On June 28, 1938, 75 years ago, the Berkeley City Council deferred action on a new budget until additional financial information was received from city departments. Instead, the council busied itself with discussion of gutters.

"City Manager Hollis Thompson ... pointed out that deep gutters in many parts of the city are one of the greatest present problems of the administration," the Berkeley Gazette reported. This was in regard to a petition from property owners in the 1500 block of Henry Street to have the gutters raised.

"Berkeley's gutters were originally designated for conditions in the 'horse and buggy days' and the problem of making them more shallow appeared suddenly when automobile design, making cars lower, changed a few years ago," Thompson said.

He reported gutters had been raised during the past year in about 400 locations. Another 2,000 spots needed attention.

The council also designated Fulton Street south of Dwight Way to Ashby Avenue as a "stop sign arterial."

North of Dwight, the street was already designated a boulevard.

In retrospect this small item helped sow the seeds of Berkeley's 1970s traffic revolt. Fulton would increasingly carry more traffic and would ultimately be made one-way southbound, while Ellsworth, one block east, would be made a one-way north street.

Traffic grew so heavy through the Le Conte residential neighborhood that in the 1970s it was called the "Fulton Freeway" and neighbors, including future Mayor Loni Hancock, protested. Ultimately, Fulton was blocked with barriers at Blake and at Ashby, returning it to a quiet residential street.


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Fire retirements

Berkeley's new fire department pension board held its first meeting June 28, 1938. The City Council had passed an ordinance in April to organize the board.

Three veteran firefighters were approved for retirement. Capt. Thomas A. Andrews and Lewis Wescott had served continuously in the department since 1904. Engineer Henry C. Anderson started with the department in 1907, left in under two years, returned in 1912, and had worked as an engineer for the department since then. "In all three cases there were considerable previous periods of service as volunteers without pay which were not considered in the aggregate of service," the Berkeley Daily Gazette reported.

Fishing pier

Here's something worth mentioning that I missed earlier in the month.

The Berkeley pier, as many readers know, was built to convey cars to and from ferries. That use ended when the Southern Pacific Golden Gate ferries ceased operations. The city mulled over what to do with the pier, which extended much further into the Bay than it does today.

The Berkeley Rod and Gun Club and the San Pablo Sportsman's Club had lobbied the city for a trial use of the pier for fishing. The trial took place on the weekend of June 11-12, 1938, and the Gazette reported it a success.

Admission of 15 cents per automobile was charged to enter the pier, plus 5 cents for each additional passenger.

On Saturday, 342 automobiles paid and 500 fish were reported caught.

On Sunday, "132 fishing fans" were waiting at the gate at 5 a.m. On Monday, June 13, there were 175 cars waiting and "many of the fish being landed today run about 14 inches in length."

All told, during the three days, 1,500 cars visited the pier.

"It appears from the opening two days that the residents of Berkeley and surrounding communities actually appreciate the opportunity to fish right here at home," City Manager Hollis Thompson said.

The next day, the City Council, on Thompson's recommendation, opened the pier permanently for fishing use and directed staff to plan for improvements, including bathrooms.