Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley Association

Activists, homeless demand end to campaign of ‘brutality’

Activists angered by a video that caught a Downtown Ambassador assaulting a homeless man hold a rally March 27 to protest the violence and proposed new laws regulating homeless behavior. Photo: Ted Friedman
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One day after a video that showed a Downtown Berkeley Association ambassador assaulting a homeless man went viral, a group of activists held an action to denounce what they consider an ongoing pattern of harassment against those living on the streets.

The group of about 20 protesters held a press conference Friday, March 27, near the offices of the association, the group that hires the private security detail* men and women who rove the downtown, clean the streets, and help keep sidewalks clear by interacting with the people who live outside. John Caner, the CEO of the DBA, announced Thursday that Jeff D. Bailey — the ambassador filmed hitting a homeless man, James Wilbur Cocklereese, in an alley behind CVS Pharmacy on Shattuck Avenue — had been fired. Caner also expressed shock and remorse over the incident, which resulted in charges against Cocklereese and a man who was with him. … Continue reading »

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2 men take plea deals after 1 is beaten on video

Downtown Berkeley ambassador assault. Image: Bryan Hamilton
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Two homeless men shown on video in a heated interaction that turned violent, when a Downtown Berkeley Association staffer appeared to punch one of the men repeatedly in the head, entered no contest pleas on Monday to misdemeanor battery and will be sentenced to two years of probation, authorities said.

According to a video of the March 19 incident that was posted on YouTube by local resident Bryan Hamilton, two association workers had asked the pair to leave the alleyway behind the downtown Berkeley CVS, at Shattuck Avenue and Bancroft Way, when one of the men became upset and proceeded to shout invectives at a DBA worker identified in court documents as Jeffrey Bailey. In the video, Bailey then appears to punch the man — identified as 30-year-old James Cocklereese — at least 10 times, pushing him to the ground.

Bailey initially reported the incident and told police he was only defending himself, and officers arrested Cocklereese and his associate Nathan Swor, 23, who can be seen in the video using a pole that authorities said had a blade attached to it to try to stop the apparent attack on Cocklereese. Both men were arrested Thursday night, March 19, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats.

This week, however, police became aware of the video and, after watching it Wednesday, March 25, they alerted the Alameda County district attorney’s office to it, said Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. … Continue reading »

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Video: Downtown Berkeley worker assaults homeless man

Downtown Berkeley ambassador assault. Image: Bryan Hamilton
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A Downtown Berkeley Association ambassador assaulted a homeless man Thursday evening behind CVS in what appears to be a violent incident that was captured on video. That homeless man and an associate were arrested by the Berkeley Police Department before the video came to light. After reviewing the video this week, police asked the district attorney’s office to take another look at the case.

The ambassador involved, whose name has not been released, will be fired Thursday, said Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner. A second ambassador, who did not intervene to stop the apparent assault, will be suspended. The video, which appears below, contains graphic language and violence that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Lance Gorée, operations manager for the DBA, and the manager of the ambassador program for contractor Block by Block, said he received a report of the physical contact last week, but the severity of the incident was not made clear until he and Caner saw the video Thursday morning.

“I was called within the hour of it happening,” Gorée said. “I always get called right away. They didn’t fully represent what happened.”

“It’s clearly totally unacceptable,” said Caner. “We apologize to (the victim) and to the community. This is clearly so out of the realm of acceptable behavior and totally contrary to all of the training provided to ambassadors.”

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Berkeley council votes to curb impacts of homelessness

Shattuck Avenue is one area of Berkeley where the homeless most commonly congregate (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to direct staff to flesh out and clarify laws designed to clean up downtown by addressing problematic behavior linked to the city’s homeless population.

The 6-3 vote to approve a proposal by Councilwoman Linda Maio followed more than an hour of public testimony mostly dominated by detractors who said the new laws will only serve to criminalize the homeless, while failing to address the root causes of the issue.

A handful of local business representatives and members of the real estate community pleaded with council to approve Maio’s proposal, saying the situation downtown has become dire. Real estate reps said businesses do not want to locate downtown due to the sometimes violent and rowdy street scene. Members of the business community said customers and clients have experienced fear and intimidation as a result of homeless groups who congregate on Berkeley streets, particularly on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley. Many said the situation has declined in recent years and that something needed to be done to make downtown safe and comfortable for everyone.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

Dozens of advocates, homeless individuals and academics who study laws affecting the poor told council that the proposal was misguided, would lead to selective enforcement, and would make it harder for people who are homeless to access needed services and programs that might help them get off the streets. Nearly 80 people addressed council Tuesday night, and most said they were against the recommendation. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to grapple again with homeless on sidewalks

On most days, homeless youths line up on Shattuck Avenue in front of the Shattuck Cinemas. The City Council will consider a new set of laws affecting the homeless on Tuesday night. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A proposal coming before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday to examine new laws for the homeless is being called Measure S 2.0, and it is shaping up politically to be a repeat of the bruising sit-lie ordinance that was on the 2012 ballot.

Council members Linda Maio and Jesse Arreguín want to ask the city manager to examine a raft of laws that might ameliorate the behavior of the growing groups of homeless youth that frequent Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley. Only Arreguín has now withdrawn his support for the measure.

Read Berkeleyside’s March 18 update about the outcome of the vote.

“I definitely recognize there are some challenges on our streets in downtown Berkeley and Telegraph Avenue,” said Arreguín. “I originally thought that adopting laws and increasing enforcement was going to be the best approach, but in thinking more about it I really think without talking about [adding] services and the outreach … we are not going to make a meaningful difference.” … Continue reading »

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CupidCon bar crawl hits Berkeley on Valentine’s Day

La Botella Republic's "Sangria de Amor" is one of the specials you'll find Saturday during Berkeley's first CupidCon bar crawl. Image: Quirkeley
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Downtown Berkeley will host a new bar crawl called CupidCon on Saturday for Valentine’s Day.

Eleven bars and restaurants are set to host events from 1-5 p.m., organizers say, including Perdition Smokehouse and Triple Rock Brewery. Other participating venues include Beta Lounge, BUILD Pizzeria, Bobby G’s Pizzeria, Eureka! burger, East Bay Spice Company, FIVE Restaurant & Bar, La Botella Republic, Revival Bar + Kitchen and Sliver Pizzeria.

The Downtown Berkeley Association organized the free event: “Whether you love or hate this notorious holiday, CupidCon will lift your spirits with the best drink specials downtown Berkeley has to offer.”

Just check in at the Downtown Berkeley BART plaza from 1-2:30 p.m. to pick up your official wristband and scavenger hunt list. Directions for scavenger hunt participation appear below. (NB: Check-in is required to receive drink specials but participation is free.) … Continue reading »

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Two boar heads found in separate locations in Berkeley

A boar's head was discovered around 11 a.m. Monday in the intersection of Adeline and Emerson. Photo: Anna Abramson
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Berkeley residents reported finding two boars’ heads and skin pelts in two separate locations Monday morning.

The boar-skin pelts were found in front of Black & White liquor store on Adeline and Emerson, and in front of Herbivore restaurant on Shattuck and Haste. Police officers arrived at the former location — which is also very close to vegetarian restaurant Flaco’s Tacos at 3031 Adeline — and removed the pelt after receiving a call at 11:06 a.m., according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats.

The head recovered by police was taken to Berkeley Animal Care Services on Bolivar Drive in West Berkeley.

Police also received a call about the second sighting of a boar’s pelt at 9:29 a.m., but a downtown Berkeley ambassador removed the pelt from the site before an officer arrived.

The boar heads made rounds on Twitter after Berkeley resident Anna Abramson uploaded her discovery on Adeline Street. Abramson saw it around 11 a.m. as she and her girlfriend were walking to Berkeley Bowl.

“I completely didn’t know what to think,” Abramson said. “We were just kind of standing there.”  … Continue reading »

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After Berkeley protests: Local merchants react to damage, looting at their businesses

Boarded up McDonald's Kim Aronson
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Berkeley’s major commercial districts are awash with plywood — some of it covers broken glass, some has been erected as a preventive measure to protect vulnerable windows.

Many of the protests that have taken over Berkeley streets this month, in response to police-involved killings of unarmed black men, have remained peaceful. Others have culminated in smashed storefronts and blazing trashcans.

Merchants’ reactions to the destruction run the gamut from patience and praise of the peaceful majority, to criticism of the hands-off approach taken by the Berkeley police Sunday, Dec. 7, the night local businesses sustained the most significant damage. … Continue reading »

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New hotel project is a go again after defeat of Measure R

The developer for a downtown Berkeley hotel proposal at Shattuck and Center said his plans are on hold pending November's election. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Now that Measure R, the initiative that aimed to impose stricter standards on tall buildings, has been defeated, the project to build a hotel downtown is back on track.

Developer Jim Didion of Center Street Partners LLC had stopped all design work on the hotel planned for the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street pending the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. Didion had contended that the requirements called for by Measure R would make the project financially infeasible.

But after Measure R was delivered a resounding defeat — No on R captured almost 74% of the vote, according to the most recent tally — work was set to resume, said Matthew Taecker, one of the hotel’s consultants. He said revisiting the design will be one of the team’s first tasks. … Continue reading »

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District 8 candidates share their vision for downtown

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The race for Berkeley’s District 8 seat, soon to be vacated by City Councilman Gordon Wozniak, is the most competitive of the 2014 election season. Four candidates are vying for the post: George Beier, Michael Alvarez Cohen, Lori Droste, and Jacquelyn McCormick.

The Downtown Berkeley Association recently sent a set of questions to the four candidates. They mostly focused on their vision of the downtown, although one asked about the city’s finances. We publish their responses below:

Read more about the Berkeley 2014 elections on BerkeleysideContinue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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JENNIFER KOH Violinist Jennifer Koh is no stranger to Berkeley, although Berkeley audiences may know her as Einstein, a role she undertook when she played in Einstein on the Beach at Cal Performances. This time she plays as herself — a powerful soloist — when she performs Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with the Berkeley Symphony tonight, Thursday Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. Also on the program are Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Oscar Bettison’s Sea Shaped in its world premiere. Tickets for the Zellerbach Hall show cost $15-$74. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley hotel plans halted pending initiative vote

The developer for a downtown Berkeley hotel proposal at Shattuck and Center said his plans are on hold pending November's election. Image: JRDV Urban International
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A proposal for a downtown Berkeley mixed-use high-rise hotel, which had begun working its way through the city’s approval process, is now on hold pending the outcome of November’s vote on an initiative that would significantly change the city’s zoning process and requirements.

A representative from the development team for the Berkeley Place project, where the Bank of America currently operates on Center Street, announced that decision before the Berkeley City Council in July and confirmed it in the middle of the month.

But the city official who represents downtown Berkeley, and who has been a main proponent behind the new initiative, has questioned the claims that the project has truly been halted. Councilman Jesse Arreguín said developers are using the specter of the initiative to scaremonger, and are using it to make a political point. … Continue reading »

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New drought rules would see Berkeley reduce its water use

A Downtown Berkeley Association employee powerwashes the sidewalk at the corner of Shattuck and Center. Photo: Isabelle Gaston
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This week the state Water Resources Control Board will consider emergency restrictions on water use that would require the city of Berkeley to impose fines for certain types of outdoor water use.

If approved, the Water Board’s drought measures would require Berkeley to levy fines of up to $500 for excessive water use while  cleaning sidewalks, watering plants, cleaning cars, or operating outdoor fountains.

This will be good news to some Berkeley residents, who have noticed some businesses using large amounts of water around town. Isabelle Gaston, president of the Northeast Berkeley Association, emailed Councilman Jesse Arreguín recently about the Downtown Berkeley Association’s use of power-washers to clean the sidewalks in the downtown neighborhood.

“One can see in the photos the large pools of water accumulating on the sidewalks,” wrote Gaston in her email. “I would think a good sweeping would be sufficient given the severity of our water shortage.”

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