Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Revisiting the People's Park Debate

by Jeremy Singer-Vine
Tue, Jun 26, 2007 at 4:56 PM

People's Park in Berkeley is at the geographic and thematic center of the debate over the city's recent Public Commons for Everyone Initiative [see second item]. Located between Haste Street and Dwight Way, and just steps from Telegraph Ave., the public park has been a haven for the homeless. However, UC Berkeley - the owner of the property - has argued that it's an unattractive destination for the wider population. Now, the university has enlisted the help of an SF consulting firm to try and figure out how to make the historical site park more appealing to guests without frustrating those who call it home, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the article, "There's even been talk of adding features like outdoor movies, live theater and a dog run, and linking the park to possible new attractions on nearby Telegraph Avenue, such as a history cafe, a historic district and a museum."

War of the Primroses

by Kara Platoni
Tue, Jun 26, 2007 at 4:56 PM

Did you know that the Oakland hills have their own species of flower? Indeed, the Presidio clarkia, a lovely purple bloom in the evening primrose family, grows only in two places: the Oakland hills, and the San Francisco Presidio, for which it is named. We had no idea, until the folks at the Center for Biological Diversity sent us a press release today expressing concern that surveyors working on the Crestmont development project in the Oakland hills may be getting way too close to the endangered species' habitat. Although they can't be sure if any of the plants have actually been killed, says Center for Biological Diversity spokesman Jeff Miller, members of their ally group, Friends of Oakland's Endangered Species, have reported some worrisome claims. "Plants were trampled by contractors and the contractors were digging in locations where we know there are clarkia," says Miller.

The Center for Biological Diversity has long been critical of the city of Oakland's plans to protect the hills' endangered plant life from urban encroachment. Other species on the group's watchlist include the most beautiful jewelflower, considered a federal "species of concern," and the San Francisco popcornflower, which the state considers endangered. (We swear we are not making these plants up. They are real, but they are pretty rare: both still exist in small pockets in the East Bay.)

The Center for Biological Diversity is now demanding that Oakland revoke the permits for the Crestmont development.

The East Bay Today: June 26, 2007

Tue, Jun 26, 2007 at 4:56 PM

Today's Top Event: WW Clarinet Choir with Scott Amendola at 21 Grand.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Sherry Boschert explains how plug-in cars will reduce costs and increase access to renewable power at Il Pavone Restaurant.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Looney's Smokehouse in Berkeley.

On the Town: Going out tonight? The Tee Fee Swamp Boogie at Ashkenaz speaks for itself, plus there's a Cajun dance lesson.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out these ugly mailboxes.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New York Times Baffled by Rise in Oakland Homicides

by Kathleen Richards
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 at 4:56 PM

Oakland recorded 148 homicides last year, the highest number in over a decade. Why? No one seems to know. And this article by the New York Times, doesn't shed any light on the topic.

"It's irrational," said OPD Officer Roland Holmgren.

"Instead of knowing more, we know less," said Frank Zimring, a criminologist at UC Berkeley.

"It's very difficult to determine," concluded Joel Wallman, a criminologist in New York City.

While painting a grim portrait of the city, the Times did discover some things: victims are getting younger, and the majority of the killings last year were black-on-black crime.

Possible explanations offered include large numbers of parolees returning from prison, increasing gang violence, the availability of guns, a growing methamphetamine trade, and police recruitment shortfalls. Also: poor educational opportunities, high unemployment, and a criminal justice system that reinforces criminal behavior.

One theory: the closure of OPD's juvenile desk last year resulted in fewer arrests, reduced intervention services, and a generally unengaged attitude toward youth crime. Meanwhile, the Alameda County Probation Department has purposefully sought to reduce the number of kids in its juvenile hall, detaining only the worst offenders. In other words, juvenile offenders aren't being punished or rehabilitated.

The East Bay Today: June 25, 2007

Mon, Jun 25, 2007 at 4:56 PM

Today's Top Event: "Red Beans and Rice" at the Easy Lounge.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Afro-Brazilian Dance. Learn various forms of African and Brazilian dance at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: The Caffe Verbena in Oakland.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Foxes in Hayward offers free pool from eight to midnight - just make sure you buy a couple drinks.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Words of wisdom from Dr. Pangloss.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

East Bay Cities Rank Among Top Zip Codes for Foreclosures

by Kathleen Richards
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 at 4:56 PM

More than a quarter of the top 500 leading foreclosure zip codes are in California, according to a recent survey for CNNMoney.com by RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosure properties. Among them, seven East Bay zip codes are represented. Antioch led the region with two zip codes for a total of 837 foreclosures during the three months that ended June 15. The other zip codes are located in Oakland (94603 and 94605 with 412 total foreclosures), San Pablo (94806 with 260), Richmond (94804 with 223), and Oakley (94561 with 200). Sacramento had the overall highest number of foreclosures in California, with twelve zip codes accounting for 3,726 foreclosures. While California has the largest percentage of the total foreclosure filings in the United States, many of the worst-hit zip codes are in the Midwest. Topping the list is a Cleveland zip code with 783 filings. Detroit has five zip codes represented in the Top Ten for a total of 2,445 foreclosures. The total list is here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Kay Sorg Arraignment and Plea Hearing Delayed Again

by Kara Platoni
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 at 4:56 PM

According to prosecutor Carrie Panetta of the Alameda County District Attorney's office, Kay Sorg's arraignment and plea hearing has once again been delayed at the request of her defense attorney. The new hearing is set for July 11. For the Express/92510 blog's most complete wrap-up of events relating to the Sorg case, as well as some answers to reader questions, please click here.

The East Bay Today: June 22, 2007

Fri, Jun 22, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: Zydeco Dance Party at Eagles Hall.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Shakespeare for High School Students. Enroll in this ten-day course with Russell Marcel at Livermore's Bothwell Arts Center.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: The Caffe Verbena in Oakland.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Dance the night away at Eagles Hall with the Zydeco Flames.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out these amazing pencil carvings.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Buy Curious: Cheap & Chic in the East Bay

Fri, Jun 22, 2007 at 4:55 PM

This week, Buy Curious ponders the ever elusive problem of how to score cheap, stylish duds. We came up with neighborhood consignment shops (Sophisticated Lady, anyone?), clothing swaps (with drinks!), and Web sites like BudgetDiva. Plus, don't miss some of the weekend's hottest shopping events: from Babes & Babies to an outdoor fashion show hosted by the East Bay Style Collective. TGIF!

More …

Cal Student Faces Charges in Journalist's Death

by Kathleen Richards
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 at 12:10 AM

San Mateo County prosecutors will file a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge against UC Berkeley journalism student Kevin Jones, who was driving David Halberstam at the time of an April accident that killed the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. If convicted, the 26-year-old faces up to a year in a county jail and a $1,000 fine, according to an article in the Chron.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said evidence made it clear that Jones ran a red signal to turn left onto Willow Road from Bayfront Expressway in Menlo Park. In addition, authorities say his Toyota Camry was not in one of the two left-turn lanes, but rather the next lane over. Jones' lawyer, Laurel Headley, said she had not seen the police reports and could not comment.

The 73-year-old Halberstam died after Jones' car was broadsided by an Infiniti. Wagstaffe said Monday that the Infiniti driver, Lewis Morris, 64, of San Jose, would not face any charges, and that drugs and alcohol were not involved in the fatal crash.

Jones had volunteered to drive Halberstam -- who'd given a journalism school-sponsored talk at UC Berkeley two days earlier -- down the Peninsula for an interview with NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle for Halberstam's next book. His widow, Jean Halberstam, has called on universities to end the practice of having students drive guest lecturers during visits.

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