Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

Fire

Fire downtown in structure on Shattuck and University

Firefighters are battling a blaze at University and Shattuck Avenues.
Print Friendly

Update: 8:30 p.m. A Berkeley firefighter received minor injuries in the two-alarm fire that broke out at 3:43 p.m. in a rear courtyard stacked with wooden pallets directly behind UC Theatre’s small space at 2115 University Ave., according to Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken.

The fire, which sent black smoke billowing above downtown Berkeley, mostly damaged some old attached shed structures, she said. A small part of the building’s interior was also damaged. The building has the address 2113 and 2111 University Ave.

Update: 5:35 p.m. Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said the fire department has extinguished most of the blaze, but there are hidden pockets of fire in the walls and ceilings which firefighters are chasing. The five-story apartment building next door, at 2119 University Ave., has been evacuated. The offices for UC Theatre and the vacant Krishna Copy store have been affected by the blaze. University Avenue is closed from Shattuck to Oxford, she said. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Man, 58, victim of attempted robbery in Berkeley

The downtown Berkeley Walgreens. Image: Google Maps
Print Friendly

A 58-year-old man outside the downtown Berkeley Walgreens was nearly robbed early Friday morning, authorities report.

According to a notice released by the University of California Police Department late Friday afternoon, the man was walking at 6:25 a.m. when the suspect tried to take his property.

“The suspect was unsuccessful and fled the area,” according to a UCPD statement. “The victim was not injured during the encounter.”

Police checked the area but could not find the suspect.

He was described as a 25-year-old black man with medium complexion and a thin build wearing a blue or gray shirt.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Man charged after attack, threats outside police station

Berkeley Police station. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

A felon who violently attacked another man outside the Berkeley Police Department, and threatened to kill him if he was Jewish, has been charged with two felonies by the Alameda County district attorney’s office, authorities report.

The attack happened at 3:10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

According to court papers, 50-year-old William Sermon tried to choke the victim with both hands “and attempted to gouge the victim’s eyes out with his thumbs.”

Police said Sermon also threatened to kill the victim several times, “and stated that if the victim was at least twenty five percent Jewish he would kill him.”

The victim was cut above his right eye during the assault. He was still able to identify Sermon as his attacker after police tracked Sermon down the next day. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Court considers challenge to Berkeley high-rise

James Hendry and Kelly Hammargren await the start of the court hearing on their challenge to the 2211 Harold Way project. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

Two opponents of the 18-story apartment complex planned for 2211 Harold Way in downtown Berkeley made a case in court Friday that the approval of the 302-unit building should be revisited.

Kelly Hammargren and James Hendry appeared before Judge Frank Roesch in Alameda County Superior Court to argue that the environmental impact report for the building was so deeply flawed that the project should be stopped.

              Read complete coverage of 2211 Harold Way on Berkeleyside.

The packed hearing, which brought out many of the long-time opponents of the project, lasted four hours. Neither Hammargren nor Hendry had legal representation, and clearly struggled with how to frame their legal arguments. Hammargren, for example, asked to introduce a map delineating the area west of the project. She wanted to show how close Berkeley High School is to 2211 Harold Way as part of her argument that Berkeley and the developer should have considered the impact of diesel particulates from fuel exhaust on the high school.

The judge denied her motion because the map was not part of the administrative record, which includes 15,000 pages of documents from Berkeley’s consideration of the project, as well as notes, videos, and tape recordings from many of the 37 public hearings. The CEQA hearing could only focus on what was already part of the record, not other evidence, he said.

Hammargren, who has devoted more than two years of her life to stopping the project, often tried to persuade the judge using an argument she might have made in front of the Berkeley City Council. The judge repeatedly told her to stick to legal issues and not make political speeches. He also reprimanded audience members when they burst into applause after Hammargren made a point.

“This is a court of law,” said Judge Roesch. “We don’t applaud anyone. We don’t think that political speeches are very helpful in solving the puzzle.”

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Scoop: Off The Grid coming to downtown Berkeley

Pelican Po'Boys at Off the Grid Emeryville. Photo: Off the Grid/Facebook
Print Friendly

Food trucks are coming to downtown Berkeley, offering a new option for Sunday lunch.

Off the Grid will launch a food-truck market in Civic Center Park starting Sunday, Sept. 11. The market will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and offer eight food trucks and live music, along with beer, wine and refreshments from San Francisco bar Lucky 13.

Off the Grid said the rotating line-up of vendors at the new Berkeley location will include Smoke’s Poutine, Canasta, Passione Pizza, Lexie’s Custard, Cupkates, Flavors of Ethiopia, Curry Up Now, Curbside Kitchen, Señor Sisig, and others.

Read more about Off The Grid markets in the East Bay.

The new market represents the fourth time Off The Grid has opened a food truck hub in Berkeley — the three former market all closed down after a couple of years.

Ben Himlan, a spokesman for Off The Grid, said he is hoping the “fourth time is a charm.” He said he felt hopeful about the prospects for the downtown market because of its location next to a park, close to transit and retail. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Feds file lawsuit over Berkeley’s main post office

Post Office Inspectors cleared protesters from the steps after nearly 17 months. Photo: Lance Knobel
Print Friendly

Berkeley’s attempt to limit commercial development of the Main Post Office conflicts with federal law and should be overturned, a lawsuit filed in federal court Monday by the U.S. Postal Service declares.

When Berkeley passed the Civic Center Overlay in September 2014, limiting the post office and eight other buildings to civic uses such as museums, libraries and performance halls, it violated the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution, said the lawsuit.

        Read about the fight surrounding the downtown Berkeley post office.

The law was “enacted primarily to prevent the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office,” according to the lawsuit. “The shape of the Zoning Ordinance confirms that it was designed to regulate the Berkeley Main Post Office rather than to preserve the character of a neighborhood in the City. Within a given block, certain buildings are included, while others are not.”

Before the overlay was passed, the Main Post Office could have been used for retail or high-density residential. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,
Crime

Convicted robber, with 15 prior felonies, back in court Tuesday after new Berkeley robbery

The Artist & Craftsmen Supply shop in Berkeley. Photo: Google Maps
Print Friendly

A man authorities say threatened to have a gun when he robbed a Berkeley art supply shop clerk is set to return to court Tuesday to find out if a judge will order him to stand trial.

Bruce Wayne Leslie, 65, was on probation and had “an extensive history of robberies” at the time of his arrest earlier this month, authorities said. He is being held on $1 million bail, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, Leslie entered the Artist & Craftsman Supply shop — at 2573 Shattuck Ave. — at about 4:15 p.m. Aug. 8 and demanded money from the register. He threatened to have a gun and told the assistant manager to “hurry up,” according to court papers.

“The assistant manager was afraid of Leslie hurting her and gave him money from the register,” police wrote.”Leslie grabbed the money from the assistant manager’s hand and walked out of the store.”

Another store staffer followed Leslie about four blocks south on Shattuck until police arrived. According to court papers, he “did not follow … orders and had to be forcefully stopped.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Downtown BART plaza renovation work to begin soon

A rendering of what the renovated BART plaza will look like at night. Image: BART
Print Friendly

Work on creating a new, brighter BART plaza in downtown Berkeley will start any day now, and those using the trains or AC Transit can expect to find their usual entrances or bus stops changing over the next year.

When construction is completed in September 2017, Berkeley will have a BART plaza with a more open layout, better lighting, a signature glass awning, new bus stops, and places for special events, according to Matthai Chakko, a spokesman for the city of Berkeley. There will be screens displaying real-time arrival and departure times for BART trains and AC Transit buses, as well as better signage directing travelers to UC Berkeley and other locations of interest. The signature red brick rotunda will be gone.

The $7.6 million project, formally known as the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza and Transit Area Improvement Project, will also have bio-retention planters and landscaping that can treat on-site stormwater, according to a BART press release. Restaurants will have space for outside tables, which downtown business boosters hope will create a town square sensibility.

Read more about the BART plaza project on Berkeleyside.

“I think this is going to be really transformative for downtown Berkeley,” BART director Rebecca Saltzman told Berkeleyside in April. “The area right now is very congested. This will really open up the space and improve the biking and walking options to BART. I think this will really be a model.”

The BART Plaza at Shattuck Avenue and Center Streets serves 30,000 daily transit riders who use BART, AC Transit, and UC Berkeley Bear Transit Shuttle. The project is expected to “improve traffic safety and enhance the transit rider experience,” according to a Berkeley press release. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Police action in Berkeley: Purse snatch, disturbance

Berkeley police cruiser (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

A disturbance that led to an arrest and a purse snatch on Allston Way had police officers out and about in downtown Berkeley on Friday afternoon, authorities report.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver, watch commander, provided updates at about 2:10 p.m. about both incidents.

Around 1 p.m., dispatchers got a call about a man standing by a car yelling at a woman near University and Shattuck avenues.

When police arrived, the man suddenly drove off, Rateaver said. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

UC Berkeley to build 10-story hotel at University, Oxford

UC Berkeley is in negotiations with a developer to construct a hotel on University Avenue and Oxford Street. Photo: UC Berkeley
Print Friendly

UC Berkeley is negotiating with a developer to construct a 200-room, 10-story hotel on the northwest corner of University Avenue and Oxford Street.

The university issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the project in 2015 and received seven responses, according to Christine Shaff, the communications director for UC’s Real Estate Division. The university narrowed that down to a finalist, with whom it is negotiating, she said. Shaff declined to release the name of the development group.

Cal wants a developer to build a single structure that abuts University and Oxford, stands 115 feet high and has about 200 rooms, according to the RFP. The university has requested the structure be an “upscale, full service or select-service hotel” with a public lobby, dining facility, meeting space and recreational space. The design and inclusion of those elements would depend, of course, on the design the development group comes up with, according to the documents. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,
Crime

Man, with knife in pocket, arrested after double stabbing

Homeless people make camp in Civic Center Park as the second Bay Area Book Festival takes place around them, in Berkeley, on Saturday, June 4, 2016. Photo: David Yee
Print Friendly

The man police say is responsible for stabbing two people at Civic Center Park in June has been arrested and is set to appear in court Tuesday.

Authorities say he had the knife used in the stabbing in his pocket at the time of his arrest last week.

Police arrested 62-year-old Lindell Waters in Oakland on Friday evening during a vehicle stop.

Waters was arrested by the Oakland Police Department at about 6:30 p.m. on San Pablo Avenue and 32nd Street. OPD then contacted the Berkeley Police Department after seeing that he had a warrant out of Berkeley for attempted murder in connection with the June 18 stabbing.

A woman previously described the scene at the park before the stabbing to Berkeleyside: “There was definitely an altercation going on between the seemingly homeless folks by the fountain” involving “lots of loud yelling of profanity and loose dogs. A woman seemed to be bugging a man that fit the description of the the suspect.”

The fight happened adjacent to a popular Berkeley farmers market on Center Street, though the stabbing took place at 3:35 p.m. after the market had officially ended at 3 p.m.

Lt. Kevin Schofield, a Berkeley Police spokesman, confirmed that the stabbing at Civic Center Park, at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, followed a “heated dispute among a group of homeless people.”  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Proposed in Berkeley: 50 units in place of Anh Hong

A developer would like to replace Anh Hong with 50 new housing units. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
Print Friendly

A Dublin-based developer has proposed to replace a downtown Berkeley Vietnamese restaurant with a 7-story building featuring 50 housing units and a 1,500-square-foot ground-floor restaurant.

The building, at 2067 University Ave., would have no car parking, but it would provide parking for 48 bikes, according to preliminary project plans submitted to the city. The project site is located just west of Shattuck Avenue and close to the downtown Berkeley BART station.

Read more about housing in Berkeley.

Project architect David Trachtenberg is representing the property owner, identified only as “2067 University Avenue Apartments,” through the city permitting process.

Use permits would be needed to demolish the existing single-story building, construct the new building, reduce side setbacks and reduce the required parking. The project — scheduled for the consent calendar Thursday night before the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board — would need a use permit to reach its proposed height of nearly 75 feet.

The project seeks to use the state “density bonus” to build to that height, which means below-market-rate units would be included on site. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Downtown Berkeley most walkable Bay Area neighborhood

Downtown Berkeley: ranked number one for walkability in new survey. Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin
Print Friendly

Downtown Berkeley is the most walkable neighborhood in the Bay Area, and two other Berkeley areas also make the Top 10, according to a new survey published by real-estate brokerage Redfin and Walk Score, which calculates areas’ walkability.

The report analyzed the most walkable neighborhoods of mid-size cities in the Bay Area. Downtown Berkeley placed highest with a Walk Score of 96 out of a possible 100; Southside Berkeley ranked fourth with a score of 93; and Northside Berkeley came in at number six with a score of 89.

Redfin agent Tom Hendershot puts downtown Berkeley’s winning spot down to the fact that it is a “fully functioning downtown with a large university just one block off the main strip.”

“Having the University of California, Berkeley so close to downtown offers many amenities for people there,” he said in a prepared statement, pointing in particular to “the culture, the access to everything within walking distance, and the combination of housing offered; from student housing through the university, to apartments, to traditional single family homes.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,