Author Archives: Guest contributor

Opinionator

Op-ed: It should be possible to give police the tools they need while preserving Berkeley’s values

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Late last month, Berkeley police officers responded to an armed and highly dangerous individual in South Berkeley who robbed a laundromat and later attacked an older resident near Sacramento Street. This was a high-stakes operation involving a violent and heartless criminal. While the investigation is ongoing, we’re grateful that no neighbors were hurt in the course of the crime.

Unfortunately, despite following city protocol and being transparent with the media and public, Berkeley police officers were still subjected to armchair political commentary simply for … Continue reading »

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Obituaries

Remembering community activist Kitty McLean

Kitty McLean, who died on July x. Photo: Courtesy of the family
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By Helen Burke

On July 13, long-time Berkeley community activist Kitty McLean died of complications from a stroke. Kitty was an unsung heroine of many progressive causes and candidates: a volunteer par excellence.

The wife of UC Berkeley Professor Hugh McLean, Kitty was very active in politics. She was always there as a committed volunteer for a variety of progressive/environmental causes, candidates and organizations, including the Sierra Club, League of Women Voters (LWV) and Citizens for an Eastshore State Park (CESP). … Continue reading »

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Architecture

Cityscape: A Berkeley theater that’s a show unto itself

BHS Community Theater. Photo John King
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By John King

Strict planning dogma says this pair of theaters serving Berkeley High School should be deadly, since they turn their back to downtown Berkeley’s only park and the only doors along the sidewalk are fire exits and a loading dock. Instead, the complex radiates an assurance that blends clean architectural lines with a mass of almost geological force. Most arresting of all, the windowless walls hold enormous bas-relief sculptures that depict the spirit of performing arts as an almost orgiastic cacophony. It’s a high-drama welding of public architecture and art, one worth the trade-off at the street. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

To City Council: A response to Berkeley balcony collapse

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Once you own a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

Over the past 20 years the City of Berkeley has had a number of deaths which have occurred in its rental housing stock. After each incident the response was the same: mandate inspections and charge the landlord. This rarely addresses the real problem but it is good politics.

The first was a problem of a student renting a house in North Oakland, close to the Berkeley border. His parents came … Continue reading »

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Obituaries

Remembering chef and business owner Robin Kevin King

Robin Kevin King
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Chef and local business owner Robin Kevin King passed away on July 27 after years of illness. He is survived by his wife, daughter, son in law, three grandchildren, two brothers, two nieces, brother in laws, and many close cousins and friends.

Kevin’s  family was always very important to him and he used any excuse to bring them together and cook for them.

Kevin was a chef at Café Fanny, Oliveto, and Poulet, and for a few years he owned Ozzie’s … Continue reading »

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BHS grad coaches Ecuador’s first American football team

Coach Owen Krebs talks to his team before its inaugural game, in late July, against a team from Lima, Peru. Photo: Daniel Pulgarian
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By Delency Parham

Owen Krebs embodies everything that is Berkeley: passion, engagement and the desire to make the world a better place. Last winter, the energetic 24-year-old relocated to Ecuador where the former Berkeley High School football player is now helping coach Lobos De Quito, Ecuador’s first American football team.

The Lobos are coming off their first ever exhibition match against a team from Lima, Peru. Berkeleyside caught up with Krebs as he prepares his team for its upcoming international match against Colombia in October. The team has been generating excitement throughout the nation. Earlier this month Ecuador’s La Hora published a feature on the team, dubbed “The other football,” and EcuadorTV had members of the team on its program earlier this year. The team’s Facebook page has more than 1,300 fans.

Krebs grew up in South Berkeley and attended Berkeley public schools. At Berkeley High, he excelled in the classroom as well as on the volleyball court and the football field. He played so well throughout high school that, at the end of his senior season, in 2008, he was offered football scholarships to attend both Idaho State University and Humboldt State University. Krebs went with the latter, choosing to stay closer to friends and family. It wasn’t until his senior year at HSU, majoring in international studies, when he was presented with the chance to study abroad. That was how he found himself in Ecuador. Continue reading »

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Community

The story of a rescued barber’s dog: Epilogue

Michael, Jessica and Fergus. Photo: Sally Creevy
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In February this year, we published, in three parts, Leslie Smith’s compelling account of “the barber’s dog,” dubbed Fella. In the final part, Smith drove Fella to Colorado, to join a famed pit bull rescue program. Fella was renamed Fergus and, Smith wrote, “This is where the story of the barber’s dog ends.” But Smith — and Berkeleyside — had to know what happened next.  

By Leslie Smith

For nearly 15 months, the barber’s dog and I spent my lunch hour together. He would flirt from behind a chain link fence, and I would toss treats and reach in through the openings to pet him. Then, ColoRADogs swooped in for the rescue, delivering him from a cement lot in Oakland to his new life near the base of the Rocky Mountains.

On May 16, I boarded a plane bound for Denver and went to visit the dog I hadn’t seen since January. I think he remembered me? To be honest, it wasn’t one of those pup-goes-nuts-when-soldier-comes-home-from-war videos that go viral and end up on the homepage of CNN. It was more of a gradual recognition: Oh, hey. It’s… you.

Fergus took my unbridled affection like a champ. He even offered a wiggle and snort or two of his own, just to prove he was in the spirit of things. But out of the corner of my eye I watched him watch Jessica, his foster mom, as she toured me around the house. She pointed out his favorite spots, and he tracked her every move. I got to see his various beds and the drawer where his bully sticks are kept and the area in backyard where he first fell in love with his leggy foster sister, Panda. I saw that he was both adored and adoring.  … Continue reading »

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Architecture

Cityscape: Indigenous architecture of the Berkeley kind

20 or so buildings in West Berkeley share an unusual trait: they were build with Crete-Glass, diamond-like patterns of block glass devised by the long-gone Berkeley Concrete Form Company. Photo: John King
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By John King

Like many older cities, Berkeley has architectural facets that set it apart — not only the shingled landmarks of Julia Morgan but the diamond patterns of block glass in 20 or so workaday West Berkeley structures. They were formed using Crete-Glass, a system sold by long-gone Berkeley Concrete Form Co. with the promise that it would both “save time and labor” and provide “a most cheerful atmosphere for workers.” Many of these buildings now hold uses far different than when they began. But together, they remain an element of the local scenery as distinct as the commuter trains that rumble past Fourth Street.

Continue reading…Continue reading »

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Students think outside the box to build better birdhouses

Doris Chang drills holes in her nesting box. Photo: Tracy Bugni
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By Kathleen Maclay

Sawdust, the smell of success.

As this year’s month long embARC Summer Design Academy at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design neared its end, the fabrication lab filled with the buzzing of band saws and drill presses, the tap-tapping of nail guns and the rhythmic scratch of sandpaper.

Some 40 high school students, 21 girls and 19 boys ages 15 to 19, from the United States and 11 other countries worked their way from the design studio into a room full of tools many may never had heard of before. And they swooped enthusiastically into the worlds of landscape architecture, architecture, retail planning and design on behalf of an unusual client.

“They’ve been designing for a client,” acknowledged fabrication shop lead Elizabeth Thorp, “and that client happens to be a bird.” Well, two birds, actually.  … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: The Harold Way Project, as presented, will sacrifice Berkeley’s unique character

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The construction of the first, true high-rise in the city of Berkeley (in this case the Harold Way Project), will forever change the nature of our very unusual, human-scale city. Under the unfortunately voter-approved Downtown Plan, once the high-rise limit is breached, the city will never turn back as it rushes forward to become part of what Bay Area planners sometimes admiringly refer to as “the vernacular of today.” And there is no way the skyscrapers will be forever … Continue reading »

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On Berkeley time? He keeps Campanile’s clocks ticking

Art Simmons has been keeping the Campanile clocks going for the past 20 years. (UC Berkeley photo by Anne Brice)
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By Anne Brice/UC Berkeley News

The Campanile clock tower is the campus’s North Star. At 100 years old and 307 feet tall, it’s a landmark everyone knows and trusts. But what happens when the clocks stop? There’s only one person to call: Art Simmons.

“Everybody in Berkeley watches those clocks,” says Simmons. “Not just the people on campus. So when the clocks stop, the whole city knows about it and it doesn’t look good.”

Read more stories about the UC Berkeley Campanile and Campanile Way

Simmons started working at Berkeley as an electrician 20 years ago. Because the person who took care of the clocks had just retired, Simmons inherited them as his responsibility. “I had no choice, it was in my zone,” he says. “They said, ‘It’s your baby, keep it going.’ So it was a lot of pressure to keep those clocks running and keep them running right.” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley should revisit its balcony code changes

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There are a lot of questions swirling around regarding the City of Berkeley’s handling of its investigation into the Library Gardens balcony collapse.

The recent new safety regulations passed by the City Council and believed by Berkeley Mayor Bates to be the toughest in the state, while welcomed, add much fuel to the controversy.

Two conspiracy theories have emerged to explain the City’s haste to demolish the second balcony and turn the evidence over to the owner. The first … Continue reading »

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Photographs: An ode to the shuttered Berkeley pier

The Berkeley pier by Dorothy Brown
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By Dorothy Brown

There is something mysterious and perhaps even romantic about abandoned spaces. The rust and decay can have a certain kind of beauty, and can engage our imaginations as we wonder what the place might have been like in its prime. Movies often employ a time-fade technique where decrepitude is gradually replaced by the life and color of earlier years. A different time.

How strange, then, to witness the day the change happens. The day a familiar site goes from lively to off-limits.

On July 22, 2015, without warning or ceremony, the Berkeley Pier was fenced off and closed to the public. The pier has long been a favorite spot for fisherfolk, runners, strollers, and anyone who appreciates a knockout view and a breathtaking sunset. I always found it a friendly place. … Continue reading »

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