Cellphone tower installed despite local objections

View from Mehrdad Fakour's balcony of a controversial, newly installed cellphone tower in North Berkeley. Photo: Mehrdad Fakour
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AT&T recently completed installation of a new cellphone tower (a DAS Node, or Distributed Antennae System Node to be specific) in the North Berkeley hills, across from 51 Del Mar Ave. It took four years to get the tower erected, and, in total, AT&T evaluated nine other sites based on feedback from residents and the city before settling on this one. (Full disclosure: this reporter lives within 500 feet of the new installation and started getting construction notices about it this summer.)

The site that AT&T ended up choosing for the installation is 14 feet from the balcony of Mehrdad. Because of the slope of the hill, the DAS Node and antennae are right at eye level when standing on Mehrdad’s balcony. The view of his neighbor, Hana Matt, is also impacted by the new pole.

“I think it is a cruel and inhumane intrusion when AT&T can install a radiation-emitting cell tower 14 feet from people’s homes…. our property value will drop, and it’s in violation of the Berkeley Aesthetic Guidelines,” Matt said.

Matt is talking about the Berkeley Aesthetic Guidelines for Public Right of Way Permits under the Berkeley Municipal Code. Continue reading »

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After 27 years of public service, Max Anderson retires from Berkeley City Council

The retirement of Max Anderson and Laurie Capitelli's decision to run for mayor rather than for re-election in District 5 has created two open council seats. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Max Anderson is stepping down as the representative of South Berkeley’s District 3 after Tuesday’s City Council meeting. It is the end of a 27-year-long career in public service for Anderson, a retired critical-care nurse, who moved to Berkeley in 1985 after serving in the Marine Corps in California and Hawaii and attending school in Philadelphia. Anderson joined the city’s Planning Commission in 1989, was elected to the Rent Stabilization Board in 1996, and was elected to the City Council in 2004.

Anderson is well-known on the City Council for his impassioned and eloquent speeches on topics about which he cares deeply, such as racial injustice, development and homelessness. Berkeleyside caught up with Anderson as he prepares to retire.

What are you most proud of accomplishing as a Berkeley City Councilman?

Despite being in a minority position for the 12 years I served, I was able to get through important legislation regarding public-health issues. One was the cellphone warning to consumers regarding the safe use of their devices. Another was the Breathmobile, whose services I secured to treat asthmatic children in our schools – to case-manage them, reduce hospital admissions and emergency-room visits, and improve their attendance at school; all these measures showed dramatic improvement.

Another accomplishment is the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, which I fully supported to reduce childhood diabetes among our youth. I take pride in the study that we initiated and supported to review the complaints of city workers regarding discrimination in hiring and promotions, although the City Council majority eventually refused to follow through. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Rainbows!

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Editors — Berkeleyside readers have been sharing some wonderful photographs of rainbows with us recently, so we thought it was timely to publish this Quirky Berkeley post.

Tom Dalzell: I roughly divide my posts into two groups. First, a major manifestation is a collection of photos taken at a single location. Second, an aggregation is a collection of photos taken around town. Presented here is an aggregation, a few of the many photographs of depictions of rainbows that I have collected in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Arts Festival space closes; Jake Shandling is back

Priced out of Oakland, Jake Shandling returns to Jupiter on Saturday.
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No one expected the Berkeley Arts Festival space to last as long as it did. The storefront venue, at 2133 University Ave., opened in the summer of 2011, the latest in a string of found spaces procured by Bonnie Hughes that have enlivened Berkeley’s arts scene with a steady flow of musical performances, classes, theater and dance.

Several weeks ago, word came down that construction of the 205-unit Acheson Commons apartment complex is ready to proceed, and the venue’s final performance takes place 8:30 p.m. Monday with the premiere of Oakland saxophonist/composer Phillip Greenlief’s “Index,” a conducted improvisation featuring the sprawling OrcheSperry.

Over the past five years Greenlief has performed in the rough-hewn room in a wide array of settings, while also coordinating shows by an improbably impressive array of touring artists. “I feel so lucky I’ve been able to book things there,” Greenlief says. “A lot of people are still on the road trying to promote the music. You can’t always get a gig at SFJAZZ, Yoshi’s or Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a space. It’s been golden. In the best sense of the word it’s a great community space, so low key and informal.” … Continue reading »


Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Seasons’

Lynx on the loose in 'Seasons'
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Wildlife documentaries used to be fun and educational diversions: while watching cute animals frolic in the wilderness, you also got to learn about the magical ‘circle of life’ that made all that frolicking possible. Well, unless it was a Werner Herzog wildlife documentary — then you got to see the food chain in action, up to and including human beings. But I digress.

Alas, those happy days are long gone, and such films now trigger nothing but feelings of dread and ennui in your scribe’s tender heart. In the middle of our planet’s sixth period of mass extinction – a period for which human beings themselves are responsible — how is it possible to enjoy up-close-and-personal footage of guileless bear cubs and innocent squirrels without feeling more than a twinge of guilt?

Despite it all, filmmakers Jacques Cluzaud and Jacques Perrin have managed to make a wildlife documentary suitable for the 21st century. Previously responsible for 2001’s Oscar nominated Winged Migration, the duo’s newest feature, Les Saisons (Seasons) opens at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Nov. 25.

At first, Seasons appears to be a fairly typical cinematic paean to nature – and it’s certainly possible to enjoy it on those terms. But there’s also a message about the Anthropocene era that becomes clearer as things proceed. … Continue reading »


The Berkeley Wire: 11.23.16

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2 juveniles tied to North Berkeley vandalism spree

2 juveniles were arrested early on Wednesday morning for vandalizing windows on Solano Avenue. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Nearly 30 businesses on the north side of Solano Avenue were vandalized early Wednesday morning by two youths who scratched “Felipe” and some obscene words on their windows, authorities report.

According to Berkeley police, a witness phoned at 2:16 a.m. Wednesday to say they saw two males vandalizing windows on Solano near Ensenada Avenue.

Police chased the youths on foot for four blocks and apprehended one of them. The other was arrested at 4:35 a.m.

Both are juveniles, one from Albany and the other from El Cerrito. … Continue reading »

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Race and food justice on the menu at Berkeley event

From left: Bryant Terry, David Roach, Kelly Carlisle, Michael McBride, Karissa Lewis, Shaniece Alexander. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Addressing a packed auditorium at the Ed Roberts Campus on Saturday, former Black Panther Judy Juanita recounted the history of the group’s Free Breakfast for School Children program.

Begun in Oakland in 1969, the Panther program served thousands of children breakfast daily in cities across the country.

Despite its widespread success, Juanita told the audience, the Black Panthers never considered the program a solution. The free breakfast initiative—which J. Edgar Hoover called “potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for”— was considered a “survival program.”

Juanita was the keynote speaker for “A Community Forum on Black Liberation and the Food Movement,” a public event organized by UC Berkeley’s Berkeley Food Institute along with about a dozen partners. A panel and several group discussions throughout the day covered a range of topics, from the traumatic legacy of slavery on African-Americans’ relationship with food production and land, to the contemporary black culinary scene, food insecurity, and the whiteness of the food justice movement. The event culminated in a free dinner provided by Miss Ollie’s restaurant.

“We anticipated that it might be a good idea to do this after the election,” said Kara Young, a graduate student fellow at BFI who organized the event, in her introduction. The organizers suspected people might need to be “nourished and fed,” she said. … Continue reading »

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4 arrested after Berkeley robbery near campus

Image: Google Maps
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Berkeley police arrested three men and a woman after a robbery at a Southside Berkeley market Monday evening.

Police got a report at about 6:45 p.m. about a robbery at the shop, in the 2200 block of Durant Avenue, not far from the UC Berkeley campus.

According to Berkeley Police Sgt. Andrew Frankel, several people went into a shop and stole numerous items.

“When they were confronted by the employee, one of the male suspects threw a can of Red Bull at her,” Frankel said.  … Continue reading »

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For some immigrants in Berkeley and beyond: What now?

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By Hana Boston

As the dust starts to settle after the presidential election, millions of immigrants all over the country are left wondering: what happens now?

No big surprise there. Listening to President-elect Trump’s campaign speeches, along with his recent appointment as attorney general of Senator Jeff Sessions, a staunch opposer of amnesty, one can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding and trepidation about what changes might be in store for the immigrant community after Trump takes office in January.

In the days after the election, my Berkeley-based immigration law firm has received what feels like non-stop calls from clients and their families wanting to know what they can do to protect themselves now against the wide, sweeping immigration reform that may take place under a Trump administration.

While still too early to predict exactly what changes will happen, there are things immigrants living and working in and around the Berkeley area can do now to protect themselves against potential changes in immigration laws and policies in the coming months. … Continue reading »

Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley

Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments below  — that’s where we announce the winner too!

Photo: Sandy Friedland.

Send your submissions for “Where in Berkeley?” to tips@berkeleyside.com. The more obscure the better —  just as long as the photos are taken in Berkeley. Thanks in advance.

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The Berkeley Wire: 11.22.16

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Berkeley Mayor-elect, council members reaffirm city’s sanctuary status

Arreguin press conference Nov. 22. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín held a press conference Tuesday to make clear that he and the City Council will ensure the city remains a sanctuary city, offering protection to immigrants and undocumented residents.

“There’s a great deal of fear in our community,”Arreguín said, standing on the steps of City Hall alongside many city council members, the president of the Berkeley Unified School Board, and Mary Nicely, representing Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. The Council will propose a resolution at its next meeting, councilwoman Lori Droste said, reaffirming Berkeley’s status as a city of refuge.

Tuesday’s statements were in response to threats made by President-elect Donald Trump to penalize, through the withdrawal of federal funds, cities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to officials.

A forum on immigration rights will be held tonight, Tuesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Berkeley — scroll down for details.

Berkeley is one of more than 300 self-described sanctuary cities around the country. The City Council declared Berkeley to be a City of Refuge in 1971 and has had occasion to re-affirm that status several times since, including in 2007 during local raids by the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and in 2015 when the city said it would welcome Syrian refugees.  … Continue reading »

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