A view of the new vegetable beds at the Claremont, which the First Lady will pass by during her visit. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel

Ever since the news broke that Michelle Obama will be talking at a fundraising breakfast June 14th at the Claremont Hotel, the hotel has been spiffing itself up. Rumor on the street is that the First Lady, or FLOTUS, will be spending Monday night at the resort before a day of activity in the Bay Area.

The First Lady’s penchant for edible gardening is well-known, as she has heralded the new organic garden at the White House and been the driving force behind an “eat healthy” campaign aimed particularly at kids. Alice Waters is also preparing locally grown food for the event.

That may explain the appearance of two new large, raised planting beds right near one of the Claremont’s entrances. The bed closest to the hotel has tomato plants nestled in wired cages, and the other raised bed is planted with radishes, carrot, beets and parsley. The new vegetable garden can’t be missed when getting in or out of a car at that entrance.

New raised beds at the Claremont

The Claremont also paved the road leading up to the back entrance. Workers are also touching up the paint in the historic hotel.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the Claremont Hotel contacted Berkeleyside via e-mail at 9:45 pm on Friday to say that the vegetable beds were not installed for the benefit of the First Lady. “The garden at the Claremont has been in the works since last fall,” she wrote. The chef at the Claremont, Josh Thomsen, plans to use the food for Meritage restaurant.

New paved driveway at the Claremont Hotel. Let’s hope it impresses Michelle Obama

Hat tip: Ginny O’Brien

Frances Dinkelspiel

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

Join the Conversation


  1. I hope Josh wants a lot of radishes and mint.  There are six tomato plants, a few basil plants, radishes and mint, if I remember correctly what I saw Saturday.  I accept that it is not for Obama’s visit, but business at the Meritage cannot be so bad that this is significant.  Maybe six mojitos and a few orders of pesto, garnished.

  2. If you check out the map of the relevant Berkeley Council district (http://bit.ly/jpUvkz ), you’ll see that the better analogy is that Berkeley has an appendage into Oakland that encompasses most of Tunnel Road.  For logistical reasons, however, most of the area within Oakland’s city limits above the Claremont Resort is served by the Elmwood Post Office, and these houses and businesses have Berkeley mailing addresses — as does our house, which is on the Oakland side of the Elmwood / Rockridge border.

  3. actually the  hotel  pays  oakland  taxes  the bezerkeley  address  is  just that  an address 

  4. People who know that Oakland is much more than murder.
    Oakland is constant being dissed by it’s neighbors, the press and itself.


        The “Golden State” Warriors

        Even at the height of their success the A’s were always “below the fold” in the Chron’s Sports

        The “local” TV station is home to the…. Giants

        During the Audition portion of the popular show “So You Think You Can Dance, the “San Francisco Auditions” were held in Oakland’s beautifully restored Paramount Theater. The Paramount’s real location was not mentioned.

    Yes Oakland is troubled with serious crime and self image problems. Is that a good reason for not giving credit to its many positives?

    Perhaps Berkeleyside will continue with it’s fiction that the Claremont is in Oakland; in that case perhaps we should annex Little Star Pizza as well. 

  5. I’m surprised to learn that. I had to look it up on a map. I don’t think it has anything to do with snobbery, though. More like coming into Berkeley via 13, passing a sign that says “Welcome to Berkeley,” then straightaway passing the Claremont on the right. I’ve lived close by for over a decade, and had no idea that Oakland had an appendage extending into the hills behind the hotel.

  6. From the
    Claremont’s own website:

    Free Drinks for Life

    A state law, which radically changed the design of The
    Claremont, prohibited the sale of alcohol within a one-mile radius of
    the University of California. Since the hotel is constructed on the
    borderline between Berkeley and Oakland, it was assumed to be within
    the one-mile radius. Thus, it was not allowed to serve liquor. In 1936,
    The Claremont was one of very few hotels without a bar. This situation
    changed when a female student at the University began to investigate to
    see if the building was indeed within the one-mile radius. She and her
    friends measured the shortest route from the U.C. campus to the front
    steps and found The Claremont was a few feet over the one-mile radius,
    meaning a bar could be opened. (It is now called the Paragon Bar &
    Café). The woman responsible for these findings was awarded free drinks
    at The Claremont for the rest of her life.

    It’s in Oakland. Always has been.


  7. Correct me if I’m wrong, but historically the only reason the Claremont proper is in Oakland is because of the “no liquor within a mile of the University” rules from times past. Most of the surrounding neighborhoods are in Berkeley.

  8. This is silly; a small potion of the Claremont’s parking (!) is in Berkeley. Other than that all the structures and facilities are in Oakland.
    Saying that the Claremont is in Berkeley, however is an excellent example of the snobbery most often evident on the Berkeley side of the border.

  9. The Hotel is exactly located on the border between Berkeley and Oakland. Part of the Hotel actually has a Berkeley address while part of it has an Oakland address.

  10. Will the Claremont also be hiring cute, chubby children to conspicuously exercise in areas Michelle Obama might pass through?

  11. They could really grow quite a lot, I hope they expand it! It’d be a real boon to do so, with all of those grounds. Hope it’s Organic!