Tag Archives: Linda Maio

A dig in a Berkeley parking lot seeks shellmound answers

An archeological dig is currently underway in the parking lot of Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto on Berkeley’s Fourth Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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So what’s lurking behind the recently erected wire fence around the Spenger’s parking lot, on Berkeley’s Fourth Street?

That’s precisely what the property owners are trying to find out with an archeological dig. And not for the first time.

“My hope is to clarify what cultural resources might exist so we can make the best decision on the use of the property from the standpoint of all concerned,” said Dana Ellsworth, whose family business, Ruegg and Ellsworth, co-owns the lot with a Spenger’s family entity. (They don’t own Spenger’s restaurant.) … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council rejects settlement over nuisance house

The city has identified 2133 Parker St. as a nuisance due to zoning code violations. A neighbor submitted this photograph Tuesday, which shows a discarded chair outside as of December. According to the resident who submitted it, the chair had been outside already for at least weeks when the photo was taken, and was still there as of Jan. 26.
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The Berkeley City Council roundly rebuffed a proposed settlement Tuesday night aimed to address problems at a “loud, unruly” party house south of the Cal campus that’s been described in testimony by neighbors as a “mini-dorm.”

Neighbors described issues with noise, drunken partiers, nudity and trash. Problems with the property, at 2133 Parker St., have been ongoing for years. In January 2012, the Berkeley City Council deemed the house a public nuisance, saying it was breaking zoning rules as a “group living accommodation” in an area that does not allow that type of housing. According to Tuesday night’s staff report, the property has 17 bedrooms across three units.

In 2012, council members told the property owner, Ali Eslami, he had to remove 10 bedrooms from the home to fix the problem. In response, Eslami sued the city the following May. Last fall, Eslami and the city attorney’s office reached a proposed settlement they hoped would put an end to the legal battle, allow Eslami to keep the existing bedrooms on site, and result in an improved environment for neighbors due to a range of guidelines Eslami agreed to follow. … Continue reading »

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Residential garbage fees could rise 25% in Berkeley

Berkeley has recently begun to use automated single-operator garbage trucks, which have a side arm to pick up waste bins. Photo: City of Berkeley
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Berkeley residents could see a 25% hike in their garbage pick-up fees as the city struggles to find a way to bridge the gap between the cost of pick-up services and the income they generate.

In a special session Tuesday night, staff explained that the Refuse Fund, used to cover pick-up fees, is slated to run at an annual $2-3 million deficit over the next five years, leading the city to consider boosting pick-up fees.

As a result, residents who use the most common trash container, which holds 32 gallons, would go from paying about $30 a month to about $37. And those costs would continue to rise annually by 3% beginning in fiscal year 2016 as part of the city’s efforts to adopt a “sustainable rate structure” that could keep pace with rising costs.

Those increases, staff explained to council, would lead to a $5 million surplus in the Refuse Fund by fiscal year 2019, allowing the city to consider ways to update its outdated transfer station, which city manager Christine Daniel described Tuesday night as “not remotely close to industry standards.” … Continue reading »

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Government

Redistricting map approved, referendum idea looms

Students crammed in to the Berkeley City Council chambers Tuesday night for a vote on new district lines in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council approved a new redistricting map to redraw council boundaries to reflect the city’s population changes over the past decade and increase the number of student-aged voters in District 7.

Proponents of the new map say District 7 will become the first student district in the country. Cal students have helped spearhead the campaign to build support for the map, which they said has broad support on campus and in the neighborhoods nearby.

But detractors of the new map say it is a watered down district that will dilute progressive student power, and pushed for a different proposal. The vote split the council, with council members Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín voting against it, and Councilman Max Anderson abstaining.

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Off the Grid aims for new North Berkeley digs

Off the Grid took place in the Gourmet Ghetto from June 2011 through December 2012. Photo: Art Poskanzer
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The popular food truck event Off the Grid may be headed back to North Berkeley if a deal pending between the organization and BART is successful, officials announced Monday.

According to a statement released by Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office Monday, “An agreement with BART is developing to have food trucks at the North Berkeley BART called ‘Off the Grid.’” … Continue reading »

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Many Berkeley parking meters now accept most coins

Photo: Steer Davies Gleave
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In the wake of public frustration and confusion after Berkeley adjusted many of its parking meters to require a minimum cash payment of 30 or 35 cents, depending on the area, the city has rolled back the changes to allow meters city-wide to register any amount from a nickel on up.

According to a city staff report prepared for a September vote by the Berkeley City Council to fix the problem, the city began hearing criticism about the meter minimum earlier this year during its goBerkeley outreach campaign to change metered parking rates and time limits in three of the city’s business districts.

Members of the public said they were confused because meters were failing to register payment. Unbeknownst to some, it was because the 30- or 35-cent threshold had not been met. Putting in change that didn’t register left some wondering if the meters were broken. So they were unsure whether to keep trying, find a new space, or walk away and try their luck. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley community turns out for march against violence

Relatives and friends of Anthony Medearis Jr. mourned at the site of his shooting on Thursday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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More than 100 people took to the streets last Thursday night in an effort to build community and take a stand against violence in the part of the city that’s seen much of it this year.

Attendees at Ceasefire Walk Against Violence on Oct. 3 in West Berkeley included community organizers, members of congregations from around the city and beyond, and local residents and officials. Several family members and friends of Berkeley’s most recent homicide victim, Anthony Medearis Jr., led part of the procession for much of the night.

Miracle Paul, the aunt of one of Medearis’ sons, said it meant a lot to the family to see so many people turn out for the event. The procession walked a circuit from Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, at Hearst Avenue and Ninth Street, to the site of two of this year’s homicides, at Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue, then up to Camelia and Eighth streets where Medearis was killed in September.

“It’s too much going on in Berkeley, and we’re so small,” Paul said.

Medearis’ best friend, Gerard Jackson, was among the group. “It meant a lot that everyone came out to grieve with us,” he said. Jackson said he also knew Berkeley homicide victim Jermaine Davis, who was killed in July. Jackson wore memorial necklaces with both of his friends’ photographs on Thursday night. … Continue reading »

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‘Ceasefire Walk Against Violence’ comes to West Berkeley

A small memorial was set up in West Berkeley near the site of Zontee Jones' death early last year. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Residents, officials and members of community and religious organizations will walk through West Berkeley on Thursday night to take a stand against violence and remember three men killed in shootings earlier this year. 

Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office helped organize the walk in conjunction with Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Berkeley Congregations Organized for Action (BOCA) and other anti-violence groups. Everyone is welcome.

Three of the city’s four homicides this year have taken place in West Berkeley. In February, Zontee Jones, 34, was shot in broad daylight on Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue. In August, on the other side of San Pablo at Delaware, Dustin Bynum, 24, was shot at close range in front of Bing’s Liquors. Then, in September, 22-year-old Anthony Medearis Jr. died in a shooting near Eighth and Camelia streets.

“Our West Berkeley residents are deeply shaken,” wrote Maio in a statement about the walk planned for Thursday, Oct. 3. “I think of this as a broad expression of concern and reclaiming our streets for safety.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Council highlights gangs, staffing during crime report

Pedestrian robberies in Berkeley from January to June 2013 mapped by location. Source: Berkeley Police Department
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The Berkeley Police Department’s mid-year crime report drew compliments from city officials regarding the city’s approach to crime fighting, as well as requests for more information in the future about case closure rates, crime concentrations and response times across a range of offenses.

Police Chief Michael Meehan presented the report along with two police captains, Erik Upson and Andy Greenwood, Tuesday night in a special session before the city council. They said serious crime reports for the first six months of the year remained nearly flat compared to the same period last year.

Berkeley did experience a 24% jump in robberies overall, which included a 35% increase in pedestrian robberies. But police said the region has seen a 26% percent in overall robberies, and that Berkeley is not immune to those trends. Police also noted a 49% increase in robbery-related arrests in 2013. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley considers ‘visionary’ homeless housing project

City officials are considering the possibility of turning this parking lot into a supportive homeless housing complex. Image: Google Maps
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Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council took its first steps at considering a “super-green affordable housing project” that would offer extensive services to the homeless on the site of what’s now a 112-spot parking lot at Berkeley Way and Henry Street.

The “innovative housing and services center with permanently supportive housing, along with emergency shelter and supportive services” would “meet a critical need, and help further the City’s goals to end homelessness,” according to a staff report from Tuesday’s meeting.

Members of the business community have expressed concerns about the loss of parking during construction, and said the parking supply would need to be doubled to ensure that visitors to downtown, who are expected to increase as the area is revitalized, will have access to readily available spots. They noted that decreased parking already in effect or planned, with the construction of the new Berkeley Art Museum and a proposal to demolish and rebuild the Center Street garage. … Continue reading »

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Public art a casualty at Berkeley animal shelter

The shelter's new digs provide a safer, calmer atmosphere for animals, supporters say. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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While most new structures built using city bonds are decorated with public art, Berkeley’s new $12.4 million animal shelter is not. City staff skipped out on the municipally-mandated public art process during construction and the reasons why remain difficult to pin down.

Since the project’s inception in 2002, shelter plans ran into a range of obstacles, from difficulty finding an appropriate site to a series of cost overruns. As a result, said Deputy City Manager William Rogers, the city decided not to set aside $142,500 of its budget for public art, despite a Berkeley ordinance that requires municipal projects to do just that.

Others familiar with the project said the decision not to include public art in the shelter was due to a failure to put the proper language in the bond measure that funded construction. Whether that was an oversight or an intentional decision to ensure flexibility in the project budget is unclear.  … Continue reading »

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‘You’re not with it if you’re not air drying your clothes!’

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On Wednesday a gigantic clothesline dangled over Berkeley’s Civic Center Park. T-shirts, sweaters, jeans, and all kinds of clothing swayed in the wind as members of Rising Sun Energy Center‘s California Youth Energy Services (CYES) program proudly explained the work they’ve been doing to make Berkeley’s community more sustainable.

“Really what this is is a call to action,” said Jodi Pincus, executive director of the Berkeley-based Rising Sun Energy Center. “You may be asking, how does [climate change] relate to air drying my clothes? Clothes dryers are the second largest energy hog appliance in the home, and CO2 emissions from a single household can amount to nearly 23,000 pounds of CO2 per year. It is up to us to do something.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley offers free summer lunches, snacks for youth

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Berkeley is facilitating free lunches and snacks for under-18-year-olds this summer at locations across the city.

In the Berkeley Unified School District, 42 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch during the school year, which is easily accessible when school is in session but can become difficult to find during the summer. City Councilwoman Linda Maio recently sent an email to her district asking her constituents to spread the word about the free summer lunch program.

Berkeleyside has created a map, above, that shows where the lunches are distributed. Below is a list of the dates and locations of the free lunch and snack programs. … Continue reading »

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