Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

DA hopes to find cause of water intrusion that led to Berkeley balcony collapse

A balcony at Library Gardens in downtown Berkeley collapsed Tuesday, killing six. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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The Alameda County district attorney’s office is hoping to determine the source of water intrusion that led a fifth-floor balcony to collapse in Berkeley in June, killing six and injuring seven.

The tragedy at Library Gardens was an international story, due both to the number of victims who died or suffered serious injuries, and the fact that those impacted were young students from Ireland who were living in the Bay Area for the summer as part of a cultural exchange program.

DA’s office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick told Berkeleyside on Monday that investigators made progress “with a significant part of its investigation” last week.

Read complete coverage related to the balcony collapse.

Investigators erected scaffolding at the Library Gardens apartment complex, and retained a construction company to remove parts of the building for analysis. … Continue reading »

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Police: Suspicious bag in downtown Berkeley proved safe; Shattuck Avenue open again

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Update, 3:05 p.m. Police report via Nixle that the suspicious bag was found to be safe. Shattuck Avenue has been re-opened.

Original story: Berkeley Police were investigating a suspicious bag in the 2300 block of Shattuck Avenue on Friday afternoon.

The suspicious bag is in the 2300 block of Shattuck and, while it is being checked out, Shattuck has been closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic between Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue, according to a Nixle alert sent out by police at 2:40 p.m..

People on the scene report that the area was evacuated by the police. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Begging my neighbors for respect and affordability

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I am a 23-year-old music data analyst making a $42,000 yearly salary before taxes; 46% of my income goes to rent. Nobody at my income level can afford median rent in Berkeley.

I feel utterly disrespected by my older neighbors who oppose much-needed housing.

Berkeley needs thousands of new housing units yesterday, and the hypocrisy of those delaying the approval process is transparent and insulting. As a vocal critic of Berkeley’s housing shortage, I have resisted the temptation to stereotype … Continue reading »

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ZAB approves Harold Way use permit with increased affordable housing provision

A model of Harold Way drew a lot of interest Thursday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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After over 30 meetings since an initial application in December 2012, the 18-story multi-use Berkeley Plaza project at 2211 Harold Way received its use permit from the Zoning Adjustments Board on Wednesday night.

The approval, with a 6-3 vote of the board, came with significant amendments to the developer’s proposed community benefits plan that allocate $4.5 million to affordable housing, in addition to the $6 million required by the housing mitigation fee.

“We’ve got to appeal it. We can’t live with those numbers,” said Mark Rhoades of Rhoades Planning Group, a project representative, to one of the union supporters at the meeting. A few minutes later, speaking to Berkeleyside, Rhoades said, “We believe that’s outside our reach.” But he said his group would decide on any action in the coming days. Any appeal would be heard by the Berkeley City Council.

Read more about tall building projects in Berkeley.

The use permit approval came at the end of a nearly five-hour meeting, with over 80 commenters from the public. The 18-story building in downtown Berkeley is set to include 302 residential units, 177 underground parking spots and more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space, including a 10-screen movie theater to replace Shattuck Cinemas. Unusually, given the heated criticism the project has attracted at previous ZAB meetings, as well as hearings at the Design Review Committee, Landmarks Preservation Commission and council, public comment was fairly evenly divided between opponents and proponents of the project.  … Continue reading »

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Unveiled: Full program for Uncharted Ideas Festival

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The full program for the third annual Uncharted Ideas Festival was unveiled today, and is published below. The festival takes place at the Berkeley Rep, the Freight & Salvage, and on the UC Berkeley campus in downtown Berkeley on Friday Oct. 16 and Saturday Oct. 17.

Full details of speakers and performers at BerkeleyIdeas.com
Register for a one- or two-day ticket now.

Day 1 — Friday, October 16

8:00-9:00  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse lobby
Coffee, Berkeley Rep courtyard
Music by the Michael LaMacchia Trio

9-11:00  Roda Theatre, Berkeley Rep
Opening session
Lance Knobel, Curator, Uncharted

The adaptable mind
Tiffany Shlain in conversation with Peter Leyden

Criminal justice 2.0
Alex Kozinski in conversation with William Turner

Pop-up performance: Meklit Hadero

Liberty and drugs
Ethan Nadelmann in conversation with Frances Dinkelspiel

11:00-11:30 Berkeley Rep courtyard
Coffee break

11:30-1:00 Roda Theatre, Berkeley Rep
Morning session

What next for #BlackLivesMatter?
Pastor Michael McBride in conversation with Joshua Johnson

How I learned to stop worrying and love drones
Chris Anderson in conversation with Peter LeydenContinue reading »

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Update: Man comes down from sculpture after 5.5 hours

A man climbed onto the downtown Berkeley bear sculpture Saturday and refused to come down. Photo: William Newton
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Note: An update about this incident appears toward the bottom of this article.

A military veteran reportedly having a mental health crisis climbed on top of the metal bear sculpture at the downtown Berkeley BART plaza Saturday and refused to come down, community members reported.

The man climbed on top of the bear sculpture, which was installed in the plaza in March, sometime prior to 11:15 a.m.

Authorities taped off the area and were attempting to speak with the man to see how they could convince him to come down.

According to Charlie Verrette, who posted about the incident on Facebook around noon, the man was having a mental health crisis and had stopped taking his medication.Continue reading »

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Jamelle Bouie, Anna Lappé, Meklit, Patrick Dooley sign up for Uncharted Ideas Festival in Berkeley

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The line-up of speakers and performers for the 2015 Uncharted Festival of Ideas is almost complete. Here are just a few of those who have recently confirmed:

  • Meklit Hadero The Ethio-American singer-songwriter co-founded The Nile Project, and her music bridges the frontiers between language, tribes and disciplines.
  • Anna Lappé, co-founder with her mother, Frances Moore Lappé, of the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund, is helping us reevaluate the way we think about food.
  • Patrick Dooley, who founded Shotgun Players in 1992 in the basement of a pizza parlor, is committed to theater as a form of activism. Dooley will be in conversation with culture wirter Scott Timberg, whose latest book is Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class.
  • Joshua Johnson, Johnson, the morning newscaster on KQED and guest-host of public affairs program “Forum,” recently launched the “So Well Spoken” segment and podcast. Johnson will be talking to Pastor Michael McBride, a national leader in the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Sandra Gilbert Gilbert is a pioneering feminist critic who has most recently published Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions.

Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Stop the delaying tactics; approve 2211 Harold Way

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The city process for the project at 2211 Harold Way is closing in on three years. In December 2012 the first application was submitted and the project is currently scheduled for another Zoning Board hearing on September 30, 2015.

I love Berkeley. I love its quirky charms and I love the passion that older generations have for their community. But enough is enough. The endless delays are amounting to a housing status quo that not only affects the ability of Berkeley to grow with the extant flood of talent and innovation, but is also a de facto barrier to cultural and economic diversity. I find it jarring that a community so proud of its history of fighting for rights of all people would then continue to obstruct the very instrument that will allow for population growth, new economic opportunities and increased community diversity.

During this three-year period the project has had in excess of 30 meetings, including many design review committee hearings where the project design was changed in order to accommodate requests and concerns of the City and the public. This includes the addition of new theaters, which was not a part of the original design. The fact remains that the reason theaters were not included in the original design is because the revenue received from the theaters does not compensate for the construction costs. The theaters will never be able to compensate the owner at a market rate. This point is even clearer when you consider the letter dated April 15, 2013 from Landmark Theaters that clearly states that the current theaters’ model is not financially viable. … Continue reading »

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Vandalism, crime cause problems at Allston Way Garage

The Allston Way Garage has reported an uptick in students loitering, graffiting, and engaging in sexual activity in the garage area. Photo: Franchesca Paris.
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When lunchtime at Berkeley High rolls around at 11:38 a.m., the gate on the Allston side of the Allston Way Garage comes down. Security guards stand sentry. The gate is not pushed back up until the lunch hour is over at 12:18 p.m.

Even though the closed gate is an inconvenience for potential parkers, the owners of the garage have resorted to such extreme measures because the garage has been trashed by students in the past.

In the spring, groups of high-school students loitered in the garage, painted graffiti, gambled with “large wads of cash,” smoked marijuana in the stairwells, and engaged in sexual activity with other students and occasionally prostitutes, according to Heather Scott, property manager at the Allston Way Garage. … Continue reading »

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

Salsa dancing at Eats, Beats & Brews in 2014. It's back on Sunday Sept. 20 in downtown Berkeley. Photo: EB&B
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EATS BEATS & BREWS The Eats Beats & Brews salsa party returns to downtown Berkeley on Sunday, Sept. 20, noon to 6 p.m., with a packed program of fun events for all ages. Rumbaché will shake up the warm afternoon with live music and dancing, there’s an outdoor beer garden from Drakes Brewing, food from local restaurants, and fun games for all ages. Center Street’s Restaurant Row will showcase over 15 different international cuisines with special deals just for the event and combos perfect for al fresco eating. Games of Berkeley will be taking over part of the street for a Locally Grown Games Day where everyone can come meet game developers, try out new games and celebrate modern gaming.  … Continue reading »

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3 teens arrested after Berkeley robbery, assault

BART and the city of Berkeley plan to overall the downtown Berkeley plaza. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Police arrested three teenagers from Richmond after a robbery and assault in downtown Berkeley on Monday night.

According to police, a 21-year-old Berkeley man was walking near the downtown Berkeley BART station, at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, at about 8:40 p.m. when three young men began to follow him.

The victim tried to run away but the robbers caught up with him and knocked him to the ground, said Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats.

“The suspects then physically assaulted the victim, stealing his hat, phone and cash,” Coats said.  … Continue reading »

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John King: Keeping downtown Berkeley’s design distinctive is a tall order

BAM:PFA. Photo- Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
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By John King / San Francisco Chronicle

A walk through downtown Berkeley reveals a treasure of pre-World War II architecture, different styles and materials blending together in comfortable structures that were built for their time but seem to grow in stature with each passing decade.

The newer buildings? Not so much. And the ones on deck — one as tall as anything now there — could be even less satisfying.

The problem isn’t the scale of what’s proposed, or the architectural mishmash in the mix. It’s the way that a confusing process encourages checklists over creativity, while opponents would rather fight to stop nearly all change, rather than find ways to make that change enrich downtown’s sense of place.

Nearly 20 projects are now in the works in the area roughly bounded by Berkeley Way on the north, Dwight Way on the south, UC Berkeley on the east and the Civic Center on the west. … Continue reading »

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New billiards club headed to downtown Berkeley

Draw Billiards Club will be at 64 Shattuck Sq. Photo: Berkeley ZAB
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It looks like downtown Berkeley is going to have a pool hall again.

Paul Revenaugh, the former owner of The Sunny Side Café, and his business partner Jason Kung, have just had use permits approved for their newest project: Draw Billiard Club in the Roos Brothers building on Shattuck Square.

Draw Billiard Club will take over the ground-level restaurant space that formerly housed Morgan’s Café, as well as the 7,896-square-foot basement below. The street-level space will serve as a lounge with food and drink. The basement will comprise approximately 15 pool tables, plus additional bar and restaurant seating.

Draw Billiard Club will be the first dedicated billiards venue in downtown Berkeley since the closure of Thalassa last fall. (Thalassa owner Doug Miller opened a new pool hall, The Tap Haus, on Durant Avenue this May.) … Continue reading »

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