Category Archives: Community


Public meeting on Adeline corridor on Saturday

Image: City of Berkeley
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Those interested in the future of Adeline Street in South Berkeley are invited to a meeting Saturday morning at the senior center on Ellis Street.

The city of Berkeley received a $750,000 planning grant last year to look at transit improvements and other development issues along the Adeline corridor, and Saturday morning will be the public’s first chance to participate in that process since last year.

Read more about Adeline Street in past Berkeleyside coverage.

According to a notice posted by Mayor Tom Bates’ office, “The purpose is to provide information about City planning for the area, answer questions, gather community ideas on the effort and learn on how you might like to be involved.”

The meeting is slated to take place at the South Berkeley Senior Center, at 2929 Ellis St., at 10 a.m. Saturday. … Continue reading »

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Comedian W. Kamau Bell reports being victim of racism at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café

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By Tracey Taylor and Frances Dinkelspiel

Scroll to the bottom for the latest update on this story.

A popular African American comedian took to the Internet on Thursday to complain that an employee of the Elmwood Café on College Avenue told him to “scram,” or words to that effect, Monday while he was talking to his white wife and her friends at one of its outdoor tables.

W. Kamau Bell, who performs regularly in Bay Area comedy clubs, said he was shocked when the employee tapped on the window from inside the café and indicated that he should leave the area. The employee apparently thought Bell might be trying to sell something. Bell said he was dressed in a dark Oaklandish-brand hoodie at the time.

“It is the definition of prejudice,” Bell, a Berkeley resident, said. “They looked at me, they judged me against other people, an idea they had in their head about what a person like me is going to do, and then they acted in stupidity and ignorance.” … Continue reading »

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Mrs. Dalloway’s to give Berkeley teachers $100 in books

Mrs. Dalloway's books
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Every kindergarten and first grade teacher in the Berkeley Unified School District will soon have the opportunity to buy $100 worth of books, thanks to an offer made by Mrs. Dalloway’s bookstore and the best-selling author James Patterson.

The bookstore at 2904 College Ave. applied for a grant from Patterson to distribute gift certificates to teachers. It learned this week it had gotten $8,500, according to Marion Abbott, one of the store’s owners. That means 85 teachers will get $100 apiece.

“It’s very exciting,” said Abbott. “Unlike some book stores that are putting in new floors or buying vans, we are putting the money into teachers’ hands. I think it is really going to make a difference.” … Continue reading »

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Fighter pilot who flew jet over Berkeley was giving nod to brother at Cal; Navy is investigating

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet. Photo: U.S. Navy
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The fighter jet that buzzed Berkeley on Tuesday, sending both shock waves and excitement through the community, was reportedly flown by the brother of a Cal grad student.

A man posting as “TheCulprit” on Berkeleyside said the pilot was his brother, writing, “It was an awesome personal air show.”

Berkeleyside has confirmed that the commenter attends UC Berkeley, and that his brother is a pilot with the U.S. Navy.

“TheCulprit” said by email that his brother “is moving to Texas at the end of the week so he thought it would be cool to fly over campus while I was there before he left. Not that much to the story unfortunately.”

The pilot “rocked” the plane, making its wings tilt up and down when it passed over Berkeley, according to some witnesses.

The U.S. Navy is investigating the incident, said Lt. Reagan B. Lauritzen, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman, by email. … Continue reading »

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Theft of artworks from fence impacts neighborhood

Until New Year's, Gary Turchin's art work adorned his fence. Police are looking for the person who stole the art. Photo: Gary Turchin
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After two and a half years of posting colorful artwork and poetry on the fence surrounding his home, Gary Turchin is at a loss.

Turchin’s work — excerpts from one of his self-published books and other vibrant pieces of digital artwork — were recently stolen from where they were stapled to the six-foot, tall brick-red fence surrounding his home on the corner of McKinley Avenue and Addison Street.

“It’s not like stealing a car; you get money for that. I find myself laughing. They’re not going to get any money for this — I couldn’t get any money for it!” said Turchin. … Continue reading »

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Update: Loud plane over Berkeley was Navy F-18

A file photo of an F-18. Photo: Frank Boston
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Update, Jan. 28, 3:35 p.m. See Berkeleyside’s update on this story.

Update, 2:56 p.m. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor identified the loud plane that flew over Berkeley as “an F-18 out of NAS Lemoore.” He said the Navy would know more. Berkeleyside will follow up.

Naval Air Station Lemoore is in Lemoore, California, about 40 miles south of Fresno.

Original post, 2:36 p.m. In the past hour, the Berkeleyside Twitter stream exploded after a loud low plane flew over Berkeley, setting off car alarms and scaring people across the city.

“Any word on why a plane just flew so close to downtown Berkeley that our building shook?” asked Elisa Proulx just after 1:40 p.m.

Wondered : “What in the heck was that roaring jet noise over Berkeley just now? Did Dick Cheney just do a flyover?”

Berkeleyside has called the Federal Aviation Administration to try to learn more. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said he will see what he is able to find out.

In the meantime, readers have posted online about what they saw and heard. … Continue reading »

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Grumpy Cat comes to Berkeley Humane in style, fanfare

Grumpy Cat, held by her owner Tabatha Bundesen, poses with City Councilmember Linda Maio and Berkeley Chamber of Commerce CEO Polly Armstrong before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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With a police-escorted motorcade fit for a foreign ambassador or an A-list Hollywood star, viral internet star Grumpy Cat rolled into Berkeley in style Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of fans waited outside Berkeley Humane at 2700 9th St. to catch a glimpse of Grumpy Cat, who has a permanent scowl on her face and millions of fans on social media. Tucked in the arms of her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, Grumpy Cat oversaw the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Berkeley Humane’s new mobile adoption center.

Following the ceremony, Grumpy Cat held a private photo session with her fans. Tickets for an up close and personal were reserved long before Saturday. The opportunity to take a photo of Grumpy Cat — or with, for the lucky fans who registered for the photo session in time — drew residents from beyond the Bay Area. … Continue reading »

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Black Cal students repaint The Big C to reflect African flag

The students from Black Student Union who painted Cal’s “C” the colors of the Pan African flag. Back row: Isis Dillard, Eniola Abioye, Blake Simons.
Front row: Alana Banks, Gabrielle Shuman, Lauren Butler. Photo: Mara Van Ells
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Six UC Berkeley students woke up before dawn to climb into the Berkeley Hills to paint a school symbol red, black and green.

The students, members of the Black Student Union, lugged cans of paint and other supplies up the hill in darkness to paint the formerly golden giant letter C the colors of the Pan African Flag.

The Big C is a large concrete block that was built into a hill overlooking campus in 1908. Since then, it’s become tradition for opposing teams, such as Stanford University, to paint the Cal symbol their own school colors and for Berkeley students to repaint the structure gold. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Hollywood comes to Berkeley for Steve Jobs movie with Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, Michael Fassbender

The film set at La Méditerranée on College Avenue Friday night. Photo: Ted Friedman
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The 2900 block of College Avenue in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood was transformed into a mid-1980s scene on Friday night, as director Danny Boyle filmed a scene for a new Steve Jobs biopic at La Méditerranée.

Period cars from the 1980s were parked on the street, and the producers had put out a casting call for men with long hair and facial hair, and women with “natural hair colors” to match the 1980s to 1990s time period.

While scores of curious onlookers hung out on College, sightings of the film’s stars — Michael Fassbender (who plays Steve Jobs), Seth Rogen (Steve Wozniak), Jeff Daniels (John Sculley), and Kate Winslet (Joanna Hoffman), were fleeting, at best. … Continue reading »

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Thinking about jaywalking in Berkeley? Think again

Police ticked pedestrians last fall during a pedestrian operation similar to the one planned in Berkeley on Saturday. Photo: Eric Panzer
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Berkeley Police traffic officers will be out for a special enforcement effort Saturday to educate — and potentially ticket — pedestrians who violate traffic laws.

The Berkeley Police Department will be in the downtown area Saturday, Jan. 24, on the lookout for pedestrians who flout signal lights and fail to use crosswalks, along with other safety issues.

A similar operation in Berkeley in September prompted waves of comment on the Berkeleyside Facebook page and on a subsequent story on Berkeleyside itself.

Police said this week that, according to 2013 data, most of the city’s injury collisions with pedestrians involved pedestrians downtown. That year, 24% of all collisions with injuries involved pedestrians, according to a statement released Thursday by the department. … Continue reading »

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Update: Cyclist hurt, 5 elevator rescues in Berkeley power outage caused by PG&E equipment failure

Traffic stopped in all directions before proceeding at the intersection of University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way because of a power outage in the area affecting thousands of customers in Berkeley. Photo: David Yee
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Update, 3:30 p.m. PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said Friday afternoon that the company has identified the cause of Tuesday’s power outage as an equipment failure during testing at an East Bay substation.

Sarkissian said she learned Friday that the outage actually originated at a substation in El Cerrito, not in Berkeley as had previously been reported by PG&E. She was not able to provide the exact location of the station.

Sarkissian said the testing had been planned, but that additional details about the nature of the equipment failure are still under investigation. She stressed that PG&E is focused on ensuring that its system is safe and reliable, and said she will release additional information when it is available.

Original story, 1:30 p.m. Tuesday’s widespread power outage in Berkeley and nearby cities kept first responders busy with one accident that sent a cyclist to the hospital, five elevator rescues and a handful of other calls, authorities said. … Continue reading »

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Viral internet star Grumpy Cat comes to Berkeley

Grumpy Cat, the feline internet sensation, will be visiting Berkeley Humane this Saturday. Photo: Scott Beale/ Creative Commons
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Grumpy Cat, the cantankerous cat with a permanent scowl and more than 7 million Facebook likes, will grace Berkeley with her presence for the first time this Saturday afternoon.

Arguably the most famous cat on the internet, Grumpy Cat will be present for Berkeley Humane‘s ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new mobile animal adoption center at 2700 Ninth St. at noon. After the ceremony, Grumpy Cat will have a private photo session with her fans at 1 p.m. The event has already sold out.

After Grumpy Cat challenged her fans with a #GrumpyTownUSA contest following the launch of her second book “The Grumpy Guide to Life” (both books are New York Times bestsellers), Berkeley Humane led a campaign with support from Mayor Tom Bates, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and the Berkeley Police Association to bring Grumpy Cat to Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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PG&E still mum about cause of Berkeley power outage

Image: PG&E
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More than 48 hours after a sweeping power outage left 38,000 PG&E customers in Berkeley and surrounding cities without electricity, the company still has not released the cause of the problem.

“The cause is still being investigated at this time,” PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said by email Thursday shortly before 1 p.m. “I don’t think we’ll have more details than that for today.”

Sarkissian said Wednesday she hoped to have an answer by Thursday about what led to Tuesday’s outage, adding that she had been unable to reach the person who would know what triggered it. She did not provide a reason Thursday about the reason for the delay.

Power went out throughout much of the city at about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, knocking out traffic signals, and resulting in a BART station shutdown in Berkeley. According to one report on Twitter, someone got stuck in the elevator at Berkeley City Hall during the outage, and had to be rescued by Berkeley firefighters. One Berkeleyside reader said a cyclist was struck by a car at a North Berkeley intersection that had lost power; Berkeley police have been unavailable to provide any information about that incident. … Continue reading »

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