Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on community benefits, short-term rentals, fee schedule, the budget

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 the economics of the city’s food and beverage sector. At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council plans to look at the community benefits required of the developers of tall buildings downtown; the potential regulation of short-term rentals, like Airbnb units, in Berkeley; the annual fee increase for city services, and proposed creation of new fees; and more. … Continue reading »

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Crime

After home invasion, Berkeley resident says: Lock up

Berkeley Police cruiser. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A Berkeley resident surprised at home by several intruders Friday afternoon reminds the community to lock up over the holiday weekend.

The woman was home in the 100 block of Hillcrest Road in the Claremont neighborhood when the burglars came inside. She shared the news with neighbors over a local Yahoo email list.

“Our house was broken into around 3:10 this afternoon while I was home,” she wrote. “The intruders got spooked when our dogs barked and they realized I was there.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man charged with ‘rape by use of drugs’ in Berkeley

There have been 30 sex crimes reported to the Berkeley Police Department this year. Source: CrimeMapping.com
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A Vallejo man has been charged with rape by use of drugs after a coworker said he had sex with her when she blacked out after celebrating her birthday in Berkeley earlier this month.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Paris Kapree Anderson, 28, on Monday with rape by use of drugs in connection with the incident May 10.

According to court papers, Anderson admitted during a phone call to having sex with the woman on the side of the road in the back of his car after the birthday celebration.

The incident was listed as having taken place at 9 p.m. in the 2600 block of Telegraph Avenue, between Carleton and Parker streets.

Police wrote that Anderson described the woman, during the phone call, as “so drunk that he had to carry her out of the bar.” He also said during the call, according to police, “that she was too drunk to move from the back seat into the front seat after having sex.” … Continue reading »

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Fire

Berkeley authorities respond to fire near Ashby, I-80

Photo: Kester Allen
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Update, 4:20 p.m. Berkeley Fire Department Battalion Chief Paul Cavagnaro said the fire in Berkeley on Friday was confined to a 20-by-20-foot area of “pretty thick brush” in the midst of numerous homeless encampments where Bay Street goes over Ashby Avenue near the freeway.

Firefighters were dispatched to the area at 1:16 p.m., and Cavagnaro said the fire was likely out by around 1:30 p.m. There were no injuries.

Cavagnaro said that, despite an initial report that it may have been arson, no one witnessed anyone set anything on fire. He said many homeless people live in the area on both sides of the freeway, but that it’s difficult to estimate how many because the camps are “joined together.”

“We’re not sure how many people are living in the bushes,” he said.

Update, 3:55 p.m. Berkeley Police Lt. Alyson Hart said the fire was limited to property damage at two homeless camps. She said the fire may have been either arson or an accident, and that no one is in custody. Berkeleyside will follow up with the Berkeley Fire Department for additional information.

Original story, 1:50 p.m. Berkeley authorities are responding to a fire near Ashby Avenue and Interstate 80, which is backing up traffic in the area.

Community members in West Berkeley reported the smell of smoke and the sound of loud firetrucks just before 1:30 p.m. near Ashby and Ninth Street. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, May 7-13

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 don’t hesitate to share photos, videos or 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.

From May 7-13, there were reports of six robberies18 burglaries11 assaults or batteries, no weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also seven stolen vehicles10 disturbances and 26 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. There were no significant reported incidents from 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, May 7

There were three disturbance calls: at 1:57 a.m. at Grant Street and Allston Way; at 6:20 a.m. at Milvia Street and Bancroft Way; and at 12:37 p.m. in the 2100 block of Shattuck Avenue.

There were two commercial burglaries, at 3:54 a.m. in the 1100 block of Virginia Street, and at 4 p.m. in the 2400 block of Webster Street.

There was a robbery at 5:30 a.m. at Acton and Delaware streets.

There was a home burglary at 8 a.m. at an unlisted location.

A community member was walking her dog in the 700 block of Spruce Street at 12:30 p.m. when a female deer became aggressive and charged her, ultimately kicking her and knocking her to the ground, said Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman. The woman reported minor injuries but did not need to be taken to the hospital.

A vehicle was stolen at 3 p.m. in the 1700 block of Virginia.

A woman told the BART Police her $320 Big Shot bicycle was stolen while secured with a U-lock at the bicycle racks at Ashby Station between 6:15 a.m. and about 6 p.m.
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Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Harold Way, admissions and enrollment, the budget

The Berkeley School Board. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. See the agenda packet here. (It’s a large file that may take time to load.)

On the agenda: 2211 Harold Way and its impacts on Berkeley High; the school budget and LCAP plans; a review of the district’s approach to enrollment and admissions; sexual harassment; a new facilities master plan, and many other items. Did you know school board members hold regular office hours? See page 6 of the agenda packet for details and contact information.

There’s also a group of parents planning to rally outside at 6:30 p.m. to call for better district efforts related to inclusive education. They write in a flier about the rally that, “for too long now, BUSD has ‘talked the talk’ on Inclusion, without walking the walk. Students are being denied help that they qualify for under the law, teachers are not being supported, and classrooms are stressed.” Another group of community members, concerned about the district’s approach to a federal complaint about sexual harassment at Berkeley High, is also planning to make its voices heard. (The board is planning to discuss that complaint during closed session.) … Continue reading »

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With Harold Way EIR approval on hold pending new design, Berkeley officials to consider community benefits

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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After two recent discussions regarding the environmental impact analysis for a tall building proposed at 2211 Harold Way, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board agreed Thursday to delay action pending new plans expected from developers.

City staff told the zoning board at its May 14 meeting that the developer is modifying plans in response to Design Review Committee feedback in April. Staff said that, rather than move ahead to certify the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR), it would be better to “take a step back” and wait to learn about the project’s most recent iteration. Staff will complete a report about the project revisions and environmental analysis, and the final EIR will not come back to the board until the staff report is complete.

City planner Shannon Allen said she hopes to bring back the EIR for consideration at the end of June, followed by the community benefits and project entitlements package for Harold Way at the end of July.

The Berkeley City Council, too, is in the process of considering new policies related to the community benefits required of large projects downtown — including 2211 Harold Way — under the city’s Downtown Area Plan. That topic is slated to be back before council next Tuesday, May 26.

Mayor Tom Bates and Councilman Laurie Capitelli have suggested several new guidelines, including a $100 fee per square foot for residential portions of buildings 76-120 feet tall; a $150-per-square-foot fee for that portion above 120 feet; the requirement of a project labor agreement; and voluntary on-site benefits related to arts and culture that must be approved by council. Under the proposal, the developer could get fee discounts related to the labor agreement and voluntary benefits, and “The remainder would be paid into a City fund to be used for affordable housing and arts and culture benefits.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Hunt in Berkeley after man in stolen car drives wrong way on freeway for 30 miles, crashes, flees

CHP officers pursued a stolen vehicle into Berkeley early Monday. Photo: David Davenport
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Update: 11:20 a.m. The California Highway Patrol is still looking for the suspect in this case. CHP Oakland spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said the agency has some leads which it is pursuing. Wilkenfeld also confirmed that the victim involved in the vehicle collision on Hearst Avenue was Zaya Yaro, 45, from Santa Clara.

Update, 4:30 a.m. A stolen vehicle pursuit that began near Concord, with the driver traveling the wrong direction on the freeway for about 30 miles, ended with a crash in Berkeley around midnight, but authorities are still trying to find the driver. … Continue reading »

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7-story building, no parking, proposed on Telegraph

At right: a rendering of a 7-story building proposed on Telegraph to take the place of The Village. Image: Pyatok Architects
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A quaint shopping mall on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue — the site of restaurants Norikonoko, Finfiné, Koryo and Fondue Fred — along with the adjacent electronics shop, have been proposed for demolition to make way for a 76-unit 7-story mixed-use building without parking.

According to the developer, “many of the tenants” that operate on the property — called “The Village” — have said they might simply close rather than try to find new locations elsewhere.

The developer said in project documents, submitted to the city April 21, that the units will be marketed to students, couples and young professionals alike. A proposed rooftop deck fronting on Telegraph will offer residents “sweeping views of the bay,” along with “a variety of seating, shading, planting and other amenities.”

The developer plans to include 11% affordable units on site for people making 50% of the area median income, or $32,550 ($37,200 for a couple). “Prominent retail storefront” is planned on Telegraph, with a lobby and lounge proposed on Blake Street for tenants of the residential units. A bike storage room is set to include one bike space for each unit, but no vehicle parking is proposed.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, 4/30-5/6

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 don’t hesitate to share photos, videos or 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.

From April 30 to May 6, there were reports of 17 robberies20 burglaries14 assaults or batteries, three weapon-involved calls and two sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 15 stolen vehicles11 disturbances and 33 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. There were no significant reported incidents from 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, April 30

There was a commercial burglary at 3:27 a.m. in the 3000 block of Adeline Street.

Two vehicles were stolen, at 8 a.m. in the 1200 block of Campus Drive, and at 8:30 p.m. in the 1300 block of Ashby Avenue.

There were two disturbance calls, at 11:12 a.m. in the 2900 block of Garber Street, and at 8:20 p.m. in the 1900 block of San Pablo Avenue.

There were two robberies, at 11:47 a.m. at Virginia and Acton streets, and at 9:55 p.m. at Dwight Way and Milvia Street.

There was a home burglary at 11:48 a.m. in the 3000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way. … Continue reading »

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Proposed 130% sewer fee rate increase now up to voters

The city of Berkeley has extensive sewer system maintenance planned in coming years. Photo: City of Berkeley
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Berkeley officials approved a five-year sewer fee rate hike Tuesday night, and now it’s up to property owners to determine whether it will stick.

One thousand gallons of water currently costs about $4 to use in Berkeley for the average single family home. Beginning July 1, that same amount of water would cost about $6, an increase of 46%. By 2020, 1,000 gallons of water would cost $9.55, a 130% increase over the current rate.

The city says it needs to increase fees for sewer service to close a projected gap in the cost to run its sanitary sewer system and comply with federal mandates to improve the system in coming years. The rates take into account decreased water consumption during the drought, which staff believe will help moderate the amount property owners ultimately pay. Staff plan to return to council annually to report on system costs and fees, which council could potentially reduce if the city finds it is bringing in more money than it needs.

The unanimous Berkeley City Council vote Tuesday triggers a Proposition 218 process, which requires voter approval by property owners before local governments can increase certain fees. The city plans to mail notices to property owners this week, set to include a “protest ballot.” Ballots must be cast by June 26 by a majority of property owners to stop the increase, which otherwise will go into effect July 1. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley looks to limit electronic and flavored cigarettes

Local merchants came out Tuesday night to ask council to reconsider proposed legislation to limit tobacco sales. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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After hearing emotional pleas from many local retailers, the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to limit the scope of proposed legislation regarding nicotine product sales, at least for now.

Council voted 8-1 in favor of a new ordinance that would prohibit the sale of flavored cigarettes, cartridges for electronic cigarettes, and e-cigarettes pre-loaded with cartridges within 1,000 feet of Berkeley schools and parks. Mayor Tom Bates suggested the compromise, and Councilman Kriss Worthington was the lone vote in opposition to it.

Approximately 10 merchants told council that the staff recommendation — to ban tobacco sales within 1,000 feet of schools and parks — would have put them out of business, impacting not only them and their families, but also their employees. According to the city, there are 84 licensed tobacco retailers within Berkeley; all but 11 of them would have had to stop selling tobacco under the staff proposal.  … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on the city budget, nicotine sales restrictions, sewage fee increase, more

BUSD administrators will hold budget hearing on March 29 in city council chambers
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Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with a worksession on the city budget for the next two fiscal years, as well as a proposed increase in sewage fees. At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council has public hearings on the budget, the city work plan, and the extension of permit parking on Sacramento and Essex streets. Also on the action calendar: a vote on the sewage fee increase, proposed restrictions on nicotine sales, cellphone proximity warnings, the possibility of online public comments for council items and a plan to engage citizens with the city’s budget. … Continue reading »

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