Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Crime

Berkeley police ask for help to find suspect after iPhone robbery of elderly man (video)

Police are asking for help to find a man responsible for a robbery in December. Image: BPD
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The Berkeley Police Department is asking the community for help to find a man who robbed an elderly shopper of his brand new iPhone on Fourth Street the day after Christmas.

According to a statement released by police Thursday, an 83-year-old man was walking with a family member on Fourth near Hearst Avenue shortly after 1 p.m. Dec. 26 when the strong-arm robbery took place.

“They had just left the Apple store after purchasing a new iPhone,” police said in the statement. “The suspect followed the victim, and then forcibly took the iPhone … injuring him in the process.”

Police released a video of the robbery, and shared it with the media Thursday. It appears below. … Continue reading »

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Community

Public meeting on Adeline corridor on Saturday

Image: City of Berkeley
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Those interested in the future of Adeline Street in South Berkeley are invited to a meeting Saturday morning at the senior center on Ellis Street.

The city of Berkeley received a $750,000 planning grant last year to look at transit improvements and other development issues along the Adeline corridor, and Saturday morning will be the public’s first chance to participate in that process since last year.

Read more about Adeline Street in past Berkeleyside coverage.

According to a notice posted by Mayor Tom Bates’ office, “The purpose is to provide information about City planning for the area, answer questions, gather community ideas on the effort and learn on how you might like to be involved.”

The meeting is slated to take place at the South Berkeley Senior Center, at 2929 Ellis St., at 10 a.m. Saturday. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council adopts new building sustainability law; small properties exempt for now

Berkeley is not moving fast enough toward its Climate Action Plan goals, says city staff. Image: City of Berkeley
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The Berkeley City Council unanimously adopted a new law Tuesday night aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making local buildings more sustainable, but included carve-outs — at least initially — for properties with up to four units.

Many Berkeley homeowners had expressed concern in recent months about the new law, which would have required energy audits by homeowners every 10 years, as well as the payment of new fees to the city.

The city has described the new energy law as a critical part of Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan, which the voters approved in 2006. The plan calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2000 levels by 2050, and set a 33% reduction goal by 2020. … Continue reading »

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Community

Fighter pilot who flew jet over Berkeley was giving nod to brother at Cal; Navy is investigating

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet. Photo: U.S. Navy
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The fighter jet that buzzed Berkeley on Tuesday, sending both shock waves and excitement through the community, was reportedly flown by the brother of a Cal grad student.

A man posting as “TheCulprit” on Berkeleyside said the pilot was his brother, writing, “It was an awesome personal air show.”

Berkeleyside has confirmed that the commenter attends UC Berkeley, and that his brother is a pilot with the U.S. Navy.

“TheCulprit” said by email that his brother “is moving to Texas at the end of the week so he thought it would be cool to fly over campus while I was there before he left. Not that much to the story unfortunately.”

The pilot “rocked” the plane, making its wings tilt up and down when it passed over Berkeley, according to some witnesses.

The U.S. Navy is investigating the incident, said Lt. Reagan B. Lauritzen, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman, by email. … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on energy ordinance, protests, police cameras, goBerkeley, more

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting turns again to several items related to local policing, with three items on the agenda (continued from last week) from Councilman Jesse Arreguín regarding local protests in December, and an item from council members Darryl Moore, Arreguín and Linda Maio about body-worn and vehicle dashboard cameras for police, which could be in place in six months if the proposal is approved by council.

There’s a special session at 5:30 p.m. about the city’s goBerkeley pilot parking program. With the program set to end later this year, council will hear about program highlights, as well as possibilities for next steps. Drivers polled by the city said the program made it easier to park around town. Read the staff report for more details, and don’t miss past Berkeleyside coverage. Action will not be taken tonight.

The action calendar

Tuesday night’s action calendar includes the potential adoption of a new energy-saving ordinance in Berkeley that will affect building owners by requiring energy audits and new fees. The city says the plan will update outdated laws related to building sustainability, and will be important as Berkeley works to meet its Climate Action Plan goals. See Berkeleyside’s explanation of that ordinance, as well as the reports under Item C of the “continued business” action calendar. … Continue reading »

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Community

Update: Loud plane over Berkeley was Navy F-18

A file photo of an F-18. Photo: Frank Boston
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Update, Jan. 28, 3:35 p.m. See Berkeleyside’s update on this story.

Update, 2:56 p.m. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor identified the loud plane that flew over Berkeley as “an F-18 out of NAS Lemoore.” He said the Navy would know more. Berkeleyside will follow up.

Naval Air Station Lemoore is in Lemoore, California, about 40 miles south of Fresno.

Original post, 2:36 p.m. In the past hour, the Berkeleyside Twitter stream exploded after a loud low plane flew over Berkeley, setting off car alarms and scaring people across the city.

“Any word on why a plane just flew so close to downtown Berkeley that our building shook?” asked Elisa Proulx just after 1:40 p.m.

Wondered : “What in the heck was that roaring jet noise over Berkeley just now? Did Dick Cheney just do a flyover?”

Berkeleyside has called the Federal Aviation Administration to try to learn more. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said he will see what he is able to find out.

In the meantime, readers have posted online about what they saw and heard. … Continue reading »

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Police

Breaking: Berkeley cyclist dies after hit and run

Michael Lake. Photo: Courtesy of family
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A Berkeley cyclist has died following a hit-and-run crash with a car earlier this month on University Avenue, authorities said Tuesday.

The driver in that incident left the scene, and police are continuing to investigate the collision as a hit and run.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified the man Tuesday as 64-year-old Michael Lake of Berkeley.

He died at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center at 9:05 p.m. Monday.

A family member, Gwendolyn West, told Berkeleyside that Lake died Monday night “after being moved into post-hip-surgery rehabilitation.” … Continue reading »

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After ordering pizza with stolen card, teen charged with 4 armed robberies in Berkeley

Image: Google maps
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An 18-year-old man arrested in November — after authorities found him by tracking a stolen debit card used to order pizza — has been charged with four armed robberies near the North Berkeley BART station that took place last fall.

Police arrested Berkeley resident Marcell Stargetti along with two juveniles Nov. 24 after an armed robbery at Acton and Delaware streets at about 1 a.m. Police said they located the robbers after they used one of the debit cards they had stolen to order pizza. Officers intercepted the order and pretended to deliver the pizza to make the arrests.

According to court papers, police linked Stargetti to three other armed robberies in the area — on Sept. 13, Sept. 19 and Nov. 23 — using items found during a subsequent search of a home nearby, also in the 1300 block of Delaware Street. Police said they found an unloaded firearm, as well as “various stolen items … in the toilet tank.” Police also reported the discovery of ID cards, credit or debit cards and other suspected stolen items. … Continue reading »

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Police

Thinking about jaywalking in Berkeley? Think again

Police ticked pedestrians last fall during a pedestrian operation similar to the one planned in Berkeley on Saturday. Photo: Eric Panzer
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Berkeley Police traffic officers will be out for a special enforcement effort Saturday to educate — and potentially ticket — pedestrians who violate traffic laws.

The Berkeley Police Department will be in the downtown area Saturday, Jan. 24, on the lookout for pedestrians who flout signal lights and fail to use crosswalks, along with other safety issues.

A similar operation in Berkeley in September prompted waves of comment on the Berkeleyside Facebook page and on a subsequent story on Berkeleyside itself.

Police said this week that, according to 2013 data, most of the city’s injury collisions with pedestrians involved pedestrians downtown. That year, 24% of all collisions with injuries involved pedestrians, according to a statement released Thursday by the department. … Continue reading »

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Update: Cyclist hurt, 5 elevator rescues in Berkeley power outage caused by PG&E equipment failure

Traffic stopped in all directions before proceeding at the intersection of University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way because of a power outage in the area affecting thousands of customers in Berkeley. Photo: David Yee
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Update, 3:30 p.m. PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said Friday afternoon that the company has identified the cause of Tuesday’s power outage as an equipment failure during testing at an East Bay substation.

Sarkissian said she learned Friday that the outage actually originated at a substation in El Cerrito, not in Berkeley as had previously been reported by PG&E. She was not able to provide the exact location of the station.

Sarkissian said the testing had been planned, but that additional details about the nature of the equipment failure are still under investigation. She stressed that PG&E is focused on ensuring that its system is safe and reliable, and said she will release additional information when it is available.

Original story, 1:30 p.m. Tuesday’s widespread power outage in Berkeley and nearby cities kept first responders busy with one accident that sent a cyclist to the hospital, five elevator rescues and a handful of other calls, authorities said. … Continue reading »

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Update: 2 Berkeley High students injured, 3 arrested after fights downtown

Paramedics tended to one victim Thursday after what authorities said was a fight downtown. Photo: Nathan Slavik
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Update, Jan. 24, 8:45 p.m. The Berkeley Police Department said the two arrests referenced by Principal Glenchur were for incidents that happened Friday: A 15-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possession of a BB gun on the school campus; and a 14-year-old was arrested on suspicion of being a non-student who refused to leave, and reentered campus. Both were Berkeley residents, according to Police Lt. Jennifer Louis. Berkeleyside will request additional information from the Berkeley Unified School District, which has not responded to a request made Friday regarding those arrests, as well as the police department.

Update, Jan. 23, 4:36 p.m. School Principal Kristin Glenchur sent a statement to the school community at 4:23 p.m. reporting that police have made two additional arrests in connection with Thursday’s fights, “and additional administrative consequences are being considered.”

Glenchur wrote that Friday was a normal day for Berkeley High: “Dismissal was quiet today. We had 3,000 students completing finals without incident. The campus was fully functional, and I’m very happy with the efforts of our staff and the support we received from our district and community partners.”

Berkeleyside asked the Berkeley Police Department earlier on Friday about the additional arrests, but no information has thus far been provided.

Update, Jan. 22, 6:41 p.m. Police arrested a 15-year-old boy in the 2100 block of Milvia Street following the 2:15 p.m. fight downtown, said Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats by email at 6:35 p.m. His city of residence was not immediately available, but he was arrested on suspicion of battery. … Continue reading »

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Community

PG&E still mum about cause of Berkeley power outage

Image: PG&E
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More than 48 hours after a sweeping power outage left 38,000 PG&E customers in Berkeley and surrounding cities without electricity, the company still has not released the cause of the problem.

“The cause is still being investigated at this time,” PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said by email Thursday shortly before 1 p.m. “I don’t think we’ll have more details than that for today.”

Sarkissian said Wednesday she hoped to have an answer by Thursday about what led to Tuesday’s outage, adding that she had been unable to reach the person who would know what triggered it. She did not provide a reason Thursday about the reason for the delay.

Power went out throughout much of the city at about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, knocking out traffic signals, and resulting in a BART station shutdown in Berkeley. According to one report on Twitter, someone got stuck in the elevator at Berkeley City Hall during the outage, and had to be rescued by Berkeley firefighters. One Berkeleyside reader said a cyclist was struck by a car at a North Berkeley intersection that had lost power; Berkeley police have been unavailable to provide any information about that incident. … Continue reading »

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Housing to replace Berkeley Grocery Outlet building

The zoning board approved a new development at 2001 Fourth St. in December. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A sprawling mixed-use housing complex, designed by Trachtenberg Architects, has been approved for Fourth Street and University Avenue in West Berkeley, along with about 8,500 square feet of retail the developer says he hopes could become a grocery store.

The 5-story, 152-unit complex at 2001 Fourth St. is set to include nearly 200 vehicle parking spots, as well as space for more than 80 bicycles and nine motorcycles. Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved the project at its Dec. 11 meeting nearly unanimously, with seven members in favor, Commissioner Igor Tregub voting against the project, and Commissioner Steven Donaldson recusing himself because he is a neighbor.

Read more about West Berkeley.

The project is slated to include 12 very-low-income units — to be distributed throughout the property — and will also pay $400,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund, which the city uses to help build additional affordable housing in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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