Tag Archives: People’s Park

Telegraph Ave. scrubbed, cleaned in beautification effort

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The deployment of neon-clad “ambassadors” to paint over graffiti, power-wash streets, and sweep sidewalks along Telegraph Avenue is the latest in a series of attempts to revitalize a business district which has seen better days.

The “Big Splash” effort by Kentucky-based firm Block by Block began March 14, kicking off a year-long, $240,000 ambassador pilot program on Telegraph. Ambassadors have been engaged in a similar revitalization effort in downtown Berkeley since early 2012.

Telegraph Avenue — cherished by some for its political history and quirky institutions, and avoided by others for its large transient population and public drug use — has faced steep declines in sales tax revenue over the past several years. Rat-infested empty lots and graffiti-covered vacant storefronts have not helped the situation. … Continue reading »

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Improving Telegraph Ave. on new UC official’s ‘to-do’ list

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You know UC Berkeley’s newly appointed vice chancellor for real estate has an open-minded attitude when he says tackling the issues at People’s Park might be a “fun challenge” and looks forward to “getting some things done” to help revitalize Telegraph Avenue.

Robert J. Lalanne, a UC Berkeley alumnus and trustee of the university’s foundation, brings 25 years of real estate and development experience to the new position, which was formally announced Tuesday.

As founder of The Lalanne Group, he has spearheaded commercial, residential and mixed-use projects in San Francisco and other Bay Area counties. He will oversee all of Cal’s construction projects, seek “innovative financing” for new buildings, be the point man for facilities and manage 500 employees.

All for nothing a year.

Lalanne will donate his salary back to the university, according to a university press release. … Continue reading »

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Rape awareness event comes to Berkeley Saturday

This weekend's event will include workshops on rape myths and culture, and survivor support. Photo: Ben Schumin
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A city-wide sexual assault awareness session will take place Saturday in Berkeley, prompted in part by the increase in reported rapes announced earlier this year, and a state audit underway to analyze UC Berkeley’s sexual assault policies.

Cal senior Ella Bastone said the idea for the event came from Councilman Kriss Worthington, who attended a Take Back the Night march Bastone organized last spring. Worthington told her he was interested in sponsoring an awareness or outreach session, and she put him in touch with local advocates from Bay Area Women Against Rape. Over the summer, Bastone interned for Worthington, and he asked her if she could spearhead the effort.

The Berkeley Sexual Assault Awareness and Education Day is set to include workshops on rape myths, rape culture, risk reduction, reporting and resources, and survivor support. A session on increasing personal safety and awareness, with audience participation, is also planned. Bastone said it is the first city-sanctioned event of its kind in recent memory. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley pedestrian robberies up 35%, burglaries up too

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Police saw steep increases in burglaries and pedestrian robberies in the first half of 2013, according to the mid-year crime report produced by the Berkeley Police Department, though serious crime reports overall were essentially flat when compared to last year.

The mid-year crime report is scheduled to come before the Berkeley City Council in a special session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, in the council chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Police said pedestrian robberies are up 35% over the same period last year. Burglaries are up 11%. But overall serious crimes — which include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson — increased just 0.4%, from 2,927 to 2,940. … 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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City to consider new approach to emergency shelters

Emergency homeless shelters could be allowed year-round in commercial zones (pink, 60 beds, and yellow, 25 beds) without a permit; and seasonally in high-density residential zones (blue, 15 beds) without a permit. Click the image to view a larger map.) Image: City of Berkeley and Berkeleyside
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Berkeley’s Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing in September to consider changes to the municipal zoning code to make it easier to open emergency homeless shelters in certain commercial and high-density residential areas, according to a notice sent out by email late last week.

The changes could allow providers to open shelters without the use permit that is currently required. State legislation, Senate Bill 2, mandates cities to have at least one zoning designation that allows shelters to be located without discretionary government review.

In some commercial areas, emergency shelters with up to 60 beds could be allowed year-round without a permit; in high-density residential areas, the commission is slated to consider winter season shelters only, with a limit of 15 beds. … Continue reading »

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Police investigate armed rape in People’s Park

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A man with a gun raped a female victim in People’s Park over the weekend, police said Tuesday.

Sunday between 10 p.m. and midnight, the man approached the female in the park, forcefully moved her to another location in the park, and pointed a firearm at her before sexually assaulting her.

Police said the victim, whose age was not available, knew the man from prior contacts, and reported the assault Monday. The man was described as Filipino, in his early 30s, and approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium build. He had short black hair and dark-colored eyes.

The University of California Police Department sent out an alert Tuesday morning about the incident.

Lt. Eric Tejada, of the University of California Police Department, said Tuesday afternoon via email that this type of sexual assault, in which the assailant uses a firearm, is “not common at all.”

“I don’t remember one like this in recent history,” he said. … Continue reading »

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New talks on homelessness in Berkeley start Thursday

Derrick Coetzee
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Thursday evening, the Berkeley Task Force on Homelessness will begin a new community-driven process designed to explore homelessness in Berkeley, and how it might be addressed thoughtfully and humanely.

Initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín, the task force was created “to continue the much-needed conversation on homelessness after Measure S, which would have banned sitting on commercial sidewalks, narrowly failed last fall,” according to a statement released by Arreguín’s office Wednesday. The task force arose as an alternative way to address homelessness.  … Continue reading »

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Man dies after suspected overdose in People’s Park

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Update, 05.31.13: The deceased man has been identified as Donovan Ziemer, 43, of Hayward, and the likely cause of death was an alcohol overdose, according to authorities, as reported by the Bay Area News Group.

Original story: One man died in People’s Park in Berkeley on Monday, believed to be from an overdose, and another was taken to Alta Bates Hospital in serious condition.

The two men were discovered by UC Berkeley police officers on a routine patrol check at around 5:00 p.m., according to Lt. Eric Tejada of the UCPD. There was no evidence of foul play, neither man was believed to be a UC Berkeley student, and the suspected cause of death was an overdose, Lt. Tejada said — either from drugs, alcohol, or both.

“They were at the south end of the park near the basketball court,” Tejada said. “One man appeared to be deceased and the other was unconscious. Berkeley Fire Department was called and pronounced the first man dead and transported the other one to hospital.” … Continue reading »


Rapper Elzhi headlines Berkeley’s 17th Hip Hop in the Park

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On Saturday, around 200 people descended on People’s Park in Berkeley for the 17th annual Hip Hop in the Park festival.

Organizers, Students for Hip Hop, a UC Berkeley group, said this year’s list of performers was one of the most diverse to date.

“Detroit’s best kept secret,” rapper Elzhi, a former member of Slum Village, was the headliner. Other performers on the line-up included MC Aisha Fukushima, Mik Nawooj, Hoodini, Rico Pabon, Nu Dekades, and producer G-Jones. The festival featured graffiti art, dancing, and DJ-ing.
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On leaving Berkeley for Boulder… a reflection

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When Nikki Hodgson, a writer and climate researcher, knew she would soon be moving from Berkeley to Boulder, Colorado, she sat down to chronicle her thoughts about the city she would be leaving behind. 

When I find out I’m moving, I walk home slowly. The temperate climate of Berkeley, its warm April sunshine stretching over green hills, crowds the sidewalks with flowers — an explosion of California poppies, mountain lilac, hummingbird sage, fawn lilies, and pink-flowering currant erupting from winter into hard, bright colors. I bend over a shaggy bush of Cecile Brunner roses, listening to the whir of a hummingbird as it hovers over the fuchsias, their brilliant pink and purple petals swaying softly.

At San Pablo and Addison I look at my neighborhood as if I had already left, gazing over my shoulder at the mural painted along Mi Tierra market — the Indigenous woman with her arms extended high over her head, snapping a fence in her hands, the bold colors standing out against the muted Bay Area fog. Between Mi Ranchito Bayside Market and the Middle Eastern shop where I buy labneh and za’atar, an old woman sits in a hard plastic chair watching novelas at the local laundromat, her age-swollen hands folding faded t-shirts and jeans. On Monday evenings, my neighbors sit at the sidewalk tables in front of Luca Cucina, swirling wine in long-stemmed glasses. On Sunday mornings, I read the New York Times book review at Local 123, breathing in the scent of Four Barrel coffee against the brick walls of their backyard patio. … Continue reading »


Berkeley’s People’s Park celebrates its 44th anniversary

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On Sunday Berkeley’s famous People’s Park marked the 44th anniversary of its founding with a celebration involving live music, kids’ activities and food, as well as a little political activism.

Organizer Dana Merryday had urged people to “mark the anniversary of this iconic and sometimes controversial social experiment.” He promised “political action with an emphasis on Drones, dancing, prayer flag making, great free vegan meals from Food not Bombs, drum circle and good vibes.” … Continue reading »


Crime in Berkeley up 11% in 2012, but longer trend is down

Violent crime 2012

By Lance Knobel and Emilie Raguso

Berkeley’s annual crime report shows a one-year increase of 11% in violent and property crimes in 2012. The uptick comes after four consecutive years of lowered crime, as measured by the Uniform Crime Reports’ so-called Part I crimes.

But Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan told the City Council, during a work session on the crime report Tuesday night, that it’s important to keep these numbers in perspective. [See the PDF presentation from the work session here.]

“The numbers are down quite a bit in the longer term,” he said, adding later that the city’s crime rate is “about as low as it’s been since the early 1960s.” Following increases in the ’80s and ’90s, crime rates have been on the decline overall.  … Continue reading »

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