Tuesday, June 4, 2013

City to Close Part of Telegraph Avenue Over Summer for Sunday Parties

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group

BERKELEY -- In an attempt to drive more business to Telegraph Avenue over the summer, the city will close a part of it to cars on Sundays for an all-day party with music, food and merchandise. 

Telegraph will be closed between Dwight Way and Durant Avenue from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting June 9 with live music at the intersection of Channing Street and Telegraph the entire day. 

Restaurants will be encouraged to offer seating in the street, so patrons can eat outside. Vendors will be on the sidewalks, and street musicians are encouraged to come and play, organizers said. 

The Sunday street closures were conceived by Mayor Tom Bates with help from the Telegraph Business Improvement District. The closures are part of a recent push to help the area, which has lost business, in part, because of a perception that homeless youth and their dogs, who rotate between Telegraph and nearby People's Park, have driven people away. 

"I think it will create a more positive ambience and have people feel more comfortable coming here," said Roland Peterson, executive director of the business district. 

He hopes it will prop up business while UC Berkeley students are gone during the summer break. 

The Sunday events will have a trial period of six weeks, and if they are deemed a success, will continue through Sept. 8. 

Janet Klein, a street vendor on Telegraph for more than 30 years who is helping coordinate the street closures with the mayor's office, said she is booking jazz, blues, Indonesian gamelan and world music bands for the Channing intersection. 

"Some of the acts will come from the Berkeley Jazzschool, and some of the musicians I know from booking them for the Christmas fair I put on every year on Telegraph," Klein said. "The main thing is that it is going to be a traffic-free environment, and hopefully it will be so popular, they will extend it through the summer." 

Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.

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