Birdland Jazz and Multi Culti Grill: Update

Michael Parayno of Birdland. Photo: Eric Arnold.

Many Berkeleyside readers have weighed in on the fate of the Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz evenings hosted by Michael Parayno out of his garage at 1733 Sacramento Street, across from North Berkeley BART.

Here’s an update:

Last Thursday, December 8, Parayno received a Notice of Violation from the Code Enforcement Unit of the Office of the City Manager.

The document lists eight code violations, including a lack of a special-event permit, loud and unruly gatherings which obstruct public streets, and unapproved land use based on zoning.

The notice advises that corrective action, in the form of a special-event permit, is necessary to avoid penalties, which amount to $500 per violation or $4,000 in total a day.

As reported on Berkeleyside, last week’s gathering went ahead, sans sidewalk set up — futon couches were moved to the park next door — without any action from the city to date.

City spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross says “the list of violations speaks for itself.” In response to queries from Berkeleyside to city Code Enforcement and Health officials, Clunies-Ross adds: “By having another event, the organizer could be cited for any of those violations, or any other violations discovered at that time.”

Parayno has applied for an event permit, according to Clunies-Ross, a process that can take time to sort out, as issues of health and safety, noise, timing, and right-of-way are addressed. The Berkeley Police Department confirms receiving “at least two” complaints from community members concerning past events.

Meanwhile, Parayno plans to go ahead with a final soiree for the year this Friday. Musicians from the Berkeley High School Jazz Program will take the stage at 6 p.m., followed by the Nerio DeGracia Mambo Jazztet at 8:30 p.m., and Billy White Hot Five from New York City at 11 p.m.

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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  • I’m writing in support of North Berkeley’s Birdland. I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps member in the East Bay and only moved to the area in September. Through my work with non-profits over the past couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to travel all across the U.S. and abroad so I’ve seen my fair share of community driven events. I attended one such event at Birdland on Friday December 4th. One of my fellow AmeriCorps members had gotten in contact with the Jazz ensemble performing that night and I came out to support the artists. I didn’t know what to expect when I was told there would be free food and great jazz that night. As I walked down the street I had to stop and ask to make sure I was at the right place. From the outside it just looked like a community get together and I didn’t want to interrupt. I walked up the first person I saw, which just happened to be Mike, and asked if this was the place to hear some jazz? He said of course and welcomed me in and offered me some food from the grill and pointed me in the direction of the band. I chatted with Mike for a few minutes and immediately felt at home. These are exactly the kinds of community gatherings that the city should be cultivating, not stifling. Now-a-days too many people don’t know their neighbors, ignore each other on the street, and genuinely don’t have a connection to their community. Mike is doing a wonderful job reversing these trends. I’ve worked with numerous communities all over the world and that Friday at Birdland was one of the most authentic community get togethers I have ever had the good fortune of attending; I hope to be able to attend a few in the future.

  • tizzielish

    This Birdland thing sounds wonderful .. .. and yet . . . how can some readers at Berkeleyside think that these events should be allowed to continue? Zoning laws, special event permits, loud and unruly gatherings obstructing streets . . . if Birdland is allowed to do whatever they want, then fifty or a hundred other such events could get going. Try to imagine crowds of college students organizing jazz concerts with free barbecue on a front lawn on your block . . . . we live in a society, in a community. The things we do affect those around us. If we have a free for all –everyone-do-what-they-want — . . .

    Living next door to a party location gets old really fast.

  • Andrew

    I agree that the idea sounds wonderful. But if my neighbor did that I’d get upset. If I move next door to Yoshi’s I expect what I get. If I move to a serene Berkeley neighborhood full of homes then I don’t expect jazz concerts. If everyone thinks they can skirt the rules and do whatever they want then Berkeley becomes a less desirable place. The fact that it is jazz music and not a frat party does not make it more right.

    Contrary to Nelson I used to live off of Solano Ave and we knew all of our neighbors on the entire block and talked with them often. We walked a lot and chatted often. But if one of them had a big party with bands I’d not think they were being very neighborly.

  • I can only comment on the Friday night that I attended. The band was deep inside the residence and was barely audible from the street. The guests were either in the front yard grabbing food off of the grill or inside enjoying the music. It was hardly the “loud and unruly gathering which obstruct public streets” that has been portrayed.

  • Birdman Mike

    The thing about Birdland is that it’s a community sponsored event now even though I started the original BBQ just with my friends on the driveway. Now we have alot of people who sponsor the bbq every Friday and pay all for the food($300/bbq): Paul and Dr. Kara Lynch, my next door neighbors, Susan and Mike Freeman who lives right behind me who donated his band pay from last week’s performance to pay for this week’s bbq, Pierre Palancade, a neighbor who lives on Virginia Street, Dorin Blumberg who lives on Hopkins Street, Dan Reamon who lives on Grant Street, Jun Gumabay who lives on San Pablo, Morgan Lim who lives across the bridge in Pacifica, Denise Robichau who also lives in the Peninsula, Thomas(i forget his last name) who lives on Sacramento, and many more sponsors who want to donate but I have to turn them down because I just want to keep it simple for now. So how much do these neighbors give per year to our jazz/bbq? Do the math and that’s about $2,000 per person. I’m so glad to be part of our neighborhood. Tissilish and Andrew, you are welcome to our bbq/jazz this Friday to see for yourself. The others have been there so they know. There are no violations being broken. We would have been shut down 30 weeks ago if we were violating people’s right of way and carrying on loud boisterous parties. We support Berkeley High Jazz program and give the combos a stipend(no they don’t perform for tips..They are paid musicians as they deserve to be) In fact, Special Events Coordinator from City Hall, Eric Brenman will meet with the community in mid January to discuss how we can keep Birdland going since it’s an asset to our neighborhood. BTW, the bands we have at Birdland have played at Yoshis, Monterey Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, NYC Birdland, etc. The reaction of people who have attended our gatherings from other countries like Italy, Germany, Columbia, Croatia, and Switzerland and other states and neighborhoods including San Francisco, Boston, and NYC all comment: PIMBY, please, in my back yard. As one writer of Birdland Jazz and BBQ commented: “Lately, all I’ve been hearing and dealing with are money issues that have been a driving force in my gig choices. But last night wasn’t about money at all, though the donations we did receive certainly helped! Instead, what I earned from the experience was a much needed sense of liberation.

    Music at its core is about community, sparking conversation, and bringing people together in different ways. That said, last night was about the music, and bringing something to people that cannot be so easily quantified. Last night was about the love of jazz and the triumph of the human spirit.” Oscar Pangilinan, Bay Area Saxophonist.

    We plan to continue Birdland Jazz and BBQ for the next 25 years and will pass it along to our children who will pass it along to their children. Arguing about zoning and ordinances misses the whole point. Birdland or whatever you want to call it(i prefer to call it a six car garage with leather couches and one bbq grill) have brought joy and conversation and music to thousands of people this year. The couches in the garage and the driveway bbq grill concept is about to be launched in our entire neighborhood so stay tuned to more “supper clubs.”

  • Xiao Juan Zhu

    Birdland, I thought it is ideal place for new immigrants to learn and accept a new cultural. Lots of diverse people gathered in a place, listened to music and enjoyed it. Wonderful! Also, to listen to music can make me relive my stress.

  • Chris Geiger

    It’s one thing to create a truly loud and unruly gathering. But the potential for annoying neighbors must be balanced against community benefit. This event has a very supportive neighbor on one side, and a park on the other. The music is not loud – it is muffled by the garage. One would have to be very sensitive indeed to be bothered by the Birdland events.

    I’ve been there several times, and I found it to be the most positive, community-driven, friendly gathering I’ve seen in years. This is what makes Berkeley a great place to live. Please consider these kinds of intangibles when considering enforcement actions and citations. This is no frat party – it is an honest, altruistic attempt at community building.

  • Oblivious

    I support to the birdland. well, as we are the immigrants, we need to have a place that gather the others, to communicate with each others. birdland is a creative area, with listening to the jazz music, we totally enjoy in chating with other ppl there!

  • Yuki 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.

  • Xiaoli Wu

    good idea…
    delicious food…
    wonderful music…

  • Wei Shao Liang

    I very support of North Berkeley’s Birdland.
    Good Music…
    I am very enjoying this party.

  • Ritchie LE

    A great family orientated place where the people are friendly. The host, Mike Parayno provides a safe enviornment for college students to mingle with one another. Great place to meet new people!

  • Jing Jia Yu

    The Birdland is a very nice place for people to relaxed on the end of the week. people can listen to the wonderful music and enjying the delicous BBQ food. People come from different countries can share their own cultures. my friends and I like it so much. I hope it will continue open for us.

  • ling peng

    I think it is a fantastic place for people to relax and have fun. It delivers many different cultures and expression of diverse feelings. It is just so awsome:))