Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

‘Stolen 911’ helps woman recover pilfered painting

 “Some people said I would never see it again," said Nellie Hill of Berkeley, seen here with her recovered oil painting, which had been stolen in January. Photo: Stolen 911
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A Berkeley woman has recovered a treasured family painting, stolen from her home in January, with the help of a website designed to get stolen goods back into the hands of their rightful owners.

North Berkeley resident Nellie Hill got a phone call last week from a Marin County man who had come into possession of the stolen oil painting, and wanted to return it.

Hill said the man had searched for the painter’s name online, and found a listing she had created on the website Stolen 911. Her post described the theft of the artwork and asked for help getting it back. The man called Hill after seeing the post, and told her he wanted to return the painting.

Hill said she had not expected the call, particularly because so much time had passed since the package containing the painting had been stolen from her home less than an hour after it had been delivered in late January. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley condo project set for latest review

1951 Shattuck Ave. Image: the bay architects
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A 12-story building set to include 92 condominiums and nearly 12,000 square feet of commercial space could get its penultimate review from Berkeley’s Design Review Committee tonight, Aug. 20.

The 120-foot-tall building would, if approved, take the place of one- and two-story buildings that currently exist on the block, housing several local businesses, including Berkeley Vacuum, the Missing Link annex and the Cutaway hair salon.

The project, at 1951-1975 Shattuck Avenue, at Berkeley Way, would be just north of the approved but not yet built Acheson Commons, and across the street from Berkeley Way West, a proposed UC Berkeley project that is slated to house several departments for the campus.

Read more about tall building projects in Berkeley.

The project could become one of seven new tall buildings downtown from 120 to 180 feet tall approved by voters during the Downtown Area Plan process in recent years. Two of those sites are reserved for UC Berkeley.

The San Francisco-based Nasser family first submitted its plans for 1951 Shattuck in December 2013. In June 2014, the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board offered preliminary feedback to the project team. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley hotel project drops condos; at DRC this week

The hotel proposed at 2129 Shattuck. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Thursday night, Berkeley’s Design Review Committee will get its third look at the 16-story hotel planned downtown at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street.

The 168-foot-tall building is set to include 336 hotel rooms, some retail, and about 11,000 square feet of conference space. A parking garage is planned on the second floor, with additional parking set to be allocated in the Center Street garage after its renovation is complete. In its prior iteration, the hotel had been set to reach 18 stories and include nearly 40 condominiums, which no longer appear in the plans.

Read more about the tall buildings proposed in downtown Berkeley.

Project representative Matt Taecker said Pyramid Hotel Group “took another look at things” and decided to take the condos out of the project, at 2129 Shattuck. As a result, the building height has been reduced by two stories and 12 feet.

“The decision was to kind of simplify things and increase the number of hotel rooms,” said Taecker. Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, 7/30-8/5

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via 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 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 30 to Aug. 5, there were reports of eight robberies19 burglaries11 assaults or batteries, three weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to There were also 13 stolen vehicles11 disturbances and 43 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. There were two burglaries and one sex crime reported by 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, July 30

There were four robberies: at 1:55 a.m. at San Pablo and Hearst avenues; at 3:19 a.m. in the 2400 block of Haste Street; at 1:10 p.m. in the 2000 block of Oregon Street; and at 5:27 p.m. in the 1600 block of Derby Street. Police arrested a 23-year-old Berkeley man at 1:19 p.m. on suspicion of robbery in connection with the incident on Oregon, but he is no longer in custody and does not appear to have been charged, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s department. Police arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the Derby Street incident but he, too, is no longer in custody and charges do not appear to have been filed. … Continue reading »

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Authorities practice wildfire response in Berkeley Hills

Police and firefighters will be out in the North Berkeley neighborhoods this week practicing wildfire response (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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This week, Berkeley police and firefighters will be making the rounds in some North Berkeley neighborhoods as they practice skills related to urban wildfire response.

According to a notice released by police Monday morning, the training is set to take place Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week in the North Berkeley Hills.

“The purpose of these training sessions is to improve the safety of our residents during wildfire emergencies. Responders will practice real-time determination of evacuation routes, firefighting tactics and strategies, and communication protocols,” according to the statement, which was released over the Nixle alert service.

The training comes on the heels of an early-morning vegetation fire in Tilden park on Sunday that drew five fire companies to the Berkeley-Oakland hills to put it out. Sunday’s fire broke out not far from where the historic 1991 firestorm began, on Oct. 19, 1991. On that day, firefighters believed they had succeeded in extinguishing the blaze. But flames erupted again the next day, aided by strong winds, and the resulting conflagration turned into one of the worst firestorms ever seen in the country. … Continue reading »

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Harold Way project gets Landmarks Commission approval

Some critics of 2211 Harold Way say the models and drawings produced by the project team are inaccurate. Here, they look at a model and compare the height of Harold Way to other tall buildings downtown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A controversial mixed-use project proposed in downtown Berkeley won an important permit Thursday night after a 6-3 vote from Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The commission had been tasked with deciding whether to grant 2211 Harold Way a structural alteration permit, which it needs to carry out excavations on the project site. The 18-story building is set to include 302 residential units, 177 underground parking spots and more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

More than 60 people turned out to Thursday night’s meeting, including more than 50 local residents who spoke forcefully against the project, and about six who spoke in favor. Many project opponents made their disapproval known by hissing and jeering at the handful of speakers who said Berkeley needs more housing, and that Harold Way will be a good project for the city. Commission Chair Christopher Linvill repeatedly had to ask the crowd to quiet down and give the project supporters their chance to speak. The public comment period lasted roughly three hours. … Continue reading »

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Woman arrested after punching passer-by in the face

Berkeley police cruiser (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A homeless woman police say punched a passer-by in the head without provocation, and injured an officer who tried to detain her, has been arrested in Berkeley for at least the fourth time since March.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said Dawn Carraway, 25, caused non-life-threatening injuries to the 66-year-old Berkeley woman she attacked.

The incident happened at 4:35 p.m. Tuesday when the victim was walking near Allston Way and Milvia Street in downtown Berkeley.

“As she was walking the suspect punched the victim without provocation,” said Coats. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police discover hundreds of fake bank cards during arrest

Image via Facebook
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An Oakland woman has been charged with felony identity theft after a Berkeley police search turned up hundreds of fake bank cards, and equipment for making hundreds more, at her home in late July.

According to court papers, police searched the vehicle and home of 32-year-old Lecresha Shenete Dudley on July 29 after linking her to a possible child endangerment case as well as a possibly narcotics transaction.

Berkeley officers detained Dudley in her vehicle. According to court papers, a search of the vehicle turned up $664, two driver’s licenses belonging to other people and 32 fake bank cards.

Officers then searched Dudley’s home, in the 4200 block of Park Boulevard in Oakland.

At the home, police say they found 210 fake bank cards, two commercial-grade card embossers and printers, a card encoder, a laptop and 480 PVC cards with magnetic strips.  … Continue reading »

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14 consider lawsuit against city of Berkeley after protests

Berkeley police used teargas to break up protests Saturday night and Sunday morning. Photo: Pete Rosos
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Attorneys representing 14 people who say they were struck and jabbed by police batons, clubbed, beaten, teargassed, slammed to the ground, fired on with “less lethal” projectiles or arrested during December protests in Berkeley related to the “Black Lives Matter” movement are considering filing a civil claim with the city on their clients’ behalf.

Some of the claimants were reporters or individuals documenting the protests. One UC Berkeley student said she was unable to complete her semester or graduate as a result of her injuries. One woman, a minister who said she was struck in the back of the head while trying to help up another demonstrator who had fallen, required three staples at the emergency room to close the gash she received.

Read past Berkeleyside coverage of the Berkeley protests.

In late June, attorneys filed four tort claims outlining alleged injuries to their clients. Those documents are required to be submitted prior to the official filing of a lawsuit against a government entity, explained Berkeley attorney James B. Chanin. Chanin and attorney Rachel Lederman of San Francisco-based Lederman & Beach Attorneys At Law are representing the group on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild.

According to a brief statement posted by Lederman, “Our clients include a Chronicle photographer and a minister who were clubbed on the heads for no apparent reason; a 55 year old Berkeley Rent Board counselor who was clubbed in the back from behind while she was urging other demonstrators to give the police space; and a visitor from Los Angeles who happened on the demonstration and had been there for only minutes when he was shot with a ‘less lethal’ munition, fracturing his knee.” … Continue reading »

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Man arrested in Berkeley on suspicion of homicide

The U.S. Marshals Service arrested a man on Parker Street in Berkeley on Monday afternoon. Photo: Citizen reporter
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The U.S. Marshals Service arrested a man in South Berkeley on Monday afternoon on suspicion of homicide, authorities reported.

Limited information was available about the arrest due to the ongoing investigation.

Errol Watson, a spokesman and deputy U.S. marshal for the Northern District of California, confirmed that officers arrested a man on Parker Street on Monday on a warrant for homicide.

He said he could not release the man’s name pending further review by the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

Watson said he may be able to release additional details after the district attorney’s review takes place.  … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley unveils new open data portal

This municipal water map is one of 40 data sets now available in the city of Berkeley's new open data portal. Image: City of Berkeley
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The city of Berkeley has officially launched a new website featuring 17 data sets related to everything from municipal water usage and employee salaries to crime heat maps, energy consumption, restaurant inspections, registered business licenses and much more.

The city unveiled the website, which began on a pilot basis in December, on Thursday. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said the most exciting thing about the project is what the public might do with the information now that it’s available.

“What can be done with open data is limited only by the imagination,” said Dee Ridley-Williams, the city’s new interim city manager, in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to see how the Berkeley community will utilize this new tool.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley camp bus accident injures at least 16

Image: Google maps
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At least 12 children and four adults were injured when a bus full of Berkeley summer campers rear-ended a Nissan van on westbound Interstate 80 on Monday morning, causing a “chain reaction collision,” the California Highway Patrol has reported.

The accident took place at approximately 10 a.m. on I-80 near Ashby Avenue. Officers who responded to the scene found a yellow school bus with approximately 50 children on board, ages 5-15, according to the CHP, along with five other involved vehicles.

Oakland CHP spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said all of the injuries appeared to be minor. The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene to treat the children, he said.

One parent identified the children on board as attendees of Camp Kee Tov, run by Congregation Beth El in North Berkeley. The campers were heading for Middle Harbor Park in Oakland for a field trip, the CHP reported. … Continue reading »

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Broken fire hydrant makes Berkeley geyser

There's a broken fire hydrant at Acton and Addison. Photo: Toph Burns
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A broken fire hydrant in central Berkeley sent water shooting up into the sky Friday morning.

Berkeleyside readers alerted us to the situation, at Acton and Addison streets, at 11 a.m.

Wrote Toph Burns, on Twitter, when he shared this photograph: “Quick everyone, bring buckets and laundry!” … Continue reading »

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