Author Archives: Tracey Taylor

Police arrest 3 after armed, masked restaurant robbery series, 9 in Berkeley

Approximate, block-level, locations of seven of the nine restaurant robberies in March and April. Source: CrimeMapping/Berkeleyside
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Police arrested three men Friday after an investigation into a series of robberies that saw armed, masked perpetrators holding up a total of 23 restaurants in the Bay Area, nine of which were in Berkeley.

The “take-over-style” robberies began at the beginning of March, according to a Nixle alert sent out by BPD at around 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

Sgt. Andrew Frankel, spokesman for BPD, said the suspects were masked and had guns. He described a “take-over-style” robbery as those using  “force and fear.”

The three men arrested were Kristoffer Jones, 18, of Albany; Shawan Spragans, 40, of Oakland; and Merl Simpson, 46, also of Oakland.

The 23 restaurants — primarily in Berkeley, San Francisco, San Leandro, Albany, Oakland and Hayward — were being targeted shortly before, or just after, closing time by the same suspects, according to the BPD statement.

The break in the case came just after midnight Friday, April 22, when the men attempted to rob a bar in San Francisco that was under surveillance by the San Francisco Police Department. … Continue reading »

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‘Farmsteads’ celebrates our local food purveyors

erinscottphotography_farmsteadsofthecaliforniacoast-pieranch_7722
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Award-winning journalist Sarah Henry, for many years Berkeleyside’s food writer, has just published her first book: Farmsteads of the California Coast. The book profiles 12 innovative farmsteads through an exploration of their sustainable practices, the delicious produce they grow and the food they make. The book’s photographer is Erin Scott, author of Yummy Supper (and an occasional Nosh contributor). The book includes 24 recipes courtesy of publisher Lisa McGuinness, an accomplished home cook. We talked to Henry about the thinking behind the beautiful tome, and what she learned while researching and writing it.

What led you to writing this book?

I was approached to write the book by Yellow Pear Press publisher Lisa McGuinness. Lisa had visited Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero, was charmed by the whole experience, and wanted to know more about the coastal farmers who grow and produce the diverse and delicious food we are fortunate enough to eat. … Continue reading »

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Fire in Berkeley apartment building displaces around 30

Fire on Shattuck at Delaware on April 26, 2016. Photo: @panellington/Twitter
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Update, April 27: BFD says the rough monetary value of the damage caused by the fire and burst water pipe is $100,000. BFD also confirmed that they went back to the apartment building later on the night of April 26 to handle “a small amount of burning material in the attic.”

Original story: Approximately 30 residents of an apartment building on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Delaware Street in Berkeley were displaced Tuesday evening following a fire and subsequent water damage, according to authorities. … Continue reading »

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Power restored after outages affect 43,000 in East Bay

The power is out in Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito and north to San Pablo, according to a PG&E power outage map.
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Update, 1:30pm: PG&E said that, as of 1 p.m., power to all customers impacted by the outages had been restored. They are continuing to look into the equipment failure that caused it, according to a spokeswoman.

Update, 12:50 p.m.: PG&E now says that power has been restored to 18,000 more people. The utility cannot confirm if there was a connection between the explosion of a transformer in El Cerrito and the outage.

Update, 11:50 a.m. About 1,400 people now have their power back, according to PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian. The rest of the 43,000 people without power should have it back on this afternoon. She also confirmed that PG&E was investigating whether there was a connection between the a fire at an El Cerrito substation and the outage. … Continue reading »

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Human skull, bones found on Berkeley Lab property

A human skull and three bones were unearthed on Berkeley Lab property on Monday. Photo: LBL Photo: Berkeley Lab
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A human skull and three human bones were discovered on Berkeley Lab property Monday during some routine digging to clear a ditch.

According to a release put out by the Lab on Wednesday, a Lab facilities crew working to clear a drainage ditch in “very steep and brushy terrain” on Berkeley Lab’s southern perimeter discovered a skull and one bone around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The Alameda County coroner’s office was called in and completed its search of the site on Tuesday after finding two more bones. The remains were found outside of Berkeley Lab’s fence line but on Berkeley Lab’s property. 

It is not known how long the remains were in the ditch, nor how old they are. Foul play is not suspected, according to the Lab’s statement, pending new information from the coroner’s office.

Jon Weiner, a spokesman for the Lab, said they were waiting to hear back from the coroner’s office as to any possible identification of the remains. … Continue reading »

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Photos: 100s turn up, chill out for 420 day on Cal campus

420 Day on the UC Berkeley campus, April 20, 2016. Photo: Ted Friedman
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People came out in droves to Memorial Glade on the UC Berkeley campus Wednesday to mark 420 day, an international celebration of cannabis culture. The mood was, as might be expected, mellow and the more entrepreneurial among the student body were making munchies available.

The origins of 420 day are as hazy as a cloud of marijuana smoke: urban myths include the notion that 420 is the police radio code for smoking marijuana in public; 4/20 was the day Adolf Hitler — or perhaps Jim Morrison of The Doors died; or that 420 relates to California’s penal code relating to cannabis. The most likely explanation is close to home and involves a group of San Rafael high-school students, at least according to Slate.

Contributing photographer Ted Friedman checked out the scene at Cal — at around 4:20 p.m., naturally. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police seek help identifying shooting suspect

Screen Shot BPD video
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Berkeley police are asking for the community’s help to identify a suspect who shot at a homeless man in downtown Berkeley in the early hours of April 14.

Nixle alert released by BPD on Tuesday at around 3 p.m. includes a video which shows the suspect aiming and firing a gun (see below).

Police said that Thursday at approximately 3:35 a.m. dispatch received a report of shots fired in the 2100 block of Kittredge Street. Once on scene, officers talked to what they describe as the intended target of the shooting, a 39-year-old homeless man, who was not hit or injured by the gunfire.

The man said he had been standing in front of 2165 Kittredge St. when the suspect, who was in the parking lot near the gas pumps of Touchless Car Wash at 2176 Kittredge, began shooting at him. … Continue reading »

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Medieval-style North Berkeley ‘castle’ on market for $5M

The Hume Castle at 2900 Buena Vista Way. Photo: The Grubb Company
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Described as a “magical architectural masterpiece,” the 5-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom home that’s known as the Hume Castle at 2900 Buena Vista Way has been listed for sale, priced at $5 million.

The medieval-style marvel was designed by John Hudson Thomas and built in 1929 for Samuel and Portia Bell Hume. Thomas took his inspiration from the 13th-century Convent of the Augustines in Toulouse, and it certainly looks like it would fit right into the Southern French landscape.

Like the French convent, the Hume mansion, a Berkeley landmark, is arranged around a large internal courtyard surrounded by colonnaded cloisters featuring Gothic tracery arches. It sits on just under three-quarter acres of private, gated property tucked into a sweeping curve of Buena Vista Way, to the east of the Rose Garden. … Continue reading »

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Police arrest 1 after staff at Berkeley McDonald’s attacked

McDonald's Photo Tracey Taylor
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Berkeley Police and Berkeley Fire responded to an incident Thursday afternoon at the McDonald’s in downtown Berkeley in which a person jumped the counter and attacked several employees.

There was also a report of an additional victim being attacked at a laundromat nearby.

“The suspect was not armed, but apparently struck or choked at least two individuals — one at McDonalds, one at the laundromat, without warning or provocation,” said Berkeley Police Captain Andrew Greenwood. … Continue reading »

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Gypsie the dog (and its owner) rescue bird on the bay

Photo: Julie Ann Baccelli
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Julie Ann Baccelli had an experience Wednesday which goes to remind you that unexpected happenings can also be good things.

Baccelli was on jogging next to the bay with her Welsh Springer Spaniel, Gypsie. As the pair was running along the shore, Gypsie, who, it is worth knowing, is a bird dog, jumped into the bay and grabbed an injured bird out of the water. The grabbing was done with some care, however, as the video below demonstrates. The cute brown and white dog then brought the bird to her owner.

“I carefully took the flapping, injured bird from her mouth to discover that the bird had a fishing lure through its tongue and, attached to that, a heavy weight,” Baccelli wrote us. “Who knows how long this exhausted bird has been dragging this around for?” … Continue reading »

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King Middle School reports suspicious activity after spate of attempted child abductions in Berkeley

Two boys walking home from King Middle School on Monday April 4 reported suspicious activity from a man in parked car at Colusa Avenue near Marin Avenue. Image: Google Maps
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Two Berkeley middle schoolers escaped a possible attempted child abduction Monday after a man in a parked car beckoned them to come over and said he would drive them home.

Janet Levenson, the principal of Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, on Monday night emailed the school community with information on what she termed “suspicious activity reported by King students at Colusa and Marin.”

Read more about attempted child abductions in Berkeley.

“I don’t want to alarm you,” she wrote, “but a parent just shared with me that two King students were walking home after school Monday on Colusa near Marin when a man parked in an older 4-door blue car that looked “scrappy” asked them to come over and that he would give them a ride. The boys ran. They did not get a look at the man. He was parked across the street and when the boys heard him asking them to come, they quickly determined it wasn’t right and they ran without looking back. They heard him add that he would drive them home. This incident has been reported to the Berkeley Police Department.” … Continue reading »

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

Julie Partos Clark's artwork on Webster Street. Photo:  Andy Partos
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QUIRKY ‘SCULPTURE AND METALWORK’ BERKELEY WALK Tom Dalzell, who, if you’re a regular Berkeleyside reader, you may know better as Mr. Quirky Berkeley, is leading a walk on Sunday April 3, starting at 10 a.m. The three-mile tour of the Ashby corridor will focus on its “trove of sculptural quirk,” including Mark Bulwinkle’s installations on Shattuck and his fence-post ornaments, a collaborative project with students from Malcolm X School; Eni Green’s all-things-dachshund house; and Marcia Donahue’s indescribable Wheeler Street garden. Participants will also visit the Slingshot Collective’s cell-phone gate, Mark Olivier’s beach detritus creations, Julie Partos Clark’s creatures on Webster and Mike and Becky O’Malley’s fence of doors, with Mike’s ceramic figures peeping out the windows. Dalzell’s family will provide snacks, drinks, and an optional shuttle service back to the Ashby BART station. Meet at the south-east corner of Emerson and Adeline Streets on the Flacos lot. Details on the Berkeley Path Wanderers’ website.Continue reading »

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Person goes under AC Transit bus in downtown Berkeley

Person trapped under AC Transit bus on April 1. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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UPDATE, 12:20 p.m. AC Transit spokesman Robert Lyles confirmed that a man collapsed while standing next to a stationary bus just before 10 a.m. Friday, apparently due to a medical condition. “He fell against the side of the bus, and slid between the curb and the bus,” Lyles said. There was no collision between the individual and the bus, Lyle said. The man was transported to Highland Hospital. His condition is unknown.

ORIGINAL STORY: Berkeley Fire and Berkeley Police responded Friday morning to an incident in which a man went under an AC Transit bus in downtown Berkeley.

The incident happened some time before 10 a.m. at the bus stop at Shattuck Avenue and Kittredge Street.

BFD paramedics worked to release the man who was near the rear right wheel of the no. 18 bus. He was released at around 10:15 a.m. and placed in an ambulance and transported.

His condition was unknown at press time. … Continue reading »

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