Tag Archives: Michael Caplan
Berkeley city staff are taking aim at a South Berkeley neighborhood that has struggled economically in recent years by teaming up with residents, as well as business and property owners, to make improvements hoped to make a difference in the near-term along Sacramento Street.
Last week, some 30 people attended a meeting at San Pablo Park to review possible changes and collect community feedback for efforts that are underway. Among attendees were the city’s director of public works, Andrew Clough; director of parks and recreation, Scott Ferris; public works engineer Ahsan Kazmi; Jim Hynes, assistant to the city manager; and Berkeley Police Capt. Erik Upson.
(One attendee, Zach Franklin, created the video above to tell the stories behind several local businesses and institutions around Sacramento Street and Ashby Avenue.) … Continue reading »
Telegraph Avenue could use more large clothing retailers and a grocery store, along with more options for nightlife and buying household goods, if it hopes to grow financially moving forward, city staff said Tuesday as part of a special work session on the avenue.
Some officials said the city needs to take a proactive approach to marketing properties that become available, and perhaps adjust the city’s permitting process to make it easier to attract larger businesses. Others said landlords might take it upon themselves to lower rents for new businesses, so the burden isn’t only on the city.
“I think we have to go out on dates,” said Councilwoman Linda Maio. “I think we have to identify retailers that we want, that we have a space for. I think we have to introduce them to the mayor. I think we have to wine and dine them and bring them into town. I think we have to show them the campus and the enormous potential here. I don’t think it’s going to serve us well to sit back and wait for somebody to come our way.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley has lower unemployment rates than the county and the state, and the city remains something of a jobs magnet, according to the first ever quarterly economic development report prepared for tonight’s Council meeting by the city’s economic development department.
The report, which draws together data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey with the city’s own tracking of retail sales tax and other sources, provides a portrait of Berkeley’s economy following the national recession and the slow recovery in recent years.
“Over time, what you’ll get with these reports is a very good overview of what’s going on in Berkeley,” said Michael Caplan, economic development manager for the city. This week’s report will be followed by a workshop focusing on Telegraph Avenue in May, and a second report and second workshop in the second half of the year. … Continue reading »
Off The Grid, the food truck fest that has been a fixture on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto every Wednesday evening since June last year, had its last day in that location yesterday.
The city took the decision to stop hosting the market due to its impact on local brick and mortar businesses and property owners, and also because a reconfiguration of the space it used — at the intersection of Shattuck and Rose — is due to begin next year.
The sudden departure of the hugely popular street food gathering will come as a surprise to the estimated 1,500 people who make a beeline there every week to tuck into on-the-go edibles from the likes of Brass Knuckle, Fiveten Burger, Liba Falafel, and the CupKates Truck. … Continue reading »
Some say change is as good as a holiday. Others counter that most resist change. But here’s what everyone can agree on: change comes, regardless.
And so it is that the Ecology Center’s Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays is set to move to a new location. The first formalized farmers’ market in the city, which has called Derby Street at MLK Way in South Berkeley home for 25 years, is slated to relocate come July 10 to the parking bay at Adeline and 63rd Streets in the Lorin District. The market will run, as it does now, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 6:30 p.m. (It’s a half hour earlier, to accommodate a church service on the site.)
The Ecology Center views the switch to a new spot in South Berkeley as part of an overall plan to increase access to farm-fresh food to areas that lack a major grocery store, though the shift also comes because the Berkeley Unified School District will be converting the adjacent playing field at the markets’ current location into a regulation-size baseball field. … Continue reading »
As the Berkeley Lab rolls into town this week to hold three public meetings about a second campus, there has been a lot of speculation about which community will be the best cheerleader. The bar has already been set high: Richmond had drummers and dancers perform at its meeting, Oakland put forward its mayor, and Alameda had a packed house.
But a curious thing happened in each community meeting. Instead of the cities wooing the Lab, the Lab … Continue reading »
The company, which is based in Half Moon Bay, found a warehouse with much cheaper rent, according to Dave Fogerty, a project coordinator in Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development.
“There are massive amounts of vacant space in San Leandro, Hayward, and Fremont and warehouse rents have plummeted as a result,” said Fogerty. “We worked with the property … Continue reading »
On May 5, 2010, Robin Dalrymple walked excitedly into Berkeley’s Planning Department to apply for a use permit. She wanted to convert the vacant Ritz Camera store on Solano Avenue into an ice cream parlor.
Eight months later, her store is still not open.
Veronica Bradley signed a lease in April 2010 to transform what had been Left Coast Cyclery on Domingo Avenue into a store selling olive oil from around the world. After working with five city departments — building and safety, health, zoning, public works and engineering, and fire prevention – she finally got a permit in November. The store opened Dec. 24.
It took Jim Meyers only six weeks to launch his store, Wine Thieves, in Lafayette. It hasn’t been that easy in Berkeley. He has been trying since March to open a branch on Domingo Avenue. He is crossing his fingers that he can open the store next week.
“We have had the most difficult time,” said Bradley, who said she paid more than $50,000 in rent before Amphora Nueva opened. “We heard this about Berkeley, but we had no idea it would be so challenging. I blame it on the city of Berkeley. Given the vacancies you would think they would do whatever they could to make the process a little less painful, a little less costly. In other parts of the country cities bend over backwards to help business.”
Berkeley has long had a reputation of being a difficult city in which to do business. There are many factors contributing to this perception, including complex zoning laws, neighborhood business quotas, and a 60’s era desire to give neighborhoods, rather than the planning department, discretion in saying what kinds of businesses can move into nearby commercial districts.
The impediments to doing business, and the large number of vacant storefronts, so frustrated City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli that he introduced a number of measures in December to overhaul regulations governing Solano Avenue. The City Council directed city staff to return with a series of recommendations to simplify Berkeley’s zoning ordinances, permit processes, design review and neighborhood quotas. Staff is scheduled to go back to council with a set of ideas in early February.
“If we make some simple tweaks for things that aren’t controversial, we can make a significant difference,” said Michael Caplan, Berkeley’s manager of economic development.
Berkeley police have arrested a 21-year-old Bay Point man in connection with the Tuesday shooting on Sacramento Street that left 35-year-old Gary Ferguson Jr. dead and another man in serious condition.
Brandon Wallace has been charged with murder and attempted murder, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, a spokeswoman for the police department.
She did not provide any details about what Wallace’s motive may have been or how police identified him. However, the Oakland Tribune reported that Wallace was arrested … Continue reading »
During the last two years, retail sales in Berkeley have dropped by nearly $200 million, prompting the closure of many stores and leaving numerous vacant storefronts, according to information gathered by the city’s Office of Economic Development.
While the recession is partly responsible, the drop also reflects the impact of some of Berkeley’s long-term planning decisions. The city has focused on creating boutique shopping districts like the Elmwood and Solano Avenue in lieu of creating malls that can hold big-box … Continue reading »