Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel
Update 11/19/14: The City Council voted on Nov. 18 to refer this item to the Planning Commission for further review.
Even though Berkeley residents voted in 2010 to allow six commercial cannabis grow sites to operate in the city’s manufacturing zone, none has opened – and none probably will unless the city changes its guidelines, according to a report that will be presented tonight to the City Council.
When Measure T was adopted in 2010, it restricted cannabis grow factories to the city’s M (manufacturing) zone. But space appropriate for operations of 30,000 square feet (the maximum allowed for each site) is extremely limited, according to the report prepared by the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission. Moreover, very few properties in that district come up for rent.
“In trying to relocate to expand our operations, we encountered scarcity of suitable space in the M District, compounded by apprehension from Berkeley landlords to lease to cannabis related businesses,” one cannabis businessman testified to the MCC in November 2013. His words were included in the report. … Continue reading »
In March 2014, Jake Silverstein was tapped for one of the top jobs in journalism: the editorship of the New York Times Magazine. A 1993 graduate of Berkeley High School, Silverstein, 39, has deep roots — and a deep affinity — for Berkeley. Surprisingly, he didn’t write for the Berkeley High Jacket, but he did pen stories for the high school’s literary magazine and acted with an independent theater group. His first real professional journalism piece was an East Bay Express story on Ed Gong, the famed piano mover.
Silverstein is a poet, author of the 2010 fiction/non-fiction hybrid book, Nothing Happened and Then it Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction, and a barbecue lover. His deep love of long-form narrative nonfiction took him from the Big Bend Sentinel in Marfa, Texas to the editorship of the Texas Monthly which was nominated under his stewardship for 12 National Magazine Awards. It won four, including one for general excellence.
He grew up in an intellectual family in Oakland. Silverstein’s mother, Marsha Silverstein, is a psychotherapist in Berkeley who also works with the Ann Martin Center. His father, Murray Silverstein, is a poet and an architect with the Berkeley firm JSWD Architects. He is also the co-author of numerous books, including Dorms at Berkeley: An Environmental Analysis and Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design. (Silverstein used his father’s business address to get into Berkeley High.)
Silverstein was in Berkeley recently to give the keynote address at The Latest in Longform: The Berkeley Narrative Journalism Conference 2014. For many of the journalists in the room, there was one overriding question: will Silverstein’s West Coast upbringing (and his years in Texas, another sort of western frontier) give a different spin to the Gray Lady? … Continue reading »
A fire broke out at 1802 Bonita Ave. near Delaware Street around 5:06 a.m. Monday morning, displacing 15 people living in various rooms.
No-one was injured in the blaze, which sent huge flames shooting above the white, three-story Victorian-style house.
“When crews arrived they found fire and smoke coming from the third story,” said Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong. “It looked like a dormer attic space.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board voted unanimously Nov. 6 to declare the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers’ Collective a public nuisance – the latest step in Berkeley’s three-year odyssey to shut the place down.
ZAB officials listened to two and a half hours of testimony at the hearing, including impassioned pleas from neighbors who said the area near 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave., right above The Albatross pub, had become a no-go zone.
The smell of marijuana in the area is so strong that numerous families don’t let their children play outside, according to testimony of several neighbors. Cars routinely block driveways – and the drivers become aggressive when asked to move. Groups of people openly smoke cannabis on the sidewalks. Sometimes the partying goes on until the wee hours of the morning. Those that can’t make it home sometimes sleep in door-wells or on the sidewalk, according to neighbors. … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley has gotten a temporary restraining order blocking the sale of the city’s main post office on Allston Way.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled Nov. 5 that the U.S. Postal Service cannot sell the building before he conducts a full hearing in San Francisco on Dec. 10. USPS has committed to not closing a sale on the property before Dec. 17.
The city of Berkeley, along with its outside counsel Antonio Rossmann, filed for the TRO after learning online that the USPS was in contract to sell the building. Despite repeated requests and a Freedom of Information Act request, the USPS has refused to disclose the identity of the buyer.
On Nov. 5, Berkeleyside revealed that local developer Hudson McDonald was in negotiations to purchase the historic property. The firm would like the post office to remain in the front part of the building, according to Chris Hudson, a principal. The firm plans to put retail in the back portion of the property, which is currently sitting empty. … Continue reading »
District 8 race a toss-up, Barry says he is still fighting for District 7, other council races settled
Nov. 9, 5:10 p.m. After several days in second place, Lori Droste has pulled into the lead in Berkeley’s Council District 8. She has 1,995 votes, compared to George Beier’s 1,983. Read more.
Original story, Nov. 5 While residents of District 8 may not know for days whether George Beier or Lori Droste will represent them on the Berkeley City Council, the results in two other districts are more clear-cut. But in District 7, where Councilman Kriss Worthington has the lead, his challenger Sean Barry is not willing to concede the race yet.
Jesse Arreguín won handily in District 4, as he ran unopposed.
See the latest figures in Berkeleyside’s election 2014 live blog.
Linda Maio won re-election in District 1, an area she has represented for 22 years. She garnered 55.35% of the vote (1,779 votes so far) while Alejandro Soto-Vigil got 39.98% of the vote (1,285 votes). A third candidate, Merrilie Mitchell, got 4.67% of the votes (about 150 votes).
Maio, who, before Soto-Vigil, had not faced a serious challenger since she first ran for office, said she spent a lot of time walking her district. When she spoke to people she emphasized Measure D, the proposed soda tax, and left literature behind that described her accomplishments, she said.
Soto-Vigil made the environment a centerpiece of his campaign, arguing that Maio had not done enough to address the issues surrounding air quality in the district’s asphalt plant, among other things. … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley was basking in glory Wednesday over its passage of the nation’s first soda tax, an accomplishment that the beverage industry dismissed as just a whacky — and inconsequential — victory.
Although the soda industry was quick to release a press statement Tuesday night after San Francisco’s defeat of a 2-cent-an-ounce tax on soda, it took them hours to respond to the win in Berkeley, where voters passed Measure D with 75% of the vote. … Continue reading »
Bill Maher addressed the controversy surrounding his speech at Cal’s December commencement on his show, Real Time with Bill Maher.
Maher said on Friday he had been pleased to be invited to speak. After all, he loves Berkeley and he wasn’t busy in December.
He also said that accusations of him being racist couldn’t be true, because Islam is not a race. … Continue reading »
2014 will go down in history as the most expensive election ever held in Berkeley, with around $3.6 million spent on two ballot items alone.
The two items — Measure D, which would levy a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, and Measure R, which would substantially strengthen the environmental requirements for tall buildings in downtown Berkeley (and which critics contend would kill new construction) — drew campaign donations from all over the country. The race to replace Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner also attracted huge outside donations. … Continue reading »
Hours after a student group uninvited Bill Maher to speak at UC Berkeley’s December commencement, Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks invited him back, citing his constitutionally protected right to free speech.
“The UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision, which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech,” the university said in a prepared statement. … Continue reading »
Update: Oct. 31: East Bay Regional Park District police identified the man shot and killed Tuesday night as 21-year-old Damarco J. Thomas of Stockton.
Investigators are looking for information on cars that might have been on the scene of the Tuesday shooting, according to a press release. They want information on a white Ford or Chevy style pick-up truck, extended cab, possibly a side step model. Investigators are also looking for a man spotted in the vicinity, described as a heavyset black male in his late 20s to early 30s.
Update Oct. 30: Sgt. Tyrone Davis of the EBRPD police said that video taken at the scene indicated the victim knew his assailants. “It appeared based on the interaction that prior to the event they knew each other.” Davis said it looked like there were three people at the scene at the time of the shooting. The victim was shot multiple times. Police have not yet released his name.
Original story: A man in his 20s was shot and killed Tuesday night in the parking lot of a market near the Berkeley Marina, according to East Bay Regional Park District police.
Berkeley police received a call around 8 p.m, that there had been some sort of disturbance at the Seabreeze Market, which is located at the corner of University Avenue and West Frontage Road. They arrived to find a man, whose identity was not released, lying on the ground. EBRPD police arrived as well. … Continue reading »
Update: Oct. 30. The Chancellor has determined Maher will speak. See our update here.
The selection of TV host Bill Maher to deliver a December commencement address at UC Berkeley has come under fire from people who believe his views on Islam are racist.
More than 2,500 people have signed a petition on Change.org asking that the university withdraw its offer. The petition also suggests people boycott the address, now scheduled for Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. in Haas Pavilion. … Continue reading »