10 great stories that shaped Berkeley in 2021

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An aerial view of People’s Park on September 5. UC’s board of directors voted this month to construct two buildings with a total of 1,100 student beds at the historic site. Credit: Dronegenuity Team

It wasn’t even close.

With over 330,000 pageviews, the most read Berkeleyside story of the year was our article about a vocabulary test filled with lobster jokes that shocked a private Berkeley music school of 65 students. The importance of the story went beyond the humor of the title “Lobster Claws” – addressing serious issues of parent power and teacher pay.

But instead of categorizing 2021 stories by pageviews this year, we’ve decided to pick up on the stories that we think have had a major impact on the whole city. Here are 10 stories addressing the big questions Berkeley faces regarding housing, pandemic recovery, police reform, mental health and more.

  1. Berkeley begins process to end single-family zoning
    In February, city council denounced the racist history of single-family zoning and pledged to end it. Adopted in 1916, it had the effect of pushing non-whites towards the poorer neighborhoods of the south and west.
  2. Plans are clearing to remove police from traffic controls, but there’s a long way to go
    Berkeley grabbed the headlines after George Floyd’s murder announcing plans to enforce traffic rules without police. Making these plans a reality might require the invention of a new city model and changes in state law.
  3. Scarred but resilient: Telegraph Avenue businesses emerge from pandemic
    “Society is emerging from pandemic restrictions,” we wrote in June. Between the delta, omicron and on-and-off mask mandates, this did not enough turn. But the feeling of looking around and wreaking havoc? The theme of the year.
  4. He has sought help for years with a mental illness. It ultimately killed him.
    About a third of calls to Berkeley Police are about people with mental health crises. In July, we wrote about Charles Feezel, whose family tried – unsuccessfully – to get him the sustained treatment he needed.
  5. Spenger development may continue at Ohlone shell mound site, court rules
    A July decision from the California Supreme Court means that a 260-unit complex with 130 affordable housing units can develop on land on Fourth Street that Ohlone considers sacred land. The ceremonies declaring the parking sacred site continue.
  6. Judge freezes UC Berkeley student registrations at 2020-21 levels
    An Alameda County judge ruled in August that UC Berkeley must study the environmental impacts of its growth before it expands further, a big win for neighborhood groups fighting the campus to cap enrollment.
  7. Berkeley’s largest homeless camps have been closed. Where are the inhabitants now?
    In August, after a 50-bed shelter opened in West Berkeley, Governor Newsom personally accompanied Caltrans officials to clear a camp near the marina. A look at the numbers shows where people have gone.
  8. The end of the sixties? Regents vote to put housing in People’s Park
    In September, UC’s Board of Regents finally accomplished what it set out to do more than 50 years ago: tame People’s Park by building housing. About 1,100 student beds will be built in the park, which was the center of massive protests in 1969.
  9. 9,000 housing units by 2031? How Berkeley will try to get by
    New skyscrapers in the city center. More houses along University and San Pablo avenues. Duplexes are sprouting up across town. Regional mandates require the city to plan new housing. How he should do it depends on Berkeley.
  10. Berkeley High had known for 15 years of allegations by a chemistry professor who sexually harassed students
    Berkeleyside’s investigation in November into the district’s handling of teacher misconduct complaints. Two former students have filed lawsuits after a disturbing photo was spotted in the yearbook archives.


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