Tag Archives: Albany

UC Gill Tract Farm blooms amidst controversy

Melanie Charles, Mark Jones and Julia Raskin pick weeds at the Gill Tract farm on a recent Tuesday night. Photo: Kathleen Costanza.
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On a Sunday in early August, about 20 volunteers milled around the UC Gill Tract Community Farm, plucking weeds, harvesting tomatoes and weighing buckets brimming with leafy kale.

“What are we supposed to do with aphids again?” said Vivek Nath, a first-time volunteer, as he bent over to pick broccolini.

“They’re the little green bugs, you take off the pieces with a lot of them,” replied fellow volunteer Allen Barth. “Chickens like to eat ‘em.”

A collaborative project between UC Berkeley and the public, the UC Gill Tract Community Farm is a year-and-a-half old urban farm that has sprouted up on land embroiled in years-long controversy. Open six days a week, people can harvest organic produce in exchange for help weeding, watering or planting. On Sundays, volunteers set up a farm stand where all the food is free or offered for a donation. … Continue reading »

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Hal’s Office coffee shop headed to Solano Avenue

Hal's Office will be located next door to Bonnee and Abraham Elterman's As You Like Frozen Yogurt on Solano Avenue. Photo: Sam Alcabes
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Albany is about to get a bit more caffeinated.

Construction has begun on a new coffee shop at 1207 Solano Ave., the former location of Hal Hoffman’s notary and real-estate business. Called, appropriately, Hal’s Office, the new café is a project of Bonnee and Abraham Elterman, the owners of As You Wish, the frozen yogurt joint next door.

“We wanted to honor Hal and hope to maintain this location as a meeting place for locals to gather,” said Bonnee Elterman this week.

Read more about East Bay coffee roasters.

Hal’s Office will be serving coffee from Bay Area newcomer Counter Culture Coffee. The North Carolina-based company opened its first West Coast roasting and training facility in Emeryville this spring. (Learn more about Counter Culture coffee in our tour of the roasting facility.) Counter Culture is still only in a few local coffee shops, so Hal’s Office will stand out. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley softball field named in honor of Jane Hammond

ABGLS community members in front of City Hall after the vote to name the Jane Hammond softball field. Photo: ABGSL
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A once-nameless field in Berkeley will now honor one woman’s achievement in a local softball league, with the approval last week by the City Council to name the Codornices Park field the “Jane Hammond Field.”

Bestselling Berkeley author Michael Lewis, whose daughter plays for the Albany Berkeley Girls Softball League (ABGSL), and who coaches one of its teams, is among the many who are delighted with the decision. Lewis said Hammond, who has devoted 25 years to the league to date, brings a persuasiveness to recruiting and retaining players from many different backgrounds, with graduates of her program going on to receive college athletic scholarships.

Read Michael Lewis on the unique Berkeley spirit of the ABGSL.

“It’s fair to say that the players my kids play with have overlapped from other schools and crowds that otherwise we wouldn’t have been with,” Lewis said. “Communities are stitched together by people like her, and it’s nice just to acknowledge all the works she’s done.” … 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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Bites: Millennium on for Rockridge, Vampire Penguin

The Halo-Halo. Photo: Vampire Penguin
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Openings, closings…

VAMPIRE PENGUIN HAS THE GREEN LIGHT Berkeley will soon have its own shaved ice restaurant. We brought you news about Vampire Penguin, the popular Sacramento-based Taiwanese dessert restaurant, last fall. The restaurant now has its hands on a building permit, and manager Anthony Bai hopes to be open by mid-May. Vampire Penguin specializes in gourmet shaved ice — made primarily of fruit concentrate, sugar and non-dairy cream — with a variety of flavors and toppings like fruit, oats, taro, condensed milk, candies and other treats. It’s a potent combination; one Sacramento news outlet named the product, also known as “shaved snow,” the “best mouthgasam” in the city. Vampire Penguin will be at 2575 Telegraph Ave. (at Parker Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.Continue reading »

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53 trees come down on UC Berkeley land as grocery store, senior living project kicks off

Activists said they planned to meet in Albany on Thursday night to discuss next steps, after UC Berkeley cut down trees at University Village to prepare for a development project. Photo: Ed Fields
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UC Berkeley has begun the process of removing dozens of trees from its University Village property in Albany as work begins on a vacant lot slated for development that has been the site of numerous protests in recent years.

University spokeswoman Christine Shaff said Thursday afternoon by email that 53 trees will be removed from the property, on San Pablo Avenue near Monroe Street. Those trees will be replaced on a 2.5-to-1 basis, she added.

The project, which received formal approval last year from the Albany City Council “will bring senior housing and retail, including a grocery store, to serve nearby student-family housing as well as the Albany and west Berkeley communities,” Shaff said. … Continue reading »

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The best bets for SF Beer Week in the East Bay

beer glasses
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SF Beer Week, which kicks off on Friday, is a monster of an event, with countless happenings hosted across the Bay Area over the course of ten days. Its online schedule is almost impossibly long, even when it filters out events outside of the East Bay. But don’t be discouraged — we’ve done the hard work for you and picked out our best bets for the week, including three Pliny the Younger sightings and an array of sweet (and less-so) events for Valentine’s Day.

TAP TAKEOVERS AND TASTINGS

“Lost in the Woods” at The Good Hop This New Belgium-sponsored tasting is your only opportunity to taste the 2015 La Foile, a Flanders-style sour brown ale, and the 2015 Transatlantique Kriek, a lambic produced in collaboration with Belgium’s Oud Beersel. They’ll also be pouring a third New Belgium barrel-aged sour one-off and will hold a web-toast with the different brewers. The $40 event includes three 5-ounce tastings, food pairings, a globe glass and one 22-ounce bottle of La Folie or Transatlantique Kriek to take home. Those not wishing to pay the ticket price can still taste the beers on their own, but they will be served at full price.
Saturday Feb. 7, 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets. The Good Hop, 2421 Telegraph Ave., Oakland.Continue reading »

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Solano Avenue: The pressure is on for North Berkeley shopping district to up its game

The Oaks on Solano, as of September 2014. Photo: Mary Flaherty
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When French-style bakery La Farine abruptly closed up shop on Berkeley’s Solano Avenue this summer, there was an outcry from local residents. Its departure also created another empty storefront on a street that has its fair share of them, particularly in its easternmost stretch, near The Alameda.

But La Farine owner Jeff Dodge said he misses the North Berkeley commercial district and is actively looking for a way to return there. And Gina Gould, the landlord of the building Dodge vacated, at 1820 Solano, said she’s confident she will sign up a new, likely food-related, business for the space before Christmas.

The new store will join a cluster of new businesses that have opened, or are about to, on the wide shopping street that stretches 2 miles east to west through Albany and Berkeley.

Will they bring new energy to a street that is known for its gigantic annual Solano Stroll event, but which, unlike Berkeley’s Elmwood or Gourmet Ghetto neighborhoods, retains a slightly folksy feel? … Continue reading »

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Judge denies lawsuit to halt grocery plans

A proposed site plan for a mixed-use project in Albany's University Village includes a grocery store and retail north of Monroe Street, and more retail spaces south of Monroe: Image: City of Albany
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Earlier this week, a Superior Court judge in Oakland rejected a lawsuit brought last year related to a proposed mixed-use development project in Albany underway by the University of California.

Judge Evelio M. Grillo had already issued a tentative denial, but heard additional arguments from attorneys in mid-May that could have changed his mind.

The University of California, which owns the 6.3-acre property, plans to develop a grocery store, run by tenant Sprouts Farmers Market, and a senior housing complex, along with several other retail spaces, on the site, which straddles Monroe Street at San Pablo Avenue. … Continue reading »

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Cal plows again, after weekend occupation

Monday, Cal staff plowed up seeds planted over the weekend by activists at Albany's University Village. Photo: David Sanger
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For the third time in less than a week, Cal staff have plowed up crops planted in Albany by a group of activists who have been working to turn a UC-owned vacant lot slated for development into a community farm.

The activists, called Occupy the Farm, have been visiting the San Pablo Avenue site regularly since May 11. They’ve planted crops and camped several times, and many of its members say the land should be protected in perpetuity and used for farming. The University of California, which owns the land, has been working with the city of Albany for about five years to develop a project for the property, at Monroe Street, which is set to include a Sprouts Farmers Market and a senior housing complex. … Continue reading »

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Lawsuit to stop grocery store tentatively denied

Many Occupy the Farm supporters attended Thursday's court hearing in Oakland. (Attorneys for the defendants, UC and the city of Albany, are in the front row.) Photo: Emilie Raguso
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After a preliminary ruling issued this week tentatively denied a lawsuit to block the development of a grocery store and senior housing project planned in Albany by the University of California, attorneys for both sides argued the matter further before a Superior Court judge in downtown Oakland on Thursday.

The lawsuit — which questions the environmental review process undertaken when local officials approved the project — was filed last summer by supporters of Occupy the Farm. Some of the urban farming activists have said they want to see existing open space — several pieces of land owned by the university that include two vacant weedy lots slated for development, and an agricultural research field — protected and turned into public community farm space in perpetuity.  … Continue reading »

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Occupy the Farm: ‘We’ll keep coming back’

An Occupy the Farm supporter holds a new start that's ready to be planted. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Despite four arrests Monday and the destruction by UC Berkeley of seedlings they had planted in rows over the weekend, Occupy the Farm activists returned to a plot of land in Albany that’s slated for development and began their work again Monday night.

“We’re not leaving this land,” said an Occupy the Farm spokeswoman, Lesley Haddock. “We’re going to continue to contest this space. We’re not going away.” … Continue reading »

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Burgers and beer duo debut Friday in Albany

Albany Taproom and Grazzy Burgers are set to open Friday in adjoining storefronts that have been vacant for several years. Photo: Albany Taproom
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This Friday evening, Albany will welcome two new businesses to town on a strip of San Pablo Avenue that has a reputation for its lively, historic nightspots.

Albany Taproom and Grazzy Burgers, adjoining storefronts at 745 and 747 San Pablo, will hold grand opening celebrations on March 8 from 5-11 p.m. (Nearby drinking establishments include the Hotsy Totsy Club, the newly renovated Ivy RoomClub Mallard and Tierney’s Sports Bar at the Albany Bowl.)

The Taproom has been described by owners as “a group of discerning beer drinkers who are obsessed with the craft and art of the brew. We came together to create a space that combines the comfort of a classic beer house, the expertise of micro-brewers, and the enthusiasm of the collector in the City of Albany and the greater Bay Area.” … Continue reading »

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