01 April 2004

This is journalism?

The Blood house between the Albra and the Brasfield
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

The bottom-feeding Will Harper is foaming at the mouth again in the East Bay Express. His target this time is the Blood house, and as usual, Harper’s ill-researched diatribe sounds more like PR hackery than journalism.

Had Bottom Feeder (what an apt name) bothered to read Section 3.24.110 of the Berkeley Municipal Code, which sets forth criteria for consideration when designating landmarks, historic districts, and structures of merit, he would have found out that “If upon assessment of a structure, the commission finds that the structure does not currently meet the criteria as set out for a landmark, but it is worthy of preservation as part of a neighborhood, a block or a street frontage, or as part of a group of buildings which includes landmarks, that structure may be designated a structure of merit.”

The Blood house is not an isolated building but sits between two other landmarks on a block where several other historic structures are to be found. As such, even in its altered state, it merits its designation.

Moreover, had Bottom Feeder taken the trouble to read Jerry Sulliger’s exhaustive article in Preservation Discourse, he would not have been so quick to declare that “contrary to the LPC’s assertion that it was one of the last of its kind from the College Homestead tract, Corbett identified dozens of residential buildings remaining from the old tract.”

Then again, any homework he might have done would probably have made no difference whatever, since Bottom Feeder insists on telling only one side of the story. Where, for example, did he get the idea that “the mayoral permit-streamlining task force has recommended either doing away with the [structure of merit] designation or clarifying it”?

According to Bottom Feeder, ZAB member Laurie Capitelli “reasoned that he couldn’t make the necessary finding that building more housing, including seven affordable units, was more important than preserving a historic structure—even one he personally found unremarkable.” The only reason Bottom Feeder can suggest for this finding is Capitelli’s imminent run for the city council. Apparently this muckraker never sets foot in Berkeley and thus is completely unaware of the For Rent signs that abound on every street.

Quite a few Berkeleyans are wondering whether the demolition-happy Bottom Feeder receives more than one salary.