Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, June 18-24

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Please share photos, videos and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will alert us — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch. We very much want to know about issues of neighborhood concern and rely on our readers to help us stay informed.

From June 18-24, there were reports of five robberies24 burglariessix assaults or batteries, one weapon-involved call and two felony sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 15 stolen vehicles15 disturbances and 35 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Significant incidents reported by the University of California Police Department (UCPD) included a burglary and an attempted burglary. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links for the latest numbers. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate; incidents that took place during a range of time are listed by the beginning of that time period.

Thursday, June 18

There were two disturbance calls, at 1:57 a.m. in the 3000 block of Shattuck Avenue, and at 10:39 a.m. in the 2600 block of Hillegass Avenue.

There were three commercial burglaries: at 4 a.m. in the 2200 block of San Pablo Avenue; at 6:30 p.m. in the 1500 block of Hopkins Street; and at 6:30 p.m. in the 2600 block of Alcatraz Avenue.

There were three home burglaries: at 9:30 a.m. in the 1600 block of Blake Street; at 10 p.m. in the 1400 block of Alcatraz; and at 10:30 p.m. in the 2400 block of Ellsworth Street. … Continue reading »

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Government

Berkeley mayor nominates interim city manager

Dee Williams-Ridley
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The Berkeley mayor’s office has asked city officials to appoint Deputy City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley as interim city manager following the expected departure later this month of Christine Daniel.

Daniel announced in June that she would be leaving Berkeley to work for the city of Oakland as assistant city administrator. Her final day in Berkeley is set for Friday, July 24.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced Thursday afternoon in a prepared statement that he has formally asked the Berkeley City Council to appoint Williams-Ridley to serve on an interim basis until a permanent city manager can be selected.

The nomination is set to go before council at its July 14 meeting.

The mayor has recommended an annual salary of $225,000 for Williams-Ridley to match the current city manager salary, plus a $1,600 housing allowance. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council postpones street behavior proposal

Many advocates for the homeless came out Tuesday night to speak before the Berkeley City Council. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted early Wednesday morning to postpone consideration of a new set of laws designed to curb problematic street behavior.

The vote came around 1 a.m. after council spent the bulk of its June 30 meeting discussing the city’s biennial budget, which needs to be adopted this month. No public comment on the street behavior proposal, which came up for discussion at about 12:45 a.m., took place.

Read about homelessness in Berkeley.

Advocates for the homeless have decried the new laws as designed to criminalize people who live on the streets, while supporters of the changes have said the city must take steps to curtail sidewalk behavior that is leading to a deteriorating situation, particularly downtown and on Telegraph Avenue. Those opposing the new laws rallied in front of Old City Hall at 6 p.m.

The four ordinances, according to Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office “address sleeping in landscaped planters, asking for money (panhandling) when a person is using a parking meter or kiosk, public urination and defecation, and the amount of personal belongings one can have on the sidewalk.” The item related to belongings would have limited their presence on the sidewalk from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police respond to bank robbery downtown

Berkeley police cruiser. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A man who threatened to have a gun robbed a downtown Berkeley bank Wednesday morning, according to authorities.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said the department is investigating a robbery at Chase Bank, at 2390 Shattuck Ave., near Channing Way. 

Coats said the call about the robbery came in at about 10:05 a.m. … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on street behavior, Campanile view, budget, Berkeley Barb, more

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m., June 30, with a closed session on labor negotiations related to the Police Department, and the appointment of a new city manager later this year. Also at 6 p.m., advocates for the homeless are set to rally outside Old City Hall against a proposal related to street behavior coming up later in the night. At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council is set to consider new rates for its sewer service, an appeal related to the view of San Francisco Bay from Campanile Way, the adoption of the biennial budget, and a set of new laws its advocates say could curb problematic street behavior. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, June 11-17

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Please share photos, videos and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will alert us — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch. We very much want to know about issues of neighborhood concern and rely on our readers to help us stay informed.

From June 11-17, there were reports of nine robberies14 burglaries12 assaults or batteries, one weapon-involved call and no sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 20 stolen vehicles14 disturbances and 39 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Significant incidents reported by the University of California Police Department (UCPD) included two burglaries. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links for the latest numbers. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate; incidents that took place during a range of time are listed by the beginning of that time period.

Thursday, June 11

The BART police received a report of a bike theft at Ashby BART between 9:10 p.m. Wednesday and 12:30 a.m. Thursday. The BMX bicycle had been secured with a cable lock.

There were two disturbance calls, at 12:55 a.m. in the 1200 block of University Avenue, and at 7 a.m. in the 3000 block of Adeline Street.

UCPD responded to a burglary at 7:42 a.m. at North Gate Hall.

Two vehicles were stolen, at 4 p.m. in the 2000 block of Carleton Street, and at 7 p.m. in the 1300 block of Bonita Avenue.

There was a home burglary at 9 p.m. in the 1200 block of University.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley leaders approve community benefits package; ZAB votes to certify Harold Way EIR

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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Proponents of downtown development in Berkeley won two victories Thursday night after city leaders and commissioners approved a proposal for community benefits related to tall buildings and, in a separate meeting, certified the environmental impact analysis related to the first tall building in the pipeline, at 2211 Harold Way.

The Berkeley City Council held a special meeting at 5 p.m. at Longfellow Middle School to tackle the thorny subject of what significant community benefits should be required of developers who wish to construct tall buildings downtown. Seven tall buildings were approved when local residents voted in favor of the city’s Downtown Area Plan, but the type of significant community benefits required of those projects was left vague to allow flexibility during the entitlements process.

In recent years, city zoning board commissioners have expressed frustration about that ambiguity, and asked for more direction from council. Earlier this year, council launched a series of discussions aimed to clarify the requirements. Thursday night, city officials voted in favor of a compromise proposal from council members Lori Droste and Darryl Moore that will help guide the process going forward.

That proposal will now go to the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board for additional discussion. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police investigate shooting on Ashby

Police responded to a shooting in Berkeley on Friday morning. Image: Google Maps
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One person was shot in South Berkeley early Friday morning, but is expected to survive, police said Friday afternoon.

Police responded to a shooting just after 5 a.m. near Ashby Avenue and Newbury Street, which is just west of Shattuck Avenue, said Lt. Alyson Hart of the Berkeley Police Department.

“This appears to be an attempted robbery that escalated to a shooting,” Hart said. “Reports are that the victim will survive and be out of the hospital within a few days.” … Continue reading »

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DA launches criminal investigation into balcony collapse

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley (center) with office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick (right) and Chief Assistant District Attorney Kevin Dunleavy. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Alameda County district attorney’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the balcony collapse in Berkeley last week that killed six and injured seven, leaving many of the survivors with critical injuries.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced the investigation on Wednesday, and provided additional information about it to the media Thursday morning at a press conference in her office.

Read complete balcony collapse coverage on Berkeleyside.

Tuesday, the city of Berkeley said it had completed its investigation into the balcony collapse at Library Gardens, and released a report that identified dry rot as the only contributing factor into what caused the collapse last Tuesday, June 16. The city also announced that it would propose changes to its building code to ensure safer conditions in the future.

The city said it did not intend to look at what might have led to the water damage. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said Wednesday that the city’s focus had been to find ways to keep the same problems from recurring by improving its approach to oversight and modifying existing requirements. Chakko said the actual cause of the water damage at Library Gardens was likely something that would have to be worked out in the courts.

O’Malley said Thursday that the district attorney’s office had been keeping an eye on what steps the city of Berkeley had taken, and decided Tuesday to launch its own investigation into the possibility of criminal negligence. … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on short-term rentals, ‘granny flats,’ homelessness, community benefits

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with a worksession on new recommendations related to homelessness. At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council will consider the potential regulation of short-term rentals, like Airbnb units, in Berkeley; new laws to make it easier for people to build “granny flats”; the council response to the city budget; and more.

Coming up Thursday, there’s a special meeting on the community benefits required of the developers of tall buildings. Stay tuned to Berkeleyside for continuing coverage. … Continue reading »

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‘Severely dry rotted’ timber found after Berkeley balcony collapse; city plans to stiffen safety rules

Remnants of beams from removed balconies show contrast between the condition of the wood from the collapsed balcony and the balcony it fell upon at the Library Gardens Apartments, in Berkeley, on Thursday, June 18, 2015. Six people died and seven were seriously injured in the early Tuesday morning accident. Photo: David Yee ©2015
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Update, June 24, 1 p.m. Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for the Alameda County district attorney’s office, confirmed Wednesday that the office will be taking a look at the balcony collapse.

“The District Attorney’s Office is reaching out to the city of Berkeley and our office will begin looking at this matter,” Drenick said Wednesday by email. “I have no further details at this point in time.”

Berkeleyside will continue to follow the story.

Original story, June 23, 12:06 p.m. One week after a balcony collapsed at a downtown Berkeley apartment building, killing six and injuring seven, the city says “severely dry rotted” timber contributed to the tragedy.

The city of Berkeley found rotting timber in two balconies, and had both of them removed last week. The two other balconies at the complex showed no signs of decay, and were allowed to remain in place.

Tuesday morning, the city released the findings of its investigation into the June 16 accident at Library Gardens, at 2020 Kittredge St., that caused a fifth-floor balcony to break off the apartment building during a birthday celebration, sending 13 people to the ground nearly 50 feet below.

Read complete balcony collapse coverage on Berkeleyside.

“Among other observations, City inspectors noted that the deck joist ends protruding from the exterior wall appeared to be severely dry rotted,” the city said in a prepared statement.

City staff said that, as a result of the accident, the Berkeley City Council will now consider the adoption of new and modified regulations to improve safety in multifamily buildings throughout the city. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, June 4-10

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Please share photos, videos and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will alert us — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch. We very much want to know about issues of neighborhood concern and rely on our readers to help us stay informed.

From June 4-10, there were reports of four robberies16 burglaries16 assaults or batteries, two weapon-involved calls and one sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 17 stolen vehicles13 disturbances and 33 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. There were no significant incidents reported by the University of California Police Department (UCPD). These numbers are subject to change. Click the links for the latest numbers. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate; incidents that took place during a range of time are listed by the beginning of that time period.

Thursday, June 4

Police arrested Rodrick Long, 25, and Joshua Stanley, 23, at 12:15 a.m. on suspicion of second-degree burglary in connection with a commercial burglary about 45 minutes prior in the 1700 block of University Avenue.

Two businesses were burglarized, at 4:31 a.m. in the 700 block of Addison Street, and at 9:26 p.m. in the 900 block of Parker Street.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to a fire on Parker Street west of Sacramento Street. According to Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb, a call came in at 6:11 a.m. about a clothes dryer fire. A second caller then reported that the house was “fully engulfed.” Firefighters arrived to find an active fire, with flames visible from the street inside the 2-story home. “The fire was quickly knocked down, however, and declared ‘under control’ within 10 minutes of arrival,” said Webb. The fire had started in the dryer, and flames scorched the adjacent wall but did not penetrate the sheetrock. Fire and smoke damage was estimated at approximately $10,000. There were no reported injuries.

Two vehicles were stolen, at 7 a.m. in the 800 block of Regal Road, and at 11 p.m. in the 2400 block of Prospect Street.

A home was burglarized at 7:40 a.m. in the 1700 block of Virginia Street.

There were three disturbances: at 10:11 a.m. in the 1600 block of Virginia; at 1:58 p.m. in the 1900 block of Allston Way; and at 6:41 p.m. at Derby and Regent streets. Police arrested Marlin Norrise, 43, in connection with the incident at Derby and Regent on suspicion of indecent exposure and possession of a controlled substance. … Continue reading »

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Firm that built Berkeley complex has been fined, sued

Two balconies were removed from Library Gardens after a deadly accident Tuesday. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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In a series of stories, Berkeleyside examines the building where six people died and seven were seriously injured Tuesday after a balcony collapsed. Part 1 looks at a history of complaints by residents, Part 2 examines potential issues surrounding the balcony construction, and Part 3, below, looks at some of the issues faced by the company that built the apartment complex where Tuesday’s tragedy took place.

The construction company that built the apartment complex in downtown Berkeley where a fifth-floor balcony collapsed Tuesday during a birthday party, killing six and injuring seven, has been fined and sued in connection with its work in other locations, according to documents reviewed by Berkeleyside.

But Sam Singer, a spokesman for Pleasanton-based Segue Construction Inc., said Wednesday that the company has a long track record of safety and quality, and that lawsuits are “commonplace” in the construction industry.

Read complete balcony collapse coverage on Berkeleyside.

Singer also said safety-related fines assessed of Segue have been minimal, and that the company has been sued just once in relation to balcony work and water issues. That lawsuit, which related to a San Jose apartment complex, involved balconies Singer described as very different in design from the Berkeley balcony, at the 176-unit Library Gardens apartment complex, that collapsed Tuesday, with deadly consequences. Segue reportedly settled that case for $3 million.

As it turns out, however, there was also a $3.5 million settlement after a neighborhood association filed a lawsuit in Millbrae in 2013 related to waterproofing and wood rot. And, that same year, Trestle Glen Associates, in Colma, filed a breach of contract lawsuit, still underway, against Segue related to “water intrusion causing tangible property damage.” … Continue reading »

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