Tag Archives: Block by Block
The deployment of neon-clad “ambassadors” to paint over graffiti, power-wash streets, and sweep sidewalks along Telegraph Avenue is the latest in a series of attempts to revitalize a business district which has seen better days.
The “Big Splash” effort by Kentucky-based firm Block by Block began March 14, kicking off a year-long, $240,000 ambassador pilot program on Telegraph. Ambassadors have been engaged in a similar revitalization effort in downtown Berkeley since early 2012.
Telegraph Avenue — cherished by some for its political history and quirky institutions, and avoided by others for its large transient population and public drug use — has faced steep declines in sales tax revenue over the past several years. Rat-infested empty lots and graffiti-covered vacant storefronts have not helped the situation. … Continue reading »
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Carmen Francois was on a mission.
“We’re supposed to say hi to 60 people in 60 minutes,” she said.
Francois, one of Berkeley’s downtown “ambassadors,” didn’t have any trouble meeting the quota. She ducked into businesses and greeted employees by name, asking if they had any safety issues. She waved to police officers and directed tourists. She hugged homeless panhandlers, asking if they had gotten in touch with the Berkeley Mental Health Center counselor she had recommended the previous week. She pointed others toward the nearest public shower.
For the last three years, Francois has been walking up and down Shattuck Avenue interacting with those who spend their days sitting on blankets or leaning against walls, part of a larger effort to make downtown a more amenable area. But her stomping grounds have now become the center of a new debate: whether or not Berkeley should adopt a measure that makes it illegal to sit on the sidewalk in a commercial district between 7 am and 10 pm. … Continue reading »
In response to complaints from merchants and shoppers about the increase in the number of people loitering on the sidewalks, the Berkeley Police Department and UC Police have started a new patrol around Telegraph Avenue.
During the afternoon and evening, six days a week, a pair of officers, one from Berkeley and one from UC, will walk or bike along the avenue and People’s Park.
“We have heard community concerns about ongoing problems and these teams are intended to address those concerns,” Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said in a press release.
The decision to add regular patrols comes at the time when Telegraph Avenue has seen its annual uptick of young adults who camp out on the street. On Monday and Tuesday this week, for example, at least three people were stretched out in sleeping bags in front of the old Cody’s Books in the early morning hours. … Continue reading »
On Tuesday, downtown Berkeley was born anew. Billed as a fresh start, the heart of the city was relaunched to a capacity crowd in the ballroom of the Hotel Shattuck Plaza on Allston Way.
For the past three months, the Downtown Berkeley Association has been overseeing an ambitious clean-up operation in the center of the city and yesterday’s event was convened to present the results.
Anyone who has been downtown recently won’t fail to have noticed that the place is sparkling. Streets have been power-washed, often in the middle of the night, unsticking countless pieces of gum in the process, 8,500 lbs of trash have been removed, light poles, postal boxes and fire hydrants have been given a new lick of paint and fresh landscaping has appeared. Tree wells now overflow with blooms and 179 flower baskets hang from aloft. … Continue reading »