Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

Huge price tag projected for homeless storage bin plan

Bates wants the city council to adopt a zoning overlay to protect historic buildings in the civic center area, like Veterans' Memorial Hall. He admits he hopes the push will undermine support for a Downtown Green Initiative scheduled for November ballot. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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An innovative program to offer secure storage containers for the possessions of Berkeley’s homeless could cost nearly $350,000 a year in staffing, along with $50,000 in start-up costs.

Interim City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley provided the City Council with the estimates in a Feb. 26 memo that has been posted on the city website.

Read more coverage of homelessness in Berkeley.

The storage program must be in place before the city can begin enforcing a slate of other new rules designed to clean up Berkeley’s sidewalks and limit problematic behavior on them. Advocates for the homeless have said the laws will only serve to criminalize the community’s most vulnerable and downtrodden. Council voted to approve the new rules in December.

According to the memo, the city is looking at a six-month pilot program at 1931 Center St.: “The plan is to re-open the lockers currently located behind the Veteran’s Building and to add a structure in the same location to house an additional fifty (50) 64-gallon storage containers.”

The area would be secured, and staff would be on site daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to allow access. The city says it is also looking at additional sites “to ensure we locate the program in the most appropriate place.” … Continue reading »

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Tender Greens restaurant headed to Berkeley

A Chinese chicken salad from Tender Greens. Photo: Ellen Lu
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Just like waiting for the proverbial bus, those who have been hungering for good salads in downtown Berkeley will be getting not one, but two healthy eateries at the same time, as we can report that Tender Greens is opening up at 2071 University Ave. (at Shattuck). This follows on the news we reported last year that Sweetgreen, a restaurant chain out of Washington, D.C., that specializes in mostly vegetarian or vegan salads, had taken over the former Oscar’s burger location. Tender Greens is expected to open in Fall 2016.

Tender Greens, a chain with several dozen restaurants in Southern California, and three in the Bay Area — two in San Francisco and one in Walnut Creek  — has applied to open in the space formerly occupied by the Chinese restaurant Taiwan, which closed last year after 42 years of operation.

Tender Greens describes itself on its website as “a fine casual eatery that combines our fine dining point of view and hospitality with a casual, quick dining atmosphere. Our restaurants serve fresh, healthy, chef-inspired, farmer’s market sensible dishes at an affordable price in a relaxed environment. By working with small local farmers, ranchers, artisans, boutique wineries, breweries and coffee roasters, we are able to provide the best quality ingredients and products for our guests.” … Continue reading »

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Advocates: Berkeley must extend bike lane on Fulton

The existing bike lane on Fulton Street ends at Bancroft Way. Image: Google Maps
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Cycling advocates are pleading with the city to extend a southbound bike lane on Fulton Street, near the Cal campus, following the crash last week that nearly killed a Berkeley mother and doctor.

Bike East Bay has asked the city to paint new bike lanes on two blocks of Fulton, south of Bancroft Way, by May 12, which is Bike to Work Day. Advocates say planning documents approved by officials, as well as recent changes in state law, allow for the extension of the bike lane without much further ado, as long as the political will exists to make the change.

They’ve been trying to get the new lanes painted since last year, when the street was repaved, and say Berkeley’s own bike policies support the concept of painting, or “striping,” bike lanes at the time of repaving.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said the city is looking into what might be possible on Fulton, but said changing rules at the state level have made the requirements for traffic studies and public review somewhat unclear. He said the city takes the concerns of the advocates seriously, and is working on various efforts to improve cycling safety and infrastructure in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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402 Berkeley buildings found to need fixes after launch of inspection program spurred by balcony collapse

What appears to be rotting wood can be seen on the remains of the balcony that collapsed at the Library Gardens Apartments, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Photo: David Yee
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Inspections performed in Berkeley since last year’s deadly balcony collapse at Library Gardens found more than 400 buildings that needed work out of nearly 2,200 with weather-exposed elements, such as balconies, stairways, decks and landings, according to a city report released Wednesday afternoon.

The inspections were part of the city’s response to the Library Gardens tragedy last June, which killed six young people and seriously injured seven others when a fifth-floor balcony broke off a downtown Berkeley apartment building during a birthday celebration.

Council voted in July to require the inspection by Jan. 15, and every following three years, of all weather-exposed exterior elements in properties with at least three units. The city also stiffened requirements about building materials, venting and access to make inspections easier to do and allow for better airflow to elements that could be impacted by water damage and other problems.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage about the balcony collapse.

The Berkeley City Council is slated to receive an update Feb. 23 about the “Exterior Elevated Elements” (E3) program, which mandates the inspections. … Continue reading »

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2-alarm fire strikes Berkeley home by animal hospital

There's a house fire on Haste in Berkeley between Shattuck and Ellsworth. Photo: mburkhartsmeyer
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Authorities are responding to a house fire on Haste Street in Berkeley, between Fulton Street and Shattuck Avenue.

The Berkeley Police Department has closed the road between Ellsworth Street and Shattuck and is asking people to avoid the area.

Scroll down for dramatic photos and video from the scene, and updates.

Berkeleyside began getting reports about the fire at 11:22 a.m. We have called the Fire Department and will update this post when additional information becomes available.

Update, 11:53 a.m. Interim Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said the fire, in the 2100 block of Haste, is still in progress and has been upgraded to a second-alarm assignment.

No one was reported to be in the building, a single-family home, when the fire broke out, she said. Firefighters were dispatched at 11:15 a.m.

McCracken noted that there is a veterinary hospital next door: “We’re working with them to make sure conditions in their building stay safe.”

Haste is closed between Fulton and Shattuck, and Fulton is closed up to Channing Way.

Update, 4:30 p.m. McCracken said the home appeared to be unoccupied at the time of the fire, which was declared under control at 12:20 p.m. No injuries to firefighters or civilians were reported.  … Continue reading »

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Downtown Ace Hardware moving 2 blocks to Milvia Street

Ace Hardware will move to 2020 Milvia St. soon. Photo: Google Streetview
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Ace Hardware, which has been operating out of its space at 2145 University Ave. since 1945, will be moving sometime in the spring to 2020 Milvia St, just two blocks away.

Bill and Virginia Carpenter have to move their 16,000-square foot store because the building they are in is supposed to be extensively remodeled to make way for the 205-unit Acheson Commons apartment complex. (Equity Residential, which owns the entitlement rights to build Acheson Commons put them and its entire Berkeley portfolio up for sale last year, however.)

The Carpenters have been looking for a new space since 2012, even before the city council approved Acheson Commons in 2013. They almost moved into the old Andronico’s space on University Ave., but later decided it was not right for the store. Savers Thrift took over the space instead, but shut its doors in January.

The Carpenters wanted to stay in downtown Berkeley, where a version of the hardware store has been since 1895, said Bill Carpenter. … Continue reading »

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End of the road for Berkeley’s Subterranean Arthouse

Subt with Maya Dorn in distance- photo: Claire Duplantier
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News that the Subterranean Arthouse is closing didn’t come as a complete surprise, but that doesn’t make the loss of the inviting downtown performance and exhibition space any less disappointing.

Founded seven years ago by Claire Duplantier and Nicole Rodriguez, the intimate storefront at 2179 Bancroft Way in the Odd Fellows Building quickly became a vital hub for a disparate array of artists, teachers and organizations. But, over the past year, as the space transitioned from focusing on evening performances to daytime classes, noise complaints from other tenants in the building and rising rent led to an impasse. As of February, the Arthouse will cease to exist, and the space will be made available for other tenants.

“It’s been seven years since we started it and so much has happened in that time,” said Duplantier, who started phasing out of running the Arthouse about a year ago when she had a baby. “It’s sad that it’s closing. So many amazing people have come through, and I’ve learned and grown so much. I want to focus on celebrating the Arthouse’s contributions more than feeling angry at the Odd Fellows. We started in 2009 and people would tell us, you’re crazy, starting a business now. It was so much fun and we made it work.” … Continue reading »

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BAMPFA’s inaugural exhibition, ‘Architecture of Life,’ is an eloquent survey

Architecture of Life,on view at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, January 31–May 29, 2016. Installation view, with a Dogon ritual altar ladder (left) and awork by Chris Johanson (right). Photo: Sibilia Savage
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BAMPFA’s new building is an absolute winner. The 82,000-square-foot home catapults Berkeley’s visual art scene into prominence — comparable to many larger, richer and better established West Coast institutions. It handsomely repurposes the former 1930s WPA UC printing plant building. Affixed to it is a brightly clad steel tube-like section that houses the new 232-seat Barbro Osher Theater, where films from its impressive archive of over 300,000 items will be regularly screened. There is also a 33-seat screening room and two film viewing booths available by appointment.

As a building that needs to serve town and gown, visual art lovers and movie goers, the new BAMPFA very successfully performs its multiple functions. And, although its steel covering, reminiscent of a Frank Gehry project, is incongruous with the neighboring buildings, it still seems to work. The design by the world-class architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, provides an inviting, open, multilevel environment, with its share of hidden corners, and reading, art, performance and meeting places. And, of course, the Babette café and a gift shop. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Gorgeous and Green
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WILLIAM STOUT CLOSES/RELOCATES Architectural bookstore William Stout has closed its Berkeley store, at 1605 Solano Ave., and is merging the business with its publishing arm on the Richmond waterfront. Owner Bill Stout told Berkeleyside the North Berkeley store never really met his expectations. “Moving means we can consolidate our inventory and service our mail-order customers quicker,” he said. Stout, whose flagship store has operated on Montgomery Street in San Francisco for more than 40 years, opened the Berkeley store in fall 2010. At the time, Bill Stout said he chose Berkeley because of the store’s publishing collaboration with UC Berkeley, and because he saw the Solano district as being “a more vibrant residential neighborhood than where we are now.” Stout also homed in on Berkeley because he believed there were more bibliophiles in the East Bay. “In San Francisco an interest in books is dying,” he said in 2010. Stout is hopeful that this latest decision”should be a good move.” William Stout‘s East Bay outpost is now at 1328 South 51st St., Richmond. Continue reading »

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BAMPFA builds temporary tent for its opening gala

A temporary tent is built by BAMPFA abutting Oxford Street for its opening gala on Jan. 28. Photo:
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Many readers have been in touch with Berkeleyside asking about the strange big “structure” being erected on UC Berkeley property at Oxford Street.

We posted the answer on Twitter and Facebook earlier this week, but, in case you missed that, we can confirm it is a temporary tent to host the “Portal” opening gala party on Jan. 28 for the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive, across the street from its new downtown Berkeley location. The gala, by the way, is all sold out.

Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

The new museum flings open its doors to the public with a big Open House on Sunday Jan 31, starting at 11 a.m..

Before the museum opens, there’s a chance to hear architect Charles Renfro, of Diller Scofidio + Renfro talk about the design of the new BAMPFA at a free lecture on Jan. 27, 12-2 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Gas tank discovered on former Oscar’s lot

Cleanup at the future Sweetgreens location. Photo: @gmcc/Twitter
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It’s not always easy to renovate an historic eatery.

Washington, D.C.-based salad chain Sweetgreen has been working on its new Berkeley location, in the former Oscar’s restaurant, since last fall. Over the past two months, construction has hit a slight snag, however.

We learned from Sweetgreen co-founder Nicholas Jammet that the site, at 1890 Shattuck Ave. at Hearst, housed a gas station prior to Oscar’s — which was a fixture at that spot for 65 years before it closed last year. Jammet said he and the rest of his team were aware of the issue before signing the lease, and he told NOSH in an email that they secured an outside agency to run an environmental safety analysis of the building. They also have worked with the landlord to ensure that environmental testing and cleanup would be performed if needed during construction.

As it turned out, more than just a little cleanup was needed. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Teen with gun spotted near Berkeley High, detained

Berkeley High police cruiser. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley authorities detained two people — one of whom was spotted with a gun — Wednesday afternoon in what school officials say was a continuation of problems that began downtown Tuesday when a group of teens assaulted a BHS student.

Officers have not yet recovered a firearm, according to the 7:19 p.m. statement released by Berkeley High School Principal Sam Pasarow, but they are continuing to search for it in the area around campus.

According to the statement, a BHS staff member spotted a non-student with a gun at 4:15 p.m. near the eastern side of campus, on Milvia Street.

Berkeley police officers responded immediately, Pasarow said, and detained that person and a second non-student. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley teen arrested with gun amid fights downtown

Berkeley Police cruisers. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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An 18-year-old from Berkeley was arrested with a loaded gun Tuesday evening after authorities responded to reports of large groups of youth fighting in the streets downtown, police said.

Shortly after 7 p.m., a Berkeleyside reader reported a “heavy” police presence downtown, and asked for more information.

Berkeley Police Lt. Dan Montgomery told Berkeleyside that police had been alerted earlier in the evening to a group of about 60 young adults “pushing and fighting” in the street in front of Papa John’s, on Shattuck Avenue between Allston Way and Kittredge Street.

A caller also reported that one member of the group pulled out a gun during the disturbance.  … Continue reading »

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