Category Archives: Community

Love Berkeleyside? 10 ways you can help us right now

There are lots of ways to help Berkeleyside. Here are our top 10. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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If you’re a fan of Berkeleyside’s local news coverage, there are plenty of ways to help support us. And most of them don’t involve a penny. Here’s a handy list.

SEND US TIPS Our small team relies on the community’s eyes and ears to know what’s happening in your neighborhoods. We want to hear from you! Email general tips to tips@berkeleyside.com. If you have public safety news, write to our special crime line at crime@berkeleyside.com.

GET OUR EMAILS We have three main email options to choose from: Daily headlines of all our stories, a weekly round-up of our best food news, and — hot off the presses — a breaking news alert service. Our emails are always free and you can unsubscribe anytime. Sign up here.

SHARE PHOTOS We love seeing what you’re seeing around town. Send photographs to the email addresses above. If you’re on Flickr, add images to our Berkeleyside Flickr group. If you’re on Instagram, tag #Berkeleyside when you want us to see your photos. We might feature them and will always credit you.

SHARE OUR WORK We need your help to grow. Share our stories on social media and with your neighborhood groups and other networks if you find them valuable. Buttons at the bottom of each story help share in the way you prefer. You can also “like” our stories on Facebook and retweet them on Twitter. Small efforts like this help amplify our work. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Bumper stickers still and more

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In Berkeley, we love our bumper stickers. We wear our beliefs and humor on our bumpers. Longtime residents may lose sight of our bumper sticker population, but Mykael Moss has not.

And, by the way, Ahimsa, which sorta-kinda can be translated as “non-violence of the heart,”  is one of the cardinal virtues and an important tenet of Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. … Continue reading »

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Vigil held where Berkeley homeless man died in street

A group of people held a memorial service Friday for a homeless man who died on the street. Photo: Ted Friedman
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On Sunday, Berkeley police got a call about a dead body near the doorway of what used to be the U-Haul building on San Pablo Avenue and Addison Street. When they arrived they found a homeless man who appeared to have died of natural causes.

Six days later, a group of Berkeley residents gathered at the spot to commemorate the man, whose name was Roberto Benitas. He was 50. Most of those gathered only knew the man by sight but wanted to call attention to the fact that a homeless man had died on the streets.

“It seems very wrong for a person to die out of doors and their death isn’t noticed,” Linda Franklin wrote to Berkeleyside. “Their story needs to be told.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school district places teacher Yvette Felarca on administrative leave

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The Berkeley Unified School District has placed Yvette Felarca, a Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School teacher who is also a controversial anti-racist activist, on administrative leave “pending an investigation into concerns that have been raised.”

Felarca was placed on leave Wednesday, according to Charles Burress, district spokesman, who declined to be more specific because it was a personnel matter.

But Felarca and members of a group in which she serves as a political organizer, BAMN, or By Any Means Necessary, said the investigation is connected to her actions at a counter-protest against white supremacists in Sacramento on June 26. A television station filmed Felarca taunting and hitting a neo-Nazi attending the rally led by the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist extremist group. Felarca, along with a number of others, was injured in the confrontation. Film clips show her with a head wound.   … Continue reading »

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Police

City seeks rejection of wrongful death lawsuit against police; celebrity pathologist disputes cause of death

Kayla Moore protest 9/20/16. Photo: Daniel McPartlan
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Attorneys for the city of Berkeley have asked a U.S. District Court judge to reject a wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2014 by the father of a transgender woman who died in police custody in 2013.

Representatives for both parties are expected to appear in court Friday morning at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco. If the case moves ahead, the trial itself has been scheduled to begin Oct. 17, according to materials from lawsuit supporters.

Kayla Moore, a 41-year-old Berkeley resident, was in her Allston Way apartment Feb. 12, 2013, when police responded to a disturbance call there, authorities have said. She stopped breathing during a struggle as officers tried to detain her. The Alameda County coroner’s office said Moore — whose given name was Xavier — died due to “acute combined drug intoxication” and pre-existing medical conditions, and ruled her death an accident.

The city filed a motion for summary judgment in June essentially arguing that the family has neither the evidence nor the facts to back up the wrongful death suit. The city says officers used “minimal force” and have “qualified immunity” under the law as to the force they did use.

Oakland attorney John Burris, whose firm is representing Kayla’s father, Arthur Moore, has argued police had no cause to arrest Moore and “used unreasonable force” during the arrest.

To bolster the case, Burris has filed a declaration by Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist who has worked on a variety of high-profile cases in recent decades. Spitz said restraint by the officers made it difficult for Moore to breathe and contributed to her death. … Continue reading »

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Curbside electric car charging stations arrive in Berkeley

Bernhard Haux installed one of the city's first personal curbside charging stations at his McGee Street home in February. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Sebastian Vollering was first in line to reserve a Tesla Model 3, the more economical version of the electric car, at the Walnut Creek store this spring.

The South Berkeley resident won’t get his new car until the end of 2017, but he is already preparing for it. Vollering is the latest to be approved under a city program that allows some residents to install personal electric-vehicle charging stations in the public right of way in front of their homes.

The 2014 Residential Curbside Electric Vehicle Charging Pilot allows for up to 25 of these stations by December 2017. Applicants must not have a driveway or garage where they could otherwise place a charging station. Twenty people have qualified for curbside stations so far, though only four have completed the installation, said Sarah Moore, a planner in the city’s office of energy and sustainable development.

Vollering was relieved when his application was approved earlier this month.

“It’s very hard for us to have an electric vehicle,” he said. Vollering’s Emerson Street home has no driveway. “It becomes quite cumbersome when you go to a public charger and you have to pay for it long enough for it to charge.” Vollering also wanted the option to charge his car at home because he uses solar power. … Continue reading »

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South Berkeley residents aim to preserve history with art

By Kathleen Costanza
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Sitting in a circle on a recent Saturday afternoon, there were lots of things South Berkeley residents agreed they loved about their neighborhood: crop swaps, the farmers market, and Wat Mongkolratanaram, Berkeley’s Thai Buddhist Temple. Streets and storefronts packed with a rich history. A diversity of people and ideas.

But they also discussed a host of issues they believe are threatening the neighborhood they love, including gentrification, displacement and a lack of affordable housing.

A new mural, residents hope, will encompass the past, present and future of South Berkeley, and educate newcomers and long-timers on its history.

“We all admit we love this place,” said muralist Edythe Boone, 78, a South Berkeley resident and arts educator since 1976. “Now, what can we do to make it better?”

With residents’ help, Boone and a team of artists plan to paint a mural on a 9-foot-tall fence at Ashby Avenue and Ellis Avenue. The meeting on Aug. 20, held at South Berkeley Community Church, was the first of several the mural team is hosting to gather neighborhood history, stories, artifacts and other inspiration to weave across the mural. … Continue reading »

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EBMUD delivers pipes to Panoramic Hill via helicopter

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The East Bay Municipal Utility District has hired a helicopter to lift about 2,500 feet of pipe into the Panoramic Way neighborhood.

The red helicopter started lifting the pipe around 10 a.m. and will complete its task around 2 p.m., according to EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Pook.

The roads leading up Panoramic Hill are so windy that trucks could not carry the 40-foot-long lengths of pipe, she said. EBMUD has cut some of pipe in half, but even getting that length up the roads is a challenge, she said. … Continue reading »

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One to watch: Singer SydneyNycole

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Berkeley native Sydney Reeves, who goes by her stage name, SydneyNycole, talks about her new project, recent deals and what it’s like to be a Black woman in the music industry.

“When people look at me, they don’t expect for me to make the type of music that I do,” Reeves told Berkeleyside in a recent interview via Facetime. The 25-year-old singer and songwriter, whose glowing brown skin beautifully sets off her choice of fine fabrics, gives off the vibe of soulful women singers who have come before her, such as Angie Stone, Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott.

Read more profiles in Berkeleyside’s One to Watch series.

Reeves, who recently signed a publishing deal with Sony Records said, although she might not be as soulful as people expect, her goal is to transcend genres and make music people of all ages and backgrounds can appreciate.

During her conversation with Berkeleyside contributor Delency Parham, Reeves talked about her upcoming EP, the struggles she faces as a brown-skinned woman in a white industry, and what a successful career in music looks like to her. … Continue reading »

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Willard Middle School at 100: Film captures memories

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Willard Middle School is getting ready to celebrate its centennial this year. Former students, staff, and parents are planning a huge gathering for Sunday, Oct. 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

As part of the celebration, Berkeley filmmaker Kim Aronson has made a 19-minute film that features 13 current and former Willard students reminiscing about their time there. Starting with Paul Grundland, a 1939 graduate, and continuing to Nakalia, who will graduate in 2017, the film highlights some enduring memories and the cultural context in which students attended the school at 2435 Stuart St. Check out a timeline of the school.

Some highlights:

Harold Hayashi attended Williard in 1941 and half of 1942 – when he and his family were sent to internment camps. He remembers how Willard teachers (unknowingly) helped prepare him for the three years he spent at the Topaz internment camp.

Jane Wallace talks about how the entire school watched the Richard Nixon – John F. Kennedy presidential debate in 1960 on small screen, black and white television sets. The occasion felt monumental, she said. … Continue reading »

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Get ready to sweat: 6 new high-end fitness centers are coming to Berkeley

An example of one of Cyclebar's "theaters." Photo: CycleBar
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Berkeley residents are about to get a lot more fit. Or at least have more opportunities to do so.

Four high-end sports facilities will be opening their doors this fall, as will a smaller boutique gym. A fifth national brand hopes to open in Berkeley in 2017.

The five, CycleBar, EquinoxCity Sports Club, Soul Cycle and Orange Fitness are all connected to national or regional franchises that promote state-of-the-art workout equipment, classes set to the latest music, videos, flashing lights and more. Bōld is a father-daughter venture that will feature Pilates equipment and the Lagree training method.

CYCLEBAR  The first to launch will be CycleBar, an indoor bike spinning center, which will open in October at 1929 University Ave., the site of the old Fred’s Market. CycleBar is one of a number of national spinning franchises with cult-like followings (Soul Cycle and Flywheel are others), and is growing at a rapid rate. The company, created by siblings Alex Klemmer and Bill Pryor, started in Boston in 2004. The duo started licensing CycleBar franchises in January 2015 and expect to have about 300 fitness facilities around the country by the end of 2016. … Continue reading »

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Memorial garden dedicated to late Berkeley firefighter

Berkeley Fire Department dedication ceremony on Sunday Sept. 11, 2016. Photo: KLC Fotos
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On Sunday Sept. 11, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Berkeley firefighters held a ceremony to dedicate the department’s memorial garden at the city’s Fire Station 6 at 999 Cedar St.

The garden, a place where Berkeley firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty are remembered, was dedicated on Sunday to deceased firefighter Tony Nunes. Nunes died in February 2014 in an accident on his family property in Martinez. He was 54 and had worked for the department for 28 years.

Several city leaders were in attendance, including council members Lori Droste, Linda Maio, Susan Wengraf and Kriss Worthington.

“Berkeley Firefighters gathered… to recognize lives lost in the line of duty, both here in Berkeley and across the country,” said BFD’s Colin Arnold. “They shared a moment of silence to remember the victims of 9/11, and reflected on stories of peers who had lost their lives.” … Continue reading »

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Photo Gallery: The 42nd Berkeley-Albany Solano Stroll

Solano Stroll 2016. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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“I’ve come to the conclusion that at the Solano Stroll, if you don’t see the essence of Berkeley, you’re not paying attention,” wrote Daniel McPartlan to Berkeleyside when sharing with us some wonderful photographs he took at this year’s Stroll, which took place on Sunday. Of course, the Solano Stroll includes Albany too, but we hear what he’s saying. Meanwhile, Berkeleyside contributing photographer Nancy Rubin commented on submitting her amazing portfolio, “I feel the Stroll represents the best of Berkeley — such good feelings, such diversity — of both humans and animals.”

People turned out in droves to the 42nd annual Stroll, despite the vain attempts by the sun to shed any warmth on events, and the unfortunate absence of portable toilets at this year’s event (we’ve asked the Solano Stroll Association for more on this and will update the story when we hear back).

[Update, 4:15 p.m. Allen Cain tells Berkeleyside he submitted his request well in advance, noting, “We go out of our way to provide facilities.” He said there was only an answering service for United Site Services picking up the phone Sunday, and the service could not provide any information. “If they had just told us that they lost the order, we could’ve navigated something but they kept us hanging,” he said.]

The parade was as impressive as always, and this year local election candidates were out in force. And there was a near-constant stream of visitors to the Berkeleyside/Nosh booth and the onsite team — Wendy Cohen, Bethany Del Lima, Kate Williams, Emilie Raguso, Debbie McKeen and Tracey Taylor — were delighted to meet everyone and hear your positive feedback. We will draw the winners of our two raffle prizes — a basket-full of East Bay food and drink goodies and a copy of Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab book — shortly.

Meanwhile enjoy the Stroll photographs published here — and thank you for sharing them with us.

See more photos of the Solano Stroll by Nancy Rubin.

See more photos of the Solano Stroll by Daniel McPartlan. … Continue reading »

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