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  • CASHIERS NO MORE Laz Parking, which operates Berkeley’s three parking facilities, is installing prepay ticket machines in all of its garages, which should help eliminate that long backup of cars waiting to get out of the Center Street garage after a play or concert. Patrons can also just use a credit card to get in and out, said Farid Javandel, manager of the City of Berkeley’s Transportation Division. Laz Parking will install the first machines March 12 on Center Street (and permanently open the second exit as well), and in the Oxford and Telegraph/Channing garages soon after. New lights, signs, and paint are on the way, too. There will no longer be any cashiers in the garages, but there will be security patrols and customer assistants, said Javandel. (more…)

  • What makes a city a magnet for startups? Why do entrepreneurs and financiers flock to the South Bay even though there are so few good places to eat there? Does Berkeley want to be Silicon Valley anyway? (You can guess the answer to that one.) Maybe Berkeley is just not hip enough to attract young talent? Does the city’s red tape makes it too cumbersome to be innovative? And, perhaps most significantly, is there just too much distrust of businesses as they thrive and grow? Perhaps Berkeley should focus on what it already does well: incubating startups then allowing them to fly to pastures new, be that San Francisco or Palo Alto.

  • Arlene Blum PhD, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer, is a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Department of Chemistry, and also Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. Blum led the first American­ all-women’s ­ascent of Annapurna I, considered one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult mountains, and is the founder of the annual Berkeley Himalayan Fair. Blum’s current “mountain,” which she considers her life’s most challenging and important, is to change policy worldwide to protect global health and environment from toxic chemicals in consumer products. (For more information, visit the Green Science Policy Institute website.)