Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Old pipe breaks, closes Grant Street in Berkeley; 40 customers without water

Bancroft Way at Grant Street at 11 a.m. after a water main break. Photo: Kelly Dorsey
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Dozens of central Berkeley residents around Grant Street and Bancroft Way have been dealing with a water main break since Friday morning.

Grant has been closed from Allston Way to Bancroft as crews work to fix the problem. Some lanes may be reopened as the work continues.

East Bay Municipal Utility District spokeswoman Abby Figueroa said customers called to report water in the street and lower-than-normal water pressure at 11 a.m. … Continue reading »

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Lawsuit filed over Berkeley ‘soda tax’ ballot

No city has yet been successful in passing a sugar-sweetened beverages tax. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Mike Mozart
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Two men have filed a lawsuit against the city of Berkeley and the Berkeley City Council asking for changes to adopted ballot language related to the so-called “soda tax” set to come before voters in November.

The sugar-sweetened beverage tax would levy a 1 cent-per-fluid-ounce general tax on distributors of “sugary drinks” and the bulk syrup used to sweeten them. If successful, Berkeley could be the first city in the nation to pass such a tax, though San Francisco has also taken up the fight.

Lawsuit proponents argue that the ballot language adopted by council in July, as well as the city attorney’s analysis of the issue, are “false, misleading, and illegally biased,” and have asked an Alameda County Superior Court judge to force the city to adjust them before they are sent to voters this fall.

Josh Daniels, Berkeley School Board president and co-chair of the Healthy Child Initiative — the community group lobbying in support of the new tax — described the lawsuit as a “bullying tactic.” He said it’s the latest move by the No Berkeley Beverage Tax team to try to sway voters, in addition to a push poll and focus group meetings that were held with local residents earlier this summer. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Breaking: Police activity in South Berkeley

Berkeley police cruisers (file), April 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, 12 p.m. The Berkeley Police Department has confirmed that officers responded to the 1500 block of Alcatraz Avenue shortly after 8 p.m. “on a report of a suspect threatening a woman while brandishing a gun,” said Berkeley Police Capt. Erik Upson via email.

After arriving, police learned the man might have fled into a nearby apartment. Police “contained” the apartment and several neighbors were evacuated as police tried to communicate with him.

Officers on scene ultimately determined he had left the area prior to their arrival. Upson said the the case remains under investigation.

Upson also confirmed, in response to a question from a Berkeleyside reader, that police had been dispatched to the same area earlier in the evening on a related case. … Continue reading »

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Police

Man dies after falling ill at Ashby BART in Berkeley

A man died earlier this week after passing out at the Ashby BART station. Photo: Michael Patrick
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Update, Aug. 15, 4:30 p.m. Authorities have identified the man who died after having health complications at the Ashby BART station Tuesday as 54-year-old Keith Golson of Berkeley.

Original story, Aug. 14, 1 p.m. A man died this week after passing out at the Ashby BART station in South Berkeley, authorities reported Wednesday.

The incident took place just before 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to BART.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley Fire Department responded to the west lot of the Ashby BART station for a report of a sick man who had passed out. … Continue reading »

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Man uses skateboard to interrupt stabbing on bus

Photo: Paul Sullivan
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The Berkeley Police Department arrested a Berkeley man Monday night in connection with the random stabbing of a young woman on a bus, authorities said Wednesday.

Police credited a bystander with fighting off the assailant with a skateboard.

Police arrested Eric Scott Palmer, 24, shortly before 11 p.m. Monday on suspicion of attempted homicide.

According to police, Palmer had been riding an AC Transit bus on San Pablo Avenue when “for no apparent reason, he attacked another passenger,” police said in a prepared statement.

Witnesses said Palmer had walked down the aisle on the bus and took out a knife.

He “said ‘watch this,’ and suddenly stabbed at a 21-year-old woman seated nearby,” according to police.

Read Berkeleyside’s interview with the victim and Palmer’s father.

Another passenger on the bus used his skateboard to hit Palmer “repeatedly and continuously” to distract him from the attack. Police said Palmer still managed to break away at points to continue stabbing the woman. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man smashes windows during Telegraph Ave. arrest

Broken window in a police cruiser. Photo: Berkeley Police Department
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A man facing arrest on Telegraph Avenue smashed out the rear window of a police cruiser with his head after first breaking the glass door of a nearby business, authorities said.

According to police, 40-year-old Richard Warner of Oakland was reportedly inside a business in the 2400 block of Telegraph Avenue on Aug. 6 when he was asked to leave shortly before 10:40 a.m.

“He was loud and creating a disturbance,” said Berkeley Police Officer Jennifer Coats, department spokeswoman, via email. “As he left the business he stopped and punched the glass to the front door, breaking it.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

3 teens charged after robbery via gun in Berkeley

Berkeley Police logo
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Police arrested three Oakland teenagers after the robbery of a Cal student at gunpoint south of People’s Park in Berkeley last week.

According to the University of California Police Department, the robbery took place Thursday, Aug. 7, in the 2600 block of Parker Street (near Hillegass Avenue) just after midnight.

According to a UCPD statement, the 20-year-old UC Berkeley student was walking in the area when two young men approached him.

One pointed a gun at the student, who turned over his cell phone and backpack, which held his laptop.

Berkeley Police responded to the area and stopped a vehicle whose passengers matched the description from the robbery.

Inside the car, police recovered a firearm and the student’s property. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, 7/31-8/6

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.

The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate. From July 31 to Aug. 6, there were reports to the Berkeley Police Department of 19 burglaries26 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles and three stolen vehicles, according to CrimeMapping.comThree robberies21 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries and one sexual assault were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included one arson, one sex crime and a weapons call. The BART Police also reported a robbery at gunpoint at Ashby BART, which took place Friday, Aug. 8. These numbers are subject to change. Click the previous links for the most current information.

We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; please let us know up front if you prefer to be anonymous.

Thursday, July 31

The University of California Police Department reported an incident of arson at 12:10 a.m. on Upper Sproul Plaza.

Berkeley Police arrested 24-year-old Anthony Pirini at 10 a.m. on suspicion of burglary. He remains in custody and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Aug. 12. According to the sheriff’s department, Pirini was also arrested in Emeryville in January on suspicion of second-degree robbery, battery and theft. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Longbranch, The Hatch, Sushi Secrets, more

A West African happy hour has launched in downtown Oakland at Bissap Boabab. Photo: Bissap Boabab
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Openings and closings

LONGBRANCH Longbranch, the New American restaurant and gastropub working to open in the old Sea Salt location at 2512 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley is making headway. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, kitchen outfitting is well underway, as are decorations, with custom-made wrought-iron chandeliers already hung. The business, which also calls itself the Longbranch Saloon, is aiming for a summer 2014 opening, and has already secured its liquor license. Owners West Berkeley Center Partners LLC have plans for 25 local brews on tap and 85 international bottled selections. Berkeleyside first wrote about Longbranch, and the historic origin of its name, in April. Connect with the business on Facebook.

THE HATCH: COMING UP Looks like a new restaurant may be gearing up to open in downtown Oakland called The Hatch, where Hawaiian Walk In Restaurant was located previously, at 402 15th St. A Yelper reported that the Hawaiian place, which appears to have been around since at least 2006, was closed as of June 20: “Not sure what it is going on,…. the door is closed all day long,” wrote one disappointed diner. The Hatch, owned by Louwenda Kachingwe, popped up on the state alcohol licensing database Aug. 5. The license, which is pending, is for on-sale beer and wine. The Hatch does have a Facebook page, but nothing has been posted on it yet. The business may have a website, according to the Facebook page, but it hasn’t been set up. Berkeleyside has reached out to the owner to learn more. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley hotel plans halted pending initiative vote

The developer for a downtown Berkeley hotel proposal at Shattuck and Center said his plans are on hold pending November's election. Image: JRDV Urban International
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A proposal for a downtown Berkeley mixed-use high-rise hotel, which had begun working its way through the city’s approval process, is now on hold pending the outcome of November’s vote on an initiative that would significantly change the city’s zoning process and requirements.

A representative from the development team for the Berkeley Place project, where the Bank of America currently operates on Center Street, announced that decision before the Berkeley City Council in July and confirmed it in the middle of the month.

But the city official who represents downtown Berkeley, and who has been a main proponent behind the new initiative, has questioned the claims that the project has truly been halted. Councilman Jesse Arreguín said developers are using the specter of the initiative to scaremonger, and are using it to make a political point. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Update: Berkeley standoff over; man surrenders

Emergency personnel responded in significant numbers to an incident on Sixt Street and Virginia in West Berkeley today. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, Aug. 11, 4 p.m. Berkeleyside has received some additional information from the Berkeley Police Department about how this call came in. Police said initial reports indicated that the man who refused to come out of the West Berkeley storage facility last week may have been armed with a “long gun,” which Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said generally means some type of rifle.

“We also had reports that the suspect made threats to burn the facility down. After he was detained, he was found in possession of several replica firearms, with the orange safety tip removed, making them appear like real guns,” Coats said via email. The investigation into the incident is continuing.

Coats said no arrests have been made, and that the man who was detained may still be in the hospital.

Update, Aug. 6, 6 p.m. Via the Berkeley Police Department: The man was taken to the hospital for evaluation. Whether or not criminal charges will be filed remains to be determined, as investigators are still working on the case, said department spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, July 24-30

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.

The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate. From July 24-30, there were reports to the Berkeley Police Department of 18 burglaries15 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles and six stolen vehicles, according to CrimeMapping.comFive robberies21 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries and two sexual assaults were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included two burglaries. These numbers are subject to change. Click the previous links for the most current information.

We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; please let us know up front if you prefer to be anonymous.

Thursday, July 24

Three home burglaries were reported: at 4 a.m. in the 2600 block of Russell Street; at noon in the 3100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way; and at 4 p.m. in the 2700 block of Haste Street.

Two robberies were reported, at 9:20 a.m. at Durant Avenue and Ellsworth Street, and at 8 p.m. in the 1600 block of Sacramento Street. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Driver charged in vehicular manslaughter of Berkeley man is ‘legally blind’

Joseph Luft. Courtesy: Luft family
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Update, Aug. 7: The Alameda County district attorney’s office has increased the vehicular manslaughter charge against Robert Gilchrist to a felony, according to court papers dated Aug. 7. See the complaint here. Authorities say Gilchrist struck and killed a 98-year-old pedestrian while driving in Berkeley in April.

Original story, Aug. 4: The driver charged with killing a 98-year-old former psychology professor on his daily walk in Berkeley in April had no license and told police he is “legally blind,” according to court papers that became available last week.

Robert Jack Gilchrist, 56, was charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office July 31 with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license, also a misdemeanor.

Vehicular manslaughter involves driving “in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence,” according to court papers.

Authorities say Gilchrist, of Oakland, hit the 98-year-old Berkeley man as he walked in a crosswalk on Sacramento Street at Bancroft Way on April 4. … Continue reading »

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