This Sunday, a stretch of Shattuck Avenue more than a mile long will be transformed into a public space hosting more than 80 activities, expositions and performances, right in the middle of the street.
Sunday Streets Berkeley is a new community initiative modeled after the popular Sunday Streets San Francisco events that began five years ago. Both Sunday Streets events are part of the larger “Open Streets” movement that aims to promote sustainability by temporarily closing off main city streets to cars while encouraging bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The events also provide a public forum for entertainment, education, culture and recreation.
Attractions on Sunday will include face painting, live classical music, physics demonstrations, free yoga classes, tours of a brewery, Brazilian drumming and graffiti painting, among many others spread along the length of Shattuck from Haste to Rose streets. The event will continue from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The organization of Sunday Streets Berkeley was a collaboration among Livable Berkeley, the North Shattuck Association, the Downtown Berkeley Association and the city of Berkeley — all of which are main sponsors of the event.
Livable Berkeley, which spearheaded the planning of Sunday Streets Berkeley, is an organization that aims to make Berkeley a better place to live through community, social and sustainability projects. The success of the San Francisco events inspired Livable Berkeley to begin talks with the city.
“This is something that embodies all the goals that Livable Berkeley has been working toward for 10 years,” said Erin Rhoades, executive director of Livable Berkeley. “It removes everything except for activities that people create on their own.”
Sunday Streets events differ from traditional street fairs in that they’re locally focused rather than attracting outside businesses and entertainment. The difference was attractive to local businesses that have been less than enthusiastic about the effectiveness of traditional street fairs at bringing in business in recent years.
“In a typical street fair, local businesses are overlooked,” said Heather Hensley, executive director of the North Shattuck Association. “We usually do a street fair, but this year, we were approached by (Livable Berkeley).”
The excitement extends to local business representatives, such as Jesse Sarinana, general manager of Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse, which will be offering tours every hour as part of the Sunday Streets event.
“I think it’s unique and fantastic highlighting local businesses,” Sarinana said. “Outside vendors — don’t get me wrong, they are fun and exciting too — but this gives an opportunity for our community to meet each other.”
The city of Berkeley and the Downtown Berkeley Association are also enthusiastic sponsors of the event.
Typically, vendor fees cover the costs associated with city street fairs. However, Sunday Streets Berkeley, which has no outside vendors, must raise money on its own.
“We put forth money out of our marketing budget,” Hensley said. “A number of council members put money towards it. There was even money from Measure B.”
Measure B, passed in 2000, renewed a sales tax providing funds for transportation projects, including bicycle- and pedestrian-related projects.
Livable Berkeley hopes Sunday Streets Berkeley will become a regular event, ideally occurring multiple times a year. Judging by the success of Sunday Streets in other cities like San Francisco and New York, organizers are confident that Sunday’s event will be a success.
Contact Jacob Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.