Tools Rush Out

Happy weed-whacking!

If summertime is gardening season for you, but you don’t have a lot of cash to invest in post diggers, soil aerators, and pitchforks, you can find many of those essential gardening implements at the Berkeley and Temescal Tool Lending Libraries.

Neither have gas-powered rototillers or chainsaws, which get a lot of requests, but the list of garden tools they offer is considerable.

“We’ve got several good quality weed-eaters,” says Ty Yurgelevic, who runs the Temescal library, “along with pole saws and pruners, an old-fashioned two-person saw for cutting trees, wheelbarrows, and garden claws.” The Berkeley library sports most of the larger implements, but Yurgelevic claims to have small hand tools such as trowels as well.

The tool-lending rules in brief: Lenders must be residents of Oakland, Emeryville, Piedmont (Temescal library), or Berkeley (Berkeley library), and must show proof of residency. You’re responsible for your own injuries if you don’t know how to use a tool properly, and you’ll have to sign a waiver to that effect. The tools can be checked out for two, three, or seven days depending on the tool and the library, with some stiff penalties per day for slackers.

The best time to get tools is right when the libraries open. Berkeley lets you reserve a tool that’s not in, but Temescal will only hold a tool for the same day you call. You can renew a tool if no one has reserved it.

Happy post-digging and weed-whacking!

Temescal Tool Lending Library, 5205 Telegraph (near 52nd), Oakland. 510-597-5089. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; call for specific hours. For library regulations and instructions, visit

Berkeley Tool Lending Library, 1901 Russell (near MLK), Berkeley. 510-981-6101. Open Tuesday through Saturday; call for hours or visit

Beer Lovers Take Note: Peter and Cynthia Kahl, who respectively own Suppenkuche and Cafe du Nord in San Francisco, have just opened Speisekammer in Alameda. Speisekammer, which means “food pantry,” will serve much the same menu as its stylish nine-year-old sister restaurant: German classics such as Nurenburger bratwurst and smoked pork chops, lightened up the California way. Even vegetarians will find something on the menu. The full bar features eleven German beers on tap and another ten in bottles. Speisekammer will initially be open Tuesday through Sunday, 5:00-10:00 p.m.; the bar will stay open until midnight. 2424 Lincoln Avenue (just off Park), Alameda. 510-522-1300.

Closing Note: Shem’s Palace, the much-loved Mandarin and Szechuan restaurant on San Pablo in El Cerrito, has apparently shut its doors. The owners were not available for comment.

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