Tag Archives: University Avenue

Parking lot war at 1414 University in Berkeley heats up; owner attempts to fence off competing businesses

The owner of this parking lot at 1414 University Ave. does not want adjacent businesses using it. She sent a construction crew to erect a fence on Wednesday. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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The owner of the building at 1414 University Ave. attempted to install a fence Tuesday along the parking lot that she gained exclusive rights to in a contentious lawsuit last year. The fence would have blocked off access from the lot into a string of businesses known as Strawberry Walk.

Employees of Strawberry Walk, which borders the parking lot, arrived at work to find a contractor drilling holes in front of their sidewalk in preparation to install a 5-foot diamond-link fence. A Strawberry Walk tenant alerted the building’s landlord, Cecile Isaacs, who came to the site and asked the worker to show her his construction permit. When he said he didn’t have a building permit, Isaacs asked him to stop construction and called the city. … Continue reading »

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Update: Bus fire slows I-80 traffic in Berkeley, no injuries

Image: Google Maps
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Update, 6:45 p.m. Berkeley Fire Department spokesman Deputy Chief Avery Webb said the bus that caught fire Friday morning was a Storer Coachways tourist bus with 21 passengers. Webb said Berkeley firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 11:16 a.m. for a fire that affected the engine compartment of the bus. Smoke from the fire made its way into the passenger compartment, but the fire itself did not spread beyond the engine area. All the passengers on the bus had gotten off by the time firefighters arrived, and Storer quickly sent another bus to pick them up. No injuries were reported. Berkeley firefighters extinguished the fire when they arrived to the scene, on Interstate 80 between Ashby and University avenues. Webb said there were multiple helicopters in the area as emergency crews responded.

Update, 1:45 p.m. 511.org reports that there are “residual delays” on eastbound I-80 near University Avenue in Berkeley after Friday’s bus fire, but that all lanes are open as of 1:45 p.m.

Update, 1:34 p.m. Via 511.org: “On Friday, March 28th at 1:20pm, the Severe Traffic Alert remains in effect on Eastbound I-80 before University Ave. in Berkeley. The right lane is closed due to a bus fire. Motorists are advised to expect delays and avoid the area. There is no estimated time to reopen the roadway.”

Original story, 12:17 p.m. A tour bus caught fire on Interstate 80 near University Avenue in Berkeley on Friday morning, and a traffic advisory has been issued due to closed lanes on the highway, authorities said. … Continue reading »

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AC Transit rolls back Line 51 changes after pushback

AC Transit hopes to speed up and improve service on Line 51. Photo: Paul Sullivan/Flickr
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Citing budgetary and scheduling constraints, along with a desire to listen to community concerns, AC Transit has removed most of the “controversial” items from its proposal to improve service on the Line 51 bus route in Berkeley.

“I think it’s safe to say it contains a lot less potentially controversial items than previously,” AC Transit representative Robert del Rosario told Berkeley’s Transportation Commission on Thursday night.

The panel voted to recommend the current list of modifications to the Berkeley City Council, which is expected to consider the item in April. Four members of the commission were absent, with commissioners Eric McCaughrin, Darby Watson, Terry Roberts, Ghanya Thomas and Mark Humbert voting unanimously to recommend that council approve the plan. … Continue reading »

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Artisanal vegan specialty shop opens in Berkeley

Republic of V, Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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It’s probably less of a surprise that a stylish, all-things-vegan shop has opened in Berkeley than the fact that it took so long to happen.

Republic of V opened less than three weeks ago on University Avenue east of Sacramento Street, and has won fast approval from vegans around the area.

“If you’ve ever been to Rainbow and felt like you were in a vegan toy store, your mind will be blown at Republic of V,” said one Yelper. Wrote another, “Vegan dreams are made a reality at this store!”

Recent Berkeley transplants Joe Haptas and Noelle Callahan opened Republic of V in mid-February, and have a grand opening celebration planned for March 16. Expect free tastings, “name that ingredient” food contests, team trivia, Gong Show-inspired festivities and more. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Sauna closed temporarily, 6 displaced after fire

A fire in the 1900 block of Milvia Street caused extensive damage Saturday. Photo: Joshua Schoolfield
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A two-alarm fire over the weekend in the Milvia Street building occupied by a popular Berkeley spa caused up to $100,000 in damage, temporarily closed the operation and displaced six residents, authorities said Monday.

On Saturday, Feb. 15, just after noon, the Berkeley Fire Department responded to a report of “black smoke coming out of the windows” at 1947 Milvia St., a two-story building just north of University Avenue with apartments over commercial spaces, said Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb via email.

Arriving firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the rear of the building. A working fire was declared, and the incident was upgraded to a two-alarm assignment, said Webb. It took approximately 40 minutes to bring the fire under control. … Continue reading »

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Traffic signal upgrades planned on Line 51 route

Proposed changes along the Line 51 route in Berkeley. (Click to view larger.) Image: AC Transit
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Intersections along AC Transit’s Line 51 bus route in Berkeley may see upgrades, if approved by city staff, designed to improve traffic signal timing coordination and allow signals to better recognize when vehicles are waiting for a green light.

The changes are part of a larger plan by AC Transit to speed up and improve service on Line 51. Thursday night, Berkeley’s Transportation Commission approved the signal changes as Phase 1 of the project. City transportation staff said they will take a closer look at those proposals before giving AC Transit the final go-ahead.

More controversial changes under consideration — such as a new traffic light at Russell Street and College Avenue, new bus bulbs, and the removal of numerous parking spots along University and College avenues — will be considered at a later date.  … Continue reading »

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AC Transit’s Line 51 plans get second review Thursday

Proposed changes along the Line 51 route in Berkeley. (Click to view larger.) Image: AC Transit
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Proposed changes to AC Transit’s Line 51 bus service in Berkeley will come back before the city’s Transportation Commission on Thursday night for a second review.

AC Transit presented its plans — designed to speed up service and make it more reliable — in October, and met with steep opposition from members of the public who criticized the agency’s attempts at public outreach, decried its lack of responsiveness to local concerns, and questioned whether the proposed changes and resulting gains would be worth the hardships some community members believe they would pose.

Since the last meeting, AC Transit has posted a draft parking study that outlines proposed changes along the route in Berkeley. If approved, a handful of parking spots would be added, but another 133 — metered, unmetered, handicapped, yellow, green and white — could potentially be removed. The bulk of the removals — 99 spaces along University Avenue — would be in effect during PM peak hours only. (See the full list here.) The other spots, in the Elmwood and Southside, do not appear to be tied to a particular time of day, but AC Transit could not be reached for confirmation.

Wednesday morning, AC Transit sent out an email notice about the meeting to be held Thursday night before the Transportation Commission: “We apologize for the late advisory, but we hope a number of riders will be able to attend and give their perspective on improving this vital transportation service in Berkeley.”  … Continue reading »

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‘The Overture’ apartments planned on University Ave.

1812 University Ave. could become "The Overture" apartments. Photo: Google maps
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A new mixed-use development on University Avenue, set to contain 41 units, has begun wending its way through the city of Berkeley’s permit approval process.

The Rhoades Planning Group, run by former city planner Mark Rhoades, submitted the application for the project in October. It has not yet been scheduled for design or zoning board review.

The project, called “The Overture” — perhaps referencing its 1812 University address with a nod to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture — would be a transit-oriented mixed-used building at University just west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way.   … Continue reading »

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Merchants ask AC Transit to revise Line 51 plans

Proposed changes along the Line 51 route in Berkeley. (Click to view larger.) Image: AC Transit
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Berkeley business owners took AC Transit to task last week for what they described as the agency’s failure to communicate as it moves ahead with proposed changes on the Line 51 route designed to speed up and improve bus service.

Proposed changes along the route — which are still very much in the draft stage — include possible parking space removal during peak times, the relocation or removal of some stops, the installation of “bus bulbs,” and, at College Avenue and Russell Street, a new traffic signal. (See a map of the proposed changes here.)

AC Transit held two community meetings about the proposal in late August, and presented an overview of the Line 51 project to Berkeley’s Transportation Commission on Thursday. AC Transit is scheduled to return to the commission in November, then go on to the Berkeley City Council in December or January. The council will ultimately need to approve the changes for them to take place. (Scroll to the bottom of this story to view maps that show each proposed change.) … Continue reading »

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‘The Aquatic’ wins easy approval from Berkeley officials

The Aquatic mixed-use development at 800 University Ave. in Berkeley could open by summer 2015. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A proposal for a new University Avenue mixed-use development, set to include 58 units, sailed through Berkeley zoning board review Thursday night, winning acclaim from commissioners for what they said was its beautiful design and sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood.

The 45- to 55-foot-tall building will feature 1,175 square feet of office or retail space, and 60 parking spaces. Two structures currently on site — which have housed a construction company, a veterinary clinic (circa 1973) and, later, medical research labs — will be demolished to make way for the project, which is named “The Aquatic” and was designed by Berkeley-based Trachtenberg Architects. (See the project staff report here.)

The building project site, at 800 University Ave. on the south side of the street, straddles two different zoning designations; as a result, the north side of the property will reach five stories, and the southern portion will rise to just four. Parking will be provided in both a ground-floor garage and an open lot behind the building. Four units in the development will be available to very-low income residents, and the project will put $240,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Police: Gas station hold-ups, vandalism, more

Examples of the vandalism at the Grove St. mural. Photos: BPD
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Earlier this year, the Berkeley Police Department relaunched its monthly newsletter to inform the community about notable arrests and incidents, as well as crime prevention tips and safety resources. Along with beat maps and police contacts for each neighborhood, the newsletter highlights arrests and open cases in Berkeley from the prior month. The seventh edition of the newsletter came out in August. Scroll down for highlights.

Help from the community

Since January, there have been seven cases of vandalism to the mural at the Young Adult Project’s Grove Street Recreation Center at 1730 Oregon St. Six of the seven occasions of vandalism occurred over the weekend. Police ask anyone with information to call the Property Crimes Unit at 510-981-5737.

The city is offering a $15,000 reward in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for a fatal hit-and-run on July 15. The incident occurred at 5:10 a.m. on the University Avenue overpass, and resulted in the death of Berkeley resident John Patrick Miller, 46 years old. Police ask anyone with information about the case to call the Traffic Bureau at 510-981-5980, or the non-emergency line at 510-981-5900. … Continue reading »

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Developer submits 8-story project for University, Milvia

Image: Johnson Lyman Architects
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A new eight-story building could take the place of the Firestone garage and parking lot at Milvia and University, if a newly proposed development at 1974 University Ave. is approved by the city of Berkeley.

The project is still in its nascent stages as far as the city permit approval process; developer William Schrader Jr., of Alamo-based The Austin Group, submitted the application Friday, with the possibility of a design review session coming in August.

Schrader’s son, AJ, a broker with San Francisco-based boutique real estate firm Retail West, who procured the sale of the land, said last week that the deal took about 14 months to negotiate. The sale won’t be final until the city entitlement process is complete, or nearly complete, he added.

William Schrader said the new development would help continue extending “the retail experience” from Shattuck Avenue downtown westbound on University Avenue. The new building is planned at this time to include an atrium that’s open to the sky. The first story would be retail, which is set to include a full-service restaurant, perhaps 3,500 square feet, and some other commercial spaces on University. … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside Police Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, July 18-24

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, July 18-24, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Blue icons with a white mask are robberies. Red icons show physical violence. Purple icons with a gun are weapon-related calls, and blue ones marked “SC” are sexual assault calls. Click the map for the full list.
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This is a partial list of recent crimes in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. See past crime blotters here. (Note to readers: We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com.)

The following items represent just a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate. From July 18-24, there were 17 burglary reports30 auto break-in or theft from a vehicle reports, and 11 stolen vehicle reports to the Berkeley Police Department, according to CrimeMapping.comSix robberies and 11 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries were reported. These numbers are subject to change. Click the previous links for the most current information.

Thursday, July 18

Three home burglaries were reported: at 1 a.m. in the 1700 block of Shattuck Avenue; at 7 p.m. in the 2700 block of Stuart Street; and at 10:29 p.m. in the 2200 block of Dwight Way. According to a statement released by the Berkeley Police Department, authorities received a report of a possible burglary in progress in the 2200 block of Dwight. A caller reported seeing someone enter a neighbor’s window. Officers arrived and detained the intruder, who was subsequently arrested on suspicion of burglary. … Continue reading »

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