Berkeley council open to proposals to end homelessness, but questions how to pay for them

Since Measure S failed in 2012, many say Berkeley's homeless population has only grown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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At a special worksession Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council expressed interest in a raft of recommendations from an independent citizen panel related to how the city might change its approach to homelessness, but some officials said they remain unconvinced that the changes are something the city can afford.

The recommendations came from the Berkeley Homeless Task Force, which was initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín in 2013 after Measure S failed the prior November to win popular support, but sparked a broad community discussion about the city’s homeless. Since then, Arreguín said, the city’s homeless population appears to have grown, though official estimates won’t be available until fall.

“There is still clearly more we can do,” Arreguín said. “Berkeley can be a leader in ending homelessness.”

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

Tuesday night, Arreguín and Genevieve Wilson, one of the chairs of the panel, presented a series of recommendations for how the city might direct its funding in its efforts to end homelessness. They emphasized a “housing first” model, which they said has been endorsed by Alameda County and worked in other cities — ultimately leading to cost savings despite high initial start-up expenses. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley man goes nuts over nuts, forces plane diversion

A United Airlines plane was diverted to Belfast after a Berkeley man grew belligerent over snacks. Photo: Wikimedia
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A Berkeley man forced a United Airlines flight from Rome to divert to Belfast, Ireland, on Saturday after he grew aggressive en route, according to the airline, over nuts and crackers.

The captain of the Chicago-bound plane decided to land in Belfast, dumping 50,000 liters of fuel first as a precautionary measure, after flight attendants reported that the behavior of Jeremiah Mathias Thede, 42, appeared threatening.

Thede, a dual Italian and American citizen, was charged with endangering the safety of the plane, disorderly conduct and assaulting a cabin crew member, according to the BBC.  He was due to appear before magistrates Tuesday and remains in custody in Belfast. … Continue reading »

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University Village, Sprouts get (final) green light

A rendering of the new University Village development. Image: courtesy the City of Albany
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The disputed UC Berkeley land next to Albany’s Gill Tract is in contention no more. Last week, the California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the university to build a senior housing development and Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store on San Pablo Avenue in University Village.

Read more on Berkeleyside’s coverage of Occupy the Farm.

The development, on a long-vacant lot next to the Gill Tract research field, has been the site of protests since April 2012 on the part of Occupy the Farm, which has stated that UC Berkeley’s plans would “pave over a rare natural resource” and that the Gill Tract is “public farmland that belongs to the people.”

Stefanie Rawlings, of Occupy the Farm, originally filed a lawsuit against the city of Albany and UC Berkeley that alleged that the city’s approved Environmental Impact Report was deficient. When Rawlings lost the suit, she filed an appeal on the grounds that the report did not lay out appropriate alternatives for the building plan, and that the city did not appropriately consider the alternatives listed. … Continue reading »

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Quirky art wall stripped bare at request of UC Berkeley

"Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on May 7th,  2015."
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A striking Berkeley chain-link fence covered in found objects, including teddy bears and bras, was recently stripped bare, two days after a story about the quirky ‘art wall’ was published on Berkeleyside.

One person who complained about the fence referred to it as “creepy,” according to Christine Shaff, facilities and real-estate communications director at UC Berkeley, who said a Cal grounds manager asked the creator of the wall to strip it after a formal work order was submitted “at least a week before” Berkeleyside published its June 2 story.

The chain-link fence separates a UC parking garage from the alley running from Ridge Street to Hearst Avenue just west of Euclid Avenue. … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?


Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments, below.

Photo: Eden Teller.

Send your submissions for “Where in Berkeley?” to 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: 06.23.15

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The lowdown: Berkeley council on short-term rentals, ‘granny flats,’ homelessness, community benefits

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with a worksession on new recommendations related to homelessness. At its regular 7 p.m. meeting, council will consider the potential regulation of short-term rentals, like Airbnb units, in Berkeley; new laws to make it easier for people to build “granny flats”; the council response to the city budget; and more.

Coming up Thursday, there’s a special meeting on the community benefits required of the developers of tall buildings. Stay tuned to Berkeleyside for continuing coverage. … Continue reading »

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City considers new recommendations on homelessness

Shattuck Avenue is one area of Berkeley where the homeless most commonly congregate (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is set to consider new recommendations that would focus the city’s approach to homelessness on supportive services and, in particular, housing.

Council will consider a report from the Berkeley Homeless Task Force — initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín in 2013 — that proposes a series of immediate and longer term recommendations for the city in its efforts to end homelessness. The task force has been meeting under the leadership of Genevieve Wilson and David Stegman since August 2013.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

One of the task force’s priorities is to find ways to move from what it describes as the “criminalization” of the homeless to a more supportive approach.

“It is clear that providing services, rather than … criminalization, is both cost effective and ethical,” states the report. “It is up to Berkeley to provide adequate services now. Failure to do so will only further drain resources and funding without dealing with the root causes of homelessness, causing an endless spiral of homelessness and wasteful spending.” … Continue reading »

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‘Severely dry rotted’ timber found after Berkeley balcony collapse; city plans to stiffen safety rules

Remnants of beams from removed balconies show contrast between the condition of the wood from the collapsed balcony and the balcony it fell upon at the Library Gardens Apartments, in Berkeley, on Thursday, June 18, 2015. Six people died and seven were seriously injured in the early Tuesday morning accident. Photo: David Yee ©2015
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Update, June 24, 1 p.m. Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for the Alameda County district attorney’s office, confirmed Wednesday that the office will be taking a look at the balcony collapse.

“The District Attorney’s Office is reaching out to the city of Berkeley and our office will begin looking at this matter,” Drenick said Wednesday by email. “I have no further details at this point in time.”

Berkeleyside will continue to follow the story.

Original story, June 23, 12:06 p.m. One week after a balcony collapsed at a downtown Berkeley apartment building, killing six and injuring seven, the city says “severely dry rotted” timber contributed to the tragedy.

The city of Berkeley found rotting timber in two balconies, and had both of them removed last week. The two other balconies at the complex showed no signs of decay, and were allowed to remain in place.

Tuesday morning, the city released the findings of its investigation into the June 16 accident at Library Gardens, at 2020 Kittredge St., that caused a fifth-floor balcony to break off the apartment building during a birthday celebration, sending 13 people to the ground nearly 50 feet below.

Read complete balcony collapse coverage on Berkeleyside.

“Among other observations, City inspectors noted that the deck joist ends protruding from the exterior wall appeared to be severely dry rotted,” the city said in a prepared statement.

City staff said that, as a result of the accident, the Berkeley City Council will now consider the adoption of new and modified regulations to improve safety in multifamily buildings throughout the city. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Phoenix Gym
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PHOENIX GYM OPENING Phoenix Gym opened its doors in West Berkeley this month. Phoenix Gym offers personal training and group bootcamps for all fitness goals and levels of expertise. Owner Kelly Mills plans to add more class times based on neighborhood interest and availability. “Moving into our own space has been nerve-wracking but really fun and exciting,” Mills said. The gym is in soft opening model in preparation for its mid-July grand opening, and is currently available for classes or training sessions. Sign up for personal training or a bootcamp at Phoenix Gym’s website, or by phone: 415-260-1112. Phoenix Gym is located at 1390 10th St., one block south of Gilman Street.Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, June 4-10

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Please share photos, videos and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at or on Facebook or Twitter; let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will alert us — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch. We very much want to know about issues of neighborhood concern and rely on our readers to help us stay informed.

From June 4-10, there were reports of four robberies16 burglaries16 assaults or batteries, two weapon-involved calls and one sexual assaults, according to There were also 17 stolen vehicles13 disturbances and 33 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. There were no significant incidents reported by the University of California Police Department (UCPD). These numbers are subject to change. Click the links for the latest numbers. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate; incidents that took place during a range of time are listed by the beginning of that time period.

Thursday, June 4

Police arrested Rodrick Long, 25, and Joshua Stanley, 23, at 12:15 a.m. on suspicion of second-degree burglary in connection with a commercial burglary about 45 minutes prior in the 1700 block of University Avenue.

Two businesses were burglarized, at 4:31 a.m. in the 700 block of Addison Street, and at 9:26 p.m. in the 900 block of Parker Street.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to a fire on Parker Street west of Sacramento Street. According to Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb, a call came in at 6:11 a.m. about a clothes dryer fire. A second caller then reported that the house was “fully engulfed.” Firefighters arrived to find an active fire, with flames visible from the street inside the 2-story home. “The fire was quickly knocked down, however, and declared ‘under control’ within 10 minutes of arrival,” said Webb. The fire had started in the dryer, and flames scorched the adjacent wall but did not penetrate the sheetrock. Fire and smoke damage was estimated at approximately $10,000. There were no reported injuries.

Two vehicles were stolen, at 7 a.m. in the 800 block of Regal Road, and at 11 p.m. in the 2400 block of Prospect Street.

A home was burglarized at 7:40 a.m. in the 1700 block of Virginia Street.

There were three disturbances: at 10:11 a.m. in the 1600 block of Virginia; at 1:58 p.m. in the 1900 block of Allston Way; and at 6:41 p.m. at Derby and Regent streets. Police arrested Marlin Norrise, 43, in connection with the incident at Derby and Regent on suspicion of indecent exposure and possession of a controlled substance. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 06.22.15

Windy day by William Newton. Photo taken on June 21, 2015

Windy day by William Newton. Photo taken on June 21, 2015

Aspiring U.S. Paralympians to gather at UC Berkeley (UCB News)
More than $200k raised for victims of balcony collapse (Daily Cal)
Balcony collapse survivors remain in hospital (Belfast Telegraph)
Whoopi Goldberg lists Berkeley Victorian for sale for $1.275m (LA Times)
Berkeley passenger arrested after disrupting European flight (NBC)
#Berkeley: Reflections on the balcony collapse (Quirkeley)

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Whoopi Goldberg selling her Berkeley home for $1.275M

Photo: Thornwall Properties
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Whoopi Goldberg, comedienne, actress and talk-show host, is selling the central Berkeley home she has owned for 30 years for $1.275 million.

The restored 1890 Victorian-style home, with its New Orleans-style front porch and columns, is one of Goldberg’s last ties to Berkeley, where she once fell in love and kick-started a career that would result in an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award.

The property, which sits at 2212 McKinley Ave. near Bancroft Avenue, is made up of a 1,455-square-foot house and a two-story cottage, converted from a barn into 1,635 square feet of living space, including a second kitchen and full bathroom. Thornwall Properties has the listing.Continue reading »

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