Author Archives: Tracey Taylor

Man dies after being struck by train on Berkeley tracks

A man died on Saturday Dec. 3, after being struck by a train at Addison Street and the train track, according to Berkeley Police. Image: Google Maps
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A train struck and killed a man in Berkeley on Saturday at 3:15 p.m., according to Berkeley police. Traffic in the area was delayed as a result.

The train fatally struck a man near Addison Street, according to Lt. Alyson Hart of the Berkeley Police Department.

Police issued two Nixle alerts about the incident. The first, at 3:32 p.m., advised people to avoid the railroad crossing at Addison Street near the tracks due to “traffic congestion.” The second, at 3:47 p.m., advised motorists to avoid the area due to a “collision investigation.”

Lt. Hart said Union Pacific was conducting the investigation into the collision.

Earlier this month a pedestrian died after a collision with a train in Albany. The fatality happened about 7:55 a.m. on Monday Nov. 21 on the tracks in the area of Cleveland and Washington avenues, according to the East Bay Times. … Continue reading »

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City clears out homeless encampment after feces found spread on city buildings

Mike Lee of First They Came for the Homeless, sitting beside the site of the camp that was cleared by the city on Dec. 2.2016. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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The city cleared out a homeless encampment that had set up just north of City Hall Friday at around 5:15 a.m. The move came the day after the city said feces were spread, over a period of 24 hours, at various places  on or near City Hall. The city also reported problematic behavior from campers including public masturbation and offensive chalk messages on the sidewalks.

According to Mike Lee, part of the First They Came for the Homeless group and former candidate for Berkeley mayor, about 20 police officers raided the camp, which Lee estimated was about 20-strong and included disabled people. Lee said officers were accompanied by the city’s code enforcement manager Greg Daniel and Assistant City Manager Jim Heyns.

City Manager Dee Willams-Ridley said staff removed “12 cubic yards of garbage, food, end caps of needles, mildewed or soiled fabric, broken chairs, and other debris.” “People who were staying on the grass were given time to collect their belongings,” she wrote in a statement released after Berkeleyside asked for comment. “There were no arrests and no citations. Any items of value are being stored at the Transfer Station and are available to be reclaimed.” She said city staff and a city homeless outreach worker from the Mental Health Division had been visiting this group for several weeks to offer resources.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley, including Berkeleyside’s award-winning SF Homeless Project coverage.

This is not the first time the largely same group of homeless people has been asked to leave a camp on public property. There have been several similar raids over the past two months.

By Friday lunchtime, some of the campers had set up on the sidewalk across from the former camp, on the corner of Center and Milvia streets. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s new mayor, new council members are sworn in

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A large and enthusiastic crowd gathered at Berkeley’s Old City Hall Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to watch Jesse Arreguín and three new council members — Cheryl Davila (District 2), Ben Bartlett (District 3) and Sophie Hahn (District 5) — be sworn in to office.

Berkeleyside recorded some of the event using Facebook Live (unfortunately the feed cut out before Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn were sworn in, and the quality of the video was fairly poor due to poor internet connectivity at Old City Hall). Watch the video below.

Those in the audience for the event, which lasted about 15 minutes, included former Berkeley mayors Shirley Dean and Gus Newport, current council members Linda Maio, Lori Droste and Kriss Worthington, former councilman Max Anderson, former mayor of Oakland Elihu Harris, and Berkeley acting police chief Andrew Greenwood.

City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley presided over the event and the swearing-in was conducted by City Clerk Mark Numainville. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley author shines light on nature on our doorsteps

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Berkeley-based author Nathanael Johnson’s book Unseen City was published in April, but its subject matter — the close examination of, and appreciation for, the nature that directly surrounds us — has provided him with particular comfort in the past few weeks.

“I’ve been finding peace by focusing intently on the life in front of my nose these days — there’s some relief in knowing that the antics of ants will continue even if the antics of a certain chaos president leads to global nuclear war!” he said a few days ago.

Scroll down to read an excerpt from Unseen City and for a chance to win a copy of the book by sharing your local nature photos.

Johnson will be giving a free public talk about his book Wednesday Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m., at a Shaping San Francisco event at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics on Valencia Street.

Unseen City‘s subtitle provides a good descriptor of what the father of two and food writer at Grist set out to achieve with this, his second book: “The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness.”

The idea for Unseen City came to Johnson  when he realized he couldn’t teach his then toddler-age first daughter the names of many local trees, as he didn’t know them himself. He decided he would explore the natural world on his doorstep with his daughter and write a field guide about it, grounded in their observations, and drawing on the help of experts. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Mayor-elect, council members reaffirm city’s sanctuary status

Arreguin press conference Nov. 22. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín held a press conference Tuesday to make clear that he and the City Council will ensure the city remains a sanctuary city, offering protection to immigrants and undocumented residents.

“There’s a great deal of fear in our community,”Arreguín said, standing on the steps of City Hall alongside many city council members, the president of the Berkeley Unified School Board, and Mary Nicely, representing Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. The Council will propose a resolution at its next meeting, councilwoman Lori Droste said, reaffirming Berkeley’s status as a city of refuge.

Tuesday’s statements were in response to threats made by President-elect Donald Trump to penalize, through the withdrawal of federal funds, cities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to officials.

A forum on immigration rights will be held tonight, Tuesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Berkeley — scroll down for details.

Berkeley is one of more than 300 self-described sanctuary cities around the country. The City Council declared Berkeley to be a City of Refuge in 1971 and has had occasion to re-affirm that status several times since, including in 2007 during local raids by the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and in 2015 when the city said it would welcome Syrian refugees.  … Continue reading »

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In film, Berkeley High athletes wrestle with difficult issues

Berkeley High footballers kneel during the national anthem at a game in a still from Stand Up and Kneel, a Vice News Tonight film shot at the school.
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49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick gained national attention when he began kneeling during the national anthem at games — a protest against the treatment of black people in the United States. Rolake Bamgbose, a producer at VICE News Tonight, spotted an opportunity for a good follow-up story. The result was Stand Up and Kneel, a 7-minute, fly-on-the-wall film shot on the field and in the locker room of the Berkeley High School football team. (Watch the film below.)

“We had been keeping an eye on how Colin Kaepernick-type protests were playing out across the country,” Bamgbose said last week on the phone from New York. ” We were noticing protests were taking wind at colleges, in middle schools, and even with little-league teams at the elementary level.”

One of Bamgbose’s goals is to find interesting stories with different perspectives that appeal to young people. About a month ago she started making calls around the country to see if she could find a school team that was protesting.

What she found instead was a coach — Berkeley High’s head football coach CJ Johnson — who had just started talking with his team about whether, and how, they should make their voices heard. Johnson told Bamgbose that a couple of his team captains had come to him saying they wanted to protest. A few raised their fists at a game. Johnson suggested talking as a team to decide collectively on an approach.

Bamgbose’s interest was piqued. She asked Johnson if he would hold off formal talks with the team until VICE was able to get a crew onto the Berkeley High campus. Then she and VICE producer and correspondent Jay Kaspian Kang got on an airplane to the West Coast. … Continue reading »


UC Berkeley reports sewage leak into Strawberry Creek

Sign warning of contaminated water. Photo: David Weisz
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An accidental sewage leak into Strawberry Creek reported by UC Berkeley on Nov. 7 prompted both the city and the university to put up signs warning people about contaminated water.

According to city spokesman Matthai Chakko, UC Berkeley notified multiple agencies — namely the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. EPA, Alameda County Health, Alameda County Environmental Health, Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Unified Program Agency (toxics management) and the city — about the leak.

Berkeleyside was first alerted about the incident Nov. 14 when reader David Weisz posted a photo of one of the signs to Twitter and wrote: “… saw this in the Bay near the marina (near Univ and the frontage road). Any idea what happened?” … Continue reading »

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

Japanese pond at UC Botanical. Photo: Avi
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FIND PEACE IN THE GARDEN The UC Botanical Garden is offering free admission from 9-11 a.m. daily until Wednesday, Nov. 30, to “help community members, friends, and families find resilience and calm.” The UC Botanical Garden is at 200 Centennial Drive in Berkeley. Visit the garden’s website for information. … Continue reading »


Photo slideshow: Berkeley High walkout, protest march

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More than 1,000 Berkeley High students walked off campus Wednesday morning and marched to the UC Berkeley campus to protest the result of the U.S. presidential election. The demonstration was peaceful and the police did not get involved. Read our story. Watch live footage and interviews on our Facebook Live coverage.

And click through the slideshow above, using the arrows on either side, to see photographs taken by staffers, contributing photographers, … Continue reading »

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Target to open new Berkeley store on University Avenue

Target Express downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Update, Nov. 11: Berkeleyside reader Ian Crew asked Target on Twitter when the University Avenue store might open, pointing them to this story. The reply? “We can’t release the official date. But keep in mind, Target only opens new stores three times a year, in March, July and October.”

Original story: Target will open a store at 1414 University Ave. in Berkeley on the site of the former Savers Thrift and, before that, Andronico’s. It will be the second central Berkeley location for Target, which opened a Target Express in downtown last year.

Kristy Welker from Target’s communications department confirmed Target had “signed a lease for a new store on University Avenue in downtown Berkeley.” Welker said she was was able to share any additional information at this point.

Several neighbors in the central Berkeley area said they had observed crews at work on the site, whose cross street is Acton Street, and heard rumors it was being developed for Target. … Continue reading »

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Cal campus covered with graffiti for Jesse Arreguín

Chalk tagging on the UC Berkeley campus on Monday No. 7, 2016. Photo: Courtesy UC Berkeley
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People arriving on the UC Berkeley campus Monday morning can’t fail to have noticed lots of chalk tagging scrawled on many parts of the campus with messages of support for Berkeley mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguín, as well a few mentioning Rent Board candidates. The most common message was “Vote Jesse 4 Mayor,” or variations on that wording.

Christine Shaff said she counted 70 instances of different tags — all of which were made using chalk — after she got to the the campus today.

“They were on Spieker Plaza, Lower and Upper Plaza, Sather Gate, near Dwinelle Hall, Campanile Way and Moffitt Library,” Shaff, who works in the university’s real-estate division, said, noting that the north side of campus had been spared.

Shaff reported the tagging to UC Berkeley Police and began looking into how the marking could be removed.

“We will need to use water to remove it, with power washing, which is not what we want to do,” she said, although she added the campus could use well rather than potable water. Shaff said maintenance crews couldn’t power-wash busy areas during the day so they might have to do it on overtime.
“We have opened a separate work order to track how much it’s going to cost. It’s a distressing waste of our resources.” … Continue reading »

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Volunteers target swing states at the Berkeley-Albany Hillary Clinton campaign HQ

The Berkeley-Albany Hillary Clinton campaign HQ at 1224 Solano Ave. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A group of women sits around a table, all heads down, tapping into their cellphones. They are also chatting and laughing as they text people they don’t know in North Carolina. The automated message they are sending informs people in this swing state that early voting is available to them. The women are just a few of the many volunteers who are packed into a former toy store on Solano Avenue, now the bustling Berkeley-Albany headquarters for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The phone- and text-banking hub is also the national call center for Clinton as the campaign, whose epicenter is in Brooklyn, determined that California is the state with the most resources. It opened on Oct. 22, and will remain open, said the HQ’s co-lead Allie Janoch, until the result of the presidential election is called.

Barbara Bryant, one of the group of texters, said she had been doing three-hour shifts with her partner for the past four days and would be coming back every day through Tuesday. “We have got to counter the deep sexism of that man,” she said, unable to mention the name of Clinton’s adversary. … Continue reading »


Safeway to buy, rebrand Andronico’s Markets

Andronico's. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Eighty-seven years after founding its first grocery store in Berkeley, the Andronico’s name will disappear for good by the end of 2016, after being acquired by Safeway.

Safeway is buying Andronico’s Community Markets, according to both companies, and Andronico’s five stores will be renamed Safeway Community Markets. Andronico’s two stores in Berkeley, and its other three — in San Francisco, San Anselmo and Los Altos — are slated to undergo the transition in December and each store will be closed for a short period of time during the changeover.

No jobs will be lost as a result of the purchase, said Andronico’s CEO Suzy Monford, who told Berkeleyside that the union that represents both Safeway and Andronico’s staff “wholeheartedly supports” the move, and that she herself is delighted with the development. Monford said there were around 350-400 employees in total across the five stores, with 35 in the group’s corporate office.

Read more about Andronico’s Community Markets on Berkeleyside.

In a statement released to Berkeleyside by Safeway, the grocery giant said Andronico’s approached Safeway earlier this year about purchasing their stores “with the goal of preserving union jobs and keeping the stores operating in the same friendly, local way their customers have come to enjoy.”

Andronico’s, which was founded in Berkeley in 1929 — and at its peak had 14 stores in the Bay Area — declared bankruptcy in August 2011 and was bought by Renovo Capital, along with A.G. Ferrari, another local food group.

Wednesday morning, representatives from Safeway, along with Monford, were on the grocery market floor in Berkeley’s two stores talking to staff about the news and its implications. … Continue reading »

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