Author Archives: Lance Knobel

Berkeleyside’s Voter’s Edge guide helps you sort through the candidates, measures in the Nov. 8 election

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Confused about measures T1, U1 and V1? Want a quick rundown on the candidates for Berkeley mayor, or your local council seat? Berkeleyside would encourage you to check out our own voluminous coverage to really dig into the details. But this election we’ve also partnered with Maplight to give you a powerful tool to sort through candidates and measures up and down the ballot.

Voter’s Edge gives you a personalized ballot, with information on endorsements, positions, donors and more in one easy-to-use site.

See Berkeleyside’s 2016 Election Hub for all our coverage.

Depending on which council district you live in, your ballot probably has 12 or 13 different races (from president to mayor to school board to Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District director) and 32 — yes, 32 — different ballot measures.  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Crowds gather on Shattuck Avenue during Sunday Streets. Photo: Ted Friedman
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SUNDAY STREETS Last weekend’s showers occasioned a scramble to reschedule Berkeley’s fifth Sunday Streets celebration. This Sunday, Shattuck Avenue will be closed from Haste to Rose — 17 blocks — in a celebration of local businesses and organizations. Storefronts will be unobstructed, and business owners are encouraged to promote commerce and visibility by setting out seating on the street, hosting activities, and otherwise inviting interest and community. There’s a bewildering variety of activities planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., including plenty of live music, children’s activities, and sports and fitness. This year’s Sunday Streets also includes Salsa Sunday on Center Street in the downtown and the Vine St. Block Party in the Gourmet Ghetto. Participants are encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transit to Sunday Streets. Shattuck Avenue from Haste to Rose, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23. … Continue reading »


Eve Ensler, Kevin Powell poised to discuss Trump, rape culture, race at Uncharted in Berkeley on Saturday

Eve Ensler and Kevin Powell  will be in conversation at Uncharted this Saturday. Photos: Brigitte Lacombe
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Last Friday’s leak of the Access Hollywood video plunged Donald Trump’s presidential campaign into crisis, but it also brought to the forefront of national coverage attitudes towards women and sexual assault.

Activists Eve Ensler and Kevin Powell were alert to the issues long before Friday, which is why they agreed nearly two months ago to title their Uncharted Festival conversation “Violence or love? Rape culture, race and building social movements.”

Exactly one week before the video leak, Ensler had published The Undeniable Rape Culture of Donald Trump on Huffington Post.

See who else is on the program + get tickets to Berkeleyside’s Uncharted Festival.

“It’s kind of amazing that all of this is out now,” Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day, said this morning, in a call to Berkeleyside with Kevin Powell before Uncharted kicks off on Friday. “We are talking about a toxicity that is so rampant, that is so sickening. But in a way we all now know what we’re fighting.”

“I’ve been sharing Eve’s article with everyone. It foreshadowed the madness of this weekend,” said Powell. “We have to speak very candidly about where this country is going or could go.” … Continue reading »


The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

The first presidential debate drew 1,000 people to Addison Street to watch the jumbo screen at BAMPFA. Photo: Matt, @nosoupforgeorge from Twitter
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PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE No, they’re not coming to Berkeley (in any case, how many of you would get through the undecided screening to get in?). BAMPFA has something better: they’ll be broadcasting the debate live on the jumbo outdoor screen. On Sunday evening for the second presidential debate, Addison Street will be closed and you can join a politically engaged crowd to cheer and jeer. For the first debate, the innovative use of the outdoor screen drew 1,000 people. Bring a chair and a blanket. 6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9, Addison Street and Oxford Street. … Continue reading »


London’s Philharmonia recreates original Zellerbach concert as part of three-day Cal Performances residency

London's Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, will perform at Zellerbach Hall this weekend. Photo: Benjamin Ealovega
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Nearly 50 years ago, composer Igor Stravinsky sat in the audience at Zellerbach Hall, nodding vigorously as his “Symphony of Psalms” and “Oedipus Rex” were played to celebrate the opening of the concert hall. This Sunday afternoon, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen will recreate that inaugural concert.

The Sunday concert is the conclusion of the Philharmonia’s three-day residency at Cal Performances, consisting of three concerts, a master class with the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, and a virtual reality adventure that puts participants in the middle of a Salonen performance.

The Philharmonia residency also marks the launch of Cal Performance’s Berkeley RADICAL “immersion” thematic strand, which will this year cover Stravinsky, Beethoven (Salonen will conduct the “Eroica” symphony on Friday) and the human voice, heard in both the opera-oratorio “Oedipus Rex” and “Symphony of Psalms.”  … Continue reading »


Berkeley council picks Amoeba, Apothecarium as new cannabis dispensaries

Supporters of The Cannabis Center line up for public comment at last night's city council meeting. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley City Council last night approved the city’s fifth and sixth cannabis dispensaries, four months after approving the fourth. A long night of public comment and testimony was followed by a relatively brief discussion by councilmembers before selecting Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective (BC3), 2465 Telegraph Ave. (led by the owners of Amoeba Music), and The Apothecarium, 2578 Shattuck Ave. (from an established San Francisco dispensary).

Proposals from Berkeley Innovative Health, 1229 San Pablo Ave., and The Cannabis Center, 1436 University Ave., failed in their bids, although each attracted some support from members of the council.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.

The council heard nearly three hours of testimony and public comment from the four applicants for the two dispensaries. All of the applicants promoted their professionalism and operational excellence, all had long lines of community members speaking in support. A relatively small number of community members raised concerns about location of any of the dispensaries. What differences could be gleaned from the public comment were largely of tone and nuance.

That was on top of a years-long process the applicants went through to select the city’s fourth dispensary, which concluded in May when the council approved the iCann Health Center on Sacramento Street. Because of the “compelling” quality of the applicants, according to Councilman Kriss Worthington, in July the council agreed to allow a fifth and sixth dispensary. The Medical Cannabis Commission had this year exhaustively evaluated the applicants as part of the lengthy decision on a fourth dispensary.

Adding two new dispensaries could add hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual tax revenues for the city.   … Continue reading »

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FEMA pulls funding for tree clearing in Berkeley hills

Thousands of the Berkeley hills eucalyptus trees may be removed with funding from FEMA. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to remove trees in the Berkeley/Oakland hills for fire management have been pulled after a successful suit by a community group to stop the plan.

FEMA withdrew $3.5 million in funding to UC Berkeley and the City of Oakland as part of a settlement agreement between the agency and the Hills Conservation Network (HCN). FEMA funds for fire mitigation by East Bay Regional Park District are not affected by the settlement.

“The folks who were intending to deforest large swaths of the Oakland/Berkeley hills are not going to be able to get FEMA money to do that,” said Dan Grassetti, president of HCN. “What we would like to see is for species-neutral vegetation management to happen throughout the area. The agencies should focus on eliminating the actual threat we face.”

Fire mitigation plans in the hills have been intensely debated since the devastating 1991 fire that killed 25 people and destroyed 2,843 single-family homes and 437 apartment and condominium units.

In the long-running dispute over the FEMA grant, HCN had argued that plans to remove thousands of eucalypti, Monterey pines and acacia trees would not reduce fire risk. The better approach, according to HCN, was to focus on vegetation-free zones near roadways and structures and brush clearing. That is the approach of the EBRP, he said.  … Continue reading »

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Semitruck catches fire near Ashby exit on eastbound I-80

Photo: Jaige Rudner
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A tractor-trailer caught fire this morning on eastbound I-80, sending plumes of black smoke high into the air. According to the Berkeley Fire Department, there were no reports of injuries.

The fire was reported at 11:01 a.m. Berkeley Fire Department responded to the fire and called in Alameda County Fire Department as well.

Video on television news showed dramatic flames issuing from the tractor-trailer before the fire was knocked down by fire fighters.

If you’re missing our stories, you … Continue reading »

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Council passes minimum wage law for $15 in 2018

A Friday morning special council meeting with low attendance. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a new law Friday that will see the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 in 2018.

The vote came during an unusual Friday morning special session of the council, after weeks of negotiation to resolve a battle between two competing minimum wage ballot measures. One of those, the council-approved Measure BB, would reach $15 by 2019; the other, labor-supported Measure CC, would reach $15 in 2017.

Read more about the minimum wage on Berkeleyside.

“This is a consensus document,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who said it involved 40 or 50 hours of meetings over the last few weeks. “I don’t consider it a compromise document.”

The new law will make Berkeley one of the first jurisdictions in the country to reach a $15 an hour minimum wage. San Francisco will reach the $15 mark on July 1, 2018. Berkeley’s $15 wage starts on October 1, 2018. … Continue reading »

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Council plans special meeting on minimum wage (again)

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Remember the special Berkeley City Council meeting on the minimum wage that didn’t happen?

On Aug. 10, the City Council hurriedly announced a special meeting for the following day. The two often-divided wings of the council had seemingly agreed wording for a new, accelerated raise in the minimum wage that would remove the need for dueling ballot measures in November. But in the 24 hours between announcing and holding the meeting, the council failed to summon a quorum. Only council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Darryl Moore showed up.

The council is trying again, with a special meeting called for the unusual time of 11:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26, in the council chambers in Old City Hall. In this second effort, four council members — Laurie Capitelli, Lori Droste, Linda Maio and Susan Wengraf — have jointly submitted a new ordinance that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 on Oct. 1, 2018, one year earlier than the council-approved ballot measure and one year later than the union-supported measure.  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Herding the Lanterns
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GILMAN ART WALK Four participating studios and seven local businesses are collaborating for the Gilman Art Walk on Saturday afternoon. The four studios — Firehouse Art Collective Gilman Studios, Firehouse Art Collective Toki Building, Potters’ Studio and Makers Workspace — will open their doors for visitors to talk to artists and browse new works. The seven businesses — Whole Foods Markets, Philz Coffee, Doughnut Dolly, T-Rex Restaurant and Bar, Stella’s Studio, Eastern Classics and Farm Burger — will display artworks by artists from Gilman District art studios. The free art walk will run from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 6 in the Gilman District, centered around the intersection of Gilman and Tenth Street.  … Continue reading »


The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Let's go fly kites by Daniel Parks. Taken at the 2014 Berkeley Kite Festival
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KITE FESTIVAL If you’ve never been to the Berkeley Kite Festival, you’ll goggle at the Octopile and cheer at the rokkaku battles. If you’ve been before, you know that the festival provides sights and experiences for the whole family, powered by the steady winds across the Bay. You’ll see aerial competitions from the Bay Area Sport Kite League, traditional kites from the Sode-cho Kite-Flying Society of Hamamatsu, Japan, and (get ready kids) candy drops. In addition to all the activity in the air, the festival includes a kids’ zone with pony rides, a petting zoo, sumo soccer balls, and plenty of bouncy houses. The free festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 30-31, Cesar Chavez Park at Berkeley Marina. Parking is $15 at the marina or at Golden Gate Fields. Free shuttles from both areas. Free bicycle parking.  … Continue reading »

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley student confirmed dead in Nice terror attack

UC Berkeley student Nicholas Leslie, who was killed in the Bastille Day attack in Nice. Photo: Facebook
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Nicolas Leslie, a 20-year-old UC Berkeley student who had been in Nice in a study abroad program, has been identified as among the 84 people killed in Thursday’s Bastille Day attack. His death was reported to campus officials by the FBI, which was notified by French officials earlier today.

“This is tragic, devastating news,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in a UC Berkeley news release. “All of us in the UC Berkeley family — both here on campus, and around the world — are heartbroken to learn that another promising young student has been lost to senseless violence. I join Nick’s parents, friends and the entire campus community in condemning this horrific attack, and in mourning the loss of one of our own.”

Leslie’s death comes less than two weeks after the death of 18-year-old Berkeley student Tarishi Jain in a terrorist attack in Bangladesh.

Three other Berkeley students were injured in the Nice attack. 23-year-old Vladyslav Kostiuk and 20-year-old Diane Huang have been released after medical treatment. 21-year-old Daryus Medora, whose leg was broken, remains in the hospital.

Leslie was reported missing on Friday, following the attack by a man who drove a truck through crowds who had gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks.  … Continue reading »

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