Tag Archives: Gilman Street

Crime

Berkeley police recover 18 pounds of pot, alleged hash oil operation on Gilman

Police recovered 18 pounds of marijuana at a Gilman Street homeless encampment Saturday. Photo: BPD
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Two Berkeley Police officers on foot patrol at a Gilman Street homeless encampment over the weekend reportedly found 18 pounds of marijuana inside a tent that smelled of weed.

Berkeley Police Lt. Kevin Schofield, a department spokesman, said the officers were doing a security check near Gilman and the Eastshore Highway at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when they came across a tent that smelled strongly of marijuana.

Last week, after Caltrans installed a large fence beneath the I-80 freeway on Gilman where dozens of homeless people had been camping, many of those individuals reportedly moved their tents over to the Eastshore Highway and Gilman, local residents have told Berkeleyside.

Inside the tent, police said they found 18 pounds of pot in a garbage bag, 25 cans of butane, and what they determined to be a hash oil cultivation system.

Schofield said the butane can be used in the cooking process to create hash oil from the marijuana.

Authorities also found a replica pistol and a switchblade knife, he said.  … Continue reading »

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Community

To curtail camping, Caltrans builds new fence on Gilman

Caltrans workers work on putting up a steel fence to keep out homeless campers at the Gilman Street interchange of Interstate 80, in Berkeley, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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In the latest attempt by authorities to keep people from camping in Berkeley beneath the Interstate 80 freeway, Caltrans built a stronger fence on Gilman Street this week.

Homeless campers, many of whom came from the Albany Bulb, have said the freeway offers shelter in the rainy months, and feels like their place of last resort. For those who panhandle, the location allows easy access to both vehicles coming off the freeway and nearby San Pablo Avenue, where McDonald’s is another high-traffic spot to interact with drivers, and gas stations offer a place to clean up.

While advocates for those experiencing homelessness say these individuals shouldn’t be penalized and have nowhere else to go, other local residents have expressed frustration at what the city has described as a public health nightmare rife with used needles, bottles of urine, rats scurrying around and human feces.

Read more about the Gilman underpass.

The new fencing, on the south side of Gilman Street below the overpass, is designed to make it harder for people to set up tents on either side of the sidewalk. It joins other new fencing that has gone up in recent weeks to restrict access to areas around the freeway where the homeless have been living.

Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said the city of Berkeley asked the agency to improve upon the existing chain link fencing that was installed in 2014 to try to tackle the same problem.

“Berkeley asked us to put in something,” he said. “And we agreed that that was warranted.” … Continue reading »

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Homeless advocates in Berkeley say officials are dumping too many prized personal possessions

Crews load stuff found near Gilman Street in June  Photo: Ted Friedman
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By Mary Rees

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but who gets to decide which it is?

Every two weeks, Caltrans clears items out from the homeless encampments along the Gilman Street underpass near Interstate 80, according to Bob Haus, the public information branch chief for Caltrans. Sometimes workers from the city of Berkeley remove things, too, such as on July 7.

Read more about Berkeley homelessness on Berkeleyside.

The clean-ups are announced in advance, and when workers arrive the people living there pack up their things as quickly as they can and move them a few hundred feet. Then crews from Caltrans and Berkeley sift through what’s left and decide what’s valuable and what’s not.

“If belongings are deemed valuable, we hold onto them for 30 days at the nearest maintenance yard,” Haus said. If something’s unclaimed and considered worthless, Caltrans disposes of it. … Continue reading »

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Transportation

EBMUD repairs burst pipes in West Berkeley

Burst water main, Gilman and Cornell. Photo: EBMUD
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Crews from the East Bay Municipal Utility District were in Berkeley over the weekend to repair two old pipes at Gilman Street and Cornell Avenue that burst early Sunday morning, causing major disruption.

Water service had been restored to all customers by 5 a.m. Monday, said Tracie Morales-Noisy, a spokeswoman for EBMUD. She said the leaks were a good reminder for customers to keep an adequate emergency water supply well stocked, in case of service disruptions large and small.

Morales-Noisy said EBMUD first got reports of problems at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, and ultimately repaired two pipes. A piece of 79-year-old cast-iron pipe on Gilman was removed, and a 67-year-old pipe on Cornell was repaired.

Morales-Noisy said about 50 customers were without water during the repairs. … Continue reading »

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Community

City erects fence at Gilman to deal with homeless campers

Workers clear out a homeless encampment near the Gilman interchange of Interstate 80 to put up a fence, in Berkeley, on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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The city of Berkeley is working Thursday to install a new fence on Gilman Street on the southeast side of the Interstate 80 freeway as part of ongoing efforts to curtail camping by homeless in the area.

Jim Hynes, from the Berkeley city manager’s office, brought “No Trespassing” signs down to the site in the late morning to hand out to workers who were installing the fence. Hynes said he was also looking into what it might cost to put more fencing on the north side of the street east of the freeway.

Three people received citations Thursday from Berkeley Police officers for obstructing the sidewalk, but no arrests were made. Campers in the area said their property — much of which had both material and sentimental value — was taken and put into a dumpster as part of the enforcement effort.

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol were also on scene for the cleanup.

Hynes said campers in the area were given notice two days in a row that authorities would be on scene Thursday. He pointed out dozens of used syringes left in the area in the wake of the cleanup, as well as juice bottles full of urine. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man arrested outside Berkeley Whole Foods after brandishing knife, resisting arrest

Whole Foods Gilman exterior Photo Emilie Raguso
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At least two Berkeley Police officers are seeking medical care after being injured during the arrest outside a West Berkeley grocery store of a man who had earlier been armed with a knife.

The man had brandished the knife at two city employees Tuesday morning, authorities said. He dropped the knife and walked away after officers arrived, ignoring repeated commands to stop, before nearing the entrance of the Whole Foods grocery store on Gilman Street. Officers then used force to take the man into custody when he would not allow himself to be handcuffed.

Berkeley Police Lt. Kevin Schofield, a department spokesman, said the man — identified as 41-year-old Jason Joyner of Berkeley — brandished a knife shortly before 9 a.m. at two city Public Works employees on duty at San Pablo Avenue and Harrison Street.

When police arrived, they tried to speak with Joyner at Harrison and 10th streets, Schofield said.

Officers ordered Joyner to stop numerous times as they continued to attempt to deescalate the situation,” he said. “Joyner ignored their repeated commands and walked away.”Continue reading »

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Gilman Street underpass: For many, the poster child of Berkeley homeless camps

This man, who didn't want to give his name, lives by the Gilman underpass. He makes $30 to $40 a day  scavenging. He finds lots of food (people throw away a lot from Trader Joe's) as well as things like scooters, skateboards, etc. When Caltrans and Berkeley recently cleaned out the camp, he just went across the street and returned when they left, he said. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel // homeless
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Bood’s home is a blue tarp on Eastshore Freeway, the frontage road right by the Gilman Street underpass. At 37, he’s been living on the streets for a few years, driven there by a break-up with a long-time girlfriend.

Bood scavenges for a living. He makes the rounds in Berkeley and El Cerrito looking for tossed food (a lot of people throw away food from Trader Joe’s, he said) and discarded clothing he can sell to Buffalo Exchange and other consignment stores. The area around his tarp reflects the way he makes a living: There are folding chairs, rugs, candles and flashlights, among other items.

See full coverage on Berkeleyside of the Berkeley Homeless Project.

Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, Berkeley police and city workers came to the area to clean it out about two weeks ago, June 16. They carted away garbage trucks full of debris. They also found more than 250 used hypodermic needles and bottles of urine, as well as feces and dead rodents.

Did the clean up have any effect on Bood and the rest of the people hanging out in the area?

No.

“We gathered our stuff up, we went across the street and waited for them to leave,” said Bood, who did not give his last name. “Then we set back up.” … Continue reading »

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Community

Authorities clear out Gilman homeless camp in Berkeley

A homeless couple sleeps as Berkeley city officials watch Berkeley and Caltrans work crews clear out a homeless encampment near the Gilman Street interchange of I-80, in Berkeley, on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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In a coordinated effort, workers from Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and the city of Berkeley cleared out a large homeless encampment on Gilman Street near the I-80 freeway on Thursday.

It’s the latest chapter in a struggle that has been going on for years between homeless denizens who have set up their tents on Gilman in West Berkeley, and authorities who say the squalid conditions that result cannot be left unchecked.

Jim Hynes, with the Berkeley city manager’s office, said homeless outreach, city maintenance crews, mental health workers and environmental health staff were all on the scene to help out. He estimated that five containers of syringes, some 250 needles, had been removed, along with numerous bottles of human urine.

“It’s not a pretty sight, that’s for sure,” he said.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley preview sheds new light on Gilman roundabouts

Members of the public got a look Wednesday night at plans to build two roundabouts at Gilman and Interstate 80. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Early plans to build two large roundabouts at Interstate 80 and Gilman Street in Berkeley were on display for the public Wednesday night at the North Berkeley Senior Center.

The project — with an estimated $24 million construction cost — is slated to be complete in 2022, a representative told the dozens of attendees who perused information stations set up around the room.

“This is an area that has a lot of concerns with it,” David Early, principal at Berkeley-based community planning firm Placeworks, told the crowd. “It’s quite a ‘wild west’ kind of scene.”

Scroll down to see a simulation of the proposed circulation.

By the numbers, the problem is stark. Crash data presented Wednesday, from 2011-2013, showed significantly higher than average numbers of injury or fatal collisions, particularly on the north side of Gilman. On the west side off-ramp, those numbers were 80% higher than the state average. On the east side on-ramp, they were a whopping 177% above the state average.

South of the freeway, they were about 30% above the state average at both the on- and off-ramps.

The project involves the two roundabouts on either side of I-80, new sidewalks under the freeway, and a pedestrian and bike bridge similar to the one at Aquatic Park. Perhaps the most controversial elements of the project — in addition to the roundabouts themselves — are the location of the bike bridge, which makes a fairly large detour south before bringing users back up to Gilman, as well as plans to cut off access from Gilman to the frontage road on the east side of the freeway.  … Continue reading »

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Police

Man injured after being struck by train on Berkeley tracks

A man was transported to Highland Hospital after being struck by an Amtrak train on Feb. 23, 2016. Photo: Ariel Nava
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An eastbound Amtrak train struck a man who was on the train tracks near West Berkeley’s Gilman crossing Tuesday morning at around 9:30 a.m., according to Union Pacific spokesman Francisco Castillo.

The man, who Castillo described as “trespassing,” was injured and transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland. His condition was unknown.

The Gilman intersection was closed for about one hour, causing traffic diversions, and the incident is under investigation, Castillo said. … Continue reading »

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Police

Crash in West Berkeley sends pedestrian to Highland

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A male pedestrian was taken to Highland Hospital with major injuries Friday after being struck by a vehicle on the Gilman Street off-ramp from westbound Interstate 80.

The California Highway Patrol said the man’s name is not being released “due to the severity” of his injuries, and “until he is medically stable.”

According to the CHP, officers were dispatched just before 7:30 p.m. to a possible traffic collision on the off-ramp.

Officers found a vehicle and a pedestrian when they arrived.

“The pedestrian sustained major injuries to the head and was attended to by the Albany Fire Department,” then taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland for treatment.

According to the preliminary investigation, a 64-year-old Vallejo man driving a 2011 Kia Sorento was traveling on the off-ramp when, “for an unknown reason, the pedestrian walked into the … lane directly into the path of the Kia.” … Continue reading »

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Developers hope to keep Pyramid a beer destination

Retail West, Inc. plans to divide up the Pyramid Alehouse building into several smaller breweries and retail spaces. Image: Retail West, Inc.
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Many local beer drinkers were surprised to learn of the abrupt closure of West Berkeley’s long-running Pyramid Alehouse last month. The closure was part of a consolidation effort on the part of Pyramid’s parent company, North American Breweries, which says it is shifting focus to its Portland and Seattle locations. Now, Retail West Inc., the group behind the Gilman District’s recent spate of development, hopes to transform the 114,000-square-foot building into a “collective campus of makers, food producers, brewers and distillers,” said Matt Holmes, a principal at the firm.

Retail West is collaborating with the Oakland-based real estate group Colliers International on the project, which will potentially divide the building into a series of smaller breweries (with associated tasting rooms), distilleries and retail spaces. Holmes also plans to build out a shared kitchen for up to 40 small food businesses, which could then sell their wares in the retail area. Retail West is currently in talks with two breweries who are interested in leasing part of the space. … Continue reading »

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Crime

CHP arrests man with stolen truck after carpool violation

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Officers arrested a man in a stolen truck after he was spotted driving solo through a Berkeley carpool lane, authorities said.

Thursday at about 8:35 a.m., a California Highway Patrol officer on Interstate 80 near Gilman Street was on the lookout for carpool violators when he saw a man alone in a Ford pickup truck using the lane.

The officer tried to stop the driver, but he refused to pull over and the officer began to pursue him.

“The Ford exited the freeway then immediately re-entered the freeway, going eastbound in the westbound lanes,” said Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, Oakland CHP spokesman.

Due to the heavy traffic of the morning commute, the officer stopped following the driver for the safety of the public.

The CHP alerted the Berkeley and Albany police departments with a description of the suspect and vehicle. … Continue reading »

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