Author Archives: Tracey Taylor

New 16-story downtown Berkeley hotel gets go-ahead

The proposed downtown hotel at Center and Shattuck. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday night approved plans for a 16-story, 334-room hotel, with conference center, to be built on the Bank of America site at 2129 Shattuck Ave. (at Center Street).

The vote was unanimous and ZAB commissioners universally praised the project developer, Pyramid Hotel Group, for its responsiveness throughout the approval process, and for taking into account the needs of the community and stakeholders. Commissioner Steven Donaldson said Pyramid had been a “model for how developers can work with the city.”

See city documents on the hotel plans

Read more details on the hotel project on Berkeleyside.

The proposal considered by ZAB on Thursday was essentially the same as the one the board saw the last time it was in front of them when it certified its Environment Impact Report, said city principal planner Greg Powell. Changes made to the plans in recent months included dropping the idea of condos, aesthetic revisions to the architecture including “quieting it down,” and enhancing the project’s community benefits, the principal one of which concerns the project’s labor agreements. … Continue reading »

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24/7 ballot drop box now available in downtown Berkeley

ballot box
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A new ballot drop-off box has been installed in downtown for the first time. The initiative was spearheaded by the Alameda County registrar of voters, which has put similar boxes in other cities.

The secure box is for “those who want to save a stamp on their absentee ballot, hand it in themselves, or wait until election day to finish it,” according to the city of Berkeley.

All Alameda County voters can use the box to deliver their votes. No postage is necessary for ballots placed in the drop box.

The ballot box in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Building at 2180 Milvia St., a block away from BART, and is available 24 hours a day. The city said it will be in service for every election, including the June 7 presidential primary.

The Alameda County registrar of voters will retrieve vote-by-mail ballots daily, ending with a final collection at 8 p.m. on election night Nov. 8.

The vote by mail period opened May 9 and closes at 8 p.m. June 7. The registrar has an online map of other drop-off boxes elsewhere in the county.

Previously, the only way to hand in a ballot in Berkeley was during office hours. Berkeley City Clerk Mark Numainville said voting by mail is steadily increasing locally, which would explain why the registrar is rolling out more drop boxes. … Continue reading »

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The lowdown: Help for small businesses, Telegraph; more

The Berkeley City Council now meets in West Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two special sessions take place tonight, Tuesday, at 5:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., both of which are open to the public, before the regular Berkeley City Council meeting. The first session focuses on the City Council referral prioritization process. It will examine the system of “re-weighted range voting” to provide direction to city staff on which referrals are the highest priority. The session at 6:45 p.m. will consider a resolution to vote in support of district formation on the “Ballot to Reestablish the Downtown Berkeley Property-Based Business Improvement District.” Then, at the regular 7 p.m. meeting, items include a proposal to help small businesses and a request to increase development potential in the Telegraph commercial district. Scroll down to see how to follow live meeting coverage and participate from afar.  … Continue reading »

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Nature

EBMUD suspends drought restrictions as East Bay exceeds water conservation goals

2016-05-EBMUD Pardee Reservoir
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EBMUD  has suspended its 25% drought surcharge for all customers, as well as mandatory restrictions on water use, after reservoirs have filled up and efforts by East Bay residents to conserve water conservation have yielded impressive results.

Reservoir storage levels are at 93% of average, according to EBMUD and customers’ conservation levels have consistently been 24% below 2013 use.

Read more about the California drought and how it affects Berkeley.

“Our customers are doing a great job,” said EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Polk. “We will continue to work with all customer groups to keep conservation going!”

EBMUD’s decision goes into effect on July 1. … Continue reading »

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

Trail_Crest by Christopher Woodcock 2015
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A CELEBRATION OF OUR NATIONAL PARKS Writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called our national parks “The best idea we ever had.” The opening reception for the David Brower Center’s new juried group exhibition, Common Ground: A Celebration of our National Parks, is tonight, Friday May 20, and the exhibition runs through Sept. 8. On the 100th anniversary of the National Park System, the multimedia exhibition observes art’s crucial role in preserving our parks, as well as the notion that parks are America’s best idea, through the lens of 20 Bay Area artists. They are: Alexis Arnold, Jenny E. Balisle, Tony Bellaver, George-Ann Bowers, Mariet Braakman, Hopi Breton, Kimberley D’Adamo-Green, Marshall Elliott, Tanja Geis, J.M. Golding, Jeff Greenwald, Andras Ladai, Malcolm Lubliner, Kara Maria, Kim Miskowicz, Karen Preuss, Ansley West Rivers,Caroline Seckinger, Paul Taylor and Christopher Woodcock. The jury is composed of recognized West Coast curators Stephanie Hanor (Mills College Art Museum), Katrina Traywick (Traywick Contemporary), Sean Uyehara (Headlands Center for the Arts) and the Brower Center’s Executive Director, Laurie Rich. The Brower Center has also curated a series of public programs in conjunction with the exhibit. For full details and opening times, visit the David Brower Center. (Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of Common Ground.) … Continue reading »

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After armed robbery, car-jacking, reckless driving, police arrest 2 Berkeley men with loaded handgun, puppy

When police arrested Joseph Anthony Skyler early Wednesday, May 18, they found a loaded gun and a puppy in the car he had stolen, authorities said. Photo: BPD
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Exclusive: Berkeley Police arrested two Berkeley men after an incident early Wednesday morning in which a victim was robbed at gunpoint, forced into a bathroom in his own home with the suspect, and then had his car stolen, according to authorities.

BPD received a call at 7 a.m. about a robbery and car-jacking in the 2200 block of Seventh Street (between Bancroft and Allston Way) in West Berkeley, according to Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department.

White said a male 24-year-old victim told officers that he had just come home, to the house he shares with his 77-year-old grandmother and a 22-year-old companion of hers. The victim was driving his grandmother’s car. After getting out of the car, he was confronted by a man holding a handgun who emerged from from the shadows near another apartment building.

The suspect demanded the victim give him his keys and cellphone. He then demanded to use his restroom. … Continue reading »

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Two men robbed at gunpoint on Grizzly Peak Boulevard

Grizzly Peak Blvd near Signpost 14. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Two men were victims of an armed robbery near Signpost 14 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard on Monday at 10:40 p.m., according to authorities.

The UC Police Department said the two victims, a male student and a male friend not affiliated with the university, were standing outside of their vehicle when they were approached by two suspects, both of whom were holding hand guns. They demanded the victims’ property which the two men gave them. One of the victims suffered minor injuries during the encounter.

The suspects were last seen driving southbound on Grizzly Peak. UCPD officers searched the area but could not locate the suspects or their vehicle, which is described as a sedan, color unknown. … Continue reading »

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Young man shot multiple times in San Pablo Park

Authorities are standing by in San Pablo Park for the arrival of a patient from Alta Bates Hospital. Photo: hfidek
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There was a shooting in San Pablo Park in Berkeley on Tuesday morning, according to authorities.

Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department said that the shooting took place at around 11 a.m and it resulted in one victim. The victim, a young man estimated to be in his 20s, was shot multiple times and was transported to a local hospital. His condition is unknown, Officer White said.

The victim was found outside the restrooms in the park, adjacent to the basketball courts.

The suspect is described as a young man estimated to be in his 20s, light-skinned, with short hair and about 6 ft tall. He was wearing a cream-colored shirt and baggy jeans. He was last seen heading east on Ward Street from Park Street, according to Officer White. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High student saves the day after bee swarm lands on campus

Cole Huster shakes the bee swarm in order to have them drop in a bee box. Photo: Karen Kiyo
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Many Berkeley High students had their heads down concentrating on end-of-term exams when an intercom announcement from Principal Sam Pasarow broke the silence Friday afternoon. A swarm of bees had come onto the campus, he said. He asked that teachers close windows and students stay calm.

For BIHS freshman Cole Huster, the news held particular interest. Huster has been a beekeeper since he was in the 7th grade. Not only do he and his mother, Karen Lowhurst, maintain several hives in Lowhurst’s backyard, they also run an informal business, Locole North Berkeley Honey, selling the honey they harvest to friends and neighbors.

When he heard about the swarm, which had many students nervous, Huster said he thought, “Uh, I’m a beekeeper, I wonder if I can help out with this situation.”

After classes had ended, Huster made contact with BUSD maintenance engineer Akbar Shakoui who told him the district has a beekeeper on contract, and they were expecting him to deal with the situation once he could get to the campus. It turned out it wasn’t the first time a bee swarm had chosen to make Berkeley High its temporary home. Caution tape was placed around the swarm, which had settled in the branches of a tree about seven feet off the ground, according to Huster. … Continue reading »

Photos: New arrival at Tilden Little Farm — Titan the calf

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Welcome to Titan, born at the Tilden Little Farm at precisely 4:55 p.m. on Tuesday to mother Sweet Pea. The male calf, who weighed about 90 pounds at birth, will stay at the farm for about six months, according to Farmer Stanley who works at the East Bay Regional Park District-owned farm.

Sweet Pea is a 5-year-old, prize-winning Milking Shorthorn and this is her fourth calf. And, according to Berkeleyside contributing photographer Nancy Rubin, who was present at the birth and who took the beautiful photographs here, Titan was standing before he figured out how to suckle.

If you’re interested in getting closer to nature, know that another one of the Little Farm cows is expecting in about a week.

View more photographs of Titan’s birth by Nancy Rubin.

Visit the Tilden Nature Area website for more information about the Little Farm.

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Shop Talk: Huckleberry; architects merger; Hella Yoga

Cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of Huckleberry at 2424 Telegraph Ave. Photo: courtesy Huckleberry
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HUCKLEBERRY BICYCLES Huckleberry Bicycles, which has been on Market Street in San Francisco since 2011, has just opened a second location at 2424 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley (which, until they closed in February, housed MSC Custom Bikes). Huckleberry sells Cannondale, Brompton, All City, Surly, Masi, Salsa, Faraday, Shinola and Spot Brand new bikes, as well as a selection of bags (think Brooks England), apparel (Levi’s, Cadence Collection, Swrve) and shoes. There is a full-service repair shop onsite. The owners are Jonas Jackel, Brian Smith and Zack Stender. Jackel tells us they chose Berkeley because “it’s a great bike city with excellent bicycle infrastructure and strong roots in cycling culture.” Himself a Berkeley resident, Jackel sees potential for another good bike shop here. “The population is growing, and many of the new residents ride their bikes every day,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to succeed here with our unique assortment of products. We have a lot of customers from the East Bay who frequent our SF store, so we thought expanding into this market was a good fit for our business. Asked why Telegraph, Jackel said: “We’re in a great spot to serve the needs of the students, families and young professionals who live in the area. Telegraph has a high volume of foot traffic, and this neighborhood and the adjacent downtown area have high population density and bicycle ridership. All good things for a bike shop.” Huckleberry is now in soft opening and plans a “grand opening sale” May 14-22. All bikes plus select categories will be on sale at both of its stores. Huckleberry Bicycles,  2424 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley 94704  Tel: 510-900 1133. Open Mon.Fri. 11am-7pm  Sat.Sun. 12am-5pm. Connect with Huckleberry on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.Continue reading »

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

Inferno Theatre presents its third annual
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INFERNO THEATRE IN RESIDENCE Inferno Theatre is in residence at the South Berkeley Community Church from Friday through Sunday presenting its third annual Contemporary Performance Diasporas Festival. See exciting multi-cultural, interdisciplinary dance, theatre and film works performed by a diverse line-up of guest artists and companies. They include: Rachel LePell, Blue Monkey Works: Steve Haskell, Inferno Theatre, Chabot College Theater Arts, and Anton’s Well Theatre Company. South Berkeley residents get discounted tickets. For full information, visit Inferno Theatre’s website. … Continue reading »

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Half Moon Brewing to open taproom in Berkeley

Half Moon Brewing Company is set to open its first offsite taproom at xxxx Center St. in downtown Berkeley this summer. Photo, taken at Half Moon Brewery, courtesy of Half Moon Brewery
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Half Moon Brewing Company has chosen to open its first offsite taproom and bottle shop in downtown Berkeley. Called Pacific Standard, the spot will serve up craft beers in the space formerly occupied by wine bar La Botella Republic, at 2055 Center St. (at Shattuck). La Botella closed in March, two years after it opened.

Pacific Standard will offer 15 to 20 local and regional beers on tap, around half of which will be sourced from the onsite brewery at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. The taproom, which will also serve snacks, should be open by the summer.

Read more about beer and breweries in the East Bay.

“Half Moon wanted to be in the East Bay as there’s lots of excitement here around beer, and Berkeley is at the forefront of craft beer,” said Joel DiGiorgio of Farm League Design & Management, who is working with the brewery to open the taproom. “They have respect for the ‘old guards’ of Berkeley, Triple Rock and Jupiter, and are honored and humbled to be in the same town,” he said. … Continue reading »

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