Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Berkeley plans ‘very efficient garage that people will be happy to come to’

Designs are coming along for an updated Center Street garage. Image: Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects
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As plans proceed for an updated municipal garage on downtown Berkeley’s Center Street, project details are firming up, and the plan for where people can expect to park while construction is underway has been released.

The city is planning to demolish its circa 1958 5-story parking structure at 2025 Center and replace it with a modern 8-story structure featuring a double-helix design to halve the time it takes drivers to exit the garage.

Last Thursday, July 23, the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board learned about the newest iteration of the plans for the project, and gave feedback to city staff about several issues they still hope to see addressed. The project is set to return to the board Aug. 27 for a vote.

Read more about parking in Berkeley.

Earlier this month, the city’s Design Review Committee gave the project a favorable review. The city’s Civic Arts Commission is also on board, and is helping determine the process the city will use to select public art — described as colored LED lighting on the façade — that will appear on site. Last Thursday, zoning board commissioners said they were largely pleased with how the project is coming along.

“I’ve seen this project four times and it gets better and better,” said Commissioner Richard Christiani. “Generally it’s a very well-thought-out building. It’s nice to see so much attention given to a structure like this.”Continue reading »

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Crime

Police: Man stomped 69-year-old who refused him $1

Berkeley police cruiser. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A man charged in June with two felonies, battery with serious bodily injury and elder abuse, is set to return to court Thursday.

Siaosi Aleamotua, 22, was arrested by the Berkeley Police after he allegedly knocked down and attacked a 69-year-old man who refused to give him $1 in March.

According to court papers, the man had been walking on Durant Avenue near Dana Street, in the Southside neighborhood, on March 2 when Aleamotua asked him for $1. The man said he didn’t have any money and kept walking.

He was struck from behind and fell down next to a parked BMW.

“The suspect then kicked and stomped on the victim’s face,” according to court papers. “The victim sustained a broken nose in two places and other injuries to his face and neck.”  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, July 9-15

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 — 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 July 9-15, there were reports of nine robberies13 burglaries20 assaults or batteries, four weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 12 stolen vehicles13 disturbances and 38 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Significant incidents reported by the University of California Police Department (UCPD) included one assault, four burglaries and a weapons call. 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, July 9

There were four robberies: at 12:15 a.m. in the 2000 block of Ashby Avenue; at 9:15 a.m. in the 2100 block of Oxford Street; at 1:25 p.m. in the 1800 block of Ashby; and at 10:25 p.m. in the 1300 block of Peralta Avenue.

There were two commercial burglaries, at 3:46 a.m. in the 2500 block of Ninth Street, and at 10:15 p.m. in the 2200 block of Oxford. Police arrested a 47-year-old man in connection with the burglary on Oxford but charges do not appear to have been filed, and he is no longer in custody, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s department.

UCPD received two burglary reports. One incident took place at 216 Wellman Hall between 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and 6:40 a.m. Thursday. The burglar smashed a door or window and made off with an Apple iMac desktop computer and monitor valued at $3,700. In the second incident, at Deutsch Hall, Unit 1, a thief stole $500 from three teenage girls, ages 15, 16 and 17. According to UCPD, the incident took place July 7 but was reported Thursday evening. The case remains under investigation.

Two vehicles were stolen, at 7:30 a.m. in the 2000 block of Berkeley Way, and at 11 p.m. in the 1200 block of Berkeley Way.

There was a second-response call at 10 a.m. in the 2500 block of College Avenue.

There were two felony assaults or batteries, at 10:27 a.m. at University Avenue and Chestnut Street, and at 5:40 p.m. at Hearst Avenue and Grant Street. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley fire chief is now interim deputy city manager

Gil Dong at CERT event by Mark Coplan
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Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong has stepped into a new position with the city after 25 years in the Fire Department. As of Saturday, Dong is wearing a new hat for Berkeley as the interim deputy city manager.

Interim City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley appointed Dong to the position July 17, according to a memo to the Berkeley City Council. Both Williams-Ridley and Dong began in their new roles Saturday, after the departure of former City Manager Christine Daniel. Friday was Daniel’s last day before beginning a new job for the city of Oakland as assistant city administrator.

Dong started his long career in Berkeley as a firefighter and paramedic in 1990, and steadily moved up through the ranks. He told Berkeleyside, when he became fire chief in 2013, that he believed he had been “destined to become a firefighter.” … Continue reading »

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Police

Man commits suicide in Little Farm parking lot

Tilden Little Farm - Mary Flaherty
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A man in his late 60s killed himself in the Tilden Little Farm parking lot on Friday afternoon after leaving a note about his intentions in his El Cerrito home.

East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said the man, who was born in 1948, appears to have shot himself as he sat in his Subaru station wagon in the parking lot around 2:15 p.m.

Jones said no one heard the gunshot, but that a family reported the incident at 2:30 p.m. after seeing the man, who appeared to be deceased, in his vehicle.

The man was lying in the front seat, with the seat reclined, and had received a single gunshot wound to the head. The gun was found on his chest when authorities responded.

Jones said the man had been reported missing out of El Cerrito. Authorities found a suicide note at his home during the investigation.

The Berkeley Fire Department declared the man dead at 3:10 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Robber with ‘silver teeth’ evades Berkeley police

Police search Sacramento Street, near Dwight Way, for an armed robber who robbed a laundromat, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 27, 2015. Photo: David Yee
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Update, 2:10 p.m. Berkeley police have left the area around Sacramento Street after the search for an armed robber who struck a laundromat Monday morning turned up empty.

According to a 2:02 p.m. Nixle alert sent over email, “The roadways are now open and Berkeley Police are clearing the area. We would like to thank the community for the patience and understanding while we conducted the search.”

The robbery report came in at about 8:30 a.m. from the Wash and Shop laundromat, at 2450 Sacramento St., according to local residents. The robber reportedly used a gun and took cash from the business.

Police said they “arrived on scene and quickly established a perimeter. Members of our Special Response Team were utilized to conduct the search with the assistance of an Oakland Police Department K-9. The suspect was not located and the investigation into this matter continues.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley neighbors say affordability will be key to proposed Adeline Street project

Conceptual plans for 2902 Adeline, which the developer says will likely change as the project goes through the entitlement process. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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About 40 people crammed into the community room at the South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library on Wednesday night to hear about a new project proposed at Adeline and Russell streets, and offer feedback to the developer.

The project — which would replace AW Pottery at 2908 Adeline — is in its very early stages, and has not yet been submitted to the city of Berkeley, said developer Cody Fornari of San Francisco-based real estate firm Realtex. Fornari said the South Berkeley property, at 2902 Adeline St., is currently in escrow and has not officially changed hands.

Realtex is also working on a proposal to construct a 7-story building on Telegraph Avenue — where restaurants including Norikonoko and Finfiné have been in operation for more than two decades. The company also won approval last year for a 5-story building at University and McGee avenues, but has not yet broken ground.

Throughout the info session, many in attendance expressed concern about the project — still in the “conceptual phase” —  which is currently set to include 47 residential units, eight live-work units and 18 parking spaces. The building is proposed to reach 6 stories, or 65 feet tall. … Continue reading »

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Community

Citing structural problems, Berkeley closes historic pier

The historic Berkeley pier has been closed to the public due to structural problems. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The city of Berkeley has announced the closure of its historic municipal fishing pier due to “considerable structural damage” that has made the popular walkway unsafe for the public.

Damage to the concrete decking and support system of the pier was found during an assessment earlier this summer. Signage and fencing have been posted in the area to cut off access pending the repairs, but where the money will come from to fix the problem remains an open question. The city did not respond Thursday to a request for additional information.

The announcement, in a memo from the city manager to the Berkeley City Council, was posted online Thursday. It comes after a decision earlier in the month to prohibit heavy trucks on the pier due to the structural issues. As a result, the city paid $7,900 to set off its Fourth of July fireworks from a barge rather than using the historic walkway, which juts out into the San Francisco Bay at the end of University Avenue.

The city discovered the structural damage prior to July 4 when it began looking into proposed repairs that would have made the pier smoother for wheelchairs, a city staffer told the Parks and Waterfront Commission earlier this month. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, July 2-8

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 July 2-8, there were reports of five robberies12 burglarieseight assaults or batteries, one weapon-involved call and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 17 stolen vehicles14 disturbances and 28 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Significant incidents reported by the University of California Police Department (UCPD) included two burglaries and a sex crime. 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, July 2

Five vehicles were stolen: at 3:20 a.m. in the 900 block of Page Street; at 6:30 a.m. in the 2600 block of California Street; at 7 a.m. in the 800 block of Bolivar Drive; at 3:30 p.m. in the 1400 block of Shattuck Avenue; and at 9 p.m. in the 1700 block of La Loma Avenue.

According to UCPD, a burglar broke into a locker at the Golden Bear Restaurant sometime before 10 a.m. and stole a diamond ring and two bottles of cologne. The items had a total estimated value of $1,090, according to UCPD. The incident is still under investigation.

There were two disturbance calls, at 12:15 p.m. in the 2000 block of University Avenue, and at 4:18 p.m. at Park Hills Road and Muir Way.

Police arrested Pierre Jolivette, 42, at 2:15 p.m. in connection with a Ramey warrant for robbery. (No additional information about the incident or arrest was readily available.) Jolivette remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail and was scheduled to enter a plea Thursday morning at the Hayward Hall of Justice.

There was a misdemeanor sexual assault at 2:30 p.m. in the 1400 block of University.

There was a robbery at 3:18 p.m. in the 2100 block of Oxford Street.

There was a commercial burglary at 11:03 p.m. in the 1200 block of San Pablo Avenue.  … Continue reading »

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Police

North Berkeley package destroyed, likely a hoax

The suspicious package (on the left) in North Berkeley has been rendered safe. Photo: Devin Taylor-McDonald
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Update, July 29, 12 p.m. One local resident said she spotted this box July 19, prior to the police incident: “That was in a neighboring yard full of freebies on Sunday. My husband found a romulan warbird model next to it.…We thought the box was a bad art project.”

Original story, July 22, 1:38 p.m. Police advised the public to avoid the area of Hopkins Street and Monterey Avenue in North Berkeley on Wednesday afternoon after a report of the discovery of a suspicious package.

Authorities ultimately rendered the package safe and an officer on the scene said the scare had likely been the result of a hoax. (Scroll to the bottom of this story to see our live updates throughout the afternoon.)

At about 1:30 p.m., the Berkeley Police Department put out a Nixle alert about the incident: “The Berkeley Police is currently investigating a suspicious package found near the intersection of Monterey Avenue and Hopkins Street. The intersection is closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic.”

Police asked people to avoid the area and say they “do not know how long the roadway will be closed.”  … Continue reading »

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News

Another Berkeley department head to retire

Andrew Clough is retiring after eight years running the Public Works department. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Another longtime city employee has announced plans to leave Berkeley, according to a memo to the Berkeley City Council from the city manager posted online Wednesday.

Andrew Clough, who has helped run the city’s Public Works Department for eight years — first as deputy director and then, since 2011, as director — is retiring and will be replaced by Deputy Public Works Director Phil Harrington, “effective immediately,” wrote City Manager Christine Daniel to the council in the July 22 memo.

Clough’s is the fifth departure this year of high-profile leaders in the city. … Continue reading »

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News

Berkeley residents feel 4.0M earthquake, aftershocks

The USGS reported an earthquake in Fremont early Tuesday morning. Image: USGS
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Numerous Berkeley residents woke up just after 2:40 a.m. Tuesday due to a 4.0-magnitude earthquake reported north of Fremont.

At least eight aftershocks had been reported, following the original incident, as of 3:20 a.m.

According to the U.S. Geological Service, a 4.0-magnitude quake was reported at 2:41 a.m. 2 miles north of Fremont, about 30 miles from Berkeley.

On Twitter, local residents reported feeling the quake.

“Very slight swaying on fourth floor downtown Berkeley,” wrote one.

Many others said they felt it, too. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Alleged Looking Glass Photo burglar caught on video

Police are looking for information on a burglar who stole items from Looking Glass Photo over the weekend. Photo: Looking Glass
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Police are looking for a man who took cameras and lenses from Looking Glass Photo in West Berkeley over the weekend, and the shop has released video footage of the alleged thief.

Jennifer Waicukauski, owner of Looking Glass, posted surveillance footage from the burglary on her Facebook page on Saturday.

“If anyone recognizes the person in this video please contact the Berkeley police department immediately,” she wrote. (The video appears below.) … Continue reading »

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