Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

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
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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 »

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Downtown Berkeley most walkable Bay Area neighborhood

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

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Crime

Crime calls: Gunfire on Stuart, battery arrest, psych eval

Readers often ask Berkeleyside about public safety incidents, like this arrest on Milvia Street on Tuesday. Photo: Jeannie Choe
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Berkeleyside got several questions Tuesday about police activity in town, including an investigation into gunfire on Stuart Street that damaged a vehicle, an arrest downtown after a fight, and an agitated man who ended up being taken for a psychiatric evaluation in South Berkeley.

The Berkeley Police Department responded at about 8:40 p.m. to the 1900 block of Stuart Street, said Lt. Dan Montgomery, weeknight watch commander. There had been reports of possible gunfire.

Officers found no victims, but they did discover one vehicle that had been hit three times by gunfire and left at the scene. … Continue reading »

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Fire at former Sliderbar in downtown Berkeley

BFD responded to a fire at the former Sliderbar location 2124 Center St. Photo: Paul Kealoha-Blake
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The Berkeley Fire Department has responded to a fire on Center Street in downtown Berkeley that caused the evacuation of several buildings and is backing up traffic in the area.

The fire, reported at about 3:30 p.m., took place at 2124 Center St. between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street.

Donna McCracken, deputy fire chief, said the fire broke out in a wall at ground level in the commercial building.

Firefighters had been able to knock down the fire by putting water on it, but were having difficulty accessing its source due to the tight quarters.

Traffic was jammed up on Center between Shattuck and Oxford, McCracken said.

Firefighters remained on scene as of about 4:15 p.m. to make sure the fire had been extinguished. … Continue reading »

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Automated license plate readers will help parking availability but some express concern about privacy issues

A picture of the ALPR from Genetec, which is providing the devices for Berkeley
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Berkeley has launched a program to use a controversial technology that automatically reads license plates on cars to optimize and enforce parking, part of a larger effort to encourage more Berkeley residents not to drive.

The program, which began in May, aims to make the tedious and time-consuming process of conducting manual surveys of downtown parking — which takes more than two months from start to finish — more efficient, Matthai Chakko, city spokesman, told Berkeleyside. The city uses data from the surveys — how often and at what times parking spaces are occupied, for example — to adjust parking pricing and time limits based on people’s behavior.

“It’s extremely labor intensive to input every single license plate and license plate readers automate the manual data collection,” Chakko said, adding that it improved the accuracy of the assessments and allows them to be conducted more frequently. The readers also eliminate the need to manually chalk tires to enforce time limits, he said.

But some civil libertarians have expressed concern that the data collected by police can be used to track the movements of individuals and have called for tighter control of the data collected. The Police Review Commission is set to discuss the technology and its implications at a future meeting. It was going to discuss the issue Wednesday but the meeting was canceled due to lack of a quorum, according to Katherine J. Lee, who staffs the commission.

Berkeley has equipped five parking enforcement vehicles with the automated license plate readers (ALPR), which will also be used to conduct parking enforcement — such as booting or towing vehicles with more than five citations that are more than 30 days old — and search for stolen cars. … Continue reading »

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2 stabbed, 1 sought after dispute at Berkeley park

A police officer responding to the stabbing at the park crashed into a vehicle at University and Acton, police said. Photo: Daniel McPartlan
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Scroll to the bottom of this story for a July 12 clarification from BPD about how the crash pictured above came to pass. 

Two people were sent to the hospital Saturday after a stabbing at a Berkeley park next to the popular downtown farmers market.

One man was stabbed in the chest, and received injuries that appeared potentially life threatening, and another had a cut to the arm.

One local resident asked Berkeleyside to find out what had taken place after she saw “multiple police cars, yellow crime scene tape everywhere and … someone loaded into an ambulance” at the park. Others noted the increased police presence and wanted to know more.Continue reading »

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Berkeley balcony collapse tragedy: One year later

People comfort each other at a vigil at St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland, on Friday, June 19, 2015, for the victims of Tuesday's balcony collapse in Berkeley. Photo: David Yee ©2015
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One year ago today, Berkeley woke up to the horrifying news that a balcony holding 13 people had sheared off the face of Library Gardens, an apartment building in downtown Berkeley, sending six people in their 20s to their deaths.

News of the tragedy rippled through the world, as most of those killed were young Irish students who had come to the Bay Area on J-1 visas for the summer. Families who had sent their children off for three months of fun, work and American culture boarded transcontinental flights with heavy hearts to bring their children’s bodies home.

Read more Berkeleyside coverage of the balcony collapse.

From the earliest hours of the tragedy, questions arose about why the balcony had fallen off. Library Gardens at 2020 Kittredge St. had only been built nine years earlier. When reached by phone shortly after the calamity, John DeClercq, one of building’s original developers insisted to Berkeleyside that top-notch contractors and materials had been used.

But clearly something had gone wrong. The city of Berkeley conducted an investigation and concluded that the wooden beams holding up the balcony had rotted. The beams had not been properly waterproofed during construction, allowing water to eat away at the fibers. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Woman arrested (again) in Berkeley after arson

Police arrested a transient Berkeley woman in connection with arson Wednesday night. Photo: Paul Kealoha-Blake
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A transient Berkeley woman who’s had repeated run-ins with police in the past is back in custody Thursday after authorities say she set at least one dumpster on fire by the library Wednesday night.

Dawn Carraway, 26, was arrested just before midnight on suspicion of arson. It’s not the first time she’s been arrested in Berkeley in connection with that crime.

Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel said reports of dumpster fires began coming into the department at 11:11 p.m. The first two reports involved dumpsters at 2424 Haste St., then Dwight Way and Dana Street.

Berkeley firefighters responded to extinguish the fires.

Just after 11:30 p.m., Frankel said an officer was ‘flagged down’ about a third fire in a concrete trash receptacle at the Central Library at 2090 Kittredge.

“After further investigation, the woman who flagged officers down about the third fire was arrested for setting that fire in front of the library,” Frankel said. “Additional investigation will be necessary to determine if she also set the first two fires.”

Carraway is being held at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $50,000. She is scheduled for arraignment Friday at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland. … Continue reading »

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Transportation

Berkeley’s Center Street garage to close June 30

Designs are coming along for an updated Center Street garage. Image: Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects
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Berkeley’s Center Street garage is set to close at the end of the month to make way for a modern, new garage with hundreds more parking spots.

The 70-year-old garage, which has entrances on Center and Addison streets, will close June 30, the city said Wednesday. The new structure will include 720 parking spaces, compared to the current 420.

The new structure is scheduled to re-open by fall 2017.

The new garage’s more efficient design will more easily move cars through the structure. It will also add valet and self-storage for over 300 bicycles, creating the largest such bicycle storage in the City,” according to city staff. 

Read more about the Center Street garage in past coverage.

The new design is set to include “rooftop solar panels, high-efficiency LED lighting, a rainwater collection system to bio-filter and store water for irrigation. It will also be the hub of a micro-grid that provides emergency power.” There are also 19 electric vehicle charging stations.
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New 16-story downtown Berkeley hotel gets go-ahead

The proposed downtown hotel at Center and Shattuck. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday night approved plans for a 16-story, 334-room hotel, with conference center, to be built on the Bank of America site at 2129 Shattuck Ave. (at Center Street).

The vote was unanimous and ZAB commissioners universally praised the project developer, Pyramid Hotel Group, for its responsiveness throughout the approval process, and for taking into account the needs of the community and stakeholders. Commissioner Steven Donaldson said Pyramid had been a “model for how developers can work with the city.”

See city documents on the hotel plans

Read more details on the hotel project on Berkeleyside.

The proposal considered by ZAB on Thursday was essentially the same as the one the board saw the last time it was in front of them when it certified its Environment Impact Report, said city principal planner Greg Powell. Changes made to the plans in recent months included dropping the idea of condos, aesthetic revisions to the architecture including “quieting it down,” and enhancing the project’s community benefits, the principal one of which concerns the project’s labor agreements. … Continue reading »

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Maker’s Common to ‘geek out’ on local producers

Cheese plates like this one will be served at Maker's Common. Photo courtesy: Maker's Common
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Sarah Dvorak, Oliver Dameron and Eric Miller weren’t thinking of Berkeley when they first began planning the expansion of Mission Cheese, their popular Valencia Street cheese and charcuterie bar. They expected to open their new spot — called Maker’s Common — somewhere in San Francisco.

But, as has been the case with other restaurants like Millennium, which relocated to Rockridge, and Pal’s Takeaway, which opened in Uptown Oakland, finding affordable space in San Francisco proved impossible. The three founders started looking further afield in the East Bay. And when they had a look at the large, light-filled space at 1954 University Ave., just east of MLK Jr. Way, in downtown Berkeley, they were sold.

With plenty of space to build out both a market and a restaurant, plus outdoor dining space and zoning permits already in place for beer and wine service to boot, the Rose Garden building was too good to pass up.

“When we first saw the space its layout just said ‘THIS IS IT!,'” wrote the founders on the company’s blog. “We all walked and and knew where the retail market would be and where the kitchen would go for the eatery. When we brought an architect in they said the exact same thing — we knew we were onto something.”

Plus, as Dameron says, “It’s a great time to come to Berkeley. There’s lots of change going on here.” … Continue reading »

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Bike lane opens in Berkeley by near-fatal crash site; charges filed against driver, who police say was high

The new bike lane on Fulton Street in Berkeley. Photo: Kent Chen
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Update, 11:50 a.m. The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Berwick Haynes on May 2 with driving under the influence of drugs and causing great bodily injury. If convicted, he could be sent to prison. A warrant has been issued for Haynes’ arrest. Berkeleyside has asked BPD if there is any further information to release.

Update, 10:30 a.m. According to the spokeswoman from the Alameda County district attorney’s office, DUI charges have been filed against the driver. Berkeleyside has requested documentation of the charges and will update this post if that is provided. Currently, the case does not appear in county records online.

Original story: A new “protected” bike lane — set off from vehicular traffic — has been completed this week in Berkeley on Fulton Street with a ribbon cutting scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday just in time for Bike to Work Day.

Advocacy group Bike East Bay, which has been pushing hard for the lane since last year, renewed calls for its creation in February after Berkeley scientist and new mother Megan Schwarzman was nearly killed while cycling nearby.

Schwarzman’s husband, Mike Wilson, addressed the Berkeley City Council in March and asked for speedy action. (He and his wife are avid cyclists and were members of Bike East Bay at the time of the crash.)

“You can imagine the strain on our family as Meg struggled to live through the first 12 hours, with a bleeding liver, 20 fractured ribs, a smashed pelvis, two partially collapsed lungs, and complex facial fractures,” he told council. “Let’s learn from what happened here and implement the long-overdue improvements in bicycle and pedestrian safety that are already embodied in Berkeley’s bicycle plan and Downtown plan. Meg and I will thank you, as will the thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who rely on your decisions to keep them and their families safe.”

Scroll down for a video of what it’s like to ride in the new lane.

Wilson also noted that the driver who ran over his wife was impaired, which “contributed to the severity of the collision.” But he said that better traffic planning would be critical in making a difference in the long run as far as safety for cyclists and drivers.

On May 2, 47-year-old Berwick Haynes was charged with driving under the influence of drugs and causing great bodily injury, according to the Alameda County district attorney’s office. According to the police report, acquired by Berkeleyside through a Public Records Act request, Haynes had bought medical marijuana from the Berkeley Patients Group dispensary shortly before the crash, which took place Feb. 2 at about 5 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Government

DOJ threatens lawsuit over Berkeley post office

Post Office Inspectors cleared protesters from the steps after nearly 17 months. Photo: Lance Knobel
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In a strongly worded letter, the U.S. Department of Justice has warned the city of Berkeley that a lawsuit could be coming over the city’s “interference” with USPS plans to sell its downtown post office on Allston Way.

The DOJ’s Civil Division sent the letter — stamped April 28 — to Mayor Tom Bates, and asked for a response by May 20 if the city hopes to resolve the issue without litigation.

Read more about the fight surrounding the downtown Berkeley post office.

According to the letter, from Director Joseph Hunt of the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, the city’s downtown historic overlay is the issue. The overlay restricts a nine-parcel section of the downtown to civic, non-profit uses. The main Berkeley post office, at 2000 Allston Way, falls within those boundaries.

“In purporting to restrict the Berkeley Post Office parcel… to such civic or nonprofit uses, the Ordinance prohibits any commercially viable uses for the Property,” Hunt writes. … Continue reading »

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