Open Streets comes to Berkeley

Sunday Streets Berkeley

Berkeley hosts its first-ever Open Streets fair this weekend.

A one-mile stretch of Shattuck Avenue will morph into a car-free public space brimming with music, dance, food and fun when Berkeley stages its first-ever Open Streets fair Sunday.

Some 17 blocks of Shattuck, stretching from Haste to Rose streets, will be turned over to pedestrians, cyclists and myriad street-fair attractions and activities.

“Sunday Streets has been hugely popular in San Francisco, so everybody is really excited to have the event here,” says Julie Sinai, director of local government and community relations at UC Berkeley. “With our campus being in the heart of the city, we hope to build on that momentum to increase UC Berkeley’s involvement in future years.”

Decked out with cafe-style seating for socializing, the car-free corridor will be transformed into a people-friendly venue jam-packed with a smorgasbord of offerings, gastronomic and otherwise, from local merchants and more than 80 interactive activities, art and education demonstrations, dance performances and live music.

From face painting to physics, graffiti to yoga, rock climbing to bike repair, fairgoers of all ages and tastes will likely discover something to appeal at Sunday’s event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Several campus groups will participate in this weekend’s fair. Science@Cal faculty and students from the Berkeley Compass Project will showcase the world of science with hands-on activities that grab adults and kids alike.

Staff from the UC Botanical Garden will be on hand to talk plant science with green-thumbed passersby, while the UC Berkeley Classical String Quartet will entertain fairgoers at noon in the Gourmet Ghetto.

Part of the Open Streets movement that has inspired local street fairs in roughly 70 cities in North America, Sunday Streets aims to promote more sustainable and social communities that support entertainment, education, culture and recreation.

Encouraging pedal-powered and pedestrian traffic, Sunday Streets also aims to showcase local businesses, nonprofits, community groups and individual artists in a way that builds ongoing connections with community residents.

City officials worked closely with a number of local business, resident and advocacy organizations, including the Downtown Berkeley Association, the North Shattuck Association, the East Bay Bike Coalition and Livable Berkeley, in bringing Sunday Streets to Berkeley. Organizers are hopeful that this weekend’s fair will become a regular event on the community’s social calendar.

Sinai also welcomed news that Off the Grid would continue to pitch its tent on the south side of campus after organizers relocated the South Berkeley spin-off of the weekly food-truck meet-up to a new site adjacent to People’s Park. City officials moved the mobile food fest, which came to South Berkeley in July, in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion.

“Last year’s fire, which destroyed several prominent eateries, really hit this part of Telegraph hard,” Sinai says. “Off the Grid seems like a great way to bring some new life to the neighborhood.”

Serving up tasty treats and eclectic live music from around the globe, Off the Grid features a rotating lineup of food trucks, with many vendors offering student discounts. You can check out the culinary roadshow at its Haste Street location between Telegraph Avenue and Bowditch Street every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. Off the Grid also meets Wednesday evenings at Shattuck Avenue and Rose Street in North Berkeley.