New street banners give Berkeley neighborhoods identity

New district banners, 6/6, Ashby and Adeline

A new banner in the Lorin District highlights the area’s concentration of antiques shops and art galleries. Photo: Kaia Diringer

A number of colorful new street banners have appeared in Berkeley’s Adeline-Ashby and Sacramento Street neighborhoods. They are the result of a city-funded effort to help discrete commercial districts brand themselves and promote what they see as their distinct attributes.

The initiative involved UC Berkeley students interviewing local merchants and Berkeley marketing company Radiant Brands working with property owners in the two areas to help crystalize ideas around the branding and the design for the banners.

“We engaged with stakeholders and held a series of meetings,” said Michael Caplan, Economic Development Manager for the City of Berkeley.

New district banners, 1/6, Sacramento and Julia

A banner at Sacramento and Julia streets focuses on the environment. Photo: Kaia Diringer

In the Adeline-Ashby area some of the themes that were identified included architecture — in particular the distinctive corner building which housed the former Addie’s Pizza Pie restaurant, as well as diversity, and food — not least now that the area has its own Farmers Market. One red-and -white banner highlights the concentration of arts and antiques stores at the intersection on Adeline and Ashby.

Caplan said the Sacramento Street banners were inspired by the changing nature of the area spurred by the arrival of Bio-Fuel Oasis on the north-west corner of Ashby and Sacramento, and HTR Remodeling at 2952 Sacramento Street.

Not all the local property and business owners could agree on the message they wanted to convey, however. According to Caplan, there was much discussion about what to call the neighborhood whose dual hubs are Ashby BART and the Adeline-Ashby intersection.

New district banners, 3/6, Sacramento & Russell

A Sacramento St. banner: one of a new crop helping brand different Berkeley areas. Photo: Kaia Diringer

He said there was a strong sentiment that the area should not be defined by its major thoroughfares, but rather be called the Lorin District which is the historic name that originates from the old Lorin train station. Lorin was the last stop before Berkeley along the Berkeley Branch line of the Central Pacific (later, Southern Pacific) railway. The area was at one point the unincorporated town or settlement of Lorin, but, in the early 1900s, the residents elected to be annexed to the City of Berkeley.

The new banners join those that already exist in many of the city’s commercial district — including downtown, the Elmwood, North Shattuck and Solano Avenue — although those were largely funded by local merchants’ associations rather than central city funds.

Caplan said this new initiative is part of an effort to help south Berkeley.

“There’s a real interest in economic revitalization for this area,” he said. He cited many recent developments that he believes are signs of positive regeneration in the neighborhood, including the relatively new Ed Roberts Campus, the recent repaving of Ashby and Adeline, and the arrival of new shopfronts such as the Alchemy Café and the Firehouse Art Collective. Several new restaurants are slated for the area too, including a new leaseholder for Addie’s Pizza Pie restaurant. Local art gallery Expressions has also been working on a program to show artworks on vacant storefronts in the neighborhood.

Going forward, the hope, Caplan said, is that the branding used on the new banners will be used in other iterations such as holiday and seasonal campaigns.

Kaia Diringer is currently Berkeleyside’s photo intern. See more of her work on Flickr.

Alchemy Co-op Café brightens Berkeley strip in transition [07.17.12]
Berkeley’s Tuesday Farmers Market moving to Lorin District [06.07.12]
Open doors at Firehouse Bazaar create classic community [08.23.11]
The Ed Roberts campus is open for business [11.19.10]
Neighborhood revival: Kick-starting the Lorin District [04.27.10]

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

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  • Lhasa7

    My neighborhood “has identity” without some aesthetically doltish bureaucrat imposing their totalitarian semiotics on it.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    It’s a little saccharine and even theme parkish, but it beats “guns and drugs,” “drunks and punks,” and “beatings and breakins.”

  • Mbfarrel

    The North Shattuck district has banners, but I doubt anyone notices. They are not so much invisible as not looked at. Nor should they be; they are too high, driver would lose sight of the street and the mad pedestrians, and a pedestrian has plenty to look at without craning his neck to look way up. And this post has three prepositions I’ve ended a sentence with.

  • 4Eenie

    This is something up with which I will not put!

  • curiousjorge

    ↑ that would make a great banner.

  • Lhasa7

    I’m still sore at UCB for wrecking the nicest pastoral path on the main campus with grotesque recruiting banners several years ago.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    with good reason. At whom are those directed?

  • bgal4

    Visual clutter. imo

    I would prefer neighborhood empowerment in the form of city sponsored and supported neighborhood councils, providing citizen partnerships in public safety, disaster planning and land use decisions.
    see Portland model.

  • Lhasa7

    Propective students, I suppose.

    The more I revisit this story, the more irritated I become. Who decided that it was in any way desirable to “help brand different Berkeley areas”?

    The über-kitsch aesthetic of the Sacramento Street ones is particularly worrisome. If there are birds on a given street, why would anyone want a cartoonish banner depicting same? All it does is reduce the dignity of the neighborhood.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Sounds like Michael Caplan is the culprit.

    On re-reading the story, I found an amusing typo:

    there was much discussion about what to call the neighborhood whose duel hubs are Ashby BART and the Adeline-Ashby intersection.

    Or maybe it’s a Freudian slip, since the “duel hubs” are where we get a lot of gunplay.

  • Grant

    Visual pollution. Now people can look up and not at the stores. At least the signs at the Marin circle tried to solve a problem. This idea of building the brand of local districts makes the area look tacky. These type of fabric banners don’t last more than a couple of years- this project will keep costing as they need to be replaced regularly.

  • PorcelinaGrout

    I think they’re pretty. And it’s refreshing to read about a collaboration of city, university, and merchants.

  • mahug

    I particularly love the banners out in the Temescal area that let everyone know they’ve now entered a “hip” zone. Seems to me that as soon as you start self-consciously calling yourself hip, you’ve moved into a different category….

  • southberkeleyres

    I love the playful, colorful banners which are a huge improvement over the former banners. Our Antiques District, Farmer’s market, and “Green corner” (Biofuel Oasis, HDR Remodeling and healthy Garment cleaning at Berkland’s on Sacramento), and many more themes deserve recognition which the banners help highlight. I venture that wonderful Sweet Adeline’s Bakery deserves it’s own banner as a deserving neighborhood destination. It will be easy enough to communicate with the city when the banners need replacing. A desirable shopping district does far more good than vacant storefronts. South Berkeley can use the help. Now, can the city do anything to help get the blightedToler property on Sacramento cleaned up / sold?

  • Japhy Writer

    You’re so right.

  • serkes

    Perhaps it showed up as several Powerpoint

    • Bullet
    • Points


  • PragmaticProgressive

    Brilliant! Can you do one that says “Berkeley: the most nostalgic place on earth” ?

  • Guest

    My neighborhood banner would read “Potholes ‘n’ Sewage”

  • guest

    “These type of fabric banners don’t last more than a couple of years- this project will keep costing as they need to be replaced regularly.”

    This is a good thing as business turnover may change the ‘identity’ of the area which will require new signs anyway.

  • Biker 94703

    Article leaves out the interesting parts:

    * how much did it cost
    * who paid for it

  • loaf

    Certainly a bit less stupid than the utterly ridiculous Telegraph/Temescal streetlight banners .. “Cool” .. “Hip” .. “Happening” .. “Global” .. “Shops”

  • Howell

    “Beggars and Feces”

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Says city-funded and led by Economic Development. So you paid for it.

  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    I didn’t notice the banners until I noticed the ones in Temescal, in Oakland. When I saw the South Berkeley banners I thought they were kind of lame, but nowhere near as lame as the ones they have in Oakland. The Oakland banners bring lame to new heights.

  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    I thought of the Temescal banners immediately when I read this article.

  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    That would be the stretch of Shattuck from the main entrance of BART to Dollar Tree, right? I would add to beggars and feces urine and smoke.

  • Steven Donaldson

    Thanks for the great article! My firm RadiantBrands designed these banners in part as a contribution to Berkeley. Michael Kaplan and his great internal team wanted to give some real identity to these neighborhoods and the branding work we did for the Downtown got us involved in developing these unique images for the Loren and Sacramento Street areas. We worked closely with the eclectic and diverse folks in these great neighborhoods including artists, antique merchants, retailers and non-profits and brought out their vision. Thanks to these great communities. It was really great working with everyone.

  • Fed Up

    I could not agree more. The business district at Sacramento and Ashby desperately needs some love… and it is an absolute pity that Greg Toler and his siblings continue to disgrace their father’s memory by refusing to do anything productive with that eyesore on the corner of Julia St.

    That’s the key to revitalizing this entire part of the city — and banners aren’t going to make a whit of difference in the face of the relentless graffiti, garbage, rats, and other byproducts of the Tolers’ neglect. 30 years of neglect!

    Max Anderson, what are you doing about this? Michael Caplan, what are you doing about this? Mayor Bates, what are you doing about this? Greg Toler, SHAME ON YOU! What are you doing about this?

    Hey, while we’re at it… Berkeleyside, what are you doing about this?

  • southberkeleyres

    I called the city today to report the latest ongoing Grafitti covering the whole front of the blighted Toler property. Please call the city’s Environmental Health Dept to report rats or garbage; a serious health hazard. The eyesore is bad enough. You’d think that after several decades of neglect Mayor Bates or our councilman Max Anderson would step up and do the right thing. I hope the city is billing the owners for any needed work or placing liens on the property to pay for action taken. Berkeleyside, please see what you can do to spur some action on this festering blight which is holding back South Berkeley’s Sacramento Street business district.

    I wonder if a small claims action taken by several neighbors is a worthy tactic, although city officials get paid to take responsibility for problems such as this.

  • bgal4

    Economic development office already organized the merchants into a small claims blight nuisance case just a few years ago. They lost. Berkeley city code enforcement officer Daniel testified on behalf of the Tolers, saying the Tolers always comply with the city requests to clean up blight.

  • unbelievable

    Yeah, Greg Daniel (the code enforcement guy) refuses to enforce the codes. He and Greg Toler are buddies from high school. He won’t even issue an official order for them to clean up the building – even when it’s covered in tags and trash and weeds.

    Eventually, when the noise of complaining neighbors gets so loud that it can’t be avoided, Greg Toler slaps another bucket of paint over the moldy bricks… and Greg Daniel says, “See. Look what a wonderful citizen he is. Won’t you be my neighbor?”

    It’s pathetic!

  • bgal4

    Thanks for filing in some critical details about the cronyism. I hope these comments are read and don’t get ignore since this story is a few days old, but this is how Berkeley really works, or is that doesn’t work?

  • southberkeleyres

    Here’s what the Toler property looks like. Yes we need a group of neighbors to report / complain to the city about this disgrace. Cronyism, dereliction of duty, unprofessional attitudes, disrespect of South Berkeley, whatever you call it, it’s ugly!

  • Snead Hearn

    Like lipstick on a pig.

  • Snead Hearn

    and underneath all the signs warning about car thefts.

  • Snead Hearn

    How about a citywide one. Richmond has signs: “Richmond, city of pride and purpose”.
    A slogan is all it takes to make it so –