July 12, 2005

Mayor Tom Bates
City Council
City of Berkeley

Re: Public Hearing for Various Proposed Amendments to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance

Dear Mayor Bates and Members of the City Council:

After observing the long public deliberations and participating in the discussions held at both Landmarks Preservation Commission meetings and Planning Commission meetings,* and after seeking outside counsel,* the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) urges the City Council not to adopt the proposed amendments to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO) and Zoning Ordinance presented for discussion and decision tonight. It is BAHA’s considered judgment that the amendments seriously undermine the spirit, intent, and standing provisions provided in the LPO, adopted by the City Council in 1974 to protect Berkeley’s broad and diverse historic resources.

BAHA concurs with recommendations that suggest Berkeley’s LPO be updated to reflect current preservation planning practices successful on the national level as well as the state level, including:

  • utilizing the National Historic Preservation Act funds available for survey work with the Certified Local Government status;
  • adopting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties;
  • granting the LPC authority for demolition review as well as the authority for suspension of demolition;
  • recognition of the expertise of the LPC to determine level of CEQA review;
  • clarification of the criteria of significance for single sites and structures supported by contributing resources;
  • making the recognition of historic districts more accessible;
  • specifying identification of archeological resources.

None of the above cited provisions have been developed in the proposed amendments before you tonight. Rather, a direction has been taken to reduce the practices of public involvement, identification of resources, and the proper authority that should be invested in the expertise of the LPC.

On behalf of its own membership and the broad citizenry at large supportive of Berkeley’s unique architectural and cultural heritage, BAHA upholds the current emerging debate surrounding the proposed amendments to the LPO.* It is in this regard that BAHA wishes the City Council to consider the unanimous vote of the LPC at its special meeting on June 27, 2005,* to recommend that the City Council not proceed with the proposed amendments as they stand without full environmental review in compliance with CEQA, or that the proposed amendments not be approved and a new beginning start with the appropriate outside consultation.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Sincerely,

Wendy Markel, President

*attached

Please refer to tapes of Planning Commission meeting April 13, 2005, April 27, 2005, May 25, 2005 and Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting of June 27, 2005.

Please find attached copies of letters from Susan Brandt-Hawley, Esq., to the Planning Commission dated April 27, 2005, May 11, 2005 and to the Landmarks Preservation Commission dated June 27, 2005.

Please find attached copies of various newspaper articles, including BAHA Newsletter No. 118, Spring 2005.

Please find attached copy of Landmarks Preservation Commission Recommendation, June 27, 2005.

cc: Susan Brandt-Hawley, Brandt-Hawley Law Group

Copyright © 2005 BAHA. All rights reserved.