Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

Bites: The Libertine to open, BUILD Pizzeria closed

The Libertine bar is replacing Kingman's Lucky Lounge on Grand Avenue. Photo: The Libertine
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Openings, closings…

THE LIBERTINE BAR HEADED TO GRAND LAKE A new bar, The Libertine, is set to take the place of Kingman’s Lucky Lounge at 3332 Grand Ave. New owner Aric Yeverino purchased the bar earlier this year, but Kingman’s continued operating until April 12. As of this week, Yeverino has taken down the Lucky sign and begun renovations to change bring the bar up to code. He has posted images on his Instagram feed indicating that the new liquor license is active, so the switch should be fairly speedy. Yeverino is also the owner of the popular Hayward dive bar The Dirty Bird. The Libertine will be at 3332 Grand Ave. (near Mandana Boulevard), Oakland. Connect with the bar on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Berkeley looks at public art fee for private developers

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The city of Berkeley is crafting a new law to require private developers of many buildings to spend 1% of their construction costs on public art.

Under a recommendation put forth by Mayor Tom Bates and approved in concept by the Berkeley City Council at its March 17 meeting, the “private percent for public art” legislation would apply to all new commercial and industrial buildings, and residential buildings with at least five units, except for projects in downtown Berkeley. The one-time fee would pay for publicly accessible art on-site, or the developer could instead pay into a new city pot for public art.

At the same meeting, council expanded the city’s definition of art to include installations, performance and social practice works, and other types of original displays. Continue reading »

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Imm Thai a welcome addition to University Avenue

Duck Noodle Soup from Imm Thai. Photo: Kate Williams
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It’s all about the fish sauce.

The fermented, salty sauce seems almost ubiquitous now, but it wasn’t so long ago that one had to hunt through the aisles of Asian supermarkets to find a bottle. Ocean-rich umami and unapologetically funky, it is today the secret ingredient, not only in Southeast Asian cuisine, but in trendy restaurant dishes and blogger recipes alike.

There are several Thai and Southeast Asian restaurants across the Bay embracing the call of fish sauce funk, but these restaurants typically fall into two camps: trendy chef-focused spots looking for their next James Beard Award or a nondescript restaurant with two menus, one for Americans and one for Thais. You likely can’t bring your great aunt Mildred to either one.

These restaurants stand in distinct contrast to those generic, take-out-centric joints that populate student-heavy areas like Downtown Berkeley and serve overly sweet bowls of curry without a whiff of fermented fish. There hasn’t, until recently, been a restaurant that successfully bridges the gap between the funky and the generic. Enter Imm Thai. … Continue reading »

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Judge dismisses Berkeley’s bid to stop sale of post office

Tents on the front of the building were not being taken down at lunchtime on Thursday. Photo: Lance Knobel
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A U.S. Federal Court judge on April 14 dismissed the city of Berkeley’s lawsuit to stop the sale and relocation of the city’s main post office on Allston Way. However, from the city’s perspective the news is not all bad.

In deciding that the city’s case was moot, Judge William Alsup ruled that the United States Postal Service “had to formally rescind its decision to relocate the post office from 2000 Allston Way,” according to a summary prepared by Berkeley city attorneys.

That means, for now, the Main Post Office is not officially for sale. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley officials seek feedback on ‘community benefits’

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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The Berkeley City Council has launched a public discussion on what sort of benefits are required by developers who hope to construct tall buildings downtown, with two meetings focused on the topic in the next few weeks.

The conversation about “significant community benefits” generally comes up before the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, but that panel has struggled to determine whether tall building proposals it has reviewed meet current city guidelines. That’s because those guidelines, set out within Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan, are more of a menu of suggestions, rather than concrete items that can be checked off a list.

Crafters of that plan have said the city wanted to offer flexibility to developers to work with the community to come up with the right mix of benefits. But, so far, the lack of specificity has made it difficult for various stakeholders to agree on what developers should bring to the table.

Last week, council took public comment on the topic at its regular Tuesday night meeting, but did not itself much discuss the issue. Mayor Tom Bates — whose office is spearheading the new talks in collaboration with council members Jesse Arreguín, Laurie Capitelli and Darryl Moore — announced a special council meeting May 5 at 7 p.m. for that discussion to take place.

Separately, Councilman Arreguín also has scheduled a workshop on the subject, from 7-9 p.m. this Wednesday, April 15, in Live Oak Park’s Fireside Room. The workshop will focus on the general framework of community benefits, not specific projects, and attendees will be asked to rank the categories of benefits that matter most to them.  … Continue reading »

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Over 300 authors sign up for first Bay Area Book Festival

Photo: Paulo Slachevsky
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The Bay Area Book Festival, a free weekend, walkable book festival to be held in Berkeley, is on schedule to launch the weekend of June 6-7. More than 300 authors have signed up to participate in around 100 sessions, and the center of the city will be alive with an estimated 125 exhibitors, from independent bookstores to literary magazines, nonprofits, and writing programs.

The festival, which hopes to attract an estimated 100,000 people to the downtown over one weekend, will be spread over a 14-block area and venues for talks include the Freight & Salvage, the Marsh Theatre, the Brower Center, the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art & Life, the Berkeley Public Library, the Berkeley Shambhala Center, and the East Bay Media Center.

Sponsors, exhibitors and authors continue to sign up, according to founder and executive director, Cherilyn Parsons, who said there is about $100,000 left to raise. … Continue reading »

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5 arrested in Berkeley after 15-20 youth fights downtown

Berkeley High police cruiser. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, April 13, 5 p.m. Regarding the students who were arrested Friday, the Berkeley Police Department has provided the following basic information:

  • A 16-year-old female was arrested on suspicion of participating in a riot, as well as battery on a peace officer or other sort of officer or first responder.
  • A 16-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of probation violation.
  • Two 17-year-old males were arrested on suspicion of battery.
  • An 18-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of battery, as well as either fighting in a public place or challenging another person to a fight in public. (Police identified him April 15 as Deantae Williams.)

Four of the students are listed as Berkeley residents. The 18-year-old lives in Richmond, according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. Berkeley High Principal Kristen Glenchur identified all five of the youth on Friday as Berkeley Unified students: three Berkeley High students and two Berkeley Technology Academy students. She said the students also would “face additional school discipline.” … Continue reading »

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Prayers, songs and lie-in during faith group protest against proposed Berkeley homeless laws

Protesters from various faith groups join hands at the start of the protest against proposed new laws on street behavior. Photo: Ted Friedman
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An estimated 60 members of faith groups gathered at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza Thursday night to protest proposed new laws that they claimed would “criminalize the homeless.” Prayers and speeches were followed by a small number of the protesters lying down to spend the night sleeping in the plaza.

“Jesus probably would be criminalized by these law if he lived in the City of Berkeley,” said Pastor Michael McBride, founder of The Way Christian Center, who gave the opening prayer at the protest. “The era of criminalizing people need to end. We’re still using old tactics to deal with modern problems.”  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley man charged with rape of sleeping woman

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A woman whose car got locked inside a Berkeley parking garage, and accepted an offer of a place to sleep from a man she knew, woke up in the morning to find him raping her, according to police.

The incident took place Wednesday, April 8, according to court papers requested by Berkeleyside after learning of the man’s arrest.

According to those documents, just after midnight April 8, a woman realized her car had been locked inside a Berkeley parking garage.

A 22-year-old man described as an acquaintance, William Joseph Ryan III, offered to let her sleep at his apartment until the garage opened.

The woman accepted the offer and they went to Ryan’s apartment in the 1900 block of Oxford Street, Berkeley Police Officer Dave Marble wrote in papers related to Ryan’s subsequent arrest. … Continue reading »

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Faith groups to sleep on street to support city’s homeless

BART and the city of Berkeley plan to overall the downtown Berkeley plaza. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A group representing more than 40 Berkeley religious congregations will gather tonight to show its support for the city’s homeless population in the wake of proposed new laws that they say would criminalize the homeless, as well as an incident, caught on video, in which a downtown “ambassador”  assaulted a homeless man last month.

Some participants plan to sleep overnight on BART Plaza alongside homeless people. The “Interfaith Actions in Solidarity with Homeless People” protest includes the blessing of a meal and an interfaith service. The event starts at 5 p.m. at BART Plaza at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street.

“We are deeply concerned at the way the city is handling the homeless,” said Sally Hindman, Executive Director of Youth Spirit Artworks, a Quaker, and one of the organizers of the protest. “This is not in the spirit of [Berkeley’s] traditions. We are one of the richest countries in the world and it’s appalling that we have dozens of people sleeping in doorways.” … Continue reading »

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View from UC Berkeley Campanile will not be landmarked

A group of protesers marched from the Campanile to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on April 2 to urge the landmarking of Campanile Way. Photo: Ted Friedman
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The view from the UC Berkeley Campanile looking west toward San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge is iconic, but it should not be landmarked, the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided Thursday, April 2.

The 5-3 vote, with one abstention, came after almost four hours of testimony from residents who are concerned that a proposed 18-story building at 2211 Harold Way will partially block the view from campus. Those in favor of landmarking urged the LPC to preserve the view for future generations by making sure developers could not impinge on the vista.

“Campanile Way is a terribly important part of the history of the campus and the Berkeley community,” said John English, who has lived in Berkeley for more than 55 years. “It is totally obvious it deserves landmarking. Let’s recognize its importance and celebrate its 100th anniversary by landmarking Campanile Way.” … Continue reading »

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Case dismissed against 2 homeless men after review of Berkeley beating video

Downtown Berkeley ambassador assault. Image: Bryan Hamilton
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The Alameda County district attorney’s office has dismissed the case against two men who pleaded guilty to battery charges last week. The decision came after authorities reviewed a video that showed an interaction, between the men and two Downtown Berkeley Association workers, that began as a verbal altercation and took a violent turn.

In the video — which has been viewed on YouTube more than 60,000 times — a worker for the merchants association can be seen punching one of those men at least 10 times, pushing him to the ground. When the worker, identified in court papers as Jeffrey Bailey, initially told authorities about the March 19 incident, prior to the discovery of the video, he said he had just been defending himself.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley, and past coverage of the story.

Police arrested Quinton Cocklereese, 29, and Nathan Swor, 23, based on Bailey’s report, and the district attorney’s office filed seven misdemeanor charges against the pair. Last week, police said they learned of the video — which was posted online by Bryan Hamilton on Sunday, March 22 — and alerted the district attorney’s office to it. But the two homeless men had already pleaded guilty to battery and been sentenced to probation. … Continue reading »

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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, Quinton 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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