Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel

Federal report calls to stop sale of Berkeley post office

Post Office by DH Parks
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Local officials and preservationists are heartened by a new report that calls for the United States Postal Service to suspend the closing and sale of all historic post offices, including the Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress, and other federal officials on how to preserve the nation’s historic resources, issued a critical report Thursday. It said the USPS had not been following the law when it ordered that dozens of historic post offices – often the core of communities – be shuttered and sold. … Continue reading »

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16-year-old girl found naked, pepper-sprayed in Elmwood

A 16-year old girl was found at Ashby and Piedmont Avenues this morning. She was naked and may have been sexually assaulted. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Update, April 17: The San Francisco Police Department has taken over this case. According to KTVU, “The girl initially told authorities she had been kidnapped and robbed in Oakland and then dropped off in Berkeley. Oakland Police said the case could be related to human sex trafficking. Then they turned the case over the SFPD after the girl changed her story.” SFPD will investigate the case as a kidnapping and robbery, but not a sexual assault.

Update, 7:25 p.m. The Oakland Police Department released the following statement at 4:45 p.m.: “Investigators have learned this incident occurred in another jurisdiction. The victim is a juvenile. This case may be associated with human sex trafficking.” Any instance in which a minor is induced to engage in prostitution or other commercial sex acts is considered sex trafficking; the Alameda County district attorney’s office has made the reduction of these activities a priority.

Original post: A teenage girl who may have been sexually assaulted was found naked and suffering from pepper spray in the Elmwood district early Wednesday morning, according to Berkeley Police scanner traffic, authorities and media reports.

Residents in the 2900 block of Piedmont Avenue, near Ashby Avenue, were awoken shortly after 5 a.m. to the sound of the girl screaming, “Help me,” according to scanner traffic recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside. 

The 16-year-old girl told authorities she had been raped. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley warehouse fire started accidentally; Wooden Duck not insured for content loss

The remains of the Import Tile warehouse that burned on April 12. Photo: Evelyn Larsen
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The fire that erupted in a West Berkeley warehouse on Saturday, seriously damaging or destroying numerous businesses, started accidentally, according to fire officials.

“There didn’t seem to be any indication this was a malicious fire,” said Berkeley Fire Department Deputy Chief Avery Webb. “The investigation is ongoing but they have ruled out a malicious origin.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s long-shuttered UC Theatre to get new life

UC Theater rendering
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For the last seven years David Mayeri has had a dream: to refurbish the old UC Theatre on University Avenue, which has been closed since 2001, and re-open it as a state-of-the art concert venue.

Mayeri, the former chief operating officer of BGP, the successful concert company started by Bill Graham, has come tantalizingly close over the years to pulling off the project. He got city approval to refurbish the 1,400-seat landmarked theater in 2009 and seed money from the now deceased millionaire music lover Warren Hellman. … Continue reading »

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West Berkeley fire causes $5 million in damage, destroys 20 artisan businesses

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The huge fire that ripped through a building on Second Street in West Berkeley on Saturday night not only affected well-known businesses like Import Tile and The Wooden Duck, but destroyed the livelihood of more than 20 artisans.

The business condominium at 1802 Second St. that was destroyed was home to a collective of small artisans and craft builders who shared a woodworking shop, a metal fabrication shop, computer-controlled machinery and large work areas, according to Joshua Goldberg, who put together the space in 2005. He is also the owner of Joshua Tree Furniture, which was completely destroyed by the five-alarm fire.

“I am sort of overwhelmed with grief right now,” Goldberg said Sunday morning. “It’s 20 people’s livelihoods.” … Continue reading »

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Free events celebrate Berkeley’s revamped libraries

Kids browse the bookshelves at the December 2014 opening of the South Branch. Photo: Richard Friedman
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Call it a “library warming.”

As a way to celebrate the completion of its branch renovation campaign – and highlight the dozens of community programs it presents each month – the Berkeley Public Library is hosting a month-long party.

The Branch Out! celebration will bring concerts, art exhibits, pop-up libraries at food truck gatherings, a sleepover party for stuffed animals, mindfulness meditation, and that beloved event – author readings – and much more to a branch near you in April. … Continue reading »

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Car strikes and kills 98-year-old pedestrian in Berkeley

Joseph Luft
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A 98-year-old man was struck by a car Friday afternoon while crossing the intersection of Bancroft Way and Sacramento Street. He later died of his injuries.

Berkeley police said the man was struck around 12:23 p.m.

He was conscious and talking when police arrived, but he died at the hospital around 6 p.m., according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman officer Jennifer Coats.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified him as Joseph Luft of Berkeley.

The driver is cooperating with police, Coats said in a press release. It does not appear that drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision, she said.

Luft, a psychologist, was the creator of the Johari Window, a technique he and Harry Ingrahm invented in 1955 to help people better understand their relationship with others. He taught at San Francisco State University for more than 20 years.

The Luft family released a statement Saturday stating that Joseph Luft was a World War II veteran, “a proud father of four and beloved local figure,” who had taken a daily walk for more than 50 years. … Continue reading »

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Fairmont group and Richard Blum buy Claremont Hotel

The Claremont Hotel & Resort has been purchased by the  Fairmont hotel group and Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein Photo: Paula Steele
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Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein and a member of  the UC Board of Regents, has joined forces with FRHI Hotels & Resorts to purchase the Claremont Hotel and Spa.

Blum and the Fairmont group closed the deal on March 21, a few weeks later that initially expected. Terms of the deal were not announced. … Continue reading »

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Remembering Ronald Nelson, former Berkeley police chief

Ronald and Barbara Nelson. Photo: Nelson family
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Ronald D. Nelson, who served as chief of the Berkeley Police Department from 1982 to 1990, died Monday while on a walk with friends in Tilden Park. He was 82.

Nelson had a long and distinguished career in public safety. He began his career in 1956 with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he served 21 years and rose to the rank of Lieutenant.

He retired from the LAPD in 1977 to serve for two years as a police commander with the Compton Police Department. He left briefly to be chief of police of the China Lake Naval Weapons Center in Riverside, California, and then returned to Compton in 1980, where he was appointed assistant city manager. He became city manager in 1981. … Continue reading »

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Years of work culminate in new Berkeley medical clinic

Officials and staff cut the ribbon to dedicate the new clinic. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Hundreds of people gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of Lifelong Medical Care’s new West Berkeley clinic, and for many of the dignitaries, it was a reunion of sorts.

Amid speeches about the glorious new building and the patient-centric care it will foster, came memories of Berkeley in the 1970s and the push to revolutionize health care. … Continue reading »

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Lifelong Medical celebrates renovated Berkeley space

For 38 years, Lifelong Medical Care has been been providing high-quality medical, dental, and other services to Berkeley’s most vulnerable residents. Started by the Gray Panthers as the Over 60 Health Clinic in 1976, LifeLong has now grown into nine different facilities around the Bay Area, with most centered in northern Alameda County.

Lifelong just renovated and expanded its health center at 2031 Sixth Street in West Berkeley and will be holding a grand opening celebration Sunday, March 2, 3-5 p.m. to which the public is invited.

To recognize the work Lifelong does in the community, Berkeleyside commissioned contributing photographer Pete Rosos to create a photo essay on Lifelong Medical Care. Rosos spent several weeks on the assignment, photographing patients taking part in several Lifelong programs, including its Healthy Kids group, the Men’s Health group, a Power Yoga class and a Parenting class. Take a minute to view the slideshow above to see his beautiful images. (Hover over a photograph to see captions and to pause the slideshow.) … Continue reading »

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Oldest Volvo dealership in U.S. makes way for Chrysler

A Volvo is parked outside McKevitt Volvo on Shattuck Ave. By the end of the week, Chrysler cars will be on sale. Photo: Frances DInkelspiel
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The McKevitt auto dealership at 2700 Shattuck Ave. in downtown Berkeley is doing a reverse course – of sorts.

Starting March 1 it will stop selling Volvos, ending the existence of the longest continuing Volvo dealership in the United States. Instead, it will sell Chrysler cars like Jeeps, Dodge and Ram – much as the dealership did when it first opened in 1926. … Continue reading »

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Amid protests, the Dalai Lama visits Berkeley

Protestors who believe the Dali Lama discriminated against Buddhists who belong to the Shegden sect protested his appearance. Photo: Ted Friedman
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About 3,000 people crammed into the Berkeley Community Theater on the Berkeley High campus Sunday morning to hear a talk on “How to Achieve Happiness,” by the Dalai Lama.

It was Dalai Lama’s second stop on a three-day local speaking tour. He spoke in San Francisco on Saturday and he will speak at Santa Clara University today. Before coming to the Bay Area, he met with President Barack Obama. … Continue reading »

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