Daily Archives: October 18, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 10.18.12

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Council sets fee for affordable housing mitigation

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Developers of new residential rental properties in Berkeley can now choose to pay into a special city fund instead of including on-site affordable housing after an 8-1 vote Tuesday by the City Council. It’s the latest step by City Hall to create policies that will increase Berkeley’s affordable housing stock.

But whether developers will choose to pay the fee remains to be seen, and some members of the City Council caution that setting the fee too high could have unintended, unavoidable, consequences for future projects.

The city requires developers of new market-rate rental properties to make one of their units affordable — to households earning 50% or less of the region’s median family income — for every 10 market rate units. This means that the units would have to be affordable, for example, to a family of three in Berkeley making $42,100 or less. … Continue reading »

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6 Berkeley restaurants snag Michelin Bib Gourmands

Comal. Photo: Postcard PR
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Six Berkeley dining spots have been named Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants this year, including newcomer Comal.

Two names are missing this year from last year’s list of seven: Berkeley Thai House, on Channing Way, and eVe on University Avenue. Thai House is still going strong but eVe closed in late 2011 and came back under the same ownership last year as Peruvian rotisserie chicken joint Brasa.

The six restaurants are: Comal, Corso, Five, Gather, Ippuku, and Rivoli.

Michelin judges give the ‘Bib’ to restaurants that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). “Most importantly, they are the restaurants that the company’s inspectors frequent themselves,” Michelin said on its release. Michelin selected 70 such places for its 2013 San Francisco area guide which covers the entire Bay Area and wine country, down from 77 last year. … Continue reading »

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House fire sparks second blaze in South Berkeley

Deakin fire 10.18.12
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A house that caught fire on Deakin Street near Ashby this morning sparked another fire in the house next door and the evacuation of an adjacent convalescent care home.

The first fire started at 10:45 am and both fires were under control by 11:30 am, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong.

The first fire broke out in the rear exterior of 3009 Deakin Street. It caused part of the house at 3019 to ignite. Both are single family homes. Any occupants of the homes had evacuated before the fire department arrived on the scene, and there were no reported injuries. Dong said the cause of the original fire is unknown and an investigation team were on the scene at 11:30 am.

The Ashby Care Center, a convalescent care home to the rear of the homes, was evacuated and patients were asked to stay outside due to concerns about smoke in the immediate area and the building causing respiratory problems. … Continue reading »

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The many incarnations of Ram Dass

Warren David Keith plays Ram Dass in Acid Test, the one-man play written by Lynne Kaufman. Photo by Patti Meyer
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Ram Dass started out life as Richard Alpert, born into a wealthy Jewish Massachusetts family in 1931. Despite his bar mitzvah, he did not consider himself spiritual until he had tried LSD more than 377 times – many of those on trips with his close friend, Timothy Leary –  and been fired from his teaching position at Harvard.

On a trip to India in 1967, he met Neem Karoli Baba, the man who would be his guru and the one who renamed him Ram Dass, which means “servant of God.”

From that point forward, Ram Dass became one of the country’s foremost spiritual seekers, writing numerous books and influencing thousands. Now 81, and paralyzed on one side from a stroke, Ram Dass lives in Maui and is still spiritually seeking.

Lynn Kaufman, the author and playwright, had long been fascinated by Ram Dass’ journey. That interest intensified after he suffered a stroke, which launched him into a new phase of self-examination. The author of 20 plays, Kaufman decided to write her first one-person play. Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass, opens tonight at The Marsh at 2120 Allston Way. The play starts Warren David Keith as Ram Dass and runs through Nov.24. … Continue reading »

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Anderson and Belser vie for District 3 council seat

The retirement of Max Anderson and Laurie Capitelli's decision to run for mayor rather than for re-election in District 5 has created two open council seats. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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There isn’t a big policy divide between two-term incumbent Max Anderson and challenger Dmitri Belser in the race for the District 3 City Council seat.

The South Berkeley district is one of the more diverse in the city, both racially and socioeconomically. Although crime rates are down (as they are throughout Berkeley), crime remains a major issue in the district. Commercially, attention has been focused on developing the Lorin District as a true commercial hub.

Both Belser and Anderson talk about the importance of providing a voice for South Berkeley, reducing crime and supporting local businesses. For voters figuring out which candidate to support, it comes down to judging Anderson’s record against what Belser claims is a fresh approach. … Continue reading »

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Op-Ed: Measure T for West Berkeley lacks definition

Opponents of Measure T claim supporters have mailed out false flyers claiming that Berkeley's SEIU Local 1021 supports the measure, when in fact it opposes it.
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In an Opinionator piece published today, Patrick Sheahan argues that Measure T lacks definition. But Measure T — which would change the zoning in West Berkeley to allow property owners of large sites to go through a special approval process (Master Use Permit) that would give them  expanded development rights in building, but also require them to offer more in community benefits — is too vague, he says.

Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles of 500 to 800 words. We ask that … Continue reading »

On walk signal, are two buttons better than one?

Two walk signal buttons on Solano Avenue. Photo: Justin Huang
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Last week, a local resident asked Berkeleyside about this signal pole on Solano Avenue. He wondered what the purpose of the street-level “walk signal” button was. We posed the question to readers on the Berkeleyside Facebook page, and their answers ran the gamut from the serious to the silly.

Some said the bottom button is for people to kick if their hands are full, or if they don’t want to risk contact with germs. Others said perhaps seeing eye … Continue reading »

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