Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

West Berkeley Philz Coffee: Now officially open

West Berkeley Philz on Gilman Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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West Berkeley’s Gilman Street commercial corridor is getting busy, with Whole Foods Market set to open in November, and a new Philz Coffee outlet officially opening today, July 29.

Philz, at 1313 Ninth St., held a soft opening celebration Monday, and gave away free cookies and coffee to attendees from noon to 4 p.m. It’s the second Philz location in Berkeley, joining the Shattuck Avenue Philz in the Gourmet Ghetto, which opened in 2010.

Philz founder Phil Jaber was in attendance Monday, along with his son, Philz CEO Jacob Jaber, and many other members of the Philz team. Dozens of friends, supporters and other community members stopped by for a sip and a bite, and to check out the new shop throughout the afternoon. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, July 17-23

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
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This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. See recent Berkeley crime blotters here.

The following items represent just a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate. From July 17-23, there were 12 burglary reports29 auto break-in or theft from a vehicle reports, and 14 stolen vehicle reports to the Berkeley Police Department, according to CrimeMapping.comThree robberies10 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries and two felony sexual assaults were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included two burglaries and two vehicle thefts. These numbers are subject to change. Click the previous links for the most current information.

[Editor's Note: We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or via Facebook or Twitter; please let us know when you write if you prefer to be anonymous.] 

Thursday, July 17

A robbery was reported at 4 a.m. at University Avenue and Bonar Street.

Someone reportedly brandished a weapon at 4:20 p.m. in the 1900 block of San Pablo Avenue.  … Continue reading »

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Nature’s Express closed; may re-open next week

Nature's Express on Solano Avenue is set to re-open Saturday. Photo: Nature's Express
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Popular North Berkeley restaurant Nature’s Express closed this week unexpectedly, with promises to re-open soon, leaving many nearby residents wondering what had taken place.

According to management, the vegan and vegetarian eatery at 1823 Solano Ave. has faced “abysmal” financial struggles and had to make changes, including staff reductions, to survive.

But former employees — many of whom quit in solidarity after several other staffers were let go — have launched a campaign to raise money as they look for new jobs, and to raise alarm bells about what they say are the negative business practices of new management. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley parks advocates push back after council drops bond from November ballot

The Berkeley rose garden pergola needs major repairs and has been closed to park visitors since April. Photo: Daniel Parks
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The public dismay was palpable last month when the Berkeley City Council decided, in a surprise move, to put a parks tax before voters this fall without a related bond measure that would have infused parks and pools around the city with much-needed cash, reversing an earlier vote on the items.

The $1.7 million parks tax, if approved by voters, would essentially maintain the status quo for maintenance and staffing needs, and cost the owner of an average-size home an additional $43 a year. (That same homeowner already pays about $240 a year for the existing parks tax.)

Had it gone to voters, the proposed $20 million parks bond could have helped re-open Willard Pool, improve the King and West Campus pools, put millions toward Aquatic Park, James Kenney Park and the much-loved rose garden, and repair tennis courts and ballfields around the city, in addition to addressing other significant needs. (See a financial breakdown of several possible iterations of the bond and tax proposal.)

The city estimated that the joint bond and tax measure would have added just $15 more than the tax alone to the bill for owners of an average Berkeley home, defined by the city as 1,900 square feet. … Continue reading »

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5-story building approved, again, on University Avenue

A rendering of a new mixed-use project underway at 1698 University Ave. in Berkeley. Image: Syncopated Architecture
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A proposal to construct a five-story mixed-use building in central Berkeley was approved by the zoning board earlier this month after a request to increase the number of units from 25 to 36 while reducing the on-site parking.

The project, at 1698 University Ave. (at McGee Avenue), originally was approved by the city in 2005, and modified in 2008. Since then the property has changed hands. The new owner, San Francisco-based Realtex Apartments, asked the city Zoning Adjustments Board July 10 to increase the number of units and decrease the parking requirements from the earlier proposal.

The new project, designed by Syncopated Architecture — also of San Francisco — would take the place of a vacant automotive repair station. It is set to include approximately 2,000 square feet of commercial space and nearly 25,400 square feet of residential. … Continue reading »

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Breaking: West Berkeley Whole Foods to open Nov. 4

An architectural rendering for the West Berkeley Whole Foods. Image: Field Paoli
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Whole Foods Market has announced the opening date for its new West Berkeley location on Gilman Street.

The 47,800-square-foot complex is scheduled to open on Gilman at 10th Street on Nov. 4, the company said Tuesday.

It’s the second Whole Foods location in Berkeley, and the 41st in the region. The company’s other Berkeley store is at Telegraph and Ashby avenues.

Read more about the new Gilman shopping district on Berkeleyside.

In addition to the 31,000-square-foot grocery store, the complex is slated to include a 1,666-square foot coffee roastery and 2,000 square feet of retail offices on site, according to project documents submitted earlier this year.

The grocery store, at 1025 Gilman, is expected to bring 180 to 200 new jobs to the area, said Jen Monaco, store team leader. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, July 10-16

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
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This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. See recent Berkeley crime blotters here.

The following items represent just a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate. From July 10-16, there were 16 burglary reports28 auto break-in or theft from a vehicle reports, and 12 stolen vehicle reports to the Berkeley Police Department, according to CrimeMapping.comFour robberies15 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries and one felony sexual assault were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included three robberies, two burglaries and a sexual assault. These numbers are subject to change. Click the previous links for the most current information.

[Editor's Note: We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or via Facebook or Twitter; please let us know when you write if you prefer to be anonymous.] 

Thursday, July 10

A robbery was reported at 12:06 a.m. at Grant and Delaware streets.

Two home burglaries were reported, at 8:45 a.m. in the 2200 block of Eighth Street, and at 10:14 p.m. in the 1700 block of 10th Street. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Townie opens, Sanctuary vegan spot coming

Townie has its soft opening in Berkeley tonight, July 18. Photo: Townie
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TOWNIE OPENS THIS EVENING IN BERKELEY This just in: Beginning at 5 p.m. today, July 18, University Avenue’s newest neighborhood bar and restaurant, Townie, will have its soft opening. Owner and manager Nima Shokat said there will be a limited menu available, along with alcohol, which will be served until midnight or until the business runs out. Heading up the kitchen at Townie is chef Dana Ryan, who formerly worked at Gather, State Bird Provisions and RN74. Said Shokat, who has run Berkeley’s Missouri Lounge for years: “We’re hoping to be a neighborhood bar where people can just come by for a drink and hang out, but also get some exciting food.” Townie is located at 1799 University Ave. in Berkeley, where Venezia used to be located until it closed last year. Connect with Townie on Facebook. … Continue reading »

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Rodents, trash prompt city of Berkeley clean-up of homeless camp on Gilman; residents ‘scattered’

Police officers visit the homeless camp on Gilman Street in West Berkeley daily to provide outreach for residents. Photo: Drew Jaffe
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Citing concerns about garbage and rodents, both dead and alive, the city of Berkeley sent in a team to clean up Gilman Street beneath Interstate 80 where homeless people have been living in recent months, city staff said Friday.

At least one advocate for the homeless criticized the effort, saying no one was told in advance about the operation, which dispersed residents and will make it harder to provide important services to them, he said.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said Friday shortly before noon that the operation to address ongoing sanitation problems on Gilman under the freeway had gone smoothly. He estimated that perhaps a dozen people were on site when the city arrived Friday morning. … Continue reading »

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Don’t forget: Share your Telegraph Avenue pics to win

A stilt walker at Sundays on Telegraph Avenue street festival. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Sundays on Telegraph kicked off in Berkeley last weekend, and returns to the avenue every Sunday through Sept. 21. The car-free street party began with a mellow vibe, great music and attendees of all walks of life.

For the next two weekends, Berkeleyside and Mayor Tom Bates’ office invite visitors to the event to submit their photographs of the party for a chance to win very cool prizes: theater tickets for adults and other items for youth 17 and under.  … Continue reading »

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Fire

Berkeley firefighter rescues woman from the bay

Water rescue at the Berkeley pier. Photo: Dina Becerra
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A Berkeley firefighter rescue swimmer saved a woman late Thursday afternoon after she reportedly jumped off the Berkeley Pier into the San Francisco Bay, authorities said.

The woman and a man who jumped into the bay to try to rescue her before authorities arrived were taken to the hospital for medical care.

Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said a call came in to dispatchers at 4:45 p.m. reporting people in the water at the end of the Berkeley Pier.

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New affordable housing project headed for Berkeley

This proposed four-story building on San Pablo Avenue, to include 23 units, would be built with money from Berkeley's Housing Trust Fund. Image: HKIT Architects
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A vacant lot in West Berkeley is slated to become an affordable housing complex aimed mostly at people with disabilities after a unanimous vote by the city zoning board last week.

Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), a Berkeley-based non-profit housing developer, sought permission from the board July 10 to modify a use permit originally granted to a different property owner in 2007.

SAHA representative Jonathan Astmann told the Zoning Adjustments Board that the project at 2748 San Pablo Ave. (at Grayson Street) would provide 17 rentals for people with disabilities, including three for families with a member who has HIV/AIDS. The project had been approved previously as condominiums.

Read more local real estate and development coverage on Berkeleyside.

The four-story project would have 23 units, unchanged in number from the earlier permit, but requested a reduction in parking spaces — from 27 to 13 — to fit the needs of residents. Astmann said SAHA property residents tend to own fewer vehicles. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley pair faces felony identity theft charges

Image via Facebook.
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A Berkeley couple facing seven felony counts related to identity theft allegations is set to appear in court Thursday for a pre-trial hearing.

Berkeley police arrested Albert Thomas and Juanita Roles at their southwest Berkeley apartment in the 1200 block of Haskell Street earlier this month after a search warrant turned up identity theft materials, illegal drugs, more than $2,000 in cash and more.

According to court papers, police served the search warrant July 2 at the couple’s home.

The search turned up fake credit cards and checks, at least one stolen check, a card embosser and card encoder, blank card stock and blank check stock, according to court papers.

Police also found crack cocaine packaged for sale, packaging materials, a digital scale and $2,575 in cash. … Continue reading »

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