Tag Archives: West Berkeley


Update: Man dead after shooting near San Pablo Park

Image: Google Maps
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Berkeley had its first homicide of the year early Friday after a man in his 20s was shot and critically injured near San Pablo Park.

Police called to southwest Berkeley just before midnight following reports of possible gunfire found a young man down in the street who was breathing but unresponsive.

Berkeley Police Sgt. Andrew Frankel said shortly before 4:30 a.m. that the man was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

“We don’t believe that there is an immediate threat to the community as the shooting does not appear to have been random,” he said. “The suspects are still at large. Homicide detectives are on scene and working the investigation.”

Frankel confirmed that dispatchers got numerous calls just before midnight Friday about loud reports — possible gunfire — near Mabel and Burnett streets. Several callers reported hearing what sounded like three gunshots. The location is south of San Pablo Park and north of Ashby Avenue. It’s one block east of San Pablo Avenue.

One woman also called police to say her brother had stepped out of their home in the 2900 block of Mabel and had not come back inside, according to unconfirmed scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside.

Officers who responded to the scene found a 22-year-old man down in the street at Burnett and Mabel. Initially it was unclear whether he had been hit by gunfire. … Continue reading »

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Premier Cru owner used coffee shop as hook-up HQ

John Fox, left, at the counter of a Fourth Street store with a young woman. Fox, who admitted to spending $900K to meet women online, drew attention because he showed up so often.
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John Fox, the corrupt owner of wine retailer Premier Cru, didn’t travel far when he spent $900,000 of embezzled funds on women he met online.

The lanky 66-year-old with fading red hair used to meet scantily dressed 20-year-olds at least two or three times a week at Artís Coffee on Berkeley’s Fourth Street, less than a five-minute drive from his offices at 1011 University Ave., according to observers.

Fox met the young women so frequently that workers in the neighborhood took note. Some of them even started to snap photos of Fox with various dates because they were curious how a middle-aged man connected with so many young women who looked 40 years younger than him.

“He picked up girls literally a couple times a week,” said one worker, who asked that his name not be used. “They were always really young. You never saw him with the same girl twice.” … Continue reading »

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Man charged after aluminum bat attack in Berkeley

Zuber Awad. Photo: ACSO
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A homeless man charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon after an attack with an aluminum baseball bat in West Berkeley in July is scheduled to appear in court to be sentenced Wednesday.

According to court papers, Zuber Awad, 26, was with another man’s girlfriend at University Avenue and West Frontage Road on July 1 when angry words were exchanged.

Police say Awad then hit the other man with an aluminum baseball bat causing an injury that required eight stitches.

According to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, Awad was identified to police as a homeless camper in the area who was known to wear a diving weight around his neck.

Police arrested Awad the day after the baseball bat assault at about 10:10 a.m. at Cedar and Second streets in West Berkeley. According to police, he was on probation at the time of his arrest for battery causing serious bodily injury.

According to police, Awad said he did hit the man but that he did so with his closed fist, not the bat. … Continue reading »

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On the road with the CHP: Your questions answered

Oakland CHP spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld invited Berkeleyside on a ride-along last week. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Last week, Berkeleyside spent a couple hours with the California Highway Patrol to get a sense of what a normal day on I-80 is like for these officers. There are about 100 officers with the Oakland CHP branch, and they handle the freeways from the southern Oakland border up through Berkeley until Richmond.

Carpool violations, cellphone violations, moving violations: most of the stops fell into these categories. During the ride-along we asked readers to send in questions over social media and Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, spokesman for the local office, provided answers. What does the CHP do about carpool violators, and what can other motorists do? What are the rules about lane splitting and what’s the weirdest call he’s been on? What are the penalties for carpool violation tickets, and what kind of excuses do people give when they get pulled over?

The day ended with a glimpse into a long tunnel that runs beneath the freeway, and a look at vehicles involved in fatal crashes. The Storify post that follows sums it up. … Continue reading »

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Nosh on the town: ‘A taste of West Berkeley’ tour

Eduardo Morell slices bread at his bakery in West Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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It’s really hard to not fill up on bread when it’s this good. There’s hearty, earthy 100% rye topped with a generous smear of salted Clover butter. And a classic country loaf jazzed up with whole-wheat flour sliced thick, so it’s easier to appreciate its tender, chewy crumb.

We’re at Morell’s Bread, the first stop on Berkeley’s newest food tour, A Taste of West Berkeley. Baker Eduardo Morell is talking to us about his sourdough starter and gluten development. I sneak a few more bites of the rye and butter while I watch Morell’s wife and business partner, Tamsen Flynn, shape country loaves on the large bakery counter behind us. … Continue reading »

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Flare station is replaced at Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park

Old flare pipe being removed at Cesar Chavez Park. Photo: Martin Nicolaus
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By Martin Nicolaus

The old flare station at Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park, built amid controversy in 1989, is gone. A crew from Innovative Construction Solutions (ICS), aided by Hatton Crane Service, under the watchful eyes of Taylor Lancelot of the City of Berkeley and a representative from SCS Engineers, who built the system originally, took down the rusty leaning tower in a seven-hour session on Tuesday, Aug. 9, under bright skies with a modest westerly breeze.

Cesar Chavez Park is a green cover over what was, until 1983, the Berkeley city dump. Compostable refuse generates methane and other landfill gases. In the 1980s, a group of scientists and environmentalists argued that a flare station was unnecessary at this site. Measurements showed that surface emissions of methane were below levels of concern, probably due to the action of soil bacteria that “eat” methane. This inexpensive natural bioremediation process was sufficient, they argued. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police recover 18 pounds of pot, alleged hash oil operation on Gilman

Police recovered 18 pounds of marijuana at a Gilman Street homeless encampment Saturday. Photo: BPD
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Two Berkeley Police officers on foot patrol at a Gilman Street homeless encampment over the weekend reportedly found 18 pounds of marijuana inside a tent that smelled of weed.

Berkeley Police Lt. Kevin Schofield, a department spokesman, said the officers were doing a security check near Gilman and the Eastshore Highway at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when they came across a tent that smelled strongly of marijuana.

Last week, after Caltrans installed a large fence beneath the I-80 freeway on Gilman where dozens of homeless people had been camping, many of those individuals reportedly moved their tents over to the Eastshore Highway and Gilman, local residents have told Berkeleyside.

Inside the tent, police said they found 18 pounds of pot in a garbage bag, 25 cans of butane, and what they determined to be a hash oil cultivation system.

Schofield said the butane can be used in the cooking process to create hash oil from the marijuana.

Authorities also found a replica pistol and a switchblade knife, he said.  … Continue reading »

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To curtail camping, Caltrans builds new fence on Gilman

Caltrans workers work on putting up a steel fence to keep out homeless campers at the Gilman Street interchange of Interstate 80, in Berkeley, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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In the latest attempt by authorities to keep people from camping in Berkeley beneath the Interstate 80 freeway, Caltrans built a stronger fence on Gilman Street this week.

Homeless campers, many of whom came from the Albany Bulb, have said the freeway offers shelter in the rainy months, and feels like their place of last resort. For those who panhandle, the location allows easy access to both vehicles coming off the freeway and nearby San Pablo Avenue, where McDonald’s is another high-traffic spot to interact with drivers, and gas stations offer a place to clean up.

While advocates for those experiencing homelessness say these individuals shouldn’t be penalized and have nowhere else to go, other local residents have expressed frustration at what the city has described as a public health nightmare rife with used needles, bottles of urine, rats scurrying around and human feces.

Read more about the Gilman underpass.

The new fencing, on the south side of Gilman Street below the overpass, is designed to make it harder for people to set up tents on either side of the sidewalk. It joins other new fencing that has gone up in recent weeks to restrict access to areas around the freeway where the homeless have been living.

Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said the city of Berkeley asked the agency to improve upon the existing chain link fencing that was installed in 2014 to try to tackle the same problem.

“Berkeley asked us to put in something,” he said. “And we agreed that that was warranted.” … Continue reading »

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Grocery Outlet to close Aug. 20; housing planned

The Berkeley Grocery Outlet is closing Aug. 20 to make way for housing. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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It’s the end of an era in West Berkeley with Grocery Outlet closing later this month to make way for about 150 new housing units.

Grocery Outlet told Berkeleyside that its final day open in Berkeley, at 2001 Fourth St., will be Saturday, Aug. 20. That followed an email blast from the company to customers alerting them of the closure.

“We’re Sad to Go,” the email read. “It is with heavy hearts that we prepare to leave our Berkeley location. Please take advantage of our Liquidation Sale.”

Shoppers who visit the store now will find 20% sales in many departments.

“Thank you for being our customers in Berkeley. We’ll be opening more Bay Area locations soon,” the brief message reads.

One employee who said she was not authorized to speak with the media said store staff would be transferred to other locations. Berkeleyside has reached out to Grocery Outlet for confirmation.

Shoppers said Wednesday that they were sorry to see the store close. … Continue reading »

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Homeless advocates in Berkeley say officials are dumping too many prized personal possessions

Crews load stuff found near Gilman Street in June  Photo: Ted Friedman
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By Mary Rees

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but who gets to decide which it is?

Every two weeks, Caltrans clears items out from the homeless encampments along the Gilman Street underpass near Interstate 80, according to Bob Haus, the public information branch chief for Caltrans. Sometimes workers from the city of Berkeley remove things, too, such as on July 7.

Read more about Berkeley homelessness on Berkeleyside.

The clean-ups are announced in advance, and when workers arrive the people living there pack up their things as quickly as they can and move them a few hundred feet. Then crews from Caltrans and Berkeley sift through what’s left and decide what’s valuable and what’s not.

“If belongings are deemed valuable, we hold onto them for 30 days at the nearest maintenance yard,” Haus said. If something’s unclaimed and considered worthless, Caltrans disposes of it. … Continue reading »

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EBMUD repairs burst pipes in West Berkeley

Burst water main, Gilman and Cornell. Photo: EBMUD
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Crews from the East Bay Municipal Utility District were in Berkeley over the weekend to repair two old pipes at Gilman Street and Cornell Avenue that burst early Sunday morning, causing major disruption.

Water service had been restored to all customers by 5 a.m. Monday, said Tracie Morales-Noisy, a spokeswoman for EBMUD. She said the leaks were a good reminder for customers to keep an adequate emergency water supply well stocked, in case of service disruptions large and small.

Morales-Noisy said EBMUD first got reports of problems at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, and ultimately repaired two pipes. A piece of 79-year-old cast-iron pipe on Gilman was removed, and a 67-year-old pipe on Cornell was repaired.

Morales-Noisy said about 50 customers were without water during the repairs. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police officers revive unresponsive 4-month-old

Berkeley Police station. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two Berkeley police officers helped save the life of an infant who stopped breathing earlier this month, and the boy is now in stable condition at a local hospital, authorities said this week.

On July 8, police were called to a home in the 2100 block of Fifth Street for a child in distress, a 4-month-old boy who was unresponsive, said Sgt. Andrew Frankel, Berkeley Police spokesman.

When officers got to the home, no one would answer the front door, which was locked. So Officer Ken Tu jumped the back fence to get into the house through the rear, Frankel said.

Officers found the child’s grandmother and she led them to the boy’s bedside. They sent her to unlock the front door so the Berkeley Fire Department could get inside once they arrived.

The baby wasn’t breathing, so Tu began to perform CPR.

A short time later, to relieve Tu, Officer Chris Flores took over chest compressions, and the baby began taking short, inconsistent breaths but was still unresponsive. Flores then started rescue breathing — administering breaths in between chest compressions. … Continue reading »

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Real estate

Proposed in Berkeley: 5 stories, 39 units on San Pablo

The proposal for 2720 San Pablo Ave. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
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A new proposal has come in, on the former Jered’s Pottery lot, for a 5-story, 39-unit building on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley.

The pottery shop, at 2720 San Pablo Ave. between Carleton and Pardee streets, closed last year and moved to Richmond. The property at that time was on sale for $1.4 million; a 4-story 18-unit building had already been approved there.

The major transit corridor has been the focus of much development in recent years, with more changes potentially coming, including a large urgent care facility and hundreds of new apartments approved and proposed.

Scroll down for a round-up of more projects on San Pablo.

A 1-story garage (later used as the pottery studio) would be demolished to make way for the new building, designed by Berkeley-based Devi Dutta Architecture.

According to the applicant statement, the former gas and auto service station would be replaced by a “mixed-use and transit-oriented infill project” that includes ground-floor commercial space under four stories of apartments.  … Continue reading »

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