by Anneli Rufus
Two women were robbed at gunpoint just outside the South Berkeley Jewish renewal center Chochmat HaLev after taking a class there last month. This, along with a string of other stickups in the neighborhood, led to a meeting between residents and Berkeley city staff on Wednesday night, January 15. Assistant City Manager/Neighborhood Liaison Jim Hynes, along with a police officer and a member of the forestry department, walked around the Chochmat HaLev property "and suggested additions to lighting, pruning of some tall bushes (or possible replanting of some of the landscaping with lower shrubs), and some additional recommendations to make the premises more secure and to eliminate dark pockets where people could lurk," writes a neighbor who attended the meeting.
The group then walked up and down nearby streets, with the officials advising locals to keep their porch lights on at night, among other tips.
"Overall, it was a positive exchange," writes the neighbor, "with the City staff clearly taking the situation seriously and trying to do what they could to help."
And it wasn't a minute too soon. Not one but two bike bandits had assaulted a man on Oregon Street near Fulton Street the previous night. As they punched him in the jaw and fought him for his bag, he yelled alerting numerous residents, who emerged from their homes and called the cops, according to a neighborhood-watch listserv. The thieves escaped.