service on Aug. 1 and 2. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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BART will shut down its transbay service between Oakland and San Francisco on Saturday, Aug. 1, and Sunday, Aug. 2, to repair the tracks.

“We understand the interruption in service will be a significant inconvenience for tens of thousands of people but we simply can’t avoid making these repairs,” BART Assistant General Manager for Operations Paul Oversier said on the transit service’s website. “We need to completely rebuild one of the hardest working sections of track in the entire BART system. Once the work is finished, riders can expect a faster, smoother ride between West Oakland and Embarcadero.” … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 07.30.15

Aquatic Park by Avi

Aquatic Park by Avi

Whistle-blower rally calls for library changes (CoCo Times)
Former Cal coach still among top wage earners in UC system (KTVU)
UC paid former president $546K year after he resigned (Sacto Bee)
Narsai David explores organic farming in Cuba (The Monthly)
Woman files petition to prevent construction of ATT&T antenna (Daily Cal)
A look back: Berkeley called ‘hotbed of communism’ in 1940 (CoCo Times)
Darlingside harmonizes wittingly at Freight & Salvage (SF Chronicle)

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and on Facebook where we often break news. Email us at Would you like the latest Berkeley news sent to your email inbox once a day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.

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Berkeley plans ‘very efficient garage that people will be happy to come to’

Designs are coming along for an updated Center Street garage. Image: Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects
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As plans proceed for an updated municipal garage on downtown Berkeley’s Center Street, project details are firming up, and the plan for where people can expect to park while construction is underway has been released.

The city is planning to demolish its circa 1958 5-story parking structure at 2025 Center and replace it with a modern 8-story structure featuring a double-helix design to halve the time it takes drivers to exit the garage.

Last Thursday, July 23, the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board learned about the newest iteration of the plans for the project, and gave feedback to city staff about several issues they still hope to see addressed. The project is set to return to the board Aug. 27 for a vote.

Read more about parking in Berkeley.

Earlier this month, the city’s Design Review Committee gave the project a favorable review. The city’s Civic Arts Commission is also on board, and is helping determine the process the city will use to select public art — described as colored LED lighting on the façade — that will appear on site. Last Thursday, zoning board commissioners said they were largely pleased with how the project is coming along.

“I’ve seen this project four times and it gets better and better,” said Commissioner Richard Christiani. “Generally it’s a very well-thought-out building. It’s nice to see so much attention given to a structure like this.”Continue reading »

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New plan calls for 10 theaters at 2211 Harold Way

The developer of 2211 Harold Way and Landmark Theatres are nearing a deal to build 10 new theaters in the proposed complex. Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin
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The developer of 2211 Harold Way and Landmark Theatres are nearing a deal to increase the number of movie theaters in the 302-unit building in downtown Berkeley to 10 — but detractors say the changes do not go far enough.

After discussions with Ted Mundorf, the CEO of Landmark, Joseph Penner of HSR Berkeley Investments has submitted a new set of plans with the 10 theaters. Previously, the number of theaters proposed had ranged from zero to nine.

The current plan, which still needs city approval, would place the box office by the sidewalk on Shattuck Avenue, much like it currently is. There would be four theaters on the street level. Patrons would take an escalator, stairs or an elevator one flight down to the six other theaters. There would also be bathrooms, a bar, a lounge and a snack bar on the bottom level. … Continue reading »

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San Francisco Jewish Film Festival reaches into East Bay

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It’s time for the 35th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and this year the festival extends for a full two weeks in venues throughout the greater Bay Area, including Berkeley. Screenings at Landmark’s California Theatre run from Friday, July 31 through Thursday, Aug. 6 and offer a wide variety of viewing choices catering to all tastes — but particularly noteworthy are the festival’s documentary selections, which include two hugely enjoyable films and another that, though flawed, offers important perspectives on a critical issue.

First up is The Go Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films, screening at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug.2. For anyone who spent much time watching Showtime and Cinemax during the 1990s — or attending matinees at downmarket movie houses — the Cannon name will trigger happy memories of youth misspent. … Continue reading »

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