Author Archives: Tracey Taylor

Toxic algae force closure of Lake Anza to swimmers

Lake Anza South Swim Beach photographed on Aug. 29, 2016. Photo: Hal MacLean
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The East Bay Regional Park District has closed Lake Anza to swimming due to high levels of toxic algae. The decision was made after tests showed the toxin Microcystin had reached dangerous levels, and the news came before the official swim season ends next Friday, Sept. 9.

It’s the second consecutive year EBRPD has been forced to close Lake Anza. It did so last September, along with several other lakes in the district, including Quarry Lakes in Fremont, Lake Temescal in Oakland. Heavy El Niño rains cleared the toxic blue-green algae from Lake Anza by late January.

EBRPD spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said, “Hydrologists test the water for toxicity a couple of times a week and once it gets over a certain threshold we have to close the lake. If the levels are just low we issue a warning.”

On Monday tests showed there were 15 parts of Microcystin per billion near the lake bridge.

Jones added: “We are not happy about having to do this. It’s a beautiful and popular lake and we hate to close it. We thank the public for their patience.” Jones said other lakes in the district were still open for swimming, including Lake Temescal and Quarry Lakes. … Continue reading »

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EBMUD: Berkeley water leak repairs will cause outage

Water leak caused by broken gate valve on EBMUD Dwight and Fulton. Photo: Ted Friedman
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EBMUD says it will repair a water leak today at Fulton Street and Dwight Way in Berkeley that started Friday evening. The repair work will cause some customers in the area to be without water, according to EBMUD spokeswoman Tracie Morales. She could not confirm how many will be affected, but they will be notified.

The leak was caused by a broken gate valve, according to Morales. The gate valve starts and stops the flow of water through a pipe, she said.

Water was escaping the pipe and covering the street throughout the weekend and into Tuesday. On Saturday, Berkeleyside contributing photographer David Yee described the water as “bubbling out” of a small, red cover in the street. “The water pressure isn’t so strong that it’s gushing into the air or anything, just creating a pond about a half-block long in either direction of the intersection.” On Sunday Yee said EBMUD had set up a dam of sorts Saturday with sandbags or something similar “so that the water leaking out of the red cover flows into a storm drain instead of flooding the intersection.” On Monday afternoon, Yee said there were “gallons and gallons flowing straight down the storm drain.”
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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

A festival on Saturday night at La Pena aims to raise funds for the creation of at least five murals on the Berkeley-Oakland border. Photo: Bill Newton
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MURAL FESTIVAL AND FUNDRAISER On Saturday Aug. 27, 8 p.m. to 11:55 p.m., La Peña Cultural Center will host the Bay Area Mural Festival (BAMFest 2016) whose purpose is to bring together master muralists and mural groups, and at-risk youth through a series of artist residencies and workshops culminating in the painting of five or more murals along the Berkeley-Oakland border. The theme of the festival will be focused on migration and displacement in the community. During the week of the festival, artists will give lectures and workshops at La Peña Cultural Center. Saturday night’s event includes music provided by Hip Hop for Change, live art, and food and drink for sale. Tickets are $10-$20. La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Information and tickets.Continue reading »


UC Berkeley suspends plans for Richmond ‘global campus’

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UC Berkeley has suspended its plans to build a second campus at Richmond Bay because of what it says is its need to address significant budgetary challenges. The decision was conveyed by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to members of the Richmond Community Working Group in a meeting on Thursday evening, according to the university.

Dirks said UC Berkeley was indefinitely suspending plans to build the campus at Richmond Bay, but that the university would continue to explore options for the site “that reflect new priorities for the campus around enrollment growth and housing in the near future,” according to a statement by the university.

The project, known as the global campus, was designed as an alternative to UC Berkeley establishing campuses in other countries as some universities, including New York University, Johns Hopkins University and Carnegie Mellon University, have done in recent years.
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Scoop: Off The Grid coming to downtown Berkeley

Pelican Po'Boys at Off the Grid Emeryville. Photo: Off the Grid/Facebook
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Food trucks are coming to downtown Berkeley, offering a new option for Sunday lunch.

Off the Grid will launch a food-truck market in Civic Center Park starting Sunday, Sept. 11. The market will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and offer eight food trucks and live music, along with beer, wine and refreshments from San Francisco bar Lucky 13.

Off the Grid said the rotating line-up of vendors at the new Berkeley location will include Smoke’s Poutine, Canasta, Passione Pizza, Lexie’s Custard, Cupkates, Flavors of Ethiopia, Curry Up Now, Curbside Kitchen, Señor Sisig, and others.

Read more about Off The Grid markets in the East Bay.

The new market represents the fourth time Off The Grid has opened a food truck hub in Berkeley — the three former market all closed down after a couple of years.

Ben Himlan, a spokesman for Off The Grid, said he is hoping the “fourth time is a charm.” He said he felt hopeful about the prospects for the downtown market because of its location next to a park, close to transit and retail. … Continue reading »

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Eve Ensler to speak at Uncharted Festival of Ideas in Berkeley — Early-bird tickets end Aug. 25

eve ensler featured
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Playwright, performer, feminist and activist Eve Ensler will be joining the speaker lineup at the 2016 Uncharted Festival of Ideas in Berkeley, which is produced by Berkeleyside.

Early-bird ticket prices to this year’s festival, on Oct. 14-15 in Berkeley, end Thursday, Aug. 25 at midnight.

Early-bird tickets end Thursday Aug. 25 at midnight.

Ensler, probably most well-known for her iconic work The Vagina Monologues, will be in conversation with writer Kevin Powell, one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary and hip-hop voices in America today, and author of The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood.

Other speakers this year include Jay Rosen who teaches journalism at New York University and is an incisive critic of the national press and its coverage of politics; Kathy Kieley, a veteran White House correspondent and commissioning editor for; Iranian American comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh; and Kenji López-Alt, James Beard Award-winning author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. Kenji will host a hands-on workshop called ‘The Steak Myth;’ and Andrew Hessel, who is leading the nascent synthetic genome project. Other workshops and musical and dance performances will be announced in September. See more confirmed speakers on the Uncharted website. … Continue reading »

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

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‘TWELFTH NIGHT’ FREE IN THE PARK Opening Saturday, Aug. 20, in John Hinkel Park’s amphitheater, and running through Sept. 4 on weekends, is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “An Acoustic Rock Musical” brought to us — for free — by the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley. Take a picnic and celebrate the end of summer with Shakespeare’s most finely wrought comedy, with rollicking music to top it off. The production is directed by Michael R. Cohen, with music by Jay Africa, and musical direction by Linda Giron. The amphitheater consists of wide stone steps; blankets and/or low lawn-chairs are recommended. Wheelchair accessible, reservations especially for those with limited mobility, call 510-649-5999. Questions: Directions and other information at Weekends at John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre, Aug. 20- Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. Special performance Monday, Sept. 5 (Labor Day), also at 4 p.m. Continue reading »


UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks says he will step down

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks: Choudhry resignation "in the best interests of Berkeley Law and the university as a whole." Photo: UC Berkeley
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UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced Tuesday he will step down from the position he has held for just over three years, once a successor is found and in place. The university issued a statement about the resignation around 4:20 p.m.

In a letter to the campus community, Dirks said he had come to a personal decision that “the time was right for him to step aside” to “allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us.”

The chancellor enumerated what he views as his key accomplishments while in office, including improving undergraduate education, improving practices relating to sexual harassment, and addressing the university’s structural budget deficit. The university has faced criticism for how it has dealt with sexual harassment on campus, including cases involving faculty.

Dirks concluded: “While we have made important progress, substantially reducing our deficit for the coming year, and developing a plan to balance the budget over the subsequent two to three years, there remains much work, and many difficult decisions, ahead of us. We need fresh approaches and new ideas as Berkeley forges a path to maintain its excellence along with its full commitment to a public mission in the current funding environment.” See Dirks’ full letter below.

Read more about Nicholas Dirks on Berkeleyside.

When Dirks announced a comprehensive strategic planning process in February to address the university’s deficit, the deficit was projected to be around $150 million dollars in the fiscal year ending in June 2016. … Continue reading »

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

Don Reed's hit show East 14th, 
the first installment in his hilarious coming-of-age trilogy,
extends at The Marsh Berkeley through August 21.

Photo credit: Aaron Epstein
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DON REED IN EAST 14TH AT THE MARSH Bouncing between a Jehovah’s Witness mom and a pimp dad, Don Reed’s childhood in Oakland was colorful to say the least. His show East 14th, which chronicles his teen years in Oakland, is playing through Aug. 21 at The Marsh Berkeley. (The work includes Reed’s story, “I Miss Toni” recently featured on NPR’s podcast Snap Judgment.) Reed is a three-time Emmy nominee, a former warm-up comedian for late night’s The Jay Leno Show, a NAACP triple nominee for Best Actor and Best Playwright, and a Bay Area Theatre Critics nominee. Performances are Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley. For tickets ($20-$35 sliding scale, $55-$100 reserved), visit The Marsh Berkeley or call 415-282 3055 between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.Continue reading »


Deer jumps into Berkeley pool, disrupts kids’ swim class

Deer in King Middle School. Photo: Jeff Johnston
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A deer leapt into the King Middle School swimming pool Thursday morning, narrowly avoiding landing on young children taking a swimming lesson there, according to a pool staffer.

The deer ran across the pool deck and jumped into the deep end, said Jasper Solomon, a lifeguard at the pool, who said the children, around 3-6 years old, were attending a summer camp swim class. Solomon and his boss, Adonis Boyd, both leapt into action as soon as the fawn landed, he said. They asked everyone to leave the pool and then, using a lifejacket and a floater as buffers, they steered the animal to the shallow end. The fawn then scrambled out of the water and ran away.

Solomon said the incident surprised the kids, but that fortunately nobody was hurt. He described the deer as small and male, probably a fawn.

“The kids got a kick out of all the excitement!” Jeff Johnston, whose son was part of the swim class, wrote us.  … Continue reading »

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Claremont Hotel’s new restaurant gets a reboot

The dining room at the newly opened Antoinette Brasserie at the Claremont Hotel. Photo: Fairmont Group
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The Claremont Hotel has had a complete rethink for its second restaurant located in the former Paragon space. To be called Limewood, it will open at the end of August with Chef Joseph Humphrey at the helm, and it will serve dishes rooted in local ingredients, according to its general manager.

Nosh chanced upon activity at the restaurant Wednesday night, with staff in training tasting dishes from the forthcoming menu, and Benjamin, its general manager, filled us in on some details.

“It’s going to be an East Bay restaurant,” Benjamin said, introducing us to the waiters and inviting us in to the redesigned space with its bay views and beautiful new tiled floor. … Continue reading »

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Baby with Zika virus may have been born in Berkeley

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Two children have been born in California with Zika virus-related microcephaly, according to officials, one of them in Alameda County. One of them may have been born at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, according to media reports, although officials will not confirm this.

ABC7 reported Thursday, citing two unidentified sources, that one of the two babies was born at Alta Bates a few months ago.

The California Department of Public Health told Berkeleyside it has not reported or confirmed the locations of two Zika-related births of infants with birth defects in the state. According to state data, as of Friday, there have been 10 travel-related cases of Zika in Alameda County, seven in nearby Contra Costa County and 10 in San Francisco County.

The Alameda County Health Department confirmed Friday that the county “does have one Zika case.” Spokeswoman Sherri Willis said it would not provide any information about the location of the birth, the gender of the baby, the family or any other details about the case. Willis said this sort of information would never be released by the department.

“It’s unfortunate that any details about this case were released,” said Willis. “All we will confirm is that Alameda County has one case.”

The state public health agency has let it be known that two babies with Zika virus-related microcephaly had been born in California. In a statement issued Thursday, the agency said the two infants with Zika-related microcephaly had been born to women who had Zika virus infections during pregnancy “after spending time in a country where the virus is endemic.” The statement continued: “While mosquitoes that can carry the virus have been found in 12 California counties, there is no evidence these mosquitoes are transmitting Zika in the state at this time.” … Continue reading »

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Off The Grid relocates from Uptown to Temescal

Off the Grid food trucks on 10th Street during Friday Nights @ OMCA. Photo: Mark Fiorito, courtesy of Off the Grid
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Off The Grid, the San Francisco-based food-truck organization that has grown to a total 50 markets, is moving its Uptown Oakland market to Temescal. The former, which launched two years ago and is located on Williams Street and Telegraph Avenue, near the Fox Theater, will have its last day on Aug. 11. The new Temescal market will make its debut on Thursday Aug. 18 and run from 4 to 9 p.m., according to OTG.

The Temescal market will take over a block of Shattuck Avenue between 45th and 46th streets, just west of Telegraph. (Oakland’s other Off The Grid market, Lake Merritt, takes place on Friday nights at the Oakland Museum of California.)

Asked about the motivation for the move, Ben Himlan, OTG’s director of business development, said Off the Grid had always been interested in the Temescal neighborhood. “It has changed quite a bit in recent years, and there is a really interesting food scene popping up,” he said.  … Continue reading »

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