11 May 2005

Whither goes our Landmarks Ordinance?

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a depressed colleague in Nebraska. He wrote:
Here in Lincoln, the only Progressive on our city council was voted out of office May 3 with the help of tons of negative (and false, twisted) radio, TV and print advertising paid for by the Nebraska Republican Party.

I told him that on our city council, everybody is a Democrat, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they kiss up to developers and sell the city’s interests away.

He replied:
We have the same problem with developers in Lincoln. Several members of the Lancaster County Board are developers, and the rest support the developers’ agenda. The County Board has overruled its own planning commission many times to approve new developments that violate our comprehensive plan. And now the city council is developer-oriented, too.

Monday night at the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting, Commissioner Patti Dacey expressed herself eloquently on the subject. Later she expanded her discourse in writing:
Berkeley neighborhoods are under real-estate speculation pressures unknown since the 1960s. The hideous apartment buildings and out-of-scale developments that still scar our flatland neighborhoods stand as testimony to the conditions that gave rise to our Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance and our Landmarks Preservation Ordinance in the first place. These conditions seems to be making a real comeback. Now, the Planning Commission is finishing up a very ill-conceived rewrite of our LPO that basically strips huge amounts of protection from the flatland neighborhoods while greasing the way for real-estate speculators.

These changes are essentially an attack on the flatland neighborhoods. What is ironic (or perhaps par for the course) is one of the leaders of this attack is Helen Burke, Linda Maio’s appointee to the Planning Commission and the Chair of the Creeks taskforce. Ms. Burke evidently believes that creeks deserve more protection than our flatland neighborhoods and our homes. Our vibrant, diverse, and unique flatland neighbornoods are being set up as economic opportunity zones that deserve even less protection than the small amount granted now. The proposed amendments also contradict the letter and the spirit of the General Plan, without any analysis why that document should be trashed.

People who love their neighborhoods need to really understand what is being lost in this process. Neighbors need to understand exactly who is plotting the gutting of the LPO. I can even give you examples of the ignorance of preservationist law displayed by the people who are rewriting the Landmark Preservation Ordinance to aid developers.

I fear the fix is in, and we are being sold down the river by an elitist and class-based agenda to sacrifice the flats to big developers. If you do not believe that the flatlands should be sacrificed to real-estate speculators, let your council people know. If we don’t take care of our neighborhoods, I assure you that the Planning staff will not. Just witness the mischief and the inappropriate actions taken by staff around the “Flying Cottage.”

Read also:
Canary in the Coal Mine: Berkeley’s Landmarks Ordinance by Zelda Bronstein for the Berkeley Daily Planet

Revising landmark law by John English

Letters by attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley on behalf of BAHA to the Planning Commission regarding the latter’s proposed amendments to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance:
27 April 2005
11 May 2005


Post a Comment

<< Home