Tag Archives: West Berkeley

3 arrested, guns and meth found, in West Berkeley raid

Police recovered these items during an operation Thursday at Juan's Place in West Berkeley. Photo: BPD
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[Editor’s Note: This story was updated after publication with comments from Juan’s Place and additional information from the Berkeley Police Department.]

Three men were arrested during a narcotics operation at Juan’s Place in West Berkeley on Thursday morning.

Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman, said the department’s Special Investigations Bureau “recovered several handguns, ammunition, drug paraphernalia, as well as a quantity of methamphetamine.”

White said he couldn’t share much information about the investigation, which took place at 941 Carleton St., because it remains in-progress.

That address is the location of popular Berkeley Mexican restaurant Juan’s Place.

White said three Berkeley men were arrested: 51-year-old Jorge Mejia, on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, both felonies; 61-year-old Juan Mejia, on suspicion of possessing controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, which are misdemeanors, along with probation violation; and 57-year-old Oscar Medina, on an outstanding warrant.

According to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office, Jorge Mejia is an assistant manager at Juan’s Place, where the raid took place. Juan Mejia is listed as a restaurant employee. Both were booked into Berkeley Jail on Thursday.

Tony Mejia, manager at Juan’s, said the guns had been locked up in a safe and were not accessible to his brother, Jorge. He said their father had purchased some of those guns 30 years ago from a Berkeley Police officer, and that they had just been sitting in the safe ever since.

“I’m not a gun person,” he said. “They’re still in the box where my dad purchased them. We’re not doing those kinds of things here.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Franklin Bros. Market gets a makeover

Owner Jennifer Freese at Franklin Bros. Market. Photo: Alix Wall
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Jennifer Freese has lived on Bancroft Way, west of San Pablo Avenue, since 1998. And, like many in the neighborhood, she came to rely on Franklin Bros. Market, on the corner of Bancroft and Seventh Street, especially when she was in a pinch.

The store was never much to look at. The windows were boarded up with plywood, and it made most of its profits as many corner markets do — selling cheap beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

Freese used to suggest to Franklin Bros.’ previous owners that they spruce it up a bit, but they never listened. And she’d joke with them: “When you retire, I’m going to buy your store and fix it up.”

So, when they decided to sell the business after 40 years, it wasn’t surprising that they gave first dibs to Freese. And after giving it some thought, Freese, who formerly worked for arts-related nonprofits, realized a job ambition she never knew she had. … Continue reading »

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After armed robbery, car-jacking, reckless driving, police arrest 2 Berkeley men with loaded handgun, puppy

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Exclusive: Berkeley Police arrested two Berkeley men after an incident early Wednesday morning in which a victim was robbed at gunpoint, forced into a bathroom in his own home with the suspect, and then had his car stolen, according to authorities.

BPD received a call at 7 a.m. about a robbery and car-jacking in the 2200 block of Seventh Street (between Bancroft and Allston Way) in West Berkeley, according to Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department.

White said a male 24-year-old victim told officers that he had just come home, to the house he shares with his 77-year-old grandmother and a 22-year-old companion of hers. The victim was driving his grandmother’s car. After getting out of the car, he was confronted by a man holding a handgun who emerged from from the shadows near another apartment building.

The suspect demanded the victim give him his keys and cellphone. He then demanded to use his restroom. … Continue reading »

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Young man shot multiple times in San Pablo Park

Authorities are standing by in San Pablo Park for the arrival of a patient from Alta Bates Hospital. Photo: hfidek
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There was a shooting in San Pablo Park in Berkeley Tuesday morning, according to authorities.

Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department said that the shooting took place at around 11 a.m and it resulted in one victim. The victim, a young man estimated to be in his 20s, was shot multiple times and was transported to a local hospital. His condition is unknown, Officer White said.

The victim was found outside the restrooms in the park, adjacent to the basketball courts.

The suspect is described as a young man estimated to be in his 20s, light-skinned, with short hair and about 6 ft tall. He was wearing a cream-colored shirt and baggy jeans. He was last seen heading east on Ward Street from Park Street, according to Officer White. … Continue reading »

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170 new units approved in West Berkeley

The proposed view at San Pablo Avenue and Jones Street. Image: Pyatok Architects
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A sprawling mixed-use complex on San Pablo Avenue won approval Thursday night from Berkeley’s zoning board.

Neighbors turned up in droves for the May 12 Zoning Adjustments Board meeting. Most of those who spoke during public comment lobbied for what they said was a more efficient alternative created by three community members to reduce the impacts. Supporters of the project, some of whom said they live nearby, were also in attendance. They said the time is now for more housing, and that the alternative plan was not realistic.

See more real estate news on Berkeleyside.

The board did not vote on the project until 11 p.m., though 1500 San Pablo Ave. was the only item on the action calendar. Seven board members voted in favor while two — Igor Tregub and Shoshana O’Keefe — abstained.

Tregub had tried to win support for an alternate motion that directed the applicant, Amir Massih of 4Terra, to work with neighbors and come back later with a project that was more compatible with its surroundings. He could not get a majority vote in favor, however. O’Keefe said she liked a lot about the project but had too many questions about traffic impacts to vote Thursday night.  … Continue reading »

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Second West Berkeley human remains discovery prompts call to re-examine shellmound boundaries

Andrew Galvan, a Cocheyno Ohlone, points to a mural on Fourth street of pre-contact natives in ceremonial dress for dances. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Workers building new stores and a beer garden at 1919 Fourth St. on April 27 found a second set of ancient human remains, leading the Peace and Justice Commission to call for a stop on construction. The discovery followed closely on the unearthing of what appeared to be “pre-contact” Indian remains in the same area on March 29 while working on the redevelopment of Spenger’s Fish Grotto and adjoining parcels.

The discovery of the remains across the street from the boundary of the West Berkeley Shellmound has also prompted Councilwoman Linda Maio to suggest that Berkeley take another look at the shellmound boundaries, which were established in 2000. Maio intends to ask the city manager to take up the matter. … Continue reading »

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Real estate

91 units over underground parking proposed on San Pablo

2100 San Pablo Ave. could one day look like this. Image: RGArchitecture
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Spirit Residential is planning to build 91 new apartments over an underground parking garage on San Pablo Avenue just south of Addison Street in West Berkeley.

A U-Haul rental outlet used to operate there but is no longer in business, according to a U-Haul rep reached by phone.

“The project will include demolition of two small existing buildings previously used as a U-Haul truck rental facility, which was forced to close after extensive City of Berkeley enforcement actions due to neighborhood impacts,” according to project materials.

See more real estate news on Berkeleyside.

The 5-story 2100 San Pablo Ave. project — just south of the Mi Tierra Foods market on Addison — was submitted to the city Feb. 16 by Mark Rhoades, who is representing San Anselmo-based Spirit Residential.

Four ground-floor live-work units and three retail and café spaces, which could be combined into one, will have four stories of apartments overhead. Rhoades said the project is unique for how far it is slated to be set back from nearby neighbors, from 40 to 60 feet away in most areas. The setback is often an area of contention during the permitting process. … Continue reading »

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How I became a docent for burrowing owls. What a hoot!

Burrowing owl in Cesar Chavez Park in Feb. 2016. Photo: Miya Lucas
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By Rubi Abrams

Newly retired from a fulfilling career as a community college librarian last year, I was ready to plunge into as many birding activities as I could schedule. Birding-related travel, classes, meetups, speaker series, feeder watch, bird counts – the more the better, and most sponsored by Golden Gate Audubon Society. But I was also eager to use my professional skills. I was itching to be a citizen scientist, to have a “conservation conversation” in my community.

Read more (and see photos) on burrowing owls.

Remembering the delightful young adult novel Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, I was inspired to get involved with the GGAS Burrowing Owl docent project. In the novel two young boys embark on a campaign to save the burrowing owl colony in their Florida town from real-estate developers. Although not threatened by local developers, our local burrowing owl populations have declined steeply, and they are currently a federally listed Species of Management Concern and Species of Special Concern in California due to habitat disruption. Though protected, there is still plenty to do in educating the public about these delightful creatures. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley preview sheds new light on Gilman roundabouts

Members of the public got a look Wednesday night at plans to build two roundabouts at Gilman and Interstate 80. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Early plans to build two large roundabouts at Interstate 80 and Gilman Street in Berkeley were on display for the public Wednesday night at the North Berkeley Senior Center.

The project — with an estimated $24 million construction cost — is slated to be complete in 2022, a representative told the dozens of attendees who perused information stations set up around the room.

“This is an area that has a lot of concerns with it,” David Early, principal at Berkeley-based community planning firm Placeworks, told the crowd. “It’s quite a ‘wild west’ kind of scene.”

Scroll down to see a simulation of the proposed circulation.

By the numbers, the problem is stark. Crash data presented Wednesday, from 2011-2013, showed significantly higher than average numbers of injury or fatal collisions, particularly on the north side of Gilman. On the west side off-ramp, those numbers were 80% higher than the state average. On the east side on-ramp, they were a whopping 177% above the state average.

South of the freeway, they were about 30% above the state average at both the on- and off-ramps.

The project involves the two roundabouts on either side of I-80, new sidewalks under the freeway, and a pedestrian and bike bridge similar to the one at Aquatic Park. Perhaps the most controversial elements of the project — in addition to the roundabouts themselves — are the location of the bike bridge, which makes a fairly large detour south before bringing users back up to Gilman, as well as plans to cut off access from Gilman to the frontage road on the east side of the freeway.  … Continue reading »

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After latest shooting, neighbors talk public safety

The corner of Delaware and San Pablo, the site of three shootings in recent years. Photo: Emily Dugdale.
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“How much is too much?”

The question lingered in the air as folding chairs were put away following what was described as an “action plan” meeting Saturday convened by Berkeley Councilwoman Linda Maio held at the Adult School in West Berkeley. Long-time residents joined young families, as well as a representative from the Berkeley Police Department, to discuss potential neighborhood changes following the March 15 shooting of a 28-year-old man on the corner of Delaware and San Pablo Avenue outside of Bing’s Liquors.

“I know you feel the same way I do,” Maio told an agitated crowd of approximately 40 neighbors who shared accounts of witnessing substance abuse, public defection and “sleaze” centered on a small strip of bustling San Pablo Avenue. “This is not new,” she said.

March’s incident marks the third shooting in the area in as many years. In February 2013, Zontee Jones, 34, was shot in broad daylight on Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue. Six months later, on the other side of San Pablo at Delaware, Dustin Bynum, 24, was shot at close range in front of Bing’s Liquors. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Suspected DUI motorist crashes into Berkeley marina

Car into Berkeley Marina. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
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Authorities worked to beat the tide Sunday to remove a vehicle that crashed Saturday night into the Berkeley Marina and began leaking fluids into the water.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said crews responded to the marina after a vehicle left the roadway, where University Avenue and Marina Boulevard split, shortly before midnight.

Scroll down for updates and dramatic photos.

Officers threw emergency flotation devices into the water to help the driver, a passenger and a citizen responder get off the fully submerged vehicle, he said.

All three were taken to the hospital for treatment but were expected to survive. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Police: Berkeley double stabbing was unprovoked

Police were called to the 1000 block of University Avenue, near 10th Street, for a double stabbing early Tuesday. Image: Google Maps
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The 33-year-old Berkeley man arrested after a double stabbing in a University Avenue apartment earlier this week told authorities he “should have killed everyone there,” according to court papers.

Tristan Chaix was arrested at the scene, near University and 10th Street, and charged Thursday by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon identified as a knife. He was on probation at the time of the attack for assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury following a September 2015 conviction.

According to court papers, Chaix was in a home on University “when unprovoked he went into the kitchen” and got three kitchen knives, then “began to attack the people inside that apartment.”

He stabbed two men before the victims managed “to knock the knives out of his hands,” police wrote. Two of the four people in the apartment were taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

“Chaix stated at the scene he should have killed everyone there,” according to police. Victims told police that, had they not been able to disarm Chaix “they would have been murdered.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man charged in Berkeley shooting faces 3rd strike

Ali Griffin. Photo: American Sex Offenders
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Update, March 31: Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office has organized a meeting Saturday, April 2, at the Berkeley Adult School to discuss the violence: “The third shooting in just a few years at San Pablo and Delaware is a third too many. It is time for more concerted action.” See the meeting flier.

Original story, March 24: The Berkeley man who surrendered to police last week after a shooting outside Bing’s liquor store has been charged with assault with a gun and is set to enter a plea Friday.

Ali Griffin, 40, is being held with a bail of $480,000 at Santa Rita Jail.

According to court papers, he was at Bing’s last week Tuesday, March 15, when he got into an argument with two other men.

“Griffin punched one of the men and brandished a firearm,” police wrote, then began to leave the area. One of the men followed him “from a distance” on Delaware Street.

Police said Griffin then fired one round at the man and hit him in the back.

Griffin fled to his home on 10th Street, authorities said. Police recovered a casing at the scene.

According to court papers, a witness identified Griffin as the man with the gun, and video shows the altercation that preceded the shooting. Police recovered a handgun and ammunition at Griffin’s home during the service of a search warrant. … Continue reading »

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