Tag Archives: Solano Avenue Association

In Berkeley the Blue Glove Crew clean up — at speed

Karen Nierlich shows trash she cleared from a storm drain's grate.
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It all started with a desire to lose weight. Six years ago, Allen Cain, Executive Director of the Solano Avenue Association and Solano Stroll, decided as a New Year’s resolution to shed some pounds, set an example for his daughter, and help tidy up the North Berkeley street at the heart of his organization. How would he do this? With regular power walks/trash pick-up expeditions.

Cain spent roughly three years walking, at a feverish pace, up and then back down Solano, cleaning up en route. Eventually others joined him and, thus, the Blue Glove Crew was born.

Berkeleyside contributing photographer Pete Rosos joined the crew for several of their walks recently, and created the photo essay published here. … Continue reading »

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Solano Avenue: The pressure is on for North Berkeley shopping district to up its game

The Oaks on Solano, as of September 2014. Photo: Mary Flaherty
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When French-style bakery La Farine abruptly closed up shop on Berkeley’s Solano Avenue this summer, there was an outcry from local residents. Its departure also created another empty storefront on a street that has its fair share of them, particularly in its easternmost stretch, near The Alameda.

But La Farine owner Jeff Dodge said he misses the North Berkeley commercial district and is actively looking for a way to return there. And Gina Gould, the landlord of the building Dodge vacated, at 1820 Solano, said she’s confident she will sign up a new, likely food-related, business for the space before Christmas.

The new store will join a cluster of new businesses that have opened, or are about to, on the wide shopping street that stretches 2 miles east to west through Albany and Berkeley.

Will they bring new energy to a street that is known for its gigantic annual Solano Stroll event, but which, unlike Berkeley’s Elmwood or Gourmet Ghetto neighborhoods, retains a slightly folksy feel? … Continue reading »

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Local business

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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Bellhops logo BELLHOPS Moving just got a little easier. In May, Bellhops set up operations in Berkeley. Using a business model akin to Uber or Lyft, the company hires local college students, or “bellhops,” to provide customers with moving help. The company started three years ago in Auburn, Alabama, and rapidly expanded to 145 cities across the country. Currently, around 80 UC Berkeley students are available for customers within 15 miles of campus, according to co-founder Matt Paterson. Operations are decentralized, and the company doesn’t own any trucks or garages, but its employees can rent moving vans if the customer requests it. As Patterson puts it, Bellhops is perfect for those who don’t need a professional service and instead could just use some helping hands. And the company recognizes that letting strangers handle your possessions can be nerve-racking, which is why it sends customers pictures and profiles of bellhops before they arrive. Trust and exceptional customer service are central to the company’s mission, said Patterson. Continue reading »

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La Farine on Solano in Berkeley closes abruptly

The La Farine bakery at 1820 Solano Avenue abruptly closed on Tuesday after failing to negotiate a new lease with its landlord. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The La Farine bakery at 1820 Solano Ave. in North Berkeley abruptly shut its doors Tuesday, July 1, after failing to reach a lease agreement after a protracted battle with its landlords.

A telephone message on the company’s phone line says the store had to shut abruptly because it could not renew its lease, but that it hopes to relocate somewhere else on Solano Avenue.

“We are very very sad to leave,” said Jeff Dodge, the owner of La Farine for the last 17 years. “Plain speaking, we don’t have a lease, and when you can’t work something out with your landlord, you have to go.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to consider restricting large drugstores, future of proposed Solano Ave. Walgreens store in the balance

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Berkeley is set to consider whether to limit the number of larger drugstores in the city, at least in certain neighborhoods, which may put a halt to disputed plans by Walgreens to open a new store on upper Solano Avenue.

The issue will be discussed at the city’s Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, March 19.

If the commission, a citizen’s group that advises the Berkeley City Council, approves drugstore zoning recommendations proposed by city staff, it will move Berkeley closer to legally prohibiting the proposed new Walgreens — a project that set in motion the city’s renewed examination of chain drugstore locations. … Continue reading »

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The Solano Stroll returns on Sunday for 39th year

Solano Stroll-5 Nancy Rubin
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Labor Day weekend may be over, but Bay Area residents can still look forward to some downtime at the Solano Stroll. The East Bay’s largest street festival is back on Sunday Sept. 8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors can celebrate the Stroll’s 39th year with a mile-long stretch of attractions, including fantastic food, music, rides and live entertainment.

The annual festival, which is hosted each year by Albany and Berkeley, will feature 500 street vendors, as well as all the businesses and organizations that line Solano Avenue’s 26 blocks. The event is expected to draw 250,000 visitors,  including folks from across California and from neighboring states.

In a departure from previous years — which have seen zany themed parades like 2012’s “Step into the Future”–  the theme this year will be a little toned down.

“It’s simply red: how much red can you wear and how creatively can you wear it,” said Allen Cain, who has been the principal organizer of the Stroll for the past six years and is the guru of all things Solano. “We’re trying  a new thing to bring the focus back to the district as a place where you can come every day as opposed to highlighting the district as a place you come to for just one event,” Cain said. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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TRACKERS BAY Outdoor education organization Trackers Bay has taken over the distinctive building formerly occupied by Marmot Mountain Works at 3049 Adeline St. in Berkeley. Trackers’ regional director, Jess Liotta, describes the company as offering training in old-school skills and story-based immersive experiences for kids and adults. She tells Berkeleyside: “Think archery, foraging, wilderness survival, zombie apocalypse training, blacksmithing, etc!” The Adeline space is going to serve as Trackers’ central headquarters, office, and meeting space for its workshops and classes. Community gatherings and events will also be held there. Trackers Bay parent company Trackers Earth was founded in 2004 by Tony and Molly Deis. Tony based Trackers on his personal work in outdoor education since 1992. Marmot Mountain Works closed at the beginning of this year, after 36 years operating in Berkeley. Visit the Trackers Bay website for more information.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley parkers may get five-minute grace period

PEO 2(1)
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In a measure that will be considered by the City Council Tuesday night, Capitelli is suggesting that parking enforcement officers give people a five-minute grace period after their meters expire.

“We hear that parking enforcement officers have been seen waiting at targeted cars for the exact minute the receipt has expired,” Capitelli wrote in the measure. “This has created tremendous ill will and frustration, ultimately discouraging people from patronizing our local businesses.”

Sometimes there is a discrepancy between the time on the watch of a patron and the time on the parking meter, Capitelli noted. This “friendlier” policy will ease that distinction.

The five-minute grace period would only apply to cars using a pay and display meter that produces a time-stamped receipt that can be displayed on a dashboard.

Any ease in parking restrictions would help attract customers because shoppers always have the option of going to a mall or going to Albany, where is parking is free, instead of coming to Berkeley, said Allen Cain, the director of the Solano Avenue Association. … Continue reading »

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The Solano Stroll: A Berkeley fixture on day to remember

Unsung Heroes
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The Solano Stroll barely needs any introduction. A mile-long block party that has been held annually since 1974, the Stroll is easily the East Bay’s largest festival.

The organizers expect a turn-out of 250,000 this year, but don’t let that put you off. There are 26 blocks to stroll, a parade to watch, and a plethora of free entertainment to enjoy.

This year, the stroll falls on September 11, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and, fittingly, the theme is “Unsung Heroes”. The event will … Continue reading »

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Sourced: How those mosaic bollards came to be

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Kim Weisberg’s post on Friday, about the mosaic bollards on Ashby and Fulton, prompted a wealth of responses. Among them, the person behind the mosaic bollard transformation herself, Lisa Bullwinkel, who got in touch via the Comments section. Here’s what she has to say:

How lovely to be appreciated! I think a lot of us in town do a whole lot of wonderful things and no one ever says thanks, so this is great!

I work at … Continue reading »

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