Tag Archives: West Berkeley

Crime

3 men held to answer after fatal Berkeley shooting

Kamahl Middleton
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An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that three young men charged in the fatal shooting of a Pinole man in Berkeley in December must now stand trial.

Judge Thomas Reardon said Monday afternoon, after a lengthy preliminary hearing that began in May, that the prosecution had presented enough evidence to demonstrate a “strong suspicion” that Gregory Foote, Carl Young and Khalil Phanor were responsible for the shooting that killed 36-year-old Kamahl Middleton, who grew up in Berkeley, and wounded his fiancée, Rebekah Cleberg, during a robbery Dec. 29, 2014.

According to evidence presented during the hearing, the couple had arranged, after posting an ad on Craigslist, to trade 1½ pounds of a strain of medical marijuana called “Girl Scout Cookies,” for a donation of $3,200, to a man who had provided a verified medical cannabis card and state ID card.

The man pictured in that ID card was identified as Carl Young, 20, of San Leandro. According to Alameda County deputy district attorney Rebecca Warren, 19-year-old Foote of Oakland had acted as the driver on the night of the shooting, Young had been assigned to interact with the couple prior to the robbery, and 18-year-old Phanor of San Leandro had been the gunman.  … Continue reading »

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Jittery John’s cold-brew coffee lands in Berkeley

Judy Schlussel (left), who runs sales for Jittery John's, and co-founder Kristina Barnes at the Berkeley production plant the cold-brew coffee company moved into recently. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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When a man accidentally dropped a Viagra pill into his glass of cold-brew coffee recently, then wrote about it on Reddit, a certain Berkeley startup got a lucky break. The man wrote that he had to drink the coffee — pill and all — because the cold brew was just too good to throw away. For Kristina Barnes, co-founder of Jittery John’s, the first sign that her brand had had a moment of viral internet fame was when she noticed a sudden spike in online sales.

“People on Reddit asked the guy which brand of cold brew was so good, and after he told them it was Jittery John’s, it led to lots of new customers,” she said a couple of weeks ago at the cold-brew coffee company’s new West Berkeley production facility. “We couldn’t have asked for better free marketing!”

Marketing is not something the young company has done much of so far. Word of mouth has been the main way people have discovered the rich-tasting coffee concentrate that is sold in sturdy glass bottles evocative of those that held tinctures and tonics in days of old. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man tried to shield fiancée during fatal Berkeley shooting

Kamahl Middleton
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Moments before being struck by a fatal shotgun blast, a Pinole man killed in Berkeley in December used his body to try to shield his fiancée from the gunman, she testified in court Wednesday.

Rebekah Cleberg of Pinole described the Dec. 29, 2014, shooting in West Berkeley as a medical marijuana exchange that quickly became an armed robbery in the parking lot by the 99 Cents store on San Pablo and University avenues.

Cleberg, 29, said she and her fiancé, 36-year-old Kamahl Middleton, drove to Berkeley from Pinole after arranging to trade about 1½ pounds of a strain of medical marijuana called “Girl Scout Cookies,” for a donation of $3,200, to a man who had provided a verified medical cannabis card and state ID card.

“We told him we were going to give him all the nicest ones,” she said. … Continue reading »

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Fire

Berkeley authorities respond to fire near Ashby, I-80

Photo: Kester Allen
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Update, 4:20 p.m. Berkeley Fire Department Battalion Chief Paul Cavagnaro said the fire in Berkeley on Friday was confined to a 20-by-20-foot area of “pretty thick brush” in the midst of numerous homeless encampments where Bay Street goes over Ashby Avenue near the freeway.

Firefighters were dispatched to the area at 1:16 p.m., and Cavagnaro said the fire was likely out by around 1:30 p.m. There were no injuries.

Cavagnaro said that, despite an initial report that it may have been arson, no one witnessed anyone set anything on fire. He said many homeless people live in the area on both sides of the freeway, but that it’s difficult to estimate how many because the camps are “joined together.”

“We’re not sure how many people are living in the bushes,” he said.

Update, 3:55 p.m. Berkeley Police Lt. Alyson Hart said the fire was limited to property damage at two homeless camps. She said the fire may have been either arson or an accident, and that no one is in custody. Berkeleyside will follow up with the Berkeley Fire Department for additional information.

Original story, 1:50 p.m. Berkeley authorities are responding to a fire near Ashby Avenue and Interstate 80, which is backing up traffic in the area.

Community members in West Berkeley reported the smell of smoke and the sound of loud firetrucks just before 1:30 p.m. near Ashby and Ninth Street. … Continue reading »

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Real estate

New Berkeley Humane shelter plans approved

Project renderings of the proposed Berkeley Humane building on Ninth Street. Image: Noll & Tam Architects
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Berkeley Humane won approval last week to construct a new facility on Ninth Street, and the organization is hoping to get the community involved to help make the project a reality.

The city’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved the permit for the new building May 14 to allow demolition of the agency’s existing facility and future construction of a new 2-story, 13,211-square-foot replacement building at the same location, 2700 Ninth St. in West Berkeley. The permit was approved on consent, and neither board members nor members of the public discussed the project during the meeting.

The approval comes five years after a deadly fire destroyed most of the existing building, killing 15 cats. Since reopening in 2011, the nonprofit — officially named the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society Inc. — has operated out of only a small portion of the salvaged building. … Continue reading »

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Housing, restaurant, garage planned at Spenger’s lot

A rendering of what 1900 Fourth St. may one day look like. Image: TCA Architects
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The owners of an empty lot on Fourth Street that’s a designated city landmark related to Ohlone Indian archeological remains have applied to build a mixed-use development on the site, adding to a burst of similar building in West Berkeley.

The move was expected after a recent archeological investigation of the property at 1900 Fourth, across the street from Spenger’s restaurant and used as a parking lot, failed to find anything of significance, according to a report commissioned by property owners, developers Ruegg & Ellsworth.

Read more about West Berkeley.

The 2014 investigation was the most recent chapter in a long, contentious debate about the history of the land and the boundaries of the well-documented West Berkeley Shellmound, a 30-foot-high hill of discarded shells, bones and other debris from years of Ohlone activity. … Continue reading »

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NOSH neighborhood guide: Berkeley Design Loop

Missouri Lounge at night. Photo: Steve Hanna/Flickr
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We know that there’s more to East Bay dining than Temescal, Rockridge and the Gourmet Ghetto. NOSH’s neighborhood guides explore the best of the rest. This month, we explore the south side of Berkeley’s San Pablo Avenue, a.k.a. the West Berkeley Design Loop.

West Berkeley’s dining scene has been on fire the last few years. With the opening of the Gilman Whole Foods came a slew of restaurants on the city’s northwest corner. Yet the southern end of West Berkeley’s San Pablo Avenue has long been a destination for barbecue and dive bars. Today, the neighborhood advertises itself as a design and antiques mecca — furniture stores, salvage yards and antique shops are everywhere — but there many great restaurants and bars, both new and old, to visit after shopping. Below are our picks for the best in the area, and we’ve included a handy map so you know precisely where they are. … Continue reading »

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Rent Romus, and past and future Finns of West Berkeley

Rent Romus
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The determination to explore his Finnish ancestry didn’t come to Rent Romus in a sudden epiphany or a burst of inspiration. Rather, the Richmond saxophonist and composer spent years painstakingly parsing The Kalevala, a compendium of epic poetry, folklore and mythology that played an essential role in sparking Finnish national identity in the mid-19th century.

Eventually, he created a singular synthesis of postmodern jazz and traditional Finnish music in The Otherworld Cycle, an expansive suite he presents 4 p.m. Saturday as part of the Annual Vappu Spring Festival at Berkeley’s Finnish Kaleva Hall. The event, which also includes a buffet supper, a silent auction and a performance by Heikki Koskinen’s Kaleva All Stars, harkens back to a time when West Berkeley was commonly known as Finntown (more on that later). … Continue reading »

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Local man pushes for better restrooms at Berkeley park

Berkeley resident Martin Nicolaus has been petitioning for cleaner, more permanent restrooms in Cesar Chavez Park since this March. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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For years, Berkeley resident Martin Nicolaus has been coming out to César Chávez Park to admire its natural beauty and take photographs — a collection of which he published in a book last December.

But over the past four months, Nicolaus, who is arguably the park’s number one fan, has been engaged in a more earnest mission: to persuade the city to install cleaner, permanent restrooms in Berkeley’s largest park.

A Berkeley resident since 1992, Nicolaus sets up his base-camp by the two portable bathrooms by the park’s entrance on Spinnaker Way to collect signatures and video-interview park users on their experiences using the toilets. He said over the past decade he has often seen the portable toilets in near-unusable condition, and has been frustrated by the lack of action to improve them. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Shiba Ramen, KoJa Kitchen to Public Market

Emeryville Public Market where a new Off The Grid food truck market will launch on Aug. 23. Photo:  Public Market Emeryville
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Openings, closings

EMERYVILLE PUBLIC MARKET TO GAIN TWO NEW RESTAURANTS Emeryville’s Public Market is about to get even more interesting, food-wise. The shopping and dining center added a full line-up of food trucks earlier this year, which will soon be joined by two new restaurants in the market hall portion of the building: Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen. We brought you news of the Shiba Ramen project last week; the fast-casual ramen shop is the brainchild of two ex-chemists who plan on bringing Japanese style service and noodle soups to the neighborhood. KoJa Kitchen will be the second brick-and-mortar location for the Korean-Japanese fusion food truck of the same name. (Its first location is at 2395 Telegraph Ave., at Channing Way, in Berkeley.) “We’re excited to welcome Koja Kitchen and Shiba Ramen to Public Market Emeryville,” said City Center Realty Partners’ Co-Founder Mark Stefan in a prepared statement. “They embody our vision for the new Food Hall — unique purveyors who want to be part of the community.” Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen are both part of a larger renovation project. This first phase includes adding food stalls and reconditioning the existing structure. The second phase of the project, expected to wrap up by this summer, includes installing a living wall, replacing the ball-pit with a new children’s play area, upgrading the entries, and putting up local artwork. Public Market Emeryville is at 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Connect with Shiba Ramen on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Connect with KoJa Kitchen on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Ms Barstool: Spirits aplenty at Longbranch Saloon

Longbranch Saloon. Photo: Risa Nye
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While the décor at Longbranch Saloon may be minimal, the bar menu is not. If you’re looking for a staggering array of whiskeys (or “whiskies,” and more about that distinction later), you need look no further than Longbranch, now occupying the former location of Sea Salt restaurant on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley.

Longtime Berkeley residents and fans of Asleep at the Wheel may be confused by the reappearance of the Longbranch name. There may be mixed feelings about the long-gone $1 cover charge, the sawdust on the floor, the free draft beer and the indoor motorcycle parking — none of which feature at the new incarnation. (Our server informed us that the old joint was further up the street on San Pablo anyway.) So those with long memories are advised to come around and see what the 21st-century version is all about. … Continue reading »

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Old Berkeley animal shelter to become live-work units

A photo simulation of 2013 Second St. Image: Levy Design Partners
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A new live-work project for artists and craftspeople has been approved in West Berkeley by the zoning board, to take the place of the city’s old municipal animal shelter, which closed in 2012.

The project, at 2013 Second St., was unanimously approved April 9 by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, with no one speaking against the proposal.

The four-story, 26,500-square-foot building would include 19 one-bedroom live-work rental units of approximately 1,000 square feet each. It is also set to include one vehicle and one bike parking spot per unit. According to the project staff report, “A large landscaped courtyard will provide shared work/live open space for the residents.” The old animal shelter would be demolished to make way for the new project.

Read more about West Berkeley.

The building is the latest to win approval in the increasingly busy neighborhood, where the nearby Grocery Outlet, at University Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets, is set to be demolished and replaced by a large housing complex (152 units), and plans are underway at 800 University (between Fifth and Sixth streets) for a five-story building (58 units). In recent years, new apartment developments have gone up nearby at Fourth & U (171 units) and The Avalon (99 units), which opened last May.

City staff noted last week that there aren’t very many live-work complexes in Berkeley. The West Berkeley Plan — from 1993 — put the number at about 2% of the area’s housing, but also noted that the city had no comprehensive directory of those properties.

Chris Hoff, who owns the Second Street property with his brother Greg, said theirs is the first project of its kind to come to the city in more than a decade.

“We want to run a great artist, ‘maker’ community,” he told the board. “We think it’s a great idea.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

3 men charged after Berkeley beating, stun gun assault

A crowd waiting outside 924 Gilman in 2010 (file photo). Photo: Daniel Gies
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Three men have been charged with battery, and one with assault with a stun gun, after an attack on a former friend outside a West Berkeley music club in March, according to authorities.

According to court papers, Jackson Achorn, Jack Moore and Devin Schorger assaulted their former friend outside 924 Gilman St. on March 14. Police who responded for a report of a fight found a motorcycle in the street, and the victim’s property — including a bicycle — scattered on the ground.

The victim told police that Schorger had punched and choked him, while Moore “helped during the assault.” Achorn, 20, of Berkeley reportedly joined in the assault by using a stun gun on the man’s legs. … Continue reading »

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