Tag Archives: West Berkeley

Community

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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Transportation

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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Police

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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Community

City erects fence at Gilman to deal with homeless campers

Workers clear out a homeless encampment near the Gilman interchange of Interstate 80 to put up a fence, in Berkeley, on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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The city of Berkeley is working Thursday to install a new fence on Gilman Street on the southeast side of the Interstate 80 freeway as part of ongoing efforts to curtail camping by homeless in the area.

Jim Hynes, from the Berkeley city manager’s office, brought “No Trespassing” signs down to the site in the late morning to hand out to workers who were installing the fence. Hynes said he was also looking into what it might cost to put more fencing on the north side of the street east of the freeway.

Three people received citations Thursday from Berkeley Police officers for obstructing the sidewalk, but no arrests were made. Campers in the area said their property — much of which had both material and sentimental value — was taken and put into a dumpster as part of the enforcement effort.

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol were also on scene for the cleanup.

Hynes said campers in the area were given notice two days in a row that authorities would be on scene Thursday. He pointed out dozens of used syringes left in the area in the wake of the cleanup, as well as juice bottles full of urine. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man walking with loaded rifle, extra ammo arrested in West Berkeley

Recovered rifle and ammunition. Photo: BPD
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Berkeley police officers arrested a 35-year-old Oakland man Wednesday morning after an alert resident spotted him carrying a gun through the neighborhood, authorities said.

Leonard Jackson was walking at Eighth Street and Channing Way toward San Pablo Avenue when a concerned citizen saw him with the firearm and called 911 to report it, said Lt. Kevin Schofield, a Berkeley Police spokesman.

Officers responded immediately and spotted the man at Channing and San Pablo. Officers told Jackson to sit on the ground, and he complied.

“Officers could see a rifle barrel protruding from under a blanket in his lap,” Schofield said in a prepared statement. “The officers blocked traffic and created a safe zone to contact Jackson.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man arrested outside Berkeley Whole Foods after brandishing knife, resisting arrest

Whole Foods Gilman exterior Photo Emilie Raguso
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At least two Berkeley Police officers are seeking medical care after being injured during the arrest outside a West Berkeley grocery store of a man who had earlier been armed with a knife.

The man had brandished the knife at two city employees Tuesday morning, authorities said. He dropped the knife and walked away after officers arrived, ignoring repeated commands to stop, before nearing the entrance of the Whole Foods grocery store on Gilman Street. Officers then used force to take the man into custody when he would not allow himself to be handcuffed.

Berkeley Police Lt. Kevin Schofield, a department spokesman, said the man — identified as 41-year-old Jason Joyner of Berkeley — brandished a knife shortly before 9 a.m. at two city Public Works employees on duty at San Pablo Avenue and Harrison Street.

When police arrived, they tried to speak with Joyner at Harrison and 10th streets, Schofield said.

Officers ordered Joyner to stop numerous times as they continued to attempt to deescalate the situation,” he said. “Joyner ignored their repeated commands and walked away.”Continue reading »

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Gilman Street underpass: For many, the poster child of Berkeley homeless camps

This man, who didn't want to give his name, lives by the Gilman underpass. He makes $30 to $40 a day  scavenging. He finds lots of food (people throw away a lot from Trader Joe's) as well as things like scooters, skateboards, etc. When Caltrans and Berkeley recently cleaned out the camp, he just went across the street and returned when they left, he said. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel // homeless
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Bood’s home is a blue tarp on Eastshore Freeway, the frontage road right by the Gilman Street underpass. At 37, he’s been living on the streets for a few years, driven there by a break-up with a long-time girlfriend.

Bood scavenges for a living. He makes the rounds in Berkeley and El Cerrito looking for tossed food (a lot of people throw away food from Trader Joe’s, he said) and discarded clothing he can sell to Buffalo Exchange and other consignment stores. The area around his tarp reflects the way he makes a living: There are folding chairs, rugs, candles and flashlights, among other items.

See full coverage on Berkeleyside of the Berkeley Homeless Project.

Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, Berkeley police and city workers came to the area to clean it out about two weeks ago, June 16. They carted away garbage trucks full of debris. They also found more than 250 used hypodermic needles and bottles of urine, as well as feces and dead rodents.

Did the clean up have any effect on Bood and the rest of the people hanging out in the area?

No.

“We gathered our stuff up, we went across the street and waited for them to leave,” said Bood, who did not give his last name. “Then we set back up.” … Continue reading »

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Police

Man taken to Highland after fall into moving vehicle

Police responded to a traffic incident Monday at San Pablo and Cedar after a man in the median fell into a city-owned vehicle as it passed him. Image: Google Maps
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A man standing on a West Berkeley median fell into a city-owned vehicle in the roadway and was taken to the hospital with serious injuries Monday, authorities said.

The man was standing on the center divider on San Pablo Avenue near Cedar Street when he fell, said Sgt. Andrew Frankel of the Berkeley Police Department, “striking a city vehicle that was passing.” (Update: A witness at the scene said the man appeared to be a panhandler.)

The man’s injuries appeared serious and he was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland with an apparent head injury at about 1:30 p.m.

A local business owner said he saw lots of police in the area in front of pet supply store Animal Farm, as well as a crime scene investigation van, around 2:30 p.m.

Not sure if it was serious, but certainly looked it,” he said. “I came back around 4:45 and it was back to normal.”Continue reading »

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Community

Authorities clear out Gilman homeless camp in Berkeley

A homeless couple sleeps as Berkeley city officials watch Berkeley and Caltrans work crews clear out a homeless encampment near the Gilman Street interchange of I-80, in Berkeley, on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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In a coordinated effort, workers from Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and the city of Berkeley cleared out a large homeless encampment on Gilman Street near the I-80 freeway on Thursday.

It’s the latest chapter in a struggle that has been going on for years between homeless denizens who have set up their tents on Gilman in West Berkeley, and authorities who say the squalid conditions that result cannot be left unchecked.

Jim Hynes, with the Berkeley city manager’s office, said homeless outreach, city maintenance crews, mental health workers and environmental health staff were all on the scene to help out. He estimated that five containers of syringes, some 250 needles, had been removed, along with numerous bottles of human urine.

“It’s not a pretty sight, that’s for sure,” he said.  … Continue reading »

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BFD responds to machinery fire in West Berkeley

fire
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Many locals spotted the significant plume of smoke caused by a fire in a West Berkeley paint booth Monday morning. Continue reading »

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