Author Archives: Tracey Taylor

Lightning strikes Berkeley tree, sends wood chunks flying

Split tree
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A giant redwood tree in North Berkeley was struck by lightning at around 1:15 p.m. today and “exploded” sending chunks of wood flying in all directions, according to authorities.

Several windows and skylights in nearby homes were broken out, but there were no reported injuries, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb who estimated the redwood, which is at the intersection of Holly Street and Buena Avenue, had been reduced in size from 70 ft to about 25 ft.

Listen to today’s thunder in this recording, made at around 1:15 p.m., shared with us by Will Galloway:

 

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Berkeley school employees demonstrate for new contract

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Around 100 Berkeley Unified School District employees — including instructional assistants, school secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, and some of their children — held a rally and demonstrated on the afternoon of Friday March 28 in front of BUSD’s headquarters at 2020 Bonar St.

The demonstrators, members the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees (BCCE) which represents 570 classified employees within Berkeley Unified, said that their top concerns were income inequality, affordable health care, and a stable learning environment. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Country Cheese, Giin Thai Canteen, Barkada

Country Cheese Kensington. Photo- nancy rubin
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Openings, closings…

COUNTRY CHEESE COFFEE MARKET  After working at Country Cheese Coffee Market on Hopkins Street in North Berkeley for 10 years, Shirley Ng has opened a new branch of Country Cheese in Kensington. This is the third store for the group which also has a location on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. The Arlington General Store & Post at 299 Arlington, which closed on Dec. 31, 2013, has been transformed into a bright welcoming space shelves of speciality foods and a spot with stools where you can sit for coffee and cake. Country Cheese offers cheese, naturally, a variety of foods, gifts, coffee and tea, as well as baked goods, all of which are made fresh daily. Ng is an expert on tea and travels to China every year to source the finest leaves. The Arlington General Store & Post, which had operated in the space since the 1920s, closed its door on Dec. 31, 2013. Owner Wing Gee cited the “skyrocketingly high” cost of drugs, and competition from larger pharmacies, as the reason for shuttering. … Continue reading »

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Police activity puts Willard Middle School on lockdown

WMS
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Willard Middle School in Berkeley was on temporary lockdown this afternoon due to a police search in the area.

At 1 p.m., Berkeley Police received a call about a suspicious person on a property in the 2700 block of Regent Street, police spokeswoman officer Jennifer Coats said.

She continued: “The initial call was suspicious persons, who appeared to be prowling or casing a residence. An officer arrived in the area and observed an attempted burglary into a residence. The officer attempted to detain them and they fled on foot.

“Officers established a perimeter and conducted a yard to yard search. … Continue reading »

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Comal owners get OK for new Berkeley restaurant

A “very preliminary” rendering of the restaurant that has been approved for 2635 Ashby Ave. (at College) by the owners of  Comal. Image: Abueg Morris Architects
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Fans of Comal in downtown Berkeley can look forward to a new restaurant from its owners, John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman, after the Berkeley City Council last night denied an appeal filed by a neighborhood group that argued the new business would create increased parking headaches in the area.

Those who opposed a restaurant moving into the old Wright’s Garage space at 2635 Ashby Ave. were outnumbered by dozens of supporters. Council had received more than 100 letters from residents, many of whom live within walking distance of the Elmwood shopping district. In emails, and also in public testimony, they spelled out how much they would appreciate having an upscale restaurant and bar with late opening hours in their neighborhood.

Denise Pinkston, for example, said she moved to the Elmwood with her family recently from North Berkeley because she wanted to live in “a vibrant, walkable mixed-use neighborhood.”

“I think a place open to midnight would be wonderful,” she said. “I’m 53 still stay up past 10 p.m., but feel like an octogenarian because there is nowhere to go in the evening with my husband and friends after the movies or theater.” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

The 2020 Vision and the next election: Is the goal in sight?

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What evidence do we have that the 2020 Vision for equitable outcomes in Berkeley schools will reach its goal by the year 2020?

The photo, left, shows 10 members of the 2020 generation when they were in kindergarten. They are now in the 6th grade. Have they advanced significantly? Are they on target for outcome equity?

The 2019-2020 school year is just five years away. And we are nearing the point where the promise of the Vision will … Continue reading »

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News

5 Berkeley stories you will not want to miss

Principle Pasquale Scuderi eyes the new score board in the Building M gymnasium.
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Every week, Berkeleyside publishes dozens of articles about what’s going on in Berkeley. You’re busy — some of them might have passed you by. Here are five stories, including the one featured above, we think you’ll want to catch up on. 

2. What do you do when someone kills themselves with a potentially hazardous chemical?

What happened after a much-loved former Cal professor committed suicide using sodium azide at the Berkeley City Club.

3. Young man tries to buy 14 iPhones, 2 … Continue reading »

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Bites: 44 restaurant, Sodoi Coffee, Township, Clove & Hoof

44
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Openings…

44 RESTAURANT & BAR  Mark Jones and Ramone Smith have just opened 44 Restaurant & Bar at 3290 Adeline St. in the space that used to be Addie’s Pizza Pie, and was, for a short while, Next Door Restaurant. Jones and Smith moved from a smaller location in Hercules to the 4,000 sq. ft. Berkeley space. Kenneth Wynn is the executive chef, and the menu is described as “new American.” Next Door, which was opened by Henry Alvarez, the former head of San Francisco’s Housing Authority, and his wife Dionne Roberts, closed a couple of weeks ago and posted a sign saying it was “redecorating/creating a new concept.” Of 44, Berkeleysider Marcus tells us: “The food has always been good at the old location: give them a shot.” 44 is open from 4 p.m. for dinner Wednesdays through Sunday. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley home with personality, built for famed geologist

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Idiosyncratic and lovely. Both words describe the recently listed home at 1555 La Vereda Road in North Berkeley.

The three-bedroom house with separate cottage, which is priced at $1,095,000, was built for — and in part by — the renowned geologist Andrew Cowper Lawson in the 1930s.

Lawson was a traveler, art collector and enthusiastic builder. He had already had one distinctive home designed for him when he decided to have his next one built right behind it. Bernard Maybeck created the now landmarked “Pompeian villa” on La Loma Avenue for Lawson in 1907. … Continue reading »

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Potentially hazardous chemical suicide in Berkeley called for collaborative response, cautious approach

Kustu
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The death by chemical suicide earlier this week of a former UC Berkeley professor left many in the community reeling with disbelief.

Berkeleyside’s revelation that the person found dead in a room at the Berkeley City Club was Sydney Kustu, who killed herself on her 71st birthday using a potentially deadly chemical called sodium azide, was shocking to those who had known her, including neighbors and friends who remembered her as “friendly,” “kind” and “generous.” The nature of the death was also so unusual that it prompted many who had not known her to take pause. … Continue reading »

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Police search for man with possible rifle in Berkeley park

Codornices. Photo: scarlatti2004
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Berkeley Police conducted an extensive search in the Codornices Park area this morning after receiving a call about a man walking in the park, carrying what looked like a rifle.

According to Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Stephanie Polizziani, BPD received a call at approximately 9:15 a.m. of a report of “a male walking in Codornices Park with what appeared to be a long gun slung on his back.” … Continue reading »

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Chemical suicide victim was UC Berkeley professor

Kustu
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The woman who committed suicide using a toxic chemical on Tuesday at the Berkeley City Club, prompting a hazardous materials evacuation, was a former professor at UC Berkeley. She killed herself on her 71st birthday.

Sydney Kustu was a professor emerita in plant and microbial biology at Cal’s College of Natural Resources and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. She was born March 18, 1943, according to an official at the Alameda County coroner’s office, who said Kustu was a Berkeley resident.

Kustu was found deceased in a room at the City Club by a maid, according to an employee of the club, which also operates as a hotel. She had left notes for authorities warning them about the dangerous substance, according to the staffer. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High breathes easier with opening of new building

Building M Gymnasium
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Earlier this month, with little fanfare, Berkeley High students began using a brand new building on the east side of campus, part of a $46 million new construction project, which gives the school new classrooms, a new gym, a weight room, as well as a multi-purpose space for gatherings and events.

Take a tour of the new Berkeley High facilities in the slideshow above. Hover over photos for captions. Photography by Pete Rosos.

With the opening of Building M, it’s also time to say goodbye to the decades-old portable classrooms that have most recently been used to teach world languages, and say hello to two new basketball courts, an independent storage facility, and new landscaped outdoor space. By late August, construction on what’s known as the South of Bancroft Project will be complete with a newly laid softball field, ready for use by late November. … Continue reading »

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