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Archive for September, 2013

Richmond: Lane closure tonight on Interstate 580 before toll plaza

Caltrans has announced a lane closure and traffic shift tonight on westbound Interstate 580 leading to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
The notice from the agency:

Interstate 580 Scofield Avenue and Western Drive Bridge Decks Replacement Project

Traffic Shift Planned for Eastbound Interstate 580

Contra Costa County – Tonight, September 30, Caltrans will close one lane of westbound Interstate 580 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., from Marine Street to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Toll Plaza. The eastbound on-ramp from Western Drive to Interstate 580 will also be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Tomorrow, October 1, Caltrans will close the far right lane at the Richmond-San Rafael Toll Plaza, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Castro Street to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Toll Plaza. This closure is necessary to build the foundation for a new overhead sign. Please be alert for construction workers during this lane closure.

Ongoing Construction
On Wednesday night, October 2, Caltrans will shift traffic for eastbound Interstate 580 just east of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Caltrans will close one eastbound lane from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., and also close the eastbound on-ramp from Western Drive to Interstate 580, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Eastbound traffic will be moved to a split traffic configuration, with one left lane, one right lane, and construction taking place in an island between the lanes. With this lane configuration, it is imperative that drivers slow down and observe the construction speed limit of 45 MPH. The California Highway Patrol will be on site to enforce this speed limit and to maintain safety for motorists and construction workers.

In general, after the traffic shift, the eastbound Western Drive on-ramp will be closed Sunday night through Thursday night, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. The left eastbound lane will be closed on Sunday night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Monday through Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

This is an active construction site and the 45 MPH speed zone will be enforced by the California Highway Patrol. Drive cautiously through the construction zone and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Please remember to “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about the project, call the message line at (510) 286-5820 or visit the Caltrans webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/580scofieldave/

Posted on Monday, September 30th, 2013
Under: Richmond, transportation | No Comments »

El Cerrito police seek help identifying burglars in video

El Cerrito Police Department sent the following advisory on Sept. 27:

Please help the El Cerrito Police identify burglars

On September 24, at approximately 1100 hours, two suspects worked together to burglarize a house in El Cerrito. The crime began with one suspect approaching the door and knocking. After determining that no one would come to the door, the suspect’s accomplice arrived and kicked down the door.

The burglars did not realize they were being recorded by a home video surveillance system until it was too late. Take a look at the links below. They lead to videos on Youtube.com, uploaded by the owner of the residence. If you know the identity of either suspect, or see them on the streets, please call the El Cerrito Police.

According to the department’s log of incidents, the pair forced entry to the home in the 6700 block of Cutting Boulevard and stole a laptop computer and digital camera.

Posted on Friday, September 27th, 2013
Under: Crime, El Cerrito | No Comments »

Men and Women of Purpose hold open house to raise AB109 re-entry funds

The Men and Women of Purpose, headed by Antwon Cloird and dedicated to providing mental health, job training, substance abuse and other services to parolees in Richmond, are holding a star-studded open house event on Oct. 2.

MWP is a key player in the city dealing with previously incarcerated residents coming home thanks to AB109 prison reduction policies.

For full information about the event click here: MWP Electronic Invitation (1)

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Under: Cities, Contra Costa County, Crime, Politics, Richmond | No Comments »

Richmond: Caltrans I-580 work will mean another traffic shift

A heads up to motorists who use Interstate 580 and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Caltrans will shift lanes again for its ongoing Interstate 580 Scofield Avenue and Western Drive Bridge Decks Replacement Project.
The agency issued the following announcement Wednesday:

Traffic Shift Planned for Eastbound Interstate 580

Contra Costa County – Tomorrow, September 26, and Friday, September 27, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Caltrans will close the far right lane of three lanes of westbound Interstate 580 just east of the Richmond-San Rafael Toll Plaza. This closure is necessary in order to build the foundation for a new overhead sign. Cash lane drivers will merge left to the center lane, since the far right lane will be closed. Please be alert for construction workers during this lane closure.

Ongoing Construction
On Wednesday night, October 2, Caltrans will shift traffic for eastbound Interstate 580 just east of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Eastbound traffic will be moved to a split traffic configuration, with one left lane, one right lane, and construction taking place in an island between the lanes. With this lane configuration, it is imperative that drivers slow down and observe the construction speed limit of 45 MPH. The California Highway Patrol will be on site to enforce this speed limit and to maintain safety for motorists and construction workers.

In general, after the traffic shift, the left eastbound lane will be closed on Sunday night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Monday through Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. The eastbound Western Drive on-ramp will be closed Sunday night through Thursday night, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Detour: during eastbound Western Drive ramp closures, motorists will travel westbound across the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, exit at San Quentin, cross under the freeway and take the eastbound I-580 on-ramp.

Note: this ramp closure will not affect motorists traveling through the construction zone from Contra Costa County westbound across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, or motorists travelling eastbound from Marin County.

This is an active construction site and the 45 MPH speed zone will be enforced by the California Highway Patrol. Drive cautiously through the construction zone and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Please remember to “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about the project, call the message line at (510) 286-5820 or visit the Caltrans webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/580scofieldave/

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Under: Richmond, transportation | No Comments »

Albany: A view of San Pablo Ave. at Solano Ave. in 1947

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What can we see in this wide-angle view looking south on San Pablo Avenue at Solano Avenue in 1947? For one thing, traffic looks much lighter than today and the photographer dared to go into the middle of the street to take this. (You can click the photos for larger versions.)
The Rexall Drug Store at the northwest corner (later Cortese Drugs and now a cafe) should look familiar to those who know the area from 20 or more years ago. The southwest corner, where American Florist lasted into the 1980s, should also look familiar. The SP Store at the northeast corner, now Max’s Liquors, is little changed other than the name.
What else do we notice? Alcohol is a big commodity in 1947 — at least in this little section of the business district. In the space of half a city block there are three liquor stores and at least two (and probably three) restaurants serving bar drinks.
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Starting at the right of the photo, the Italian restaurant next to the Rexall (which itself carries Optimo cigars) has a neon cocktail glass on its sign.

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Across the street on the southwest side is Albany Cut Rate Liquors, next door to American Florist. In between those two establishments is Wayne’s The Spot (motto Let’s Eat), which may or may not serve drinks.

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A little bit farther south past the Chevrolet dealer on that side of the street is a second liquor store, exact name unknown, but probably popular with the car salesmen.

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Moving to the southeast side we have George’s, which says it’s a coffee shop on the sign, but there’s also a neon cocktail glass.

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Coming back to the little bit of the northeast corner shown in the photo, where a panel delivery van is making a fast turn, we have the SP Corner Store and Liquors (now Max’s), originally opened to serve commuters on the Southern Pacific red cars that once ran down Solano. It was later a favorite place for race track patrons to buy a copy of the Daily Racing Form on their way to Golden Gate Fields. Note that it was also a Greyhound Bus station.

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As a bonus, we have this view of the same intersection looking north circa 1942, with the SP Corner Store and its striped awnings prominent.

Posted on Friday, September 20th, 2013
Under: Albany, Contra Costa County, History | No Comments »

‘Missing’ El Cerrito sculptures are safe and sound

Copper is a hot commodity on the late-night theft market and the vulnerability of 12 copper sculptures along San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito have had some in the community concerned.
The first of the copper dozen was installed last December as part of the city’s $100,000 San Pablo Avenue Streetscape Project.
A reader post Sept. 18 on El Cerrito Patch feared the worst, noting that two of the kinetic pieces were missing:

Another copper light-pole sculpture is gone. The twirling circles on Potrero and San Pablo. Isn’t that 2 down in the past couple weeks? Very frustrating that someone would do that, but also starting to feel like a big waste of money. Sad!

But it turns out the two pieces weren’t stolen, just in the shop for some minor adjustments.
City Hall got wind of the public’s concern and Community Outreach Specialist Suzanne Iarla sent the following reassurance (and invitation to take a walking tour to see all the installations):

As you may know, over the past few months, a series of copper wind sculptures have been installed along San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito.

The works are part of a public art project commissioned by the city called “12 Wind Sculptures.” Currently the artists are still in the final stages of completing their work and have been temporarily removing sculptures (a few at a time) to make final adjustments to the sculptures in their studios.

You can assure your readers that none of the sculptures are “missing” — the pieces are simply being worked on by the artists and will be back up on the light poles soon. Anyone with questions (or feedback!) about the art are welcome to contact me.

The 12 wind sculptures were commissioned by the City and made by local artists Jonathan Russell and Saori Ide. The metal sculptures are located along San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. There are 2 near Carlson Blvd, three near City Hall, two near Potrero Ave, three near Safeway/Del Norte BART, and two near Conlon Ave.

Currently, there are three sculptures that have been removed (one from Potrero and two near Safeway). These should be re-installed by the end of the month. And, just as a heads-up, the artists are planning to take down some other sculptures in November to make the necessary adjustments to them.

All 12 sculptures will be in place during October, which is National Arts and Humanities Month. Staff is planning to provide the City Council and public with an update on the project at the October 1st City Council meeting, and the City’s Arts and Culture Commission is encouraging the public to take a self-guided tour along the Avenue to see the new art works during October as part of Arts Month.

Posted on Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Under: El Cerrito | 2 Comments »

Albany police plan distracted driving enforcement on Friday

Motorists should think twice about texting and driving, but especially in Albany this Friday.
From the Albany Police Department:

DISTRACTED DRIVER OPERATIONS
September 17, 2013
On Friday, September 20, 2013, officers from the Albany Police Department
will focus their enforcement efforts on drivers using hand-held phones and texting. Distracted driving is the cause of thousands of crashes every day and talking or texting while driving is never worth a collision, injury or death.
With the increase in the prevalence of smartphones and other hand-held devices, more and more drivers engage in distracted driving. In 2011 alone, 3,331 people were killed in accidents involving inattentive drivers.
The Albany Police Department is funding this enforcement effort through a $29,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a year-long program aimed at preventing deaths and injuries on our roadways through special enforcement and public awareness efforts. Funding for this program is through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Albany Police Department is committed to helping keep the streets safe both through enforcement and education. Simple steps can help prevent you from reaching for your phone:
• turn off, or silence, your phone
• ask a passenger to text or call for you
• pull over & park safely if you absolutely must make a call or text
For additional information, please contact Sgt Chris Willis, 510-525-7300, cwillis@albanyca.org

Posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
Under: Albany, Crime, transportation | No Comments »

Albany/El Cerrito: Alberrito Street Play event returning

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That cross-border, hybrid, healthy activity, feel good event known as Alberrito Streets is returning in Albany and Berkeley on Sept. 29.
The two cities can’t agree on a name for the street that will be closed to traffic that day (it’s Key Route Boulevard in Albany and Ashbury Avenue in El Cerrito) but they do agree the roadway will be open to recreation and community building into the early afternoon that day between A Street/Lynn Avenue and Brighton Avenue.
From the El Cerrito announcement:

The event is co-hosted by the cities of Albany and El Cerrito to encourage people to get outside, be active and have fun! Attendees are encouraged to bring their own picnic lunch, as well as create their own fun (such as bicycle, skates, croquet, basketball, ping pong, etc). There will be outdoor fun summertime activities including sports games, art activities, chess, live music and more!

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Posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
Under: Albany, Art and entertainment, El Cerrito | No Comments »

Richmond: Observations by Councilman Nat Bates on Tuesday’s meeting

Richmond City Councilman Nat Bates sent the following group email after Tuesday’s City Council meeting:

Just as I predicted, love him, hate him or be indifferent toward him, Vice Mayor Booze chaired a very smooth meeting Tuesday night in the absence of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin who was visiting Ecuador observing the government’s claims and complaints against Chevron, The Vice Mayor moved the items without controversy, and not throwing any one out of the chambers nor calling for a recess. On top of that, the council handle approximately thirty items with professionalism and the meeting was completed and adjourned around 9:10 PM. Excellent job Mr. Vice Mayor.

Reporter Robert Rogers ‏(@SFBaynewsrogers on Twitter, if you don’t follow him already) tweeted this earlier:

#richmond adjourns meeting at approx 9:10 am, shortest meeting I’ve seen in years. VM Booze clearly pushed for brevity in mayor’s absence.

Posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
Under: Contra Costa County | No Comments »

El Cerrito: Margo the Z Bomb at the It Club (1954) and dancing in “Mambo Girl” (1957)

itclub1954hdr

The El Cerrito night club scene was not as vibrant in the 1950s as it had been in the 1930s and ’40s, when people came to town from a wide area for drinks, adult entertainment and (frequently) gambling. By the 1950s, the rising popularity of television was also choking off the night club scene, but there was still an audience and several of the San Pablo Avenue clubs carried on — particularly the It Club.
Above is an ad from May 1954, when the It Club offered three shows nightly at Central and San Pablo avenues. Headlining the It Club bill, and we presume appearing in all three shows, was Margo the Z Bomb.
Margo was a popular performer at the It Club and other strip joints around the Bay Area, but found greater popularity in the Far East, as noted in a post on softfilm.blogspot.com, which also offers a definition of “Z Bomb”:

According to War Slang: American Fighting Words and Phrases Since the Civil War, a Z-bomb is “a mythical bomb of such power that exploding it would ‘end it all’. The term was used in the 1950s, and a stripper of that period, Lolinda Raquel, billed herself as Margo the Mexican Z-Bomb ‘The Absolute End’.”

Below is a clip of Margo the Z Bomb dancing in the 1957 Hong Kong musical “Mambo Girl.” We don’t imagine the It Club stage was that large.

Posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
Under: Art and entertainment, El Cerrito, History | No Comments »