Rarely spotted in cities, western bluebirds require cavities in which to nest and large, irrigated lawns, like athletic fields, which teem with worms and insects. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond

The week started out ominously when a unit of the Chevron refinery in Richmond caught on fire and spewed dark smoke high into the air. Residents immediately around the fire were told to shelter in place. Berkeley was indirectly given a warning as well when Oakland police told hill dwellers to stay inside and close all the windows. The fire shut down much of the Chevron facility, immediately causing a spike in gas prices. One Berkeley gas station owner got four price hikes in a 24-hour period.

Virtually all of Alameda County – except Berkeley – uses a color coded grading system for restaurants. Berkeley, in contrast, has an online data base where people can enter a restaurant name to see how it stacks up. While Berkeley officials do not think there is anything wrong with the city’s system, they are considering adopting the color coded system for uniformity.

Let the races begin! The election races that is. Candidates for city office were required to file a campaign expenditure report by July 31 if they had collected any donations. City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, who is facing ZAB Commissioner Sophie Hahn, raised the most money: $13,015. Mayor Tom Bates came in next, raising $11,770. He is facing as many as six to eight challengers, including City Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Elaine Miller Bond’s piece on the sighting of rare western bluebirds in San Pablo Park delighted many nature lovers and those who enjoy learning about the wild creatures among us.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...