04 June 2007

Pat Devaney

John Patrick Devaney, December 1919 – May 2007
(illustration: Martha Nicoloff)

The Board of Directors of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association dedicated BAHA’s 33rd Annual Membership Meeting to the memory of Patrick Devaney in recognition of three decades of outstanding service on the Board of Directors (1976–2007); his leadership in the preservation and enhancement of neighborhoods and their character, specifically West Berkeley and Downtown; and his tireless energy as chair of BAHA’s Preservation Action Committee.

J. Patrick Devaney was born in Minneapolis, MN, in an era of strong social enlightenment, when Social Democrats were in the majority. This shaped his life.

Pat’s father, John P. Devaney, was one of the three most influential people in Minnesota politics during the Roosevelt years, a founding member of the National Lawyers’ Guild, and Chief Justice of the Minneapolis Supreme Court from 1933 to 1937. His mother, Beatrice, was a concert singer.

John P. Devaney passed away suddenly in 1941, when Pat was 22 years old. Pat’s mother passed away only a few years later.

Pat graduated in 1942 with a degree in Literature from the University of Minnesota. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Pat enlisted in the Naval Reserve. As captain of a gun crew on a Liberty ship during World War II, Pat saw combat in South Africa and the Mediterranean. After the war he returned to Minnesota for a time, then migrated to the Bay Area to attend law school at the University of California, San Francisco.

During the 1950s, Pat worked with the Red Cross and lived in San Francisco. There, in 1956, he met his wife, Kathleen. Sons Jack and Tim were born in 1960 and 1961. In the 1960s Pat worked with the non-profit group Self-Help for the Elderly in Chinatown. He was deeply involved in the struggle to save the International Hotel. Pat experienced first-hand the devastation that redevelopment had on San Francisco’s poorer residents and grew to hate it.

Pat and his family lived briefly in Sonoma County and Montclair in Oakland before moving to Berkeley’s Panoramic Hill in 1969. In Berkeley, Pat quickly became involved with city planning. He successfully worked on down-zoning the North Berkeley BART station that year. In 1970, there was a plan to widen city streets, including Hearst Avenue, and Pat was at the forefront of stopping the plan. Along with other BAHA members, Pat played a key role in saving the Naval Architecture Building on the U.C. campus.

Pat was involved with the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance when it was adopted in the early 1970s. By the early 1980s, he was appointed to the Planning Commission. He could always be counted on to be a reliable ally to neighborhoods. He opposed the West Berkeley Industrial Park in the early 1970s and successfully opposed redevelopment in Ocean View.

In 1990–92, Pat was instrumental in getting Measure L- Save the Parks passed. He worked on controlling Pacific Steel Casting’s emissions in the early 1980s as a member of the Board of Adjustments.

The Downtown Plan was crafted during the 1980s. Pat knew Berkeley’s political dynamics and he inspired residents, planning staff, and politicians to appreciate and preserve Berkeley’s historic downtown buildings. He had a key role in setting a limit of five stories for the Downtown.

From 1989 to 2007, Pat served as editor of the CNA Newsletter to inform Berkeley citizens of “what’s coming down before it lands on them.” He was a passionate supporter of BAHA for over 25 years. Pat fought for Berkeley and for all of us. He will be sorely missed.


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