Activists working to save the downtown Berkeley post office plan to attend the Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday to call for the zoning overlay that would restrict development on the property and issued the following announcement on Sunday:
Support the Zoning Overlay
WE MUST AGAIN PACK THE
PLANNING COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING
WEDNESDAY, November 6th, 2013, at 7:00 p.m.
NORTH BERKELEY SENIOR CENTER
1901 Hearst, Corner of MLK
Zone for the Community, not the Developers
We need you to speak or be a supportive audience member.
SAVE THE BERKELEY POST OFFICE!
Over 100 people came to the last Planning Commission meeting–60 spoke FOR the Zoning Overlay and only 3 spoke for the developers. At this next meeting, the Commission will finalize its recommendation to the City Council. It is possible that more will speak against rezoning, so we must be there!
WE MUST AGAIN BE THERE TO SPEAK FOR THE ZONING OVERLAY!
Berkeley’s Planning Commission and City Council propose to place a Zoning Overlay on Berkeley’s existing Historic District. This area includes Berkeley’s Old City Hall, New City Hall, Berkeley High School, Veteran’s Memorial Hall, and the Berkeley Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way. The Zoning Overlay would limit the area’s use to community, cultural, and civic purposes. It will make the Post Office less vulnerable to developers and help the USPS realize the value that Berkeley places on its public services.
Berkeley’s historic Civic Center District is our Public Commons. Let’s protect it with appropriate zoning. Although the uses of buildings change, the end result must be a stronger community, not a richer real-estate developer. Let us show that we are a city of caring citizens in community.
Posted on Monday, November 4th, 2013
Under: Berkeley, development, History | No Comments »
North Berkeley and Albany (and the southern part of El Cerrito) still did not have direct dialing in 1939, and it looked like they would have to wait until 1940 for it.
Pacific Telephone & Telegraph received a permit from Berkeley to construct a $100,500 exchange (prefix) building at Solano and Ventura avenues that would provide the first dial service to the area, as the Oakland Tribune reported on New Year’s Eve of 1939 (above). The ornate brick building, still standing today and now carrying the AT&T logo (the historic name of Pacific Telephone’s parent company), is one of the more overlooked structures on Solano, even though it is at a prominent corner. You may recognize it from the Google Street View at this link.
The (52) LAndscape telephone exchange is still used in Albany, North Berkeley and El Cerrito and the post office across the street at 1831 Solano is called the Landscape Station.
So why is part of El Cerrito included in the exchange? When PT&T was wiring its network early in the century, the southern part of El Cerrito was connected out of Berkeley, the northern part out of Richmond. As a result, well into the 1940s, the southern part of the city could call Berkeley and Oakland with no added charge, while the northern part had to pay toll fees. The phone company, through its many changes of ownership in the last 30 years, still continues this division by distributing Oakland telephone directories to the southern half of El Cerrito and West County (Richmond) directories to the northern half.
By 1943, cities from Oakland through Richmond had dial service and new seven-digit phone numbers. (Cities in less populated central Contra Costa kept six-digit phone numbers into the 1950s.)
Those who wonder what telephone exchanges are can learn about them at this link.
PT&T explains service areas, exchanges and toll charges in its 1943 directory.
Pacific Telephone explains to customers how to properly use dial telephone service.
Telephone etiquette tips from PT&T in 1943.
Posted on Monday, November 4th, 2013
Under: Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, History, Richmond | No Comments »
One section of the eastern (cantilever) half of the Bay Bridge remains to be built in this aerial view published February of 1936 in the Oakland Tribune Yearbook. The wake of a ferry that has passed through opening is visible.
In the background, the two towers of the Golden Gate Bridge are visible, but no roadway has been constructed yet.
Alcatraz Island is in the background at the right.
Posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Under: Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, History, Richmond, transportation | No Comments »
It’s easy to look at the BART strike and the possible AC Transit strike and pine for the “good old days” of public transit in the East Bay. But an earlier generation might laugh at that.
In 1953 the personnel of the Key System went on strike for 76 days, two-and-a-half months, bringing public transit to a halt in the East Bay.
Some key differences:
* The Key System was privately owned, rather than a public agency.
* Its workers did not receive nearly the compensation given to BART workers.
* The Bay Area population was much smaller. (Though so was the roadway system feeding commuting workers to the Bay Bridge or downtown Oakland.)
But at the time the Key System was the equivalent of BART and AC Transit, running streetcar and bus lines.
The workers walked off the job July 24, 1953 and residents — surprise — began forming car pools, something many of them became familiar with during World War II.
Businesses howled, commuters and shoppers complained loudly. (Click the pictures for a larger version if you want to read the articles.)
But the strike dragged on and drew attention in Sacramento after it entered its third week, as Gov. Earl Warren called a special session of the state legislature to consider a government seizure of the system. Legal representation of East Bay cities and Alameda and Contra Costa counties had met in Richmond and gave their approval to the governor’s plan. The government threat to seize the Key System didn’t happen then, but it laid the groundwork for the creation of AC Transit seven years later.
Our friend and El Cerrito rail buff John Stashik writes: “The long Key System strike in 1953 was the company’s undoing. Legislation enacting the AC Transit District occurred after the 76-day strike and in October 1960 AC Transit was running the bus lines.
“Privately owned transit could not make a profit. Today everything is publicly owned. Muni was one of the first to be a publicly owned system and it began in 1912. The city bought out the Market St. Railway in 1944 and finally the California Street Cable Railway in the early 1950s.”
The consortium of automotive-related industries that controlled the Key System also wanted out by the late 1950s and the system would make the conversion from private to public ownership.
The strike finally ended on Oct. 4, 1953 — the 73rd day of the walkout. But it was announced that it would take three more days before trains and buses would roll again, compared to having limited service the next day after the settlement of this week’s BART strike.
Posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Under: Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, History | No Comments »
The project that would change the Bay Area forever still had a long way to go when this aerial photo of Bay Bridge construction was published in 1935. The photo includes an East Bay panorama with undeveloped hills in Berkeley and Oakland and Mt. Diablo looming in the background.
A closer look shows the cantilever section on the east side, the comparatively easy part of the project, is progressing nicely. No decks have been built on the western section, but the towers and anchorage are in place.
Zooming in again gives a better look at the ferry boat passing between the tower and the anchorage. There is no Treasure Island off of Yerba Buena Island, no Eastshore Highway along the eastern shoreline and no prehistoric version of the MacArthur Maze yet.
As for work on the cantilever section, this is what it looked like with no roadway in another photo from February 1935.
Posted on Thursday, October 17th, 2013
Under: Berkeley, El Cerrito, History, Richmond, transportation | No Comments »
It’s red flag weather and the El Cerrito Fire Department issued the following notice:
The National Weather Service has declared that there will be a Red Flag Warning in place from 1800 hours (6:00 pm) tonight through 0600 hours (6:00 am) Saturday morning. This is the most dangerous point in the fire season when cool temperatures and sparse amount of rain can lead to complacency. A north wind (off shore) event with the predicted wind conditions, critically low humidity and low fuel moisture is a very serious condition.
The Fire Department will be placing signs in the Parks to notify the public against the use of the BBQ’s or any open burning. Please report any signs of smoke and in the event of any type of fire or downed trees, assume a power line is involved until proven otherwise. Insure all your co-workers and personnel maintain their Situational Awareness, keep a lookout in the hills and surrounding areas when outside, call or report any problems and maintain a safe distance from any incident.
The following weather report is from the National Weather Service:
EAST BAY HILLS AND DIABLO RANGE-…RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING (Thursday) TO 6 AM PDT SATURDAY FOR GUSTY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY FOR THE EAST BAY HILLS ABOVE 1000 FEET…
* AFFECTED AREA: FIRE ZONE 511 EAST BAY HILLS AND DIABLO RANGE. THE HILLS OF CONTRA COSTA…ALAMEDA AND INTERIOR SANTA CLARA COUNTY ABOVE 1000 FEET INCLUDING MOUNT DIABLO AND HENRY COE STATE PARKS.
* TIMING: THE STRONGEST OFFSHORE WINDS WILL DEVELOP TONIGHT INTO FRIDAY MORNING WITH VERY LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES FRIDAY AFTERNOON. CONDITIONS WILL ONLY SLOWLY IMPROVE OVER THE WEEKEND.
* WIND: NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH WITH FREQUENT GUSTS 35 TO 45 MPH AND LOCAL GUSTS IN EXCESS OF 50 MPH ABOVE 2500 FEET.
* HUMIDITY: 20 TO 30 PERCENT TONIGHT…DRYING TO 10 TO 20 PERCENT BY FRIDAY AFTERNOON
* IMPACTS: THE COMBINATION OF DRY FUELS…STRONG WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY WILL CREATE CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS WHERE ANY NEW IGNITIONS COULD SEE RAPID FIRE GROWTH.
A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW…OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS…LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY…AND WARM TEMPERATURES CAN CONTRIBUTE TO EXTREME FIRE BEHAVIOR.
Posted on Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
Under: Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Kensington, Port Costa, Richmond | No Comments »
The post office protest encampment, seen here in a photo by Judith Scherr on July 27, continues as elected officials and advocacy groups try to find ways to prevent the sale of the landmark.
The following statement was issued today by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) responding to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission decision to dismiss the appeal by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates of the U.S. Postal Service decision to sell the downtown post office:
I am extremely disappointed by the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission’s decision to dismiss the appeal. While U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, rendered the appeal “premature”, I strongly urge the Commission to reconsider the appeal and abandon plans to sell the property.
Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Under: Berkeley | 1 Comment »
It’s nice to have an authentic antique carousel right in our own back yard, available for riding and reminiscing just a short trip away in Tilden Regional Park. The classic 1911 Herschell-Spillman wood carousel at Tilden, in fact, is one of a number of working merry-go-rounds open to the public in the Bay Area and a favorite for family outings both during summer and the Christmas holidays alike.
But we may be more fortunate than we realize, according to this article on smithsonian.com, which states that “the ornate, well-made carousels of the past are in danger. They’re deteriorating and being sold off piecemeal, horse by horse, or sometimes even for parts.”
Carousels were not hard to find from the 1890s to the 1920s, with 3,000 or so in operation in locations around the United States at the height of their popularity.
Today there are about 150 antique carousels left, including the Tilden merry-go-round.
The National Carousel Association has compiled a map showing locations of antique, metal and new carousels that remain in operation across the 50 states and you can see a nice concentration in the Bay Area and Northern California.
Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Under: Albany, Art and entertainment, Berkeley, Contra Costa County, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, History | No Comments »
Artists who began a mural on the side of Shakespeare Books at Dwight Way and Telegraph Avenue last weekend are back this weekend to finish the project.
Leading the project, which is funded by Shakespeare Books and the Telegraph Business Improvement District, are artists Tim Hon and Steve Ha of the Illuminaries art group (www.illuminaries.net). The pair also created murals last year commemorating the San Francisco Giants and 49ers in that city’s Mission District.
For the Berkeley mural the artists are working entirely with spray paint to create a mural with a positive message that inspires the imagination.
“I believe people are influenced by their environment, and their surroundings, and we aim to make a positive impact on that old building,” Hon said in an announcement.
The artists will be working through Sunday, when they will have DJs providing musical accompaniment as part of the Sundays on Telegraph Street Faire.
(Photo courtesy Tim Hon)
Posted on Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Under: Art and entertainment, Berkeley | No Comments »
Albany and vicinity as depicted on 1936 Shell Oil road map.
Detail from a 1936 road map of Oakland captures Albany on the eve of change that would start with the opening of the Eastshore Highway the following year.
Look at the zoomed-in version and notice the differences, starting with Solano Avenue, which turns into Main Street on the west side of San Pablo Avenue.
An enlarged version shows a large area of undeveloped land and major changes still to come. The Berkeley Emergency Airport would become the south parking lot of Golden Gate Fields.
Albany and Berkeley drivers who think taking Marin and Buchanan avenues to the freeway is a slow route nowadays should take note that in 1936, the two streets aren’t even aligned. Buchanan starts at Cleveland Avenue and simply ends at San Pablo.
Even Albany High School is not yet on the map.
The Gill Tract at this point is still owned by the Gill family, is still used to grow flowers and is all open space. So is everything to the west. And note how prominently the creek is marked.
That would all change when the Eastshore Highway opened in 1937.
Albany was growing from a population of almost 8,100 in 1930 to more than 11,000 in 1940, but the traffic to the highway was greater than city leaders anticipated.
The designated way to the highway at the time of the opening was to take Solano to Main to Pierce Street. The city soon learned that the route was not only somewhat narrow, it was too steep.
Plans were soon made to alter Buchanan and align it with Marin Avenue to handle all the traffic bound, a change that set others in motion as there was a real road to the city’s waterfront for the first time.
Development proposals came fairly quickly and within four years there was a racetrack on the waterfront and a U.S. Department of Agriculture research facility nearby. About two years later wartime housing would be built on much of the Gill property and even a new train line would run near the shoreline for a few years.
A frontage road was also added along the highway giving Albany its first industrial zone.
By 1950 the population would top 17,000 and a new era had begun for the Gateway to Northern Alameda County.
A Shipyard Railway train passes Codornices Village, the war era housing facility where University Village is today. Photo courtesy of John Stashik..
Posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Under: Albany, Berkeley, History | No Comments »