Big Splash on Berkeley’s Telegraph

by Steed Dropout
March 16, 2014

Eight downtown Berkeley Ambassadors moved uptown, Friday, starting cleanup work on Telegraph Avenue at 7.a.m. and working furiously until early afternoon to make a splash.

Telegraph Property Owners’ Roland Peterson called the event a “splash.” He said “splash” was a public relations term.

But if the ambassadors’ seeming success at clearing downtown streets of sprawling sidewalk encampments and their welfare referrals have paid off–as Telegraph property owners believe–they want that splash on Telegraph.

Clean-up near shopping carts. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Telegraph business improvement district officials have long wanted to hire downtown ambassadors, hoping the ambassadors could bring their downtown successes to Telegraph. But the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District (TBID) just couldn’t afford the ambassadors, TBID officials told me.

When city financial incentives became available, TBID jumped at its chance, according to Peterson.

Ambassadors lined up for work at 7 a.m. outside the TBID office on Durant, Friday, according to Peterson.

New Shirts, Same Carts. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The ambassadors team scraped light-poles of unauthorized signs and swept Teley sidewalks, avoiding homeless shopping carts and a crowd of street people near the Caffe Mediterraneum.

Once the splash is complete (in ten days, according to Peterson) the ambassadors will
begin welfare referrals and power-washing, which were tested downtown.

Power-washing or “pressure-washing” is “a high pressure mechanical sprayer used to remove loose paint, mold, grime, dust, mud, and dirt from surfaces and objects…” according to Wikipedia.

Pink Cloud Spectates. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Ambassadors’ supervisor, Lance Goree credits power-washing as an integral part of their success clearing sidewalks downtown.

Will Telegraph lose its ‘funky’ flavor? Becker doesn’t see any upside to the flavor outside his door. He tells me that sales receipts from street people do not compensate for wear and tear in what has become, reportedly, in the upstairs toilet–Telegraph’s public urinal/shower/shooting parlor.

“The crowd outside our doors discourages business,” Becker said.

Come Clean!
Photo by Ted Friedman.

Asked whether he wanted the street people gone, Becker told me, Saturday, “gone is too harsh; I wouldn’t say that.”

Whatever the ambassador’s do, Becker added, “we will not interfere.”

The Telegraph ambassadors will take over Teley street-cleaning, augmented by city sweepers, according to Becker.

Two disgruntled boulevardiers recently went off in the Med on Becker, who is used to it, over allegations that TBID had laid off local street sweepers, Becker said.

Of three sweepers let go, Becker said one re-applied and was rehired. The other two didn’t re-apply.

Ambassador-in-chief up a pole
. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The ambassadors will assure regular cleanups, Becker said, and “relieve TBID of the responsibility.”

Telegraph Ambassadors is owned by the service, Block-by-Block.

Clean sweep. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Block-by-Block is a subsidiary of SMS Holdings Corporation, founded in 1988 in Nashville, TN. SMS holds three subsidiary security services.

These views do not represent those of publications in which my work appears.

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