Author Archives: Lance Knobel
The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce named neuroscientist Vivienne Ming, co-founder of Socos, biochemist Jill Fuss, founder of CinderBio, and computer game pioneer Will Wright, founder of Stupid Fun Club, winners of this year’s Visionary Awards.
“Running a business is hard. Running a business in Berkeley can be even harder at times,” said Berkeley Chamber CEO Polly Armstrong. She said the awards recognized individuals with the “imagination and persistence” to innovate in Berkeley.
The three winners come from dramatically different fields. Ming’s Socos combines machine learning and cognitive neuroscience to maximize students’ life outcomes (Ming will also be speaking at the Berkeleyside-organized Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas on Oct. 16). Fuss’ CinderBio uses extreme microbes — that survive in volcanic waters — to make a new class of ultra-stable enzyme formulations for applications like biofuels, industrial cleaning, paper manufacture and textile finishing. Wright, who created SimCity and The Sims, established Stupid Fun Club as a creative think-tank for experiments with robots and software. … Continue reading »
After over 30 meetings since an initial application in December 2012, the 18-story multi-use Berkeley Plaza project at 2211 Harold Way received its use permit from the Zoning Adjustments Board on Wednesday night.
The approval, with a 6-3 vote of the board, came with significant amendments to the developer’s proposed community benefits plan that allocate $4.5 million to affordable housing, in addition to the $6 million required by the housing mitigation fee.
“We’ve got to appeal it. We can’t live with those numbers,” said Mark Rhoades of Rhoades Planning Group, a project representative, to one of the union supporters at the meeting. A few minutes later, speaking to Berkeleyside, Rhoades said, “We believe that’s outside our reach.” But he said his group would decide on any action in the coming days. Any appeal would be heard by the Berkeley City Council.
Read more about tall building projects in Berkeley.
The use permit approval came at the end of a nearly five-hour meeting, with over 80 commenters from the public. The 18-story building in downtown Berkeley is set to include 302 residential units, 177 underground parking spots and more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space, including a 10-screen movie theater to replace Shattuck Cinemas. Unusually, given the heated criticism the project has attracted at previous ZAB meetings, as well as hearings at the Design Review Committee, Landmarks Preservation Commission and council, public comment was fairly evenly divided between opponents and proponents of the project. … Continue reading »
DUDAMEL Gustavo Dudamel conducts the famed Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in a gala performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Greek Theatre on Friday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Soloists are Mariana Ortiz, soprano, J’nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano, Joshua Guerrero, tenos, and Soloman Howard, bass. The orchestra will be joined by the Chamber Chorus of the University of California and Alumni, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. The performance at the Greek is the second program of the all-Beethoven Cal Performances residency, which kicked off the Berkeley RADICAL (Research And Development Initiative in Creativity, Arts and Learning) project. Tickets from $24, Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Rd. … Continue reading »
The City of Berkeley’s cellphone right to know ordinance, passed in May, largely survived a legal challenge in federal court by the mobile phone industry. The law requires mobile phone retailers to provide consumers with notice of FCC guidelines on cellphone use.
CTIA – The Wireless Association, the plaintiff, had sought a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the law, arguing that federal law preempted Berkeley’s law and that First Amendment rights were being violated.
In a ruling issued yesterday, federal district judge Edward Chen granted in part and denied in part the CTIA’s motion. The grant, however, concerned a single sentence of the Berkeley law, referring to greater risk for children. On the central legal argument, whether Berkeley’s law violated the First Amendment, Chen ruled for the city. … Continue reading »
A small fire at the UC Berkeley datacenter in Earl Warren Hall on Hearst Avenue on Friday knocked out the campus’ entire computer network from 7 p.m. An overheated server apparently sparked the fire, which in turn triggered the center’s fire suppression system. The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the fire, evacuated the building and ensured that the fire was controlled. No injuries were reported.
“Since the fire shortly after 7 p.m., we’ve been all hands on deck with folks working around the clock,” said university spokesman Roqua Montez. Speaking at 10:20 a.m. on Saturday morning, Montez said the datacenter is back up and storage is mostly back up.
Applications, including CalNet — which enables the university’s many websites — are still down. “We don’t have a timetable for that yet,” Montez said. The university’s WiFi is also still down. … Continue reading »
EATS BEATS & BREWS The Eats Beats & Brews salsa party returns to downtown Berkeley on Sunday, Sept. 20, noon to 6 p.m., with a packed program of fun events for all ages. Rumbaché will shake up the warm afternoon with live music and dancing, there’s an outdoor beer garden from Drakes Brewing, food from local restaurants, and fun games for all ages. Center Street’s Restaurant Row will showcase over 15 different international cuisines with special deals just for the event and combos perfect for al fresco eating. Games of Berkeley will be taking over part of the street for a Locally Grown Games Day where everyone can come meet game developers, try out new games and celebrate modern gaming. … Continue reading »
SOLANO STROLL The forecast is for a break in the heatwave this weekend, so it should be pleasant to amble down Solano Avenue with tens of thousands of others on Sunday at the annual Solano Stroll. As always, Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of the Stroll, and we’ll be there with our booth — conveniently located in front of iScream ice-cream shop at 1819 Solano Ave. Come by and say hello! In addition to Berkeleyside, you can enjoy the parade (which kicks it all off at 10 a.m.), plenty of live music, mechanical rides, juried hand-crafters, food and drink, and hundreds of local organizations in over 1 mile of free family fun. Sunday, Sept. 13, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. … Continue reading »
NOVELLA CARPENTER AT THE LIBRARY Today, Friday, local writer, urban farmer, educator and activist Novella Carpenter will take part in a free author chat at the Claremont branch of the Berkeley Public Library. The talk coincides with the paperback release of Carpenter’s memoir, Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild. Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave., 4-5 p.m. Call 510-981-6280 for more information or visit the library’s website. … Continue reading »
More than 9,000 students returned to Berkeley’s 11 elementary, three middle and two high schools schools today. Detailed enrollments will be announced by the school district in the coming weeks, but spokesman Mark Coplan said that district administrators believe the total will be very close to forecast.
The major change in the district is the arrival of Sam Pasarow as the new principal at Berkeley High. Pasarow, formerly principal of Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland Unified School District, started at Berkeley High on July 1, succeeding interim principal Kristen Glenchur.
“He is a taskmaster. He will get things done,” said Superintendent Donald Evans, describing Pasarow to parents at a public meeting on Thursday last week. Evans pointed out that Berkeley High ranked in the nation’s top 200 high schools. “His job is to get Berkeley High into the top 100.” … Continue reading »
BIG HERO 6 The last of this summer’s free movies in the park will be on Friday, Aug. 28 at Live Oak Park, starting at 8 p.m. The free movies are shown by Berkeley’s Parks Recreation & Waterfront Department on an inflatable, 20′ x 12′ screen. Moviegoers are asked to arrive at least 30 minutes before the movie begins. Bring blankets (although it may stay unseasonably warm tonight), sleeping bags and low-back beach chairs (maximum height: 9 inches off the ground). A flashlight or headlamp will help you walking out of the park at the end of the movie. The outdoor films are alcohol-free events. Friday, Aug. 28, 8 p.m., Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck Ave. … Continue reading »
KING LEAR You might think summer theater in the park is a time for light-hearted romps. Think again. Inferno Theatre, together with the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, will be performing Shakespeare’s “King Lear” for free in John Hinkel Park, opening on Saturday, Aug. 22. The production is adapted and directed by Guilio Cesare Perrone. Inferno Theatre says the production “condenses and intensifies this seminal family tragedy with striking visuals, physicality and live music. Gender is fluid with many male roles presented as female.” The amphitheater opens at 3 p.m. for picnicking and the performance begins at 4 p.m. Runs Saturdays and Sundays, with a special Labor Day performance on Sept. 7 to close the run. John Hinkel Park, 41 Somerset Place. … Continue reading »
In a fascinating 90 minutes of arguments in the U.S. District Court Thursday, two of the country’s most eminent lawyers tussled over whether Berkeley’s cellphone Right to Know ordinance violated phone retailers’ First Amendment rights. The CTIA – The Wireless Association is seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the Berkeley law.
District judge Edward Chen meticulously prodded and poked at the arguments of Theodore Olson, representing the CTIA, and Lawrence Lessig, representing Berkeley. Olson claimed that the city was requiring retailers to disseminate a “controversial, non-factual, misleading statement.” Lessig countered that the city’s required statement is “factual and uncontroversial,” and that the legal standard the plaintiff had to prove was that the city had “chilled commercial speech.”
Chen said he would rule on the injunction at a later date, but his questioning suggested that he might reject the plaintiff’s case if Berkeley slightly modified the language of the required notice, removing a sentence stating the “potential risk [of radio frequency radiation] is greater for children.” Lessig said the city would be happy to modify the notice. … Continue reading »
Berkeley police are investigating a shooting in the 1300 block of Russell Street early Saturday evening, near the southwest corner of San Pablo Park.
At 6:38 p.m. police received several 911 calls for reports of gunshots from the area of San Pablo Park in West Berkeley.
While responding to the location, another caller reported a male victim suffering from a gunshot wound in the 1300 block of Russell Street.
The victim has been taken to a local hospital for treatment, according to a police statement.
Officers are currently on scene investigating the shooting. … Continue reading »