Tag Archives: West Berkeley

Berkeley police defend tactics after laundromat robbery

Police search Sacramento Street, near Dwight Way, for an armed robber who robbed a laundromat, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 27. Photo: David Yee
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One week after a police operation in southwest Berkeley sparked community questions about whether military tools and tactics have been unnecessarily adopted by local departments, the Berkeley Police chief and one of his captains said safety was the overriding concern that drove decision making last Monday.

Threats to officer safety are very real. Police Chief Michael Meehan and Acting Capt. Jennifer Louis answered questions from Berkeleyside on Monday, Aug. 3, less than 24 hours after an officer-involving shooting in Oakland left a local man dead and a police sergeant in serious condition. According to a statement released by the Oakland Police, the man opened fire on officers with an assault rifle after they responded to his home during a sexual assault investigation. And, less than two weeks ago, Hayward Police Sgt. Scott Lunger was fatally shot without warning during a traffic stop.

Meehan said today, however, that it was the specifics of last week’s robbery and assault at a laundromat — “the facts of the individual case…. and the nature of the threat” — that prompted the use July 27 of a police dog from Oakland, an armored vehicle from Alameda and the Berkeley Police Special Response Team, which wears camouflage uniforms when it responds to calls.

Those decisions incited an emotional response from some in the Berkeley community and beyond who said the tactics are evidence of the increasing militarization of local police departments. Many said they were put off by the camouflage uniforms and armored vehicle, in particular. In the Berkeleyside comments, one person called the operation a sign of a “police state” and another decried the “unprecedented show of military force.” Others said police had made the right decisions, acting professionally and efficiently. But even some who made a point to say they support certain police tactics had questions. … Continue reading »

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NOSH neighborhood guide: Berkeley Warehouse

The Rare Barrel. Photo: Adam Chandler/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 Berkeley’s warehouse district on the west side of town.

Okay, so the Warehouse District isn’t a defined neighborhood per se, but the strip of West Berkeley between San Pablo and the Bay is chock-full of old manufacturing buildings and delicious food businesses all the same. We’ve defined the north and south borders at University and Ashby, respectively. Feel free to dispute in the comments. Below are our picks for the best bites and tipples in the area; check out the map to find out precisely where they are. … Continue reading »

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Photographs: An ode to the shuttered Berkeley pier

The Berkeley pier by Dorothy Brown
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By Dorothy Brown

There is something mysterious and perhaps even romantic about abandoned spaces. The rust and decay can have a certain kind of beauty, and can engage our imaginations as we wonder what the place might have been like in its prime. Movies often employ a time-fade technique where decrepitude is gradually replaced by the life and color of earlier years. A different time.

How strange, then, to witness the day the change happens. The day a familiar site goes from lively to off-limits.

On July 22, 2015, without warning or ceremony, the Berkeley Pier was fenced off and closed to the public. The pier has long been a favorite spot for fisherfolk, runners, strollers, and anyone who appreciates a knockout view and a breathtaking sunset. I always found it a friendly place. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Robber with ‘silver teeth’ evades Berkeley police

Police search Sacramento Street, near Dwight Way, for an armed robber who robbed a laundromat, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 27, 2015. Photo: David Yee
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Update, 2:10 p.m. Berkeley police have left the area around Sacramento Street after the search for an armed robber who struck a laundromat Monday morning turned up empty.

According to a 2:02 p.m. Nixle alert sent over email, “The roadways are now open and Berkeley Police are clearing the area. We would like to thank the community for the patience and understanding while we conducted the search.”

The robbery report came in at about 8:30 a.m. from the Wash and Shop laundromat, at 2450 Sacramento St., according to local residents. The robber reportedly used a gun and took cash from the business.

Police said they “arrived on scene and quickly established a perimeter. Members of our Special Response Team were utilized to conduct the search with the assistance of an Oakland Police Department K-9. The suspect was not located and the investigation into this matter continues.”  … Continue reading »

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Rent increase may force Poetry Flash to move

Richard Silberg and Joyce Jenkins stand in the offices of Poetry Flash on Fourth Street. The 43-year old publication may have to find a new home because the landlord wants to raise the rent more than 70%. Photo: Francesca Paris
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Poetry Flash, a Berkeley-based poetry magazine established in 1972, faces a threat to its existence from a rent hike that could be as high as 27%.

According to editor and publisher Joyce Jenkins, the landlord has sent her a letter stating that he intends to charge “market rate” and increase rent as much as $600 per month. Jenkins has not yet received final details about what the rent will be. … Continue reading »

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Community

Citing structural problems, Berkeley closes historic pier

The historic Berkeley pier has been closed to the public due to structural problems. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The city of Berkeley has announced the closure of its historic municipal fishing pier due to “considerable structural damage” that has made the popular walkway unsafe for the public.

Damage to the concrete decking and support system of the pier was found during an assessment earlier this summer. Signage and fencing have been posted in the area to cut off access pending the repairs, but where the money will come from to fix the problem remains an open question. The city did not respond Thursday to a request for additional information.

The announcement, in a memo from the city manager to the Berkeley City Council, was posted online Thursday. It comes after a decision earlier in the month to prohibit heavy trucks on the pier due to the structural issues. As a result, the city paid $7,900 to set off its Fourth of July fireworks from a barge rather than using the historic walkway, which juts out into the San Francisco Bay at the end of University Avenue.

The city discovered the structural damage prior to July 4 when it began looking into proposed repairs that would have made the pier smoother for wheelchairs, a city staffer told the Parks and Waterfront Commission earlier this month. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Pyramid Alehouse abruptly closes

Pyramid Brewing. Photo: Pyramid Brewing/Facebook
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West Berkeley’s Pyramid Alehouse has closed after 18 years in the city. We received a tip from a well-informed source that all the brewery employees were told today of the closure, and a pre-recorded message on the brewery’s answering machine confirmed the permanent closure.

“The Pyramid Berkeley Alehouse is now closed,” the message said. “Thank you for your support and patronage over the years. We also want like to thank our employees for their dedicated service. Our other locations remain open and available to provide great beers and a wonderful experience. We hope to see you there.” The same message is posted on the brewery’s website.

Read more about East Bay beer and breweries on Nosh.

Kris Sirchio, CEO of North American Breweries, the parent company of Pyramid, says the company closed its Berkeley location in order to “focus” on its Portland and Seattle locations.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Alleged Looking Glass Photo burglar caught on video

Police are looking for information on a burglar who stole items from Looking Glass Photo over the weekend. Photo: Looking Glass
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Police are looking for a man who took cameras and lenses from Looking Glass Photo in West Berkeley over the weekend, and the shop has released video footage of the alleged thief.

Jennifer Waicukauski, owner of Looking Glass, posted surveillance footage from the burglary on her Facebook page on Saturday.

“If anyone recognizes the person in this video please contact the Berkeley police department immediately,” she wrote. (The video appears below.) … Continue reading »

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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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