Author Archives: Tracey Taylor

State Supreme Court upholds Berkeley’s decision in Mitch Kapor’s bid to build a home in the city

New-pic-of-Kapor-house
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The California Supreme Court today ruled in favor of the city of Berkeley and philanthropist and Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, and against a group of preservationists who have been fighting for five years a proposal from Kapor and his wife, Freada Kapor Klein, to build a new home at 2707 Rose St.

In a ruling issued Monday morning, the court said it was reversing a Court of Appeal’s decision that had effectively said the 6,478-square-foot home (with a 3,394-square-foot garage) should be subject to an environmental impact report (EIR). Single-family homes are normally exempt from EIRs, which fall under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Read the full Supreme Court decision issued today, March 2.

The decision is a blow to the Berkeley Hillside Preservation group, which has argued over the years that the proposed North Berkeley home, designed by Berkeley’s Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects, is exceptionally large and also in a landslide zone. That, and the fact that construction of the home would, they say, require extensive work to widen the roadway, amounted to unusual circumstances requiring environmental review. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley reports possible case of measles exposure

Electron microscope image of the virus responsible for measles (paramyxoviridae)
Photographer: Alain Grillet
Copyright Sanofi Pasteur
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The City of Berkeley has issued an alert after an adult with measles visited La Mediterranée restaurant in Berkeley on the evening of Friday February 20.

The city is advising that patrons at the Elmwood neighborhood restaurant during that time should monitor themselves for symptoms until March 13.

The person, a San Mateo County resident, was at the restaurant on 2936 College Ave. from approximately 6:45 to 8 p.m. that Friday, the city said in a release about the incident issued at around 8 p.m. on Thursday Feb. 26.

“The measles virus can linger in the air for up to two hours, so those at the restaurant until 10 p.m. could have been exposed. The risk is very slight for those who have received the recommended two doses of the vaccine,” read the statement. … Continue reading »

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New cookbook heralds renaissance in Jewish dining

Jodie and Jeff Morgan, founders of Covenant Winery, now located in Berkeley
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Jodie and Jeff Morgan are co-owners of Covenant Winery, which moved its operation from Napa to West Berkeley in the spring of 2014. “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table” features more than 100 mouth-watering kosher recipes and detailed suggested wine pairings, including for some of Covenant’s own kosher pours. A launch party for the book takes place at the winery on Sixth Street on Sunday (see details below). We spoke with Jeff about the inspiration for the book, and also why he thinks Jewish dining is having its moment in the spotlight.

Congratulations on your first Covenant cookbook. What was your journey both to this book and to the opening of your West Berkeley winery last year?

When we started making kosher wine (almost on a dare) a little more than a decade ago, Jodie and I were not particularly connected to our Jewish roots. With time, and while working with more observant Jewish winemakers in the cellar and throughout the world, we discovered a Jewish community that appealed to us and our sense of belonging. The book chronicles the evolution of our longstanding wine country perspective on daily dining and how we’ve integrated it into a Jewish lifestyle.

Our move to Berkeley was inspired by our desire to live closer to a larger Jewish community than the one that exists in Napa and Sonoma. Plus, I think after more than 25 years in the wine country, we were ready to come back to the city with all its hustle and bustle. It’s great to be able to make our wines in our new urban winery! … Continue reading »

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Highwire buys Local 123 café and coffee trailer

Interior Local 123.#2_JDelaney
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Highwire Coffee is buying Local 123, the popular West Berkeley café opened by Frieda Hoffman and Katy Wafle six years ago at 2049 San Pablo Ave. (at University). The deal, which also includes Local 123’s coffee trailer at Flowerland Nursery in Albany, closes on Saturday.

Hoffman said she is excited about the sale as she believes she has found the perfect people to take Local 123 to its full potential.

“They will honor what we’ve been doing, with our focus on quality coffee,” she said, speaking of Highwire’s three founders: Rich Avella, Robert Myers and Eric Hashimoto. … Continue reading »

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AC Transit piloting double-deckers in Berkeley, locally

DoubleDecker bus. Photo: AC Transit/ klynch
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AC Transit will begin piloting double-decker buses on several routes in the East Bay, including in Berkeley, and on some transbay routes today.

The test-run, which will last three weeks through March 15, will use an 80-seat bus on loan from the manufacturer Alexander Dennis. And anyone who gets on the bus will get a free ride during the pilot period as no fares will be charged.

Over the course of the test period, the bus will operate on selected trips on several transbay and local lines, including lines FS, J, L, NX, NX1, NX2, U, and the 51B. It will also be on display at AC Transit’s general offices in downtown Oakland and mid-day at the Transbay Temporary Terminal in San Francisco. (See links below for the full schedule.) … Continue reading »

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

3. America's favorite comic strip characters Charlie Brown, Lucy Van Pelt, Schroeder, and Sally Brown (L-R Zac Schuman, Ashley Cowl, Danny Quezada, and Harmony Livingston) go off to play America's favorite pastime in Berkeley Playhouse's production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown directed by Christina Lazo. Performed at the Julia Morgan Theater February 19 - March 15, 2015. Photo by Ben Krantz Studio.
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YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN Charlie Brown is coming to town with the opening on Saturday of Berkeley Playhouse’s production of the two-time Tony Award-winning musical You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown at the Julia Morgan Theater. The play, which is, of course, based on the famous comic strip “Peanuts,” by Charles M. Schulz, is directed and choreographed by Christina Lazo and music and lyrics are by Clark Gesner. In an innovative move, the theater group is partnering with Berkeley Humane with onsite pet adoptions during the production. “Snoopy was rescued from the puppy farm by Charlie Brown and we know that a number of puppies will be saved during the run of the show. We think Charlie Brown, Snoopy and all the Peanuts gang would be proud of that,” said Berkeley Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Daren A.C. Carollo. The show runs from Feb. 21 to March 15. Tickets are available through the by calling (510) 845-8542 Ext: 351, or visiting berkeleyplayhouse.org. Select “Pay What You Can” nights will be announced where tickets are sold on a sliding scale from $5-$20. … Continue reading »

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Update: Missing man found safe in Oakland

Missing Berkeley
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Update, 10:22 p.m. Police announced shortly after 10 p.m. that the missing man has been found safe in Oakland.

Original post, 8:46 p.m. Berkeley police are asking the community for help in locating a missing “at risk” person.

Willie Maxie Powell, an 86-year-old man, is described as being 5 feet 4 inches tall and 162 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen in the 2600 block of Shattuck Avenue (between Carleton and Parker) on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at 6:20 p.m.

At that time Powell was wearing a yellow short-sleeved polo shirt and blue jeans.

Powell suffers from dementia and other medical conditions.

Police ask anyone who has seen, or sees, Willie Powell,  to call the Berkeley Police Department at 911. … Continue reading »

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‘The Dam Keeper,’ a short animated film by a Berkeley studio, nominated for an Oscar

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On a recent morning before dawn, two former Pixar animators, Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, met up at their Berkeley studio to watch live as the nominees were announced for the  2015 Academy Awards. It was worth the 5 a.m. start, as their beautifully crafted short, The Dam Keeper, was indeed nominated for an Oscar. The 18-minute film tells the tale of a young pig encumbered with an important job, and how meeting a new classmate changes everything. Kondo and Tsutsumi have worked as art directors on Ice AgeRatatouilleMonsters University and Toy Story 3. Berkeleyside caught up with Tsutsumi to learn more about their new film and about the two filmmakers who made the leap to go it alone a year ago this month.

What did it feel like to find out your animated short, The Dam Keeper, was nominated for an Oscar? 

We got together at our studio, Tonko House, at 5 a.m. so we could watch the announcement live together. We did Google Hangout with our producers and editor as well. One of our producers, Duncan Ramsay, who now lives in London, saw it from London but still managed to watch it live with us. The internet at our studio is slower than everyone else’s and we had a bit of a delayed streaming. We saw other guys scream with joy while we were still watching the previous category! … Continue reading »

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Nosh

Two Berkeleyside emails worth signing up for

Cupcakes
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Today at 6 a.m. several thousand people received the new Nosh Weekly in their inboxes. (See it here.)

This free email newsletter, just launched last fall, is sent out every Thursday, and highlights the best food coverage from Berkeleyside’s sister site, Nosh.

Nosh covers the East Bay, not just Berkeley. So you’ll hear of new restaurant, café and bakery openings in places like Oakland, Albany, Alameda and Kensington, as well as Berkeley neighborhoods like the Gourmet Ghetto and the Elmwood. Nosh Weekly also brings you recipes for scrumptious treats (like Moriah VanVleet’s rosewater cupcakes with meringue brulée frosting — perfect for Valentine’s Day), interviews with pioneering food artisans and chefs, and news from the food front lines, be it related to the soda tax, school cooking programs or allegations of racism.

Click here to subscribe to Nosh Weekly and/or the Berkeleyside Daily Briefing.

Nosh Weekly is one of two e-newsletters delivered by Berkeleyside. The other is the Berkeleyside Daily Briefing, which is well established and much loved, and lands every day just after 5 p.m. (See it here.) The Daily Briefing has become essential reading for thousands of people who want to keep on top of what is happening in Berkeley. The email highlights, in summary form, all the stories published by Berkeleyside on a particular day. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Berkeley’s magnolia trees in winter bloom

Photo: Antoine Wojdyla
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Antoine Wojdyla is a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab and lives near the Fourth Street shopping district. He rides his bike to work and, recently, has taken a few detours to document the dozens of gorgeous magnolia trees that are in winter bloom in the city.

Being organized, he also compiled the locations of the trees into what he calls a “magnolia blotter,” and shared them with Berkeleyside (below).

“It makes a good counterpoint to the crime blotter,” he writes. … Continue reading »

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San Francisco’s Flour & Co to open Berkeley bakery

Cookies and pastries from San Francisco's Flour & Co which is opening in Berkeley . Photo: Flour & Co
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Flour & Co is opening a bakery in the former Bread Workshop space on University Avenue in central Berkeley. Owner Emily Day said the plan is to create a similar spot to the original Nob Hill bakery, with classic American pastries and cookies on offer, made with the highest quality ingredients. The bakery will also have breakfast and lunch menus, and it will be serving coffee from Stumptown, a cult roasters out of Portland, Oregon.

Designs, by Berkeley architects Abueg Morris, have already been drawn up and, if the build-out goes according to plan, Flour & Co should be open in June, Day said. The Bread Workshop, an eco-friendly wholesale bakery and café, closed in 2013 after 20 years in Berkeley.

Day opened the Hyde Street bakery two years ago, though she had been dreaming of running her own bakery for more than a decade before then. … Continue reading »

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City wants to move North Berkeley farmers market

Farmers Market
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Citing safety concerns, the city of Berkeley wants to move Thursday’s North Berkeley farmers market to a location a few hundred feet south-east of its current site on the stretch of Shattuck Avenue that runs between Shattuck Place and Rose Street. The Ecology Center, which runs all of Berkeley’s farmers markets, is resisting the move, saying the proposed new site, on the service road in front of businesses such as Saul’s Deli and Masse’s bakery, presents problems of its own.

Visitors to the market in recent weeks have been asked to sign petitions to lobby to keep the local food stalls where they are.

Discussions about the location and safety of the 11-year old Gourmet Ghetto market, which attracts an average of 1,800 people a week, have been ongoing for many months, according to both the city and the Ecology Center. The talks appear to have reached something of a stalemate, however. … Continue reading »

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New details in W. Kamau Bell/Elmwood Café storm

Kamau Bell. Photo by Matthias Clamer Courtesy of FX
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UPDATE, 7.07 p.m.: W. Kamau Bell says he is committed to attending the open meeting on race, and happy that BUSD stepped up to organize it. “I will be there. And my wife and kids will be there. This is about our families,” he said. Bell, who was out of town working when he spoke to Berkeleyside, said that as “a black comedian who talks about race,” his schedule is very busy this month, but that he is determined to be present at the forum. He added: “We never called for anyone to be fired.” He said he was aware of many of the new details reported by Berkeleyside today, and had talked to Elmwood Café owner Michael Pearce today to stress that he would be at the forum.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Elmwood Café employee who was fired after making a remark that was construed as racist did not just tell the comedian W. Kamau Bell to “scram,” or words to that effect. A customer had approached her to report that a man outside was harassing customers, which prompted her to tap on the window and indicate to Bell to “stop selling.”

But even though her words, which were likely not heard by Bell, were less inflammatory than the comedian recounted on his website, the employee was fired because she did not try to solve the problem or report it to management, according to Michael Pearce, the owner of the café.

The new details of the Jan. 26 encounter between Bell and the Elmwood Café employee came to light just as Pearce was making arrangements for a community forum on race in response to the incident. … Continue reading »

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