Author Archives: Natalie Orenstein
Berkeley City Council last night unanimously voted to refer the appeal of a Zoning Adjustments Board decision on a Starbucks at 3001 Telegraph Ave. to a public meeting. But before that debate, there was plenty of other action in the council chambers. We’ve Storified what happened so you can follow the action. Read on. … Continue reading »
A new for-profit thrift store opened its doors on University Avenue on Thursday in a ceremony filled with balloons and music – but already burdened with the job of doing damage control with its neighbors.
Savers Thrift Store opened at 1414 University Ave., the former site of Andronico’s, on the heels of a lawsuit that gave the building’s owners exclusive rights to the adjacent parking lot, which had once been shared by neighboring businesses. The decision to only allow Savers customers to use the lot prompted nearby residents to threaten to boycott Savers.
“We’ve always wanted a store in Berkeley because our stores do best with a very broad demographic,” Savers president and CEO Ken Alterman said at the ribbon-cutting. … Continue reading »
A new report on the health status of Berkeley residents reveals significant racial and ethnic health inequities across all age groups. In a special City Council session on Oct. 29, Public Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman encouraged the council to develop plans to eliminate the racial disparities, which mirror national trends.
Although the report calls Berkeley — one of three cities in California with its own public health division — a “healthy community overall,” it emphasizes the marked difference in health status and mortality rates between racial groups. An African American living in Berkeley is twice as likely as a white resident to die in any given year and the gap appears to be widening, the report found. … Continue reading »
BURIED IN THE BODY If you’re looking to sustain the spookiness after Halloween is over, head to Live Oak Park to catch the Ragged Wing Ensemble’s “Buried in the Body.” The original play and accompanying interactive installation explore the mysterious and otherworldly relationships between people (and spirits) in a park, where “nothing is as it seems to be.” The traveling, free show makes its final stop in Berkeley Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. … Continue reading »
It’s finally here: The inaugural Uncharted: the Berkeley Festival of Ideas is launching Friday morning and continuing in full force through Saturday night. The packed program of expert speakers, hands-on workshops, and provocative thinkers includes discussions on robots, race, plutocracy, and food justice – and that’s just a sampling. And there’s still time to register! Single-day and weekend passes are available online. And passes can also be bought on the door on Friday or Saturday morning — simply show up at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison St. from 9am. The program begins at at 10:00am on Friday and 9:30am on Saturday. We’ll see you there.
VIDEO & FILM FESTIVAL For over two decades, the Berkeley Video & Film Festival has brought a thoughtful selection of independent and experimental films to the East Bay Media Center at 1939 Addison St. The event spans two weekends and this year’s features two U.S. premieres: One Night at the Aristo, a British film based on a William S. Burroughs story; and Abstract Alchemist of Flesh, a documentary about poet Michael McClure. Also showing for the first time in Berkeley is Revolution, a stunning film festival darling about endangered sharks and the threatened ecosystems they belong to. A full list of showings and ticket information is available on the festival’s website. … Continue reading »
A recent court ruling that gives exclusive parking lot rights to the owners of 1414 University Ave., former home of Andronico’s, has left nearby business owners fuming.
In August, an Alameda County Superior Court judge decided that Palo Alto’s Berkeley Bazaar Partnerships (BBP) is the sole owner of the parking lot that sits between 1414 University and 1432 University, even though tenants and customers of the former address, known as Strawberry Walk, have been using the lot for decades. … Continue reading »
MO’WHAT? Mo’Fone‘s funky brand of jazz might sound like it comes from New Orleans, but don’t be deceived. The trio’s roots are right here in the Bay Area, and the group is playing at Berkeley’s own Jupiter on Saturday Aug. 18 from 8 pm to 11 pm. A unique combination of two saxophone players and one drummer, the Mo’Fone men play energetic, danceable jazz that Consequence of Sound described as “downright mesmerizing.” Best of all, the show’s free!
NOT JUST FOR STUDENTS UC Berkeley’s annual welcome extravaganza is back for its 10th anniversary this Sunday Aug. 19 and Monday Aug. 20. Caltopia—the self-proclaimed “two greatest days on planet Earth”—boasts dozens of booths set up by local businesses and community organizations, live music, and boatloads of free goodies. And we’re not just talking keychains and water bottles—there’s a Droid up for grabs. Originally created as a showcase for Cal’s Recreational Sports department, Caltopia has morphed into an anticipated event for students and community members alike. … Continue reading »
About 200 Bay Area Sikhs and community members gathered at Berkeley’s Civic Center Park Friday evening to honor the six people killed in the Aug. 5 shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple. As the sun set behind City Hall, the group of mourners stood in a circle, holding candles and quietly praying for the victims.
The vigil, organized by the El Sobrante gudwara, or Sikh temple, was one of many community events held in the week after an army veteran and white supremacist went on a shooting spree in a suburb of Milwaukee, killing six worshippers and then himself.
Observant Sikhs wear dastars (or turbans) and do not cut their hair, and the community has been the target of discrimination and hate crimes since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, UC Berkeley sophomore Gurleen Singh said at the vigil. … Continue reading »
The multi-pronged approach to combating homelessness at Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) is based on the belief that society knows what works, but rarely implements it.
“Good healthcare works, good education works, getting people help the first time they struggle works,” said boona cheema [sic], the Bay Area organization’s longtime executive director. “Being kind and compassionate so people see that you really care—that works, and motivates people.”
In 1971, as a recent immigrant from India with little money in her pocket and a baby on the way, cheema knocked on six-month-old BOSS’s door to ask for help. Two years later, she became its fourth director, and is now preparing to leave her job to make time for creative pursuits.
Over the past 42 years, cheema—a self-proclaimed “builder and dreamer”—has overseen an expansion of BOSS into a network of short-term shelters, long-term transitional houses, mental health and substance abuse support systems, classes, daycares, and career training programs that serve 1,500 people. The largest facility is the Ursula Sherman Village on Harrison Street in Berkeley, which houses more than 100 individuals and families. … Continue reading »
MELT IN YOUR MOUTH Its tag line is “Yup, It’s just cheese and bread,” but somehow we suspect the way MELT puts those two ingredients together is something special. How about fontina and provolone on garlic bread? Or pepper jack with jalapenos on sourdough? Those are only two of the options at MELT, the brainchild of Jonathan Kaplan, who founded Flip Video (now sadly defunct). As tipped by Berkeleyside in May, the fifth branch of MELT opened Aug. 6 at 2400 Telegraph Ave., just a few steps away from Sproul Plaza. Customers can order via their smart phones, scan in the QR code when they get to the restaurant, and move to the front of the line for pick up.
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME The introduction of the high-concept Comal on Shattuck Avenue seems to be having the effect Berkeley city planners and economic development types hoped for. Diablo Magazine reports that first-time restaurateur Paul Oprescu is planning to open Belli Osteria next door at 2016 Shattuck in October. He is taking over the space that once belonged to Green Papaya and morphed for a brief period in February to Thanu’s Kitchen. Belli will be an affordable osteria serving many different types of pasta and ravioli made on the premises. “Oprescu, a former Montessori teacher who has dabbled in cooking, including interning at the late Eccolo where he learned to make his own charcuterie, says he has more than 150 recipes for raviolis that he plans to rotate into the menu,” writes Diablo. “A couple of examples? How about black squid ink ravioli with seafood or another with seared prawns, gorgonzola, and caramelized shallots in a cream sauce.” Belli will also be open for lunch, serving affordable panini. … Continue reading »
Under a color-coded grading system implemented in July, restaurants in Alameda County – but not in Berkeley – are now required to post green, yellow, or red placards in their windows to display food safety inspection results.
Berkeley is one of four cities in the state with an independent environmental health department and it makes its own rules regarding restaurant inspections. But with the implementation of the easy-to-understand county system, Berkeley officials are considering the adoption of a similar program to make things uniform.
“It’s something that the rest of the jurisdictions are thinking about, to have some consistency within the Bay Area,” said Manuel Ramirez, Berkeley environmental health director. “There’s no sense of a timeline at this point, but it is being discussed.”
County officials say the visibility of the inspection results and the accessible color code will empower consumers and encourage food facilities to meet safety standards. Some Berkeley restaurateurs say they would be proud to post a placard in their windows. … Continue reading »
Three hundred Japanese high school students walked through Sather Gate on Tuesday, snapping pictures of the UC Berkeley campus on their iPads and preparing for a three-week experience in community development, entrepreneurship, and cultural exchange.
The teenagers are all from the earthquake-devastated Tohoku region, and were selected from a pool of 2,000 applicants to participate in the Tomodachi SoftBank Leadership Program. The program, funded by telecommunication company SoftBank and organized by global exchange organization Ayusa, is part of a larger effort by the US embassy in Japan and the US-Japan Council to strengthen cultural and economic ties between the two countries after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
“The Tomodachi Initiative, broadly speaking, is to invest in the younger people of Japan and to connect them with the younger generation in the US,” said John Roos, US ambassador to Japan. … Continue reading »
While three councilmembers were singing protest songs with the audience, the Berkeley City Council abruptly voted 6-0-3 early Wednesday morning to place a contentious sitting ban on the November ballot – a move that was immediately challenged as illegal by its opponents.
The three councilmembers who abstained from voting are planning to challenge the legality of the vote because it was held before the council had debated the measure and before all public speakers had commented.
“I was stunned,” said Councilmember Max Anderson after the measure passed amidst the chaos. “I did not vote. It’s outrageous that they ran this thing through without any discussion. This illegal motion is the last in a series of anti-democratic positions taken by this mayor and his cronies.”
Councilmember Jesse Arreguín, who
had been planning to presented an alternative proposal to the council that Bates did not allow to be discussed - but was not permitted by Bates to do so – said the spontaneous vote was “the most outrageous thing I’ve seen the council do.”
“We’re going to have to get lawyers to look at this tape and evaluate it,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the third abstention and the first council member to join the impassioned community members in song. … Continue reading »