Daily Archives: February 17, 2010


Berkeley murder victim identified

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A man fatally stabbed in Berkeley on February 11 was identified by police today as 40-year-old Michael Joseph Mayfield of Richmond, the Chronicle is reporting.

Mayfield was stabbed in the chest on the 2100 block of Curtis Street at about 7:40 p.m. February 11. Police are looking for Kevin Aaron Alvarado, 22, in connection with the killing. He may be trying to flee the country and should be considered armed and dangerous, said officer Andrew Frankel, Berkeley’s  police spokesman.

Anyone with information … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 2.17.10

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Comment: how to make Downtown an economic asset

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Almost six months after the Downtown Area Plan was referended and almost five years after the process began, the discussion is starting to heat up again regarding the future of Downtown Berkeley.  The referendum gave the council the option to put the plan passed by the City Council on July 14, 2009 on the ballot, or rescind the plan and make significant changes to it.  Mayor Tom Bates is recommending that the council make significant changes to the plan and put it on the ballot. As the petitioners argued last summer, the citizens should have the right to vote on the plan since it could significantly change the downtown.

The mayor’s proposal (which has been revised since the first reports) focuses on the three E’s of Sustainability: Environment, Equity and Economy.  Under the proposal, all buildings are required to incorporate green building components.  Since affordable rental housing (pursuant to the 2009 Palmer case) and prevailing wage jobs cannot be legally required by the city, the mayor has come up with an innovative approach to incentivize these social equity provisions with his proposal for an expedited review process in exchange for providing well paying jobs and affordable housing.

The mayor’s proposal includes many of the ingredients for a package that can simultaneously address climate change and local economic and social issues. Its mandatory green construction policies are the right thing to do, and the incentives to provide more housing choices, transit riders, local economic development and quality jobs could be visionary. The community benefits are primarily realized by the assumption that there will be construction of some larger and taller mixed-use and residential development projects around the BART station “core area”, and that those new buildings will pay high fees, provide the required community benefits and generate new tax revenues.

The concern is that the mayor’s proposal does not provide the level of development that is necessary to provide those benefits. The proposal needs to be modified to achieve the 3 E’s of Sustainability: Environment, Equity and Economy. … Continue reading »


Spring has officially sprung

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Berkeleyside thinks so, anyway. What do you think?

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Where to find caffeine and free wi-fi in Berkeley

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When the home office is dulling the senses, the nine-to-five office is stemming the creative juices, or the university library’s “collective atmosphere of stress” is taking you to the brink, you head out to a cafe to work, right? But which Berkeley coffee shops offer free wi-fi, a decent espresso and the least amount of log-on hassle?

The Daily Clog blog has done the difficult research to find out.

The top scorers among its hot-list of twelve cafes … Continue reading »

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Information resources

Berkeley’s climate progress seen (sort of)

Berkeley climate site
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I’d love to be enthusiastic about City of Berkeley see it! (not my exclamation mark). There are many good intentions in the interactive website, designed to present both the city’s Climate Action Plan and progress towards realizing its goals. But the site has one of the worst user interfaces I’ve encountered in a long time. It’s fussy, over-designed, filled with infojunk and prone to leading users up blind alleys.

If you make the mistake of clicking to … Continue reading »


Berkeley gets smart power meters

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In the past couple of weeks, PG&E has begun installing so-called SmartMeters on Berkeley residences.  One showed up at my house even before PG&E’s letter arrived announcing the retrofit.

SmartMeters are supposed to let consumers monitor their household energy consumption, with reports on hourly electricity use and daily gas use. Presumably this will encourage people to conserve and shift their usage to off-peak times. PG&E presents this as a way for ratepayers to become … Continue reading »

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