Dona Spring, champion of preservation
Dona Spring at a Save the Oaks rally, 9 Nov. 2006 (photo: Daniella Thompson)
With the untimely death of Dona Spring, Berkeley preservationists lost their staunchest advocate on the City Council. As a Councilmember, Dona consistently appointed preservationists to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
In 2006, Dona was only one of two Councilmembers who endorsed Measure J, the citizens LPO update.
Donas 2006 Candidate Statement devoted a sizable paragraph to Measure J. She wrote:
Vote yes on Measure J to save our Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. Historic preservation advocates collected signatures to save the structure-of-merit designation which the mayor wanted to eliminate. This change would have wiped out almost all future protections for saving historic resources in Berkeleys neighborhoods. It was only after the signatures had been submitted that the mayor tried to make a compromise which restored the structure-of-merit designation. But once signatures have been submitted for a ballot measure, they cannot be withdrawn. Contrary to ballot arguments against Measures J, it was not a long public process leading to the Bates proposal. In fact, over 50 people living in all of Berkeleys neighborhoods testified against the mayors proposal to gut the current ordinance. In addition, there have not been legal problems with the current ordinance. The State Historic Office has found that Berkeleys current Landmark Preservation Ordinance is compliant with all state laws. A vote for Measure J is a vote to preserve our affordable housing stock. Many rent control units are in older buildings and houses. If those buildings can be easily demolished instead of restored and expanded, then we lose rent-controlled housing and get expensive market rent housing in their place. Also, it is environmentally friendly to reuse the buildings instead of demolishing and land filling them. (One of the biggest portions of our landfill is going to construction and demolition debris.) Reusing buildings also helps conserve natural resources including trees.To the San Francisco Chronicle, Dona made this statement:
Its extremely important that we pass this, said Councilwoman Dona Spring. Without Measure J, theres no way to save anything unless its designed by a famous architect. Any owner who wants to demolish a house can do it.Until her very final days, Dona fought bravely to save the Memorial Stadium Oak Grove, putting her frail body on the line against U.C. police.
Dona, we love you and miss you. Where will we find another champion like you?