Monthly Archives: September 2012


Best of Berkeleyside: This week’s most popular posts

This Where in Berkeley? really stumped readers. It took more than seven hours for a reader to guess that the brick wall is at the Fox Commons Building at 1670-1676 University Avenue. Photo: R. Kehlmann

News about the 2012 November election filled Berkeleyside this week as candidates ramped up their campaigning and organizations hosted forums and debates. The first scheduled debate among the four candidates running for two seats on the school board focused, in part, on where each candidate stood on BUSD’s controversial nomination of Edmond Heatley for superintendent, and their opinion of the Broad Academy, from where he graduated. Bert Wahl is running for mayor, but said his primary goal isn’t winning, but putting forward some new ideas.  The race for the District 5 City Council seat took an ugly turn when supporters of incumbent Laurie Capitelli said challenger Sophie Hahn was misrepresenting his voting record — a charge that Hahn denies.

And Berkeleyside unveiled Voter’s Edge Berkeley, a one-stop, non-partisan voting guide to the ten measures on the November ballot. The guide, which will be updated continuously until the election, is produced in partnership with MapLight, a non-profit, nonpartisan Berkeley company dedicated to revealing money’s influence on politics.

Berkeley finally moved toward shuttering the Perfect Plants Patients Group, a cannabis collective that the city has said is operating on Sacramento Street in violation of zoning codes. The discussion at Thursday’s ZAB meeting was as much about the city’s failure to address serious issues in south Berkeley as it was about the collective.

Finally, nine months after the Downtown Business Association launched its clean-up of the downtown, a survey shows that the organization’s hopes have been partially realized. Perceptions have been improving, although there is a way to go.

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The Berkeley Wire: 09.28.12

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Allegations fly in District 5 council race

Hahn yard sign
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Update 8:20pm: Sophie Hahn read to Berkeleyside from her prepared remarks made to the John George Democratic Club. Here’s what she said:

“I am emphatically opposed to the death penalty. The incumbent did not support a resolution to end the death penalty in Alameda County. I am in favor of equal pay for equal work. The incumbent did not support a resolution in favor of Obama’s Lily Ledbetter Act.”

Hahn said she does not ascribe views to incumbent Laurie Capitelli. “He speaks through his record,” she said.

Original story: The race for the District 5 City Council seat has taken an ugly turn, with supporters of incumbent Laurie Capitelli claiming that challenger Sophie Hahn and her surrogates are mischaracterizing his record. … Continue reading »

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ZAB tells Berkeley cannabis collective to shut down

Code enforcement officer Greg Daniel and Deputy City Attorney Laura McKinney prepare to present report to Zoning Adjustments Board. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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After listening to residents complain how a medical cannabis facility on Sacramento Street had drawn unsavory loiterers, trash, and trouble – as well as testimony that it was a good neighbor – the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday voted 7-0, with one abstention, to declare it a public nuisance.

The vote that determined Perfect Plants Patients Group at 2840-B Sacramento Street had violated numerous zoning laws will send the issue to the City Council, which will make the final determination whether the business should shut down.

The decision disappointed Eric Thomas, who founded the medical cannabis collective. He said he has been trying to find a new location for the business, but has not found a landlord willing to rent to him. … Continue reading »

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900 Grayson: American food with flair in west Berkeley

The restaurant storefront. Photo: Courtesy of Yelp
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From the start, restaurant goers and food critics dug the low-key, west Berkeley breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot serving stylish takes on classic American fare with quirky names like The Demon Lover (spicy fried chicken and buttermilk waffles).

900 Grayson, an unassuming corner restaurant with a maple pink facade, quietly attracted a following for its menu of comfort cuisine made from quality ingredients —  like the natural beef burger with applewood smoked bacon and house-made BBQ sauce — as well as its fresh seasonal fare with Asian undertones like the Ladyboy (a Vietnamese inspired dish with lemongrass prawns, mango, daikon, rice noodles, toasted rice powder and micro greens).

Not long after it opened six years ago, though, the business started by four partners hit some snags. First came the fast departure of chef-partner Sophina Uong (now behind the stoves at Oakland’s Pican). Eighteen months later her former life and work partner, Josh Pearl, followed suit.

A legal dispute over money followed:  The two ex-partners were pitted against brothers Anthony and Christopher Saulnier, who stayed on to run the restaurant. Add to that wranglings with Berkeley’s zoning department over dinner hours — the city had concerns about noise and congestion from the restaurant, which is in a residential area that fronts busy Seventh Street — and the restaurateurs had their hands full.

But the Saulniers weathered that early rough patch and now boast a loyal breakfast crowd, which mostly hails from Berkeley, and a steady lunch-time clientele, thanks largely to nearby businesses such as Pixar, Bayer, Novartis, and a host of smaller companies. These days the kitchen is run by committee, with two chefs, Eric Larson and Nick Spelletich, in charge. Larson was featured serving up 900 Grayson grub on an episode of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” show for the Food Network.

Berkeleyside spoke with co-owner Chris Saulnier, 43, after the lunch rush last week. … Continue reading »

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School board forum displays strong anti-Broad views

Candidates for the school board speak at Thursday night's forum. Left to right: Judy Appel, Norma Harrison, Tracy Hollander, Beatriz Leyva-Cutler. Photo: Lance Knobel
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At the only forum planned for school board candidates before the election, three of the four candidates criticized the existing board’s choice of a Broad Academy graduate as finalist in the superintendent search and committed themselves to an improved process for choosing a new superintendent. The three, incumbent Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, Judy Appel and Tracy Hollander, were diplomatic, but all said Broad Academy policies did not fit in Berkeley.

There are four candidates for two school board positions — the fourth candidate, Norma Harrison, spent the evening not answering questions posed, but outlining her plans to “reform capitalism” and “build the struggle for socialism and communism.” Questions during the forum at LeConte Elementary School last night covered a wide range of issues, from the best policies for English learners (the forum was held by the Friends of Berkeley Two-Way Immersion), to what motivated each of the candidates to run for the school board, to their views on Berkeley’s school assignment system.  … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 09.27.12

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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THROUGH A LENS, SHARPLY In the mid 1960s, in honor of the University of California’s centennial in 1968, President Clark Kerr hired the renowned photographer, Ansel Adams, to take photos of the system. Adams trekked throughout the university’s far-flung campuses to shoot a series of photos documenting its students, professors, labs, and buildings. The images were published in a 1967 book, Fiat Lux. The Bancroft Library is exhibiting rarely seen images from that work and is hosting a opening exhibition reception Thursday, Sept. 27 from 5 to 7 pm. The show accompanies On the Same Page, a program that presents all new Cal students and faculty with one book to talk about, in this case, Fiat Lux. The Bancroft exhibition runs through Feb. 28, 2013.

CLUCK, CLUCK, AND TASTE Even though it is located in an old gas station at the intersection of Ashby and Sacramento, Biofuel Oasis is all about locally raised, locally consumed food. On Saturday, Sept. 29, it will host its Harvest Tasting Festival, where visitors can taste honey, mead, kombucha, and kimchi, pet chickens, see a fermentation demonstration, and vote on the best East Bay honey and most beautiful chicken and egg.  At 1 pm there will be a “Chick Day Reunion,” where chicken owners who got chicks at Biofuel can get together. Local residents are invited to submit their honey and eggs for competition (but enter by 7 pm today).  The Harvest festival runs from noon to 4 pm at 1441 Ashby Ave. … Continue reading »


Police Blotter: Recent crime in Berkeley

Police HQ
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The numbers reflected in the report are only a snapshot of what occurs in the City of Berkeley. The numbers are considered for informational purposes only and should not be used for data analysis or comparison to other agencies. Cases may be reclassified after further review of the incident, by supervisors, investigating detectives or the District Attorney as appropriate.

See also the San Francisco Chronicle’s regularly published list of arrests in Berkeley. For other sources of information on crime in Berkeley see BPD’s CrimeView Community and

Sunday, September 16

Loud Party, 3000 Block of Fulton Street

On Sunday, September 16, at approximately 7:03 p.m., a citizen called reporting a loud party in the 3000 block of Fulton Street. An officer arrived at the location and contacted the resident. The resident agreed to turn down the music.  … Continue reading »

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Back to school circa 1886: A young man’s reflection

Elmer R. Drew, UC Berkeley Class of 1888. Photo: Courtesy of The Bancroft Library
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The Bancroft Library recently received a donation of letters written by Elmer R. Drew, who attended the then-young UC Berkeley in the mid-1880s. As Tom Leonard, the University Librarian, was perusing them, he was struck by how different Berkeley was. The hills weren’t built up, cows grazed in fields around town, and hunting in the creeks and woods was commonplace. Yet the teenage student agonized over the same things today’s students worry about: the work load, competition, and of course, football.

By Tom Leonard

“There are so many improvements going on at Berkeley now, that we hardly know the place,” an undergraduate wrote. Roads are torn up, buildings changed to fit larger classes. The year is 1886.  This new take on “back to school” is in a small white box of letters from Elmer R. Drew, recently discovered by his relatives. This is a teenager’s view of a campus that was itself a teenager. Mike Drew (Elmer’s grandson) and Mary Drew of Los Altos have given this California snapshot to the Bancroft Library. … Continue reading »

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Andrea Wolper: Musical explorer with audience in mind

Andrea Wolper
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Whether she’s caressing an American Songbook standard, reinterpreting a contemporary pop tune, introducing a poetic original, or launching into a high-wire free improvisation, Andrea Wolper is a musical explorer who unfailingly seeks the same destination.

“What it always comes down to for me is communication,” says the adventurous jazz vocalist. “I want to communicate feelings with everyone in the room. The audience is a huge part of the equation, and I want everyone to have fun.”

Long based in New York City, the Bay Area native plays her first run of hometown shows in five years, performing tonight at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco and Saturday at the Jazzschool with guitarist Dave MacNab, drummer Vijay Anderson, and New York bassist Ken Filiano. She also offers a Jazzschool workshop on Sunday afternoon “The Jazz Singer in You!” geared to singers of various levels. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 09.26.12

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Berkeley’s Jonathan Mann sings duet with iPhone’s Siri

Berkeleyan Jonathan Mann writes a song a day. It’s what he does — has done since January 2009, in fact — and he reached his 1,365th song yesterday.

His latest effort is a whimsical birthday duet with the iPhone’s virtual assistant Siri. (It’s the second time he has “partnered” with Siri to make a music video– the first song came out last year.)

Mann has a history of singing about Apple products. The late Steve Jobs loved his song about the iPhone 4 and its “antenna problem” so much he screened the video before going on stage in July 2010 for a news conference about the phone’s antenna issues.  … Continue reading »

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