What next for the Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz club?

Birdland Jazz Logo/Eric Arnold: EKAphotography

So Berkeley finally gets a not-so-secret supper club, a down-home version of guerrilla gourmet hipster hangouts in Oakland and San Francisco, but now its future is uncertain.

At press time, the Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz, the city’s only underground BBQ and jazz joint is retreating from its street-front presence in North Berkeley and morphing into the more clandestine Birdland Jazzista Social Club. This, says its founder, is to circumvent city action to shut down the nascent nightclub for code violations — including a lack of a special-event permit.

For those not in the know, the spontaneous community chow and music spot has been a happening Friday night attraction in a converted garage for seven months now.

The brainchild of artist Michael Parayno, better known as the Bird Man for his one-of-a-kind rustic birdhouse creations made from recycled materials, the grill-and-groove venue has been bringing a little cultural nightlife to an otherwise sleepy stretch of Sacramento Street opposite the North Berkeley BART station.

Michael Parayno.

Throughout the summer, fall, and even on cold, winter nights, commuters and community members stop by, drawn in by the unmistakable smells of barbecue and the sounds of mellow jazz emanating from the grill and garage in front of Parayno’s house. The weekly meet-up has developed a loyal following — and fast.

I met with Parayno, 46, who has a master’s degree from UC and teaches ethnic studies at local colleges, a few weeks ago, and stopped by last Friday to survey the scene, which included jazz afficionados, young families, old timers, students, couples, curious locals, kids, and dogs.

Outside strings of lights and a white canopy, which creates a cosy nook for futon couches and a table boasting a hookah pipe, are the first clues that something different is going down here.

What's cooking at the Multi Culti Grill?/Eric Arnold: EAKphotography

A chalkboard announces the sidewalk menu. Folks wait in line for wasabi and Coke marinated ribs and calamari rings.

A black swatch of fabric separates the outside world from the garage-cum-nightclub, and a hand-scrawled sign above a birdhouse announces “community supported barbecue, suggested donation: $10-$20”.

The money goes to the musicians. Six sponsors, including Parayno, take turns springing for food (selling BBQ would warrant a visit from the health department) and kick in extra when donations don’t cover the cost of the band.

There’s even a spot outdoors with a TV screen for sports fans, tuned to a boxing fight last week.

Inside, birdhouses line the walls, as do brown leather couches. A stage with a piano is set up in one corner, candles flicker, a couple of neon signs add to the ambiance.

A crowd trickles in to eat and listen.  It’s BYOB, unfold your own chair once the lounges are all taken, and find a spot on the uneven brick floor to drink in the atmosphere. A word to the wise: Hang on to your six-pack rather than filling the small fridge, if you want to go back for seconds.

Morgan Lim serves up his Malaysian-style satay skewers.

Tonight, Morgan Lim is behind the grill, cooking his signature Malaysian-flavored spicy skewers. The evening kicks off at 8:00, the band takes the stage at 8:30, and the second act at 11.

The Friday festivities are due to go on hiatus after a final show on December 17 this year.

Scheduling for 2011 is unclear as of now. Parayno hopes to resolve matters with the city and obtain any necessary permits in time to bring Birdland and the Multi Culti Grill back in February. Stay tuned.

He will open his garage to the public again to showcase his birdhouses this weekend as part of Open Studios. Chances are, Parayno, a die-hard jazz fan, will have some cool licks playing in the background.

How did this barbecue-jazz venue get cooking?

On Memorial Day, I was grilling outside the front of my house and some people walking down the street stopped, said it smelt good, and asked if they could try some. I had the radio tuned to KCSM 91.1, the local jazz station. That was the beginning of our community supported barbecue and jazz.

Why a Multi Culti Grill?

Myself, Morgan Lim, and the other three regular artists who rotate turns at the grill — we don’t call ourselves chefs or cooks — had been looking for ways to express ourselves through the medium of meat, working with spices and sauces from our diverse cultural backgrounds, instead of fabric, colors, and sketches.

Morgan grew up in Malaysia, I’m from the Philippines. We wanted to experiment with flavors. Our menu includes Penang Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, Rib-Eye Beef with Rendang Sauce, Java Rub on Pork Loin Satay, Petaling Jaya Shrimp Satay, and Tilapia Sambal Curry Wrapped in Banana Leaf.

I’ve been to more than 40 countries and I love street food, it’s where you find the most innovative, authentic, and affordable eats. So it’s fusion food, mixed cuisines, a Multi Culti Grill.

Why do you think this venue has taken off?

People really want to find ways to connect with each other, and what better way to do that than through food and music? It’s a great way to build community and catch up with friends. We have people who come every week and newcomers each week as well. A lot of my students come by, friends of friends, increasingly people I don’t know at all who heard about us from someone else stop by to check things out.

Practically speaking, I’m opposite BART, bordered by Ohlone Park, and musicians, many of whom play here, or students live in the immediate buildings. There’s a group of students from Europe who live upstairs; they’ve told their parents they live above a nightclub. They think it’s cool, up until this week we haven’t had any complaints.


Tammy Hall and friends play Birdland Jazz/Eric Arnold: EAKphotography

Who has played at Birdland?

Terrence Brewer, Tammy Hall, Nancy Wright. Every other week the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble plays the second set at 11 p.m. The kids love it, I’m not sure how happy the parents are about the time. The musicians don’t come here for the money. It’s a supportive place to play and the vibe is right.

Do any Berkeley characters show up?

We have two Larrys. One Larry combs the place — he’s your typical older, long-haired Berkeley guy, and he picks up every cigarette butt and piece of trash off the floor. That’s how he wants to contribute. Another Larry, who hangs out in Ohlone Park, comes by early Saturday morning and collects all the bottles and cans. So by Saturday morning you have no idea there was a jazz club here the night before. The place is spotless.

What’s next?

Right now, we have to work with the city so we can continue. We’d like to keep things up front, in public, that’s how you build community — not by being hidden away out back.

But we want to expand out the back, too. When it gets busy we can have 200 people here, and we don’t want anyone to have to wait for food. We might have an area for our most loyal supporters, not exactly a V.I.P. club, but we want to take care of the people who support what we do.

We hope to offer our spiced skewers online and eventually open a retail outlet. I’d love to become the best jazz venue in the area aside from Yoshi’s. We’ve got plans.

Sarah Henry is the voice behind Lettuce Eat Kale. You can follow her on Twitter and become a fan of Lettuce Eat Kale on Facebook.

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  • priscilla

    I am in complete shock that the city of Berkeley would try to kill the Birdland Jazz club & the Multi-Culti Grill. This treasured event Michael has created to create a greater sense of community and allow community members to gather, commiserate is spectacular and should be praised by the city of Berkeley. The Berkeley City officials should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Jian Luo

    Michael has been extremely generous to the jazz student community by letting young jazz musicians play at his club. His club is to gather everybody to have fun there. it should be closed down!!

  • ruiqi chen

    the birdhouse outside Michael’s backyard are very nice…most of them are made of recycled wood. I really love the BBQ!!! ^_^ and the party is wonderful.

  • you wei Tang

    I love the foods and drinks in there; you prepared a lot of foods and a lot of types of drinks for us. We were having fun with some new friends, and a cute dog. The dog is very cute, it always walked around the room and looking for foods. The most important part is the rock band members were having a music show in there, they are very cool! They made all the people were so exciting. I was exciting also! I was really enjoyed this music show and your room’s setting. In your room, we could see many bird lands for decoration in the wall. This is my first time to see the bird lands; it is very special and unforgettable for me. I saw some people start to dance in this pretty, even there were raining outside. I think everyone had a really great time in this pretty.

  • WingLam Hui

    I totally have a very nice time in the party. People around there is very nice, and we do have a very good coummication. I love this party. Everyone there have a lot of fun. Birdman Michael did a great job to provide opportunity to people who live in Berkely to commuicate. The BBQ, the music, and the party is GREAT!!!!!!!!

  • Yuemei Feng

    I like Birdland. It provides a comfortable place for youth to enjoy Jazz music. This is the first place for me to spend my nightlife in U.S. If it is shuted down, my life will be dull. It is possitive for people, it is much better than other pubs, no violance, no drug. I really support Birdland.

  • Mick Del Rosario

    After seven months of the city not taking action, what happened during the time? People were brought together, appreciation for delicious food and amazing music, and a sense of community was instilled within the area. It is a mistake to prevent Birdland from continuing as it is an example of how communities should come together, and to enjoy each others’ company. I urge the City of Berkeley to continue, and support, Birdland for it will be beneficial for the community.

  • Adrien

    The Friday BBQ at Birdland is one of the first thing I tell to my friends, back in Switzerland. I spent 3 months at 1731 Sacramento Street. And during all the summer, it was the key event of the week! Why? I could hang out with people that I would never have met otherwise. I will always remember the atmosphere. This, is Berkeley, don’t close it down!

  • Jayson Artates

    Preventing the Birdland Jazz Club and Multi Culti Grill to continue is such a shocker. What are these events thrown exactly? I see it as a weekly house party–just coincidentally, it has a good crowd of beloved regulars and new faces, good food, and good music on the regular. And what’s wrong what that? Nothing. Micheal Parayno has taken his home and turned it into a place of communal bonding out of the generosity of his heart and love for food and music–something most people don’t see too often: communal bonding and genuine generosity.

    How could the city of Berkeley even think about closing it? There isn’t even an enforced donation, it’s just simply suggested to help cover the food, supplies, and other little things. Like Sarah Henry had said in her article: “The musicians don’t come here for the money. It’s supportive place to play and the vibe is right.” Something this amazing shouldn’t be shut down or forced into the back, something like this should be encouraged and praised up front. The Birdland Jazz Club and Multi Culti Grill could just be the beginning of a stronger community and more simple, yet still extraordinary social gatherings. If it’s beneficial to the community, and there’s no harm of it, why stop it? I support Birdland Jazz Club and Multi Culti Grill.

  • Sebastien Kuenlin

    When I was in Berkeley on Friday night waiting impatiently … There was our traditional BQQ, it was great, awesome!! I love this place!!
    Adrien and me will come and try the new version!!
    Sébastien Kuenlin

  • Tobias Müller

    It was the best moment to meet other peoples from Berkley or from other counties. You will not find another friendly place like Friday BBQ at Birdland. In the 3 moths I never saw any problems at this event. Thanks for this time at Friday evening.
    Best wishes from Switzerland
    Toby Müller

  • Fei Xiong

    What a wonderful community event. I love the Jazz music there and the BBQ too. We are so thankful for the birdland owner who has brought the best musicians in town and others who have served the best food in the world. They have been sharing the best delights to us, to the community.Please, don’t shut this place down!!

  • Jia Ning Liu

    it is a wonderful place.I love the Jazz music there and the BBQ too. Please don’t shut it down…

  • Martijn van den Broek (Belgium)

    I want to add to the international support: I was there when this venue started simply as Michael’s Friday night street side BBQ. Already then this was something truly special, with people from the local and international communities mingling. From a distance I witnessed the development: the canopies and sofas, the extra chefs and live bands. But the core of its success and popularity, a spirit of openness and spontaneity, remained. I hope there is a way to preserve this spirit, and the event, under the current demands to comply with city regulations.

  • Mr. Snappy

    I am planning on coming tonight with several friends for a celebration. Will it still be happening in the rain??

  • Helio

    Good morning Mr. Snappy,

    Birdland will fly above the clouds, Birdland will fly above the rain clouds!

    Looking forward to see you all!

  • Trang Tran

    My name is Trang Tran and I am a Laney College Student in Michael’s class. I have recently went to the Birdland to see what’s so special about the place. Once I got there, I can see why it’s so captivating. The environment is a cozy and warm place to be at, yet it’s an exciting and fun event to be at. This event helped me on my assignments because I was able to experienced something new and then reflect upon it. It should not be shut down! it brings people together in unison to play, listen, and groove to the music/cultural event.

  • Wei Shao Liang

    it is wonderful place for food and music.
    I like the bird houses which are made of recycled materials.
    keep it open….THX….

  • Jia Li Liang

    I like birdland,I totally have a very nice time in the BBQ party.I support Birdland Jazz Club and Multi Culti Grill.

  • Jayne

    I’ve seen Birdland’s bird houses for years, and never imagined there was a secret jazz – bbq club there. It sounds fabulous to me because there are fewer & fewer local jazz or R&B clubs at all. And none are as cheap & pleasant as this sounds.
    I hate the drinking etc. at most bars and it’ss only gotten worse as I’ve aged. I’m a musician who used to play at all kinds of places.
    There must be some way to fix the safety issues on Sac’to Street. Good Luck!
    I hope to visit next year…


    It is a really good place for music and BBQ. I had a wonderful time w/ my frdz at there n i think every one at there might had a good time also. n I hope it can be continue …

  • Michael et al., YOU ROCK THE BLOCK. Kids, adults, dogs, music and the BBQ, the sofas, the garage — that’s where the community is and lives. When I was there with my friends a few weeks back, I had some of the best casual and candid conversations with folks that I’ve ever experienced. Going legit isn’t the worst you could do. Do it and keep going. The end is nowhere in sight, but it’s big for all!

  • Ka Ki Yu

    It is really a nice place. A place that we can enjoy ourselves and relax at the end of a week.
    Michael is very nice to us and the birdhouses he made are very beautiful and cute.
    All of the people there are nice and we have fun together. Michael provides a community for us especially those living in Berkeley to have fun together.
    I highly recommend people to go there if they have a chance.

  • Allison Kimura

    I experienced my first jazz concert here. As a college student, there are scare opportunities that are simultaneously enjoyable and affordable. Birdhouse is one of them. Safe community event for parents, children, friends, and family!

  • Helio


  • Quynh Tran

    I have heard about the Birdland jazz club before, but I haven’t got any chance to go, until last night.
    It was surprisingly FANTASTIC. The music, the foods and the people were so nice. Even though it was raining hard, the place was packed. Walking into the garage feel like entering another world to me. It’s cozy and full of magical rhythm. It makes you want to dance right the moment you walk in.

  • Alex Duong

    I love the environment: the BBQ, the people and the music.
    It was a very nice place for our Friday night activity
    I’m looking forward to go there soon

  • Serena Jew

    This is a great place to get together. Not only are you helping support local artist but you create a community. I come from San Francisco all the way to Berkeley. It is nice to get away from a big city into a small nice quiet area. I can go for walks at night around the park and the entire area, stand around his house and chit chat with other locals and not worry about my safety. The food and atmosphere is just great as well. His birdhouses are just magical as well. I hope this BBQ continues next year.

  • Vernon Chen

    Seven months with no action and they want to do something now? Ha.
    I attended my first Birdland Jazz Club on Friday and it was definitely an eye opener. From the music, to the food, and even the atmosphere, it was something I had never seen and experienced before. This very club brings a sense of community to everyone and brings forward a new culture. People of all ages come here for a good time, with different bands coming every week and the delicious BBQ.
    The city of Berkeley should not shut it down, but give them the permits they need to keep the club going as it is beneficial to the community.

  • Wei Wang

    I donot like people call it secret club. Actually, I had lot of fun with those who love music, food and enjoy this eventhough my English is not good for all communition. We hungout outside of garage and keep sidewalk clean, listening Jazz and eatting BBQ. That the best time since I have been here to be an international student. Also I like birdhouse, but I donnt think that a good idea to move BBQ into the backyard because there is too narrow and people pass through outside of the house will not find the loction where party is.

  • Chanli Liu

    A great place for people who want to communicate and socialize with other is BBQ at Birthland. I love jazz and taste different kind’s food while my friends and I were there. Michael, I hope you will find some way to resolve this situation with the city.

  • darby price

    I strongly support the continuance of Birdland –it makes an invaluable contribution to the local community and neighborhood. Birdland is a positive model for independent non-profit community building and entertainment. There should be more places like Birdland.

  • Karina Lau

    It was the best moment to meet other peoples from Berkley or from other counties. You will not find another friendly place like Friday BBQ at Birdland.I totally have a very nice time in the party.Please, don’t shut this place down!!

  • jpd ott

    In reference to Birdland Jazz and the Multi Culti Grill:

    Count one more voice raised and beer hoisted in support of Birdland Jazz/Multi Culti Grill! And to the city officials who want to close this event – why don’t you come and join in instead. You’ll be welcome and you’ll have a good time.

    I’ve known the BJ/MCG impresario Michael Parayno for a long time and know him for what he is – an out in the open good guy who likes to have fun and bring joy to others. And he has conceived a great medium for both with his Friday evening wingdings.

    The main issue seems to be that Michael’s events are moneymaking ventures. Certainly, Michael has an entrepreneurial gift that is the envy of many. And equally certain, we all plunk down a few bucks for an evening of food and music. But freedom isn’t free so why should a good time be? And if Michael blurs the line between commerce and community, his true and loyal friends know for sure which side of the line he stands on where we are concerned.

    There are marvelous and some would say miraculous things happening Friday nights on Sacramento Avenue. For instance, one participant even swears that he watched the food multiply before his very eyes as Michael gave it his blessing. Although I can only report this as hearsay, I do recall hearing of a similar occurrence at some time in the distant past that many people still regard credibly.

    Of course, this may sound completely ridiculous, which, of course, it is. But so is the fact that in this era when the government fails to effectively regulate the airlines, the banks, Wall Street and polluters the city of Berkeley has the time to regulate a bunch of people engaged in the free exercise of their right to pursue happiness. The real question is not whether some obscure city code is being violated but whether it is the right of the people freely and peacefully to assemble that is being violated. It’s time to bury arbitrary and intrusive bureaucracy in a deep hole under steel reinforced concrete along with a few metric tons of nuclear and human waste. Keep it up Michael, you’re a good dude and you lay down good food and that’s worth a lot. And remember – inferior minds are always trying to shackle the great spirits.

    One word of advice to Michael – in future photo ops lose the cigarette, you don’t want to be a bad influence, and as much as we lament the passing of the beats – they’re history.

    To the city officials weighing this matter – Free Birdland! Let it fly, let it soar! Forevermore!

    Signed, JPD Ott

  • Lyrics R

    Birdland Jazz is a super awesome chill spot to kick it at if you ever find yourself at Berkeley on a Friday night. The music is lively and extremely calming after a long week of tedious schooling or work. Not only is Birdland a good place to relax and wind down, but it’s also a great place to bring your friends and family to enjoy good music, barbeque and s’mores. Birdland is open to anyone and there’s a huge community turn out. There’s no good reason to shut it down!

  • Dan

    Don’t shut down Birdland Jazz Club and Multi Culti Grill. I have only been there twice and I found the jazz and bbq amazing. The people are really friendly and everyone is welcome.

  • Chapala Das

    Birdland Jazz and Multi Culti Grill is a social club where people get together and share their Multi cultural thoughts. The beautiful Jazz music creates positive spirit among people, which in turn improve community strength in the neighborhood. Please don’t close this place down.

  • Fung Kit Chun

    I am a Laney College Student in Michael’s class, Asame30 class.
    He invited his all students to job his Jazz party, and I am one of them.
    I thought Birdland Jazz club was great because there were music and foods we can enjoy.
    If there are more area for Birdland Jazz to party, that will be more perfect.

  • As a musician who played there recently with the “Billy White Quintet,” I can attest that this venue is one of the most unpretentious jazz clubs ever. Jazz is too often presented with fancy white table cloths that cater to the richest people. But often the people who love jazz the most can’t afford that type of night out – especially students and musicians! Birdland refreshingly presents an earthy/artsy/backyard/garage vibe that is inviting for it’s lack of amenities. This will keep the audience pure of heart and will hopefully attract true lovers of music and exotic BBQ. It would be unthinkable if the city were to ever attempt to pull the plug on this soulful venue, it’s situated with a park on one side and the BART across the street so there are very few neighbors to bother. Thank you Michael (and Helio at the grill) for your gracious and thoughtful endeavor!! I wish there was a Birdland on every corner then the human race would be happy again!

  • Steven Cheung

    Oh man, where to start…It was a Friday night, the rain was pouring and everyone seem to be home resting. The streets were silent and no people were to be seen. As I got near the Bart station near berkerly I saw one house, just one, with lights. I immediately saw the white gazebo. next to this big tree and realized that’s were the party is. After parking outside the Bart, I crossed the street and I was greeted by Mr. Parayno at the door. He said, “Hi guys, to me and my friend, come in” , As I sat inside, I saw a lot of people, I was surprised that a lot of people were there even though it was a rainy day. I remember seeing families there too, just enjoying themselves, sitting on the couch. I ate my delicious satay chicken and pepsi, the band started to play. I can’t forget the first time I heard the Nerio Degracia Mambo Jazztet played. It was the most wonderful experience i’ve done. Never have i thought that I would want to dance in a rainy day.

  • butch inumerable

    i hope that the city and the grill can work things out so that the birdland can continue to provide good eats and soulful jazz music that enriches the lives of so many local residents and music lovers everywhere. we take great solace in the fact that this oasis of good vibes has enjoyed ‘sanctuary’ and thrived of all places, at berkeley, which after all is synonimous with freedom of expression. we urge the ‘powers that be’ to work with the grill’s founders and find common ground, an amicable resolution, which is consistent with not only the letter, but the spirit of the law and yet preserve all that is good in the birdland experience.

  • Pauper

    Birds are a high flying species, kinda like Michael “The birdman” Parayno…Birds will always fly high, as will Mike. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of any birds being banned or outlawed anywhere. And bbq seems to be one of America’s favorite pastime… With that being said, what is The Beat; does it go on; has it stopped previously -only to re-boot in another place and time? Don’t be late for this flight of winged wonderment…
    Now, enough of the poetic talk… Berkeley High’s baddest blowin’ the bop beyond your brains boundary, hipsters & hippies hip hoppin’ with their hot ribs in hand, smoke a rollin’ off the statue like mesquite smoker, lyrics and jargon being exchanged amongst the crowd… the session never dies!
    Being the “Birdmans” right hand man, blood brother & neighbor for more than a decade, I can comfortably say… LIVE AND LET LIVE! see U next year folks :) -20II

  • David Wright

    To me, the Birdland BBQ exemplifies what is so great and unique about Berkeley. It would be sad to think that Berkeley would not want to continue to be a place that fosters this sort of unique community event.

  • Jose Santos

    Birdland Jazz cannot be stopped, do not shut down this gem of hope Michael Parayno carries to the table. I as a student of his at City College of San Francisco know how dedicated he is to the community. He offers a a wonder chance for the community to get together and know each other on a first name basis. Michael Parayno is an escape from the dull community that has no intention of friendship or spirit in ones own backyard.

  • Julien

    I had to relocate to the Bay from the East Cost last summer to be near my daughter who had moved here with her mom. Not an easy task. I didn’t know anyone, neither did I have a job or a home. Thanks to some angels (one is named Michael), after a few weeks of hell spent slipping against artificial, politically-correct and self-righteous bores, one evening I magically found myself sharing succulent ribs with my dog while meeting with real people and enjoying soulful music. I had finally met with the FABRIC OF LIFE, the weaves of genuine humanity. You know what I mean, not just a web or a net, I am talking about the real stuff stuffs are made of, the organics: the real heart warmer, the plentiful stomach filler, the brilliant soul teaser, the restless spirit lifter, the unmistakable brain developer, the loving joy provider … The barbecue was first a home for me where to spend some quality time with my child, where she met other kids, pets, parents and grand parents, friends and cousins visiting, artists, scientists, architects, students, businesswomen and men working at home, teachers, therapists, also preachers, healers, wanderers, philosophers and wise crazies, retirees, activists, ex wanabees who now almost are … personalities from all walks of life and from all origins with whom to converse and get together to represent our neighborhood community. Needless to say that thanks to the barbecue, thanks to the support I received from all of you, I now have a job and a home. Most of all I now have very good friends in Berkeley. Michael, thanks for your help, thanks for everything, and thanks to Pinkie for sharing her bones with Herschel.
    P.S: I am sure that noise is not an issue, as Michael has installed a soundproof curtain and one can witness that the street traffic noise covers the jazz escaping the muffled garage.

  • pierre

    Mike is one of those rare guys who selflessly organizes cultural entertainment for the benefit of the community. He has added tremendous value to the neighborhood allowing locals to meet and get to know each other. It is too bad that a few entitled people in Berkeley are ruining it for every one else.

  • laura menard


    The Express has more background on the history of code enforcements violations Michael seems comfortable collecting over time.

    Look, I love music, I love dance, and I have also contributed locally to kids music education here in Berkeley, but reading these comments demanding “SPECIAL” status for Michael based on his alleged superior character and altruistic purpose, complete with misplaced attacks on “invisible” people described as entitled has reached the limit.

    There is nothing more entitled that demanding special status from municipal laws claiming you are so valuable you are above the requirements others must adhere to.

    From the Express article it is abundantly clear Michael has already benefited from the city lessening previous fines and bending over to accommodate a citizen who believes his is above the law, because he has a higher purpose.

    In my book, that is not a good neighbor.

    How to create community opportunities for dance and music that is affordable, casual and comfortable is a good pursuit, one I would willing participate in.

    Cultural relativism defining fairness, no thanks……

  • Laura Menard, have you been to our bbqs? We are not asking for exemptions. In fact, regarding the other violations, I paid for them and willing to pay the other birdhouse violations. Regarding the bbqs, we moved everyone off the sidewalk the last two bbqs to be in compliance. So there is no more issue. Sister Laura, you should come join us to see what the fuss is all about. My neighbors are there to welcome you. I never demanded special status. I paid the fines and complied with City moving people off the sidewalk. I just don’t like the way they put “8 violations” on a piece of paper plastered on my front door without even investigating or checking out the bbqs and talking to the neighbors. It’s called bureaucratic laziness.

  • laura menard


    Thanks for the invite.

    Hey what happens with alcohol use, you might want to protect yourself about minors use and the liability that comes with running a “unofficial club” as described by your students.
    Social host ordinance would apply if minors are provided alcohol by guests on your property.

    As for the exemption status, glad to hear you are not expecting such, the comments from your students suggest otherwise though.

  • Laura, most of the minors are high schoolers with the Berkeley High School Jazz program and the Berkeley High parents monitor those kids. I only serve soda and water including to the musicians. Since adults bring their own beer, I hope and tell them not to give it to the minors. But there’s really not much booze in the party since most people forget to bring beer when they come except the regular neighbors who can just walk back to their fridges and grab another beer or glass of wine.

    Most of my students, of course, have less understanding of zoning since they are not property owners yet and most come from Asian countries where there are more vibrant and dynamic street cultures so they don’t know much about residential zoning. I do wish we had a few late night food carts though in Berkeley since for over a decade while in grad school, the only place to get something to eat after 11pm was Top Dog on Durant and Jack in the Box, So to my students coming from immigrant backgrounds from major global cities like Shanghai, Beijing, HK, Seoul, Manila, where zoning is blurred between commercial/residential etc..Berkeley seems like a provincial hamlet. At least at our bbqs you can still get good Southeast Asian grilling, should you have a craving at 2am on a Friday night without having to go to Top Dog and dealing with college students.