21 February 2006

Leslie Freudenheim returns

Leslie M. Freudenheim, whose lecture on 10 February drew 240 people to the First Church of Christ, Scientist, will return to the Bay Area for several additional presentations of the interesting discoveries she reveals in her book Building with Nature: Inspiration for the Arts & Crafts Home.

19 MarchSwedenborgian Church of San Francisco, 2107 Lyon Street at Washington; 1 pm (reservations required).

6 AprilBuilders’ Booksource, 1817 Fourth Street, Berkeley; 7:30 pm (20-minute talk with slides).

7 April—Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 6:30 pm (lecture with slides).

8 AprilBook Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera; 4 pm (20-minute talk).

Signed copies of Building with Nature are available for sale at the BAHA bookstore. BAHA members receive a 22% discount.

18 February 2006

Memorial Stadium and Southeast Quadrant update

California Memorial Stadium, ca. 1945 (Bancroft Library, UARC PIC 03:119)

The massive development known as the Southeast Campus Integrated Projects (“Integrated Projects”) is having another public airing this coming Wednesday evening. Starting early at 6:00 p.m. on 22 February, the meeting will be between four city commissions, the University of California’s architects, and the public.

On 13 December 2005, the City of Berkeley issued its response to the University’s Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Draft Initial Study for the Southeast Campus Integrated Projects in which it expressed its disappointment regarding the adequacy of this effort. BAHA expressed similar sentiments, as did the Coalition of Affected Parties.

It is very important that the commissioners be informed about the project context, which is to say, the neighborhood context. Without our voice, they truly will have no idea. Many people know nothing about the residential character of the various neighborhoods impacted by growth in this inaccessible part of Berkeley.

The meeting only lasts till 7:30 p.m., so please arrive on time. The hour and a half will be packed with a presentation by the architects, comments from 36 commissioners, and comments from the public. The four commissions include Planning, Landmarks Preservation, Transportation, and Design Review. Notably absent is the Disaster Council.

Although we in the public will not have much time to speak, our presence is important anyway. Our numbers matter.

The meeting will take place at the North Berkeley Senior Center, which is located at 1901 Hearst Avenue at MLK. Come early and get in the queue to speak. See the Joint Meeting agenda.

See also the university’s Historic Structure and Landscape Reports for California Memorial Stadium and Piedmont Way.

14 February 2006

What we can learn from Riverside

To: Mayor & City Council
Re: Proposed revisions to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO)

Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers:

It’s not the individual buildings by name architects that make up the fabric of our town, but the clusters of Victorians, Colonial Revivals, Brown Shingles, and Craftsman bungalows that dot our streets. These clusters are prime candidates for Neighborhood Conservation Districts, which Berkeley sorely needs.

If any revisions are to be made to the LPO, they should include the new category of Neighborhood Conservation Districts, as stipulated in our General Plan.

The people of Berkeley are no fools. They know that there are far more buildings that qualify as Structures of Merit in our midst than there are potential Landmarks. Many potential Structures of Merit have been identified in surveys, others are still awaiting discovery. If you remove protections from these buildings, the face of Berkeley could change dramatically, and not for the better.

Alternatively, you could take a lesson from the city of Riverside, which is as old as Berkeley and has four cultural-resource categories: Landmark, Structure of Merit, Historic District, and Neighborhood Conservation Area.

In Riverside, anyone who wants to alter, remove, or change the appearance of any cultural resource has to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness. Such a simple yet brilliant idea: Certificate of Appropriateness. Why doesn’t Berkeley adopt it?

Riverside also provides for appropriate penalties: any person who alters, removes, or demolishes a cultural resource shall be required to restore the building, object, site, or structure to its appearance or setting prior to the violation. Why didn’t Berkeley think of it?

A lot of damage has already been done. Don’t be the ones to compound it. Since neither the mayor nor the councilmembers understand the LPO, don’t rush into a decision that we will all live to regret. Follow the recommendations of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and let the experts craft the language.

Daniella Thompson
Read more opinions on the LPO in Preservation Discourse.