Author Archives: Tracey Taylor

Berkeley train crossing closed after car tires punctured

Train crossroad at Gilman closed on Feb. 7 after protruding metal was puncturing car tires. Photo: Nick Fylstra
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The train crossing at Gilman in Berkeley was closed Sunday night after a number of cars passing over the tracks ended up with punctured tires, according to authorities. It remained closed to cars Monday morning.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Lt. Alyson Hart said that at around 8 p.m. Sunday the police received a call that there was something on the railroad tracks at Gilman that was puncturing tires. The police responded and found two large pieces of metal that were sticking up between the tracks.

“They looked like support bars that run perpendicular between the tracks,” she said. The pieces of metal punctured the tires of several vehicles. “We shut down the intersection to avoid further damage,” she said. … Continue reading »

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Authors’ Dinner raises funds for Berkeley Public Library

BPLF 2016 Authors Dinner.  Photo: Richard Friedman
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On Saturday night, the Berkeley Public Library Foundation hosted its 14th annual Authors’ Dinner, a fundraiser which this year will help remodel parts of the Central Library, especially for the use of teenagers.

Hundreds of guests mingled with 32 local authors who were honored at the event, which is always one of Berkeley’s most popular social occasions. Attendees proudly recite their library card numbers and bid for silent auction items to raise money for their favorite local public institution.

Read more stories and op-eds on the Berkeley Public Library.

The honorary chair was Frances Dinkelspiel, co-founder of Berkeleyside, whose bestselling book, Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California, was published in 2015. … Continue reading »

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

Cal basketball head coach
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COACHING FOR LITERACY EVENT Coaching for Literacy has partnered with Cal Bears basketball to offer an “all-access” fan experience to raise funds for literacy work during the Saturday Feb. 6 Stanford game in Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears join 17 other NCAA institutions and the Washington Wizards as a member of Coaching for Literacy’s 2015-16 Assistant Coach Program schedule. The initiative is to raise valuable awareness about the problem of illiteracy in America. Currently, 19% of high-school graduates in America are functionally illiterate. Financial support will also be raised and directed to literacy efforts in the Bay Area through The Re(a)d Zone – an initiative of the 50 Fund, the legacy initiative of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Details at CalBears.
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Truck used for ‘smash and grab’ at Berkeley liquor store

Pic-n-Pac. Photo: Aureliano Buendia
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Suspects drove a truck into the Pic-n-Pac Liquor store at 1296 San Pablo Ave., at Gilman Street, early Thursday morning and stole the lion’s share of the store’s inventory, according to authorities.

UPDATE: Scroll down to see dramatic videos from the burglary.

“It appears that the suspects backed a truck into the front of the business before 4:11 a.m.,” Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats told Berkeleyside. “Two suspects entered the business and attempted to steal the ATM machine.”

The suspects were unable to get the ATM machine and fled the area before the police arrived, Coats said. The suspects caused significant damage to the business and the owners lost most of their inventory. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley startup job fair focused on diversity draws crowd

Line around the corner for the Berkeley Startup Job Fair. Photo credit: Passion Projects Productions
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The hot ticket in downtown Berkeley on the evening of Thursday Jan. 28 was arguably the gala opening party for the new BAMPFA, but if you had seen the several-hundred strong line of people snaking down Center Street and round the corner along Shattuck between 5 and 7 p.m., waiting to get into the NextSpace building, you’d have been forgiven for thinking there was an even hotter event going on.

More than 3,000 people signed up to attend the Berkeley Startup Job Fair, according to Ben Hamlin, co-founder and CEO of Localwise, the Berkeley-based job community which organized the first-of-its kind event. And of those, more than 1,000 showed up. The fair, which was focused on promoting diversity in tech, was co-hosted by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. Other partners included 16 nonprofits, including the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Latinas in Tech, Telegraph Academy, Lesbians who Tech, Code Berkeley and the Level Playing Field Institute. (See the full list of partners).

The overwhelming response to the fair appeared to indicate the need for more opportunities for job-seekers to meet with young companies who are recruiting. Many attendees came from nearby UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College, but others had traveled from further afield, including from more far-flung colleges. For still others, their student days were far behind them. And it was a diverse crowd who formed lines and patiently waited to speak with potential employers inside NextSpace’s ground-floor atrium. … Continue reading »

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

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OPENING OF BAMPFA In case you hadn’t heard, Berkeley has a newly housed museum, and it opens to the public on Sunday, starting at 11 a.m., with a great big, 12-hour long Open House. Get a first look at the inaugural exhibition, “Architecture of Life,” and drop in to the Pacific Film Archive’s first purpose-built cinema. Check out the beautiful stepped seating by Paul Discoe, complete with cushion designs by artist Barry Mcgee. There will also be DJs spinning music, dancers, weavers weaving, and other impromptu happenings throughout the building, organized by artist David Wilson. Admission is free, but, given how popular it is likely to be, timed-ticked reservations are recommended. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door. Visit BAMPFA for more details. … Continue reading »

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New BAMPFA ready to open Sunday in downtown Berkeley

City view of BAMPFA Photo Iwan Baan
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The countdown is nearly over. The new home of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, plum in the heart of downtown Berkeley, will throw open its doors to the public with a big open house on Sunday, Jan. 31, starting at 11 a.m.

Before that, there’s a gala party, which is being held Thursday night at a temporary tent set up on UC Berkeley lawn abutting Oxford Street. The gala has raised around $1 million for education programs at the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, said at a press preview event held Thursday morning.

Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

Rinder also spoke of the challenge of designing a museum that has a dual identity and responsibility towards both art and film, and the commitment to creating a space that is both accessible and welcoming.

“This is not just a place to come look and see,” he said. “There are many areas for community engagement.” Rinder cited as examples the museum’s reading room, art lab and its stepped salvaged-wood seating, created by master woodworker Paul Discoe, where visitors can relax and chat, as well as watch performances. He added that a goal of the museum’s design was to have a flow that was conducive to “wandering and to being surprised.” … Continue reading »

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Mokka to close: Minimum wage rise a major factor

Mokka Photo Jed Schmidt
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The owners of popular Berkeley coffee shop Mokka are keen to stress that they are not against the principle of increased minimum wages. However, a recent hike, and future planned increases, have played a significant role in their decision to close the business at 3075 Telegraph Ave., probably in June, 10 years after they opened.

“We have decided not to renew our lease primarily as a result of the rising minimum wage in Berkeley. The increase from $10 in September 2015 to $12.53 this October, coupled with the continuing rise to $15, requires a new business model for us. While we are not opposed to higher minimum wages, we are not confident that we can profitably operate on this timetable,” Michael and Susan Iida told Berkeleyside after we asked them about the “For Lease” sign that was recently put up in Mokka’s window.

Many readers got in touch with Berkeleyside when the sign first appeared, and expressed concern at the possibility that the coffee shop might be on its way out. “Drove by Mokka on Telegraph and saw a For Lease sign in the window… I hope they are OK. We are very fond of them in the neighborhood. Nice people and very good food!” wrote one. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Gorgeous and Green
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WILLIAM STOUT CLOSES/RELOCATES Architectural bookstore William Stout has closed its Berkeley store, at 1605 Solano Ave., and is merging the business with its publishing arm on the Richmond waterfront. Owner Bill Stout told Berkeleyside the North Berkeley store never really met his expectations. “Moving means we can consolidate our inventory and service our mail-order customers quicker,” he said. Stout, whose flagship store has operated on Montgomery Street in San Francisco for more than 40 years, opened the Berkeley store in fall 2010. At the time, Bill Stout said he chose Berkeley because of the store’s publishing collaboration with UC Berkeley, and because he saw the Solano district as being “a more vibrant residential neighborhood than where we are now.” Stout also homed in on Berkeley because he believed there were more bibliophiles in the East Bay. “In San Francisco an interest in books is dying,” he said in 2010. Stout is hopeful that this latest decision”should be a good move.” William Stout‘s East Bay outpost is now at 1328 South 51st St., Richmond. Continue reading »

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Nosh on the town: Telefèric Barcelona

Telefèric Barcelona. Photo: Beth Thomas
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Telefèric Barcelona — which originated in Sant Cugat (a town north of Barcelona) in 1993, followed by a second spot in Barcelona itself in 1996 — opened its third outpost, its first U.S. location, in Walnut Creek last week. The buzzy, modern space on Mt Diablo Blvd, designed by Oakland architects Arcsine, focuses on pintxos (Basque snacks served on skewers), tapas and paella.

The restaurant group is owned and run by the Padrosa family, and Xavi Padrosa is on the ground overseeing the launch of the Bay Area outpost. (The name, by the way, is a nod to Barcelona’s famous Montjuïc cable car, or telefèric.)

Some of the dishes you can expect to find on the menu: Ma Première Foie (foie gras served with grilled apple, caramelized onion, and cherry jam); Pulpo Telefèric (wood grilled octopus with roasted potato cream and crispy bacon); Albóndigas “Lo Que Digas” (spiced chorizo meatballs with cuttlefish and sofrito, honey, and chocolate sauce); larger plates meant for sharing such Ham-On Jamón Ibérico Gran Reserva (40-month aged ham sourced from Ibérico pigs in Spain), and Paella Mediterránea (Spanish bomba ride, prawns, Monterey calamari, clams, mussels, soffrito de la casa). And for dessert: Crema Catalana, Churros con Chocolate and, striking an incongruous note, Cheesecake (Philly cream cheese with cookie crumble and market fruits). … Continue reading »

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BAMPFA builds temporary tent for its opening gala

A temporary tent is built by BAMPFA abutting Oxford Street for its opening gala on Jan. 28. Photo:
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Many readers have been in touch with Berkeleyside asking about the strange big “structure” being erected on UC Berkeley property at Oxford Street.

We posted the answer on Twitter and Facebook earlier this week, but, in case you missed that, we can confirm it is a temporary tent to host the “Portal” opening gala party on Jan. 28 for the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive, across the street from its new downtown Berkeley location. The gala, by the way, is all sold out.

Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

The new museum flings open its doors to the public with a big Open House on Sunday Jan 31, starting at 11 a.m..

Before the museum opens, there’s a chance to hear architect Charles Renfro, of Diller Scofidio + Renfro talk about the design of the new BAMPFA at a free lecture on Jan. 27, 12-2 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Update: Person dies after being struck by BART train; North Berkeley station re-opens

Mary Kuntz-Cote
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UPDATES: At 3:30 p.m. the North Berkeley BART station has now reopened. Expect delays of up to 20 minutes on the Fremont and Richmond lines. At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday BART confirmed that a person died after being struck by a train shortly after it had left North Berkeley BART station heading to Richmond. The initial report came in at 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, according to BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost. At 3 p.m. BART confirmed the coroner was on scene and the station remained closed. As only select trains are going through the station on a single track, some riders are being asked to disembark at MacArthur station to take another train.

Original story, 2:23 p.m. BART closed the North Berkeley BART station Tuesday afternoon, and passengers were experiencing significant delays on the Richmond line, while the transit agency investigated whether a person was possibly on the tracks. … Continue reading »

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

David Bowie in "The man who fell to earth"
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DAVID BOWIE FILM Starting Friday, the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood is showing Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth for one week. The movie stars rock legend David Bowie who died on Jan. 10., and is described as “a daring exploration of science fiction as an art form.” It tells the story of an alien on an elaborate rescue mission. The film marked Bowie’s acting debut, and in his 2011 review, our movie critic John Seal, said the rock god is a “suitably otherworldly presence.”  Candy Clark, Buck Henry and Rip Torn provide impressive supporting performances. Visit Rialto Cinemas Elmwood for showtimes. … Continue reading »

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