Tag Archives: West Berkeley

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 Street 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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Bayer invests $100M in new testing facility in Berkeley

Bayer
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Bayer HealthCare on Wednesday announced an investment of $100 million to build a new product testing facility at the company’s 45-acre manufacturing site in West Berkeley. The funds will support the pharmaceutical company’s next generation of hemophilia A therapies.

Bayer said the investment represented its continued commitment to the Bay Area, which is its U.S. headquarters for research, development and biotech manufacturing.

“Building upon our legacy in hemophilia A, we are delighted to continue Bayer’s leadership in working to bring treatment options to patients around the world,” said Joerg Heidrich, a senior vice president and site head for Bayer in Berkeley, in a prepared statement. … Continue reading »

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Apartment, townhouse complex slated for San Pablo Ave.

A rendering of Shorenstein Properties proposed complex. This would be the view from San Pablo Avenue and Jones Street. Pyatok Architects
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One of the region’s biggest developers has set its sights on Berkeley and is proposing to build a 5-story, 170-unit mixed-use complex at 1500 San Pablo Ave.

Shorenstein Properties is developing the 1.65-acre-site that covers most of a square block and is bounded by San Pablo Avenue to the east, Jones Street to the north, 10th Street to the west, and is near Hopkins. The land, long owned by Michael McNevin, once served as the home of McNevin Cadillac and is now the service department of Berkeley Honda.

The complex, which would be just a short walk to Acme Bread, Bartavelle Café, and the Kermit Lynch wine shop, will be a mix of two-and-a-half-bedroom townhouses, two-bedroom apartments, one-bedroom, junior one-bedroom, and studio apartments. The average unit size would be more than 800 square feet, according to documents submitted to the city, and should appeal to singles, professionals, couples, families, and retirees. The building will also have space for either offices or retail. The developer is including applications for permits for a restaurant with a bar, a café, and outdoor eating space. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to spend millions to fix up James Kenney Park

James Kenney is set for major improvements. Photo: City of Berkeley
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James Kenney Park in West Berkeley is slated for major repairs in the coming fiscal years, which will likely require closure of parts of its community center for 6-8 months, according to city staff.

Staff provided an update regarding municipal park projects to the Berkeley City Council at a March 24 worksession.

That update included some news about Berkeley’s Tuolumne Camp, which was destroyed by fire in 2013, as well as an overview of park facility plans over the next two fiscal years, from July 2015 through June 2017. (An update on the camp was published separately on Berkeleyside.)

Read more about Berkeley parks.

The city plans to spend most of its capital money for parks through fiscal year 2016-17 on pressing needs at James Kenney Park, at 1720 Eighth St. between Virginia and Delaware streets. The city plans to spend more than $3.7 million to address building repairs and seismic issues at the community center, as well as updates to the picnic and play areas. Staff intends to use $2.3 million from the parks tax and general fund on the repairs, as well as nearly $730,000 from a FEMA grant for seismic improvements, and $750,000 in Measure WW funds to pay for other aspects of the projects. … Continue reading »

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Community

The unsolved mystery of the Berkeley boom

Some have posited that homemade firework rocket may be causing the Berkeley boom. Photo: Jeremy Brooks
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For more than a month, residents around Berkeley have wondered online about a recurring nighttime boom that has woken babies, freaked out pets and set off car alarms.

The sound, which has become known on Twitter as the #BerkeleyBoom, has been heard around the city, though it has been concentrated primarily in the southern part of town.

On numerous instances, police have gone out to investigate, but were unable to locate the source and found no indication of a crime. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said Monday there have been no calls to Berkeley’s 311 service center about the sound. So its source remains a mystery.

On Sunday, a Twitter user named LP described the “Loudest #Berkeleyboom yet. Scared me half to death. @berkeleyside – seriously – is this still ‘fireworks’?!”

Heather Hardison added: “I could hear all my neighbors up talking about it in startled voices. What the heck is it?”

Wrote cirus206: “I might not know what #berkeleyboom is but damn would I like to find out.” … Continue reading »

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Dog lovers to help eliminate foxtails in César Chávez Park

Foxtails at Pt Isabel. Photo- Kathy
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Dozens of dog lovers are expected to join a city of Berkeley crew in the off-leash area of César Chávez Park on Saturday, March 28, in a novel attempt to rid the area of foxtails.

Berkeley has been mowing a 2-acre patch of the 17-acre off-leash area for 15 years, but the effort has not eliminated foxtails, an invasive grass whose barbed seed heads can cause serious injury to dogs. The city has left the grass about 6 inches high so it could also act as a ground cover for squirrels and other animals in the park.

In 2014, dog owners complained to the city that the drought was making the foxtail situation worse and asked that officials step up their mowing and even consider mowing a larger area. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police arrest man wanted after brutal attack on his mother

Randy Francis. Photo: Stockton Police
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Police officers arrested a man found in a stolen truck at the Berkeley marina who authorities say tried to kill his 86-year-old mother in Stockton earlier this month in a brutal assault.

Police have been looking for the man since the March 14 attack, which left the woman unresponsive. Doctors said initially she was not expected to survive, according to media reports.

According to a statement released Thursday by Officer Joseph Silva, spokesman for the Stockton Police Department, Berkeley officers found Randy Francis in a stolen 2004 Chevrolet Silverado pickup Thursday morning. Police said he stole that truck when he fled the scene of the Stockton attack.

Thursday morning, Berkeley officers impounded the truck and took 55-year-old Francis into custody without incident.

According to Silva, Francis had been wanted by police in connection with the March 14 attempted homicide of his mother, which occurred at her home in the 7300 block of North Pacific Avenue in Stockton. … Continue reading »

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12 apply to operate Berkeley’s fourth cannabis dispensary

Forty Acres cannabis collective is on the second floor of 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Twelve organizations have submitted applications to open a fourth medical cannabis dispensary in Berkeley, according to city officials, but the public won’t know who they are for 45 days.

The deadline to apply for one of the lucrative franchises was 4 p.m. on March 20. But Berkeley won’t release their names during a review period in which staff determines all the applications are complete.

Read more about medical cannabis issues in Berkeley.

“In order to keep a level playing field among applicants until applications are finalized, we won’t be releasing more information until all applications are complete,” Elizabeth Greene, a planner who staffs the Medical Cannabis Commission wrote in an email. “This period is expected to last approximately 45 days.” … Continue reading »

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Community

Dead birds, 2 animal legs, wash up on Berkeley beach

This headless chicken and other animals and animal parts washed up Thursday on a Berkeley beach. Photo: Susi Jensen
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A woman on a walk along the beach in Berkeley with her dog on Thursday came across two decapitated chickens, two skinned mammal legs with cloven hooves, and several dead shorebirds.

Susi Jensen, a Berkeley writer, said it isn’t unusual to see a dead carcass on the beach. But she described the number and kind of animal parts she saw Thursday morning as “unexpected.”

“The shoreline is imperfect, but we enjoy it for what it is,” she said. “This time it was a little grosser than normal.”

Jensen was walking her golden retriever, Luna, on the beach along the San Francisco Bay Trail. The trail runs along West Frontage Road between University and Ashby avenues in Berkeley and continues into Emeryville.  … Continue reading »

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National construction company moves to Berkeley, will repurpose Flint Ink building as its HQ

ProVen Management building. Image: courtesy Trachtenberg Architects
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PrōVen Management, a national engineering construction company that specializes in large-scale infrastructure projects, is moving its operations from San Francisco’s Jackson Square area to West Berkeley, and is turning the old Flint Ink factory into its new headquarters.

Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg is overseeing the transformation, and he said it’s one of the most exciting projects he’s worked on for some time. The plans for the site, at 1350 Fourth Street (at Gilman), include a contractor’s yard for storage of heavy equipment, a new 5,000 sq. ft equipment repair shed, and renovation of the existing 35,000 square feet of buildings for use as storage, offices, conference space, and a private art gallery. The project has received landmarks and zoning approvals and is currently in design development.

PrōVen founder Alan Varela said the company chose the Berkeley location for a number of reasons: much of the company’s large construction equipment is stored in nearby Oakland, the cost of the site was appealing compared to San Francisco (though he says Berkeley’s property taxes have proved a “surprise”), and Varela himself is now closer to his principal home in Lafayette. “I don’t have to cross the Bay Bridge,” he said. … Continue reading »

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Big rig spill in Berkeley closes westbound lane of I-80

Big rig spill 1 Photo Greg Merritt
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Drivers are being advised to avoid I-80 in the Berkeley area after a big rig spilled its load of wood pallets by the pedestrian overpass near the University Avenue exit of the freeway at around 5:45 a.m. this morning.

At least one westbound lane was closed by authorities west of University Avenue near Frontage Road, and traffic was still severely backed up several hours after the incident. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Oakland raises minimum wage, more news

Coffee. Brunch at Camino in February 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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OAKLAND RAISES MINIMUM WAGE Oakland’s minimum wage went up to $12.25 on Monday. Many local restaurants are in support of the wage hike, and have been actively informing customers that prices will rise as a result. Restaurant owners and their staff have joined in on a hashtag campaign, #oaklandlivingwage, to garner city-wide support for small businesses. Piedmont Avenue’s Homestead and Dopo, as well as Camino on Grand Avenue, have made the most drastic changes to their pay structure: all have eliminated tips and increased prices to accommodate the increased wage for employees. Aunt Mary’s Café and Toast have added 15% service charges to their bills to be divided up among the entire staff. Guests may tip in addition to the service charge. Other restaurants will simply raise prices to make up for the wage increase. Actual Café‘s Sal Bednarz has been an active supporter of the wage hike, despite the challenges he and other business owners are facing. In a press conference on Wednesday with Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, he said: “It was a difficult thing for me to do as a business owner, and I’m still unsure what the ongoing customer impact will be of having done that. We’re here today to remind all of Oakland that we’re doing this for good reasons. Spend your dollar where your vote was. Support the minimum wage increase by supporting small businesses in Oakland.”  … Continue reading »

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