Tag Archives: North Berkeley

Berkeley imposes new laws on homeless behavior

Homeless advocates held a rally outside city council chambers on Tuesday night to call attention to proposed laws they said would criminalize the homeless. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Berkeley City Council passed a series of measures early Wednesday morning to address issues raised by the behavior of some members of the homeless population, including a new rule that will limit the amount of space on which people can spread their stuff on the sidewalk.

Under the new law — which won’t go into effect immediately — people on sidewalks or plazas will have to confine their belongings to a 2-by-2-foot area between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. This does not include cushions or dogs.

To make this work, council pledged to provide convenient and secure storage bins in which homeless people can store their possessions. The new rules will kick in only after the city installs the bins. Berkeley has not yet determined where they might go and how many there will be, although there will be 50 to 100 to start. … Continue reading »

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Council battle brews over street behavior, homelessness

Mike Lee, right, a homeless activist, said during a demonstration Monday that he won't be pushed out of Berkeley on charges that make no sense. At left, Councilman Jesse Arreguin,  and Michael Diehl, of B.O.S.S. center, another advocate for the homeless. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Tuesday night, advocates for the homeless are set to duke it out with supporters of more stringent standards for behavior on Berkeley sidewalks over three items on the City Council agenda related to those living on the streets.

The item that has generated the most controversy, from Council members Linda Maio, Laurie Capitelli, Lori Droste and Mayor Tom Bates, prohibits going to the bathroom in public; limits the use of public space for the storage of personal items; and outlaws lying down inside planter beds or on planter walls.

Read more coverage of homelessness in Berkeley.

Advocates for the homeless have said the proposal will criminalize those on the street, who have few alternatives to their current behavior and need additional services, as well as assistance finding affordable housing. Advocates have been demonstrating since 6 a.m. Monday with a prayer circle, fasting and a “sleep out” in solidarity with the homeless Monday night. A rally and speak out is also planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday before the 7 p.m. council meeting at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Proponents of Item 28, to “Improve Conditions On Our Community Sidewalks,” say the city must act now to make the streets safer for everyone. The item does not outlaw sitting on the sidewalk during the day or sleeping on the sidewalk at night. Its supporters say the item creates a “few basic rules to set the standard for acceptable behavior.”

The item would direct the city to fund the purchase of 50-100 secure storage bins for the homeless, provide additional bathrooms on Telegraph Avenue and downtown — possibly in conjunction with BART, and provide mobile showers for public use. The bathrooms would be accessible 24/7. The new services are estimated to cost at least $300,000 annually. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s newest parklet opens outside Saul’s Deli

Photo: Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen
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Berkeley’s second parklet is now open for visitors. The outdoor seating area in front of Saul’s Delicatessen in the Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood was unveiled today. It comes on the heels of the recent move of the Thursday Farmers Market to its new location in the off-road strip in front of Saul’s and neighboring businesses.

The parklet was funded in part by a successful $15,000 Indiegogo campaign earlier this year. Saul’s owner, Peter Levitt, hopes the space will be a boon to farmers market shoppers, in addition to regular day-time foot traffic.

Saul’s parklet, at 1475 Shattuck Ave., was designed by Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg, who is also responsible for the building that houses Saul’s, as well as many other buildings in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Ohlone Park neighbors brainstorm about homeless influx

Ohlone Park, Oct. 24, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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More than 100 people crowded into the North Berkeley Senior Center on Saturday to strategize about how to address problematic behavior in Ohlone Park linked largely to the area’s growing nomadic homeless population.

According to a gardener at the park who wrote a letter to Councilwoman Linda Maio, who organized Saturday’s meeting, “The park is daily becoming a camp ground, strewn with trash, monopolized by groups of ‘street people’ and their animals. They add a threatening element that scares off older residents and families with children who no longer feel safe in the park.”

According to the gardener, dogs visiting the park have become ill after ingesting drugs left by campers. The gardener reported seeing a man smoking crack while children played nearby, as well as the open selling of drugs. There have also been fights involving some of the campers, and an increase in bike thefts and home burglaries in the neighborhood. Other community members noted what appears to be the presence of bike “chop shops” in various areas of the park.

Wrote the gardener: “In the park these ‘campers’ unload their stuff, spread it all around, build structures, sleep there with their stuff strewn all over the place, leaving piles of garbage behind.… I have personally picked up needles, used condoms, pot, pills, roaches, pornography, alcohol bottles & tops, food trash, used clothing, suitcases, furniture dragged over from the street, used toilet paper, a Seattle bank account statement of closure for insufficient funds, sleeping bags, ratty blankets, cardboard, tarps, you name it.” … Continue reading »

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Interim city manager talks pensions, parks and perks

Berkeley's new interim city manager fielded question from the North East Berkeley Association at a public meeting Oct. 22
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New to Berkeley and even newer to her role as interim city manager, Dee Williams-Ridley gave residents one of their first chances to get to know her last week at a public forum hosted by the North East Berkeley Association at the Northbrae Community Church.

Questions at the Oct. 22 event from moderators and the public covered a range of issues facing Berkeley, including the minimum wage, city employee salaries, and the NAACP’s recommendation for the creation of a city department that would handle race and equity issues. Throughout the evening, Williams-Ridley took a mostly friendly and humorous, but at times assertive, tone, telling the audience that she had been warned they would be “tough.” She declined to answer some questions, including about potential future ballot measures, saying several times that she is not responsible for policy decisions.

Williams-Ridley inherits the city from Christine Daniel, who abruptly left her post in July for a job with the city of Oakland. The city council appointed Williams-Ridley, who had been deputy city manager since January, to fill the position. An Alabama native and graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Williams-Ridley previously worked as deputy city manager of Modesto for four years. She commutes to her current job from Sacramento and said she spends the night in Berkeley once or twice a week. She receives a salary of $225,000. … Continue reading »

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Ohlone Park concerns prompt meeting Saturday

Community members have been reporting a range of problems at Ohlone Park recently. Photo: Citizen reporter
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City officials, parks and homeless outreach staff, police and community members will come together Saturday to discuss a range of problems that have cropped up recently at Berkeley’s Ohlone Park.

Councilwoman Linda Maio organized the meeting, which will focus on the increasing impacts of the park’s growing homeless population and concerns about youth gathering at night in the park, as well as issues that have been raised regarding smoking in the park near fire-prone areas and worries about litter.

The park runs along Hearst Avenue from Sacramento Street to Milvia Street.

In an Oct. 16 notice about the meeting, Maio wrote: “In recent weeks a number of email messages have reached me voicing various concerns about our much-loved Ohlone Park. It’s time to meet together to talk about our park. We will share observations, concerns and thoughts with each other, about its entire stretch … and develop approaches to improve the Ohlone Park.”

Maio said she’s hoping the meeting will prompt local residents to create a “friends” group that could help galvanize plans for improvements at the park, including the revival of the “historic monkey bars” near Grant Street. Members of community group Berkeley Partners for Parks also will be in attendance to help strategize about how to move forward. … Continue reading »

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Bedbugs found in Berkeley library; North Branch closed

North Branch Library
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The North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was shuttered Friday morning after officials discovered bedbugs in three different areas of the branch.

Bedbug-sniffing dogs identified the possible presence of bedbugs in the downstairs men’s restroom, underneath the desks of the public computer area, and in a chair in the reading room. No books or library materials appear to be infected, according to a press release from the library administration. … Continue reading »

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Man arrested in Pharmaca robbery linked to second case

Police have arrested a man they believe is linked to two Berkeley robberies, including one at Pharmaca, at Solano and Ensenada, in late August. Photo: Michael Patrick
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Police have arrested a 22-year-old San Pablo man in connection with a robbery at Pharmaca on Solano Avenue in late August, and say they believe he is linked to another Berkeley robbery two days later.

In response to a request from Berkeleyside, police confirmed the arrest of Covan VanHook in connection with the Aug. 29 robbery at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, at Solano and Ensenada avenues.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said another agency arrested VanHook in Contra Costa County on Sept. 3 in connection with a different case.

In the Pharmaca incident, a man entered the North Berkeley business with a gun and demanded prescription medication from the pharmacist, Coats said previously. The robber “jumped over the counter with a gun pointed at the employees and told them to fill his backpack,” according to unconfirmed scanner traffic. … Continue reading »

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Work at Berkeley’s Terrace View Park delayed, again

Terrace View Park, Berkeley. Photo: Kathleen Costanza
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Renovation work at Terrace View Park in North Berkeley, originally scheduled to be completed by Sept. 15, has been pushed back until Oct. 30 due to construction complications. Located between Fairlawn Drive and Queens Road, the park has been closed off completely since April 27.

The work includes renovating the basketball courts on the lowest level of the park and adding access ramps for people with disabilities. In February, the city awarded the bid to McNabb Construction for $347,155. The renovation is funded by 2008’s bond Measure WW, which gave the city nearly $5 million to spend on parks over 10 years, as well as the Capital Improvement Fund.

But after further testing, a storm drain was discovered to be badly damaged and needed to be fixed first, according to an email to a resident from Scott Ferris, director of Parks, Water and Recreation, and confirmed by city spokesperson Matthai Chakko. The city awarded that bid to W. R. Forde Associates, and the storm drain portion of construction ended in June, delaying the rest of the renovation. … Continue reading »

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Photo Gallery: The 41st annual Solano Stroll

Solano Stroll 2015. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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The weather was perfect — not too hot, not too cold — and the Berkeley-Albany institution that is the Solano Stroll was a tremendous affair for the 41st straight year.

Billed as “one mile of free family fun,” the event saw a great big parade and tens of thousands of people ambling along Solano Avenue in North Berkeley and Albany, enjoying entertainment, conversations at the many booths, shopping at the dozens of retailers on the street, and great food and drink.

Many people stopped by the Berkeleyside booth to say hello and chat — it was a pleasure to see you. Enjoy these wonderful photos by our contributing photographer Nancy Rubin. (And view the full album.) … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Corso expands salumi, pasta programs

Briganti pasta from Corso. Photo: Alix Wall
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With the opening seven years ago of Corso, co-owner and executive chef Wendy Brucker and co-owner Roscoe Skipper set out to recreate a trattoria with the simplicity of a Tuscan restaurant. The restaurant quickly found its regulars, partially due to the reputation of its sister restaurant Rivoli. However, chef de cuisine Scott Eastman says the restaurant is just now finding its groove.

“It’s taken us some time and practice to really get there, but now is the time where the restaurant is really starting to reach the mind’s eye of what the owners wanted it to be,” he said.

Eastman would know. He’s been there since the restaurant opened in 2008. “I had the opportunity to see a restaurant from its beginning and I just continued to grow with this place,” he said. … Continue reading »

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Pharmaca in North Berkeley held up at gunpoint

Berkeley Police cruiser, Officer Jennifer Coats. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Police are investigating a robbery at gunpoint at a Solano Avenue pharmacy over the weekend.

The robbery took place at 5:10 p.m. Saturday at Pharmaca at 1744 Solano Ave., at Ensenada Avenue.

According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, a man entered the North Berkeley business with a gun and demanded prescription medication from the pharmacist.

The robber “jumped over the counter with a gun pointed at the employees and told them to fill his backpack,” according to unconfirmed scanner traffic. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley couple takes death of fawn into own hands

Fawn. Photo: Christian Stauduhar
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Disclaimer: This article contains graphic photographs that some may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

A North Berkeley couple was distraught by the death of a fawn near their home on Thursday, and took matters into their own hands after failing, they said, to get a prompt response from city of Berkeley staff or officials.

Christian and Tara Stauduhar say they are convinced an off-leash dog killed the fawn, and say it’s not the first time off-leash dogs have caused problems in the area, on their property and at adjacent Glendale La Loma Park in northeast Berkeley. 

Christian Stauduhar told Berkeleyside, by email, that he woke up just before 7 a.m. Thursday to the sounds of “an animal screaming, a dog barking, and the dog owner yelling for his dog” at the park.

I went outside to investigate, and observed the dog running around on our property before returning to its screaming owner,” Stauduhar wrote. “I was unable to catch more than a glimpse of the owner, who was in the park, about a hundred yards away.”

Stauduhar then looked around for the animal he had heard in distress, and found a fawn on his property. The fawn was “wet around the neck and hind legs, but was able to turn its head to look at me, and was standing.” Stauduhar watched the animal from about 20 feet away for approximately 5 minutes, then went inside.

“The animal had clearly been attacked, but since it looked mobile, and because it is illegal to render aid to a wild animal in California, I left her to her recovery,” he wrote.

About an hour later, he went to check on the fawn and found that it dead. … Continue reading »

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