Tag Archive | "El Cerrito"

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City Hall Goes Green


BY N’JERI EATON//

After 10 years of city services displaced at sites across the city and over two years of construction, the new El Cerrito City Hall opened its doors this month.

The new building stands as both a monument to local government and a move to create a more green, sustainable city. Planning stages began back in 2004, when El Cerrito hired BSA Architects, a firm known for its environmentally friendly designs. The city’s goal was to think about sustainable design without necessarily going through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification, which is a set of criteria and standards for green building accreditation. Despite this, the city expects to get the official LEED certification by January.

Architect George Janson believes being environmentally friendly doesn’t need to be expensive; the focus should be on practicality. “It’s not the most expensive, just good, solid design,” he said. “Green design isn’t just about bamboo, but being able to create healthy spaces for people.”

For example, architects made sure to integrate natural daylight throughout the space as much as possible. Janson cut holes through walls or removed them entirely to create a more open, airy floor plan. “Transparency between spaces makes it a very nice place to be, not just sustainable,” he said.

At the front entrance, floor-to-ceiling windows replaced walls, allowing natural light to brighten each room. Janson said the windows offer an alternative light source and represent the transparent, open nature of the El Cerrito government. “It reflects the easy-going attitude of the city, not an inaccessible government,” he said. “It reflects they way they like to do things here.”

The emphasis on employing energy-efficient light systems will save the city money. “They’re finding that during the day, they don’t use a lot of light,” Janson said. Every room is equipped with motion sensor lights. When a room is no longer occupied, the lights will automatically switch off.

The city hall’s new radiant hydronic heating system also reduces costs. Hot water stored in the floor heats the room, creating a steady interior temperature. This kind of system can reduce heating costs by more than 30 percent.

Water efficiency is another area where designers reduced spending and energy. Low flush toilets are installed in every bathroom, exceeding government standards by 40 percent. The irrigation system for the bay friendly landscape includes an above-ground spray. According to Janson, the city hall uses “50 percent less of what you would normally use at a comparable building.”

As a part of a countywide mandate for new construction, architects developed an underground storage system for rainwater. During storms, the water falls through small vents around city hall where it is collected and used for irrigation.

The city hall site is accessible to public transportation and provides convenient bike racks. “The location is incredible. People overlook it, but that’s what sustainable design is all about,” said Janson.

For Janson, the greatest accomplishment of the plan was using simple and cost-saving methods to create the city’s first green public building. “We didn’t start by going through the LEED score card,” he said. “It was just good common sense.”

The city hall has an extensive display about green building for residents who want to learn more about the site and how they can incorporate some of the design elements into their own homes.

Watch the slide show for examples of city hall’s green design.  If you have a comment about this story, we would like to hear about it.

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Prop 4 in California: Should Pregnant Teens Tell Their Parents?


BY: SWETA VOHRA//

Every Tuesday E.B Troast offers students at El Cerrito High School free and confidential advice on sex, birth control, pregnancy and other sexual issues.

“Confidentiality and respect is definitely the reason teens come [here],” said junior Caitlin Taffe.

Taffe said that she and her friends sometimes find it difficult to discuss issues related to sex with parents. For them, Planned Parenthood express sites like the one run by Troast offer an excellent source of information and support, she said.

Tia Harris, a 17-year old El Cerrito High student added:  “If you don’t want everybody to know about your business, it’s really easy to come to a place like this.”

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VIDEO: Get Out the Vote Rally at Democratic Headquaters


BY N’JERI EATON//

The West Contra Costa County United Democratic Campaign Headquarters held a Get Out the Vote Rally in El Cerrito on Sunday to celebrate the work of volunteers. Read the full story

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City Council Debuts Technological Advancements at Regular Meeting


The front entrance of the new El Cerrito City Hall on San Pablo Avenue.

BY FERNANDO GALLO//

The El Cerrito City Council discussed technological advancements the city has made to better serve and educate its residents, as well as a new recycling system, at its bimonthly meeting on Oct. 20.

The council session, which also served as the Public Financing Authority meeting, marked only the second time the council has met in the new state-of-the-art city hall.

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VIDEO: Vice-Presidential Debate Commentary at the Cerrito Speakeasy


BY N’JERI EATON//

A rowdy crowd of local residents gathered at the Cerrito Speakeasy to watch the vice-presidential debate.

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Cell Phones for Change


Team leader Juantia Hughes trains first-time callers Sydney Matherson and her mother Sheri Freeman-Matherson

Team leader Juanita Hughes trains first-time callers Sydney Matherson and her mother Sheri Freeman-Matherson

BY N’JERI EATON//

In the last critical days of the presidential election, volunteers at the West Contra Costa United Democratic Campaign Headquarters are spending the weekends working the phones for Obama to get out the vote and clear up any confusion. Read the full story

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SLIDE SHOW: El Cerrito High Football vs. Alameda


BY FERNANDO GALLO//

The Gauchos took on the Alameda Hornets for their homecoming game on Oct. 10. See the action up close in this slideshow.

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El Cerrito High Rides Late Touchdown to Victory, 23-17 Over Alameda


BY FERNANDO GALLO//

After a seesaw battle all night, El Cerrito High emerged victorious on a late touchdown for the second consecutive week, beating the Alameda Hornets 23-17 on Oct. 10.

After losing the lead in the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Isaac Goins connected with Kenneth Green for a 77-yard touchdown pass with less than five minutes remaining in the game. The long score put the Gauchos up 20-17. Kicker Jose Fuentes then put up a 49-yard field goal that barely cleared the crossbar and gave the Gauchos a 23-17 lead. Read the full story

Posted in Your Community, Sports, Top StoryComments (2)

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Crime Rates Down in El Cerrito


BY SWETA VOHRA //

In the past two years, statistics show that El Cerrito has put a significant dent in crime rates. The most significant reduction has been in larceny-theft crimes, which can include stealing personal property from unlocked cars or houses. Chief Scott Kirkland says this decrease in crime rates is due to “a myriad of factors.”

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Get Your Flu Shot!


El Cerrito Police Officer getting vaccinated

El Cerrito Police Officer getting vaccinated

BY DANIEL MCGLYNN AND ALEXIA UNDERWOOD //

October 21, 2008// The Contra Costa Health Department will be administering flu shots today in El Cerrito.  The clinic will take place at the Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane from 1-3 p.m.
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