November 5, 2008: Success
Voters defeated Bates’ revisions to the LPO yesterday, effectively rejecting the (re)developer-driven rewrite and preserving Berkeley’s 1973 Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. Congratulations to all those who worked on the No on LL campaign.
October 30, 2008: LPO, Taking Stock
Daniella Thompson’s Daily Planet article looking at the effects of the LPO over the past 34 years.
October 16, 2008: LL is for Lies
Judith Epstein’s article on behalf of BNPO, the Berkeley Neighborhood Preservation Organization, outlining City Attorney Zachary Cowan’s efforts to influence poilcy by disinformation.
January 12, 2007: Signature Drive a Success
Opponents of unchecked redevelopment, corporate welfare, and City Council influence pedaling breathed a sigh of relief today as referendum supporters turned in 6,000 signatures, enough to put Mayor Bates’ LPO on the ballot. Full story in the Daily Planet.
December 13, 2006: Referendum Approved
The City Clerk today approved a petition for referendum of Bates’ LPO. Petitioners now have 30 days to collect 4,100 signatures. If successful it will prevent enactment of the Bates’ revision until the next election, where voters will have their say on instant payday loans.
After legal council advised petitioners on the City’s unique non-severance clause, informing them it would likely be used by the City Attorney to challenge the legality of a partial referendum, it was decided to instead collect signatures for a referendum of the entire ordinance. This will make it more difficult for the referendum to win at the ballot box, however, if a portion of the unseverable ordinance is invalidated in court, the entire ordinance would be invalidated as a result. The City added the never-before seen anti-severance clause specifically to force a full referendum.
While State election law allows for partial referendum, there is neither judicial precedent for challenge of an anti-severability clause nor deep pockets for a legal defense. Score another one for Manuela Albuquerque, Zach Cowan, and the City Council’s indifference to democratic principle.
Petitions go to Press
At this moment petitioners are collecting signatures over the next month. Petitioning will begin tomorrow, Wednesday morning. Due to the short timelines we are asking anyone who can help to contact email@example.com. Without your help over this pivotal month, protection for Berkeley’s traditional neighborhoods and turn-of-the century architecture will be significantly weakened and many fine and affordable buildings will be lost.
Berkeley without the LPO
To get an idea of what the city will increasingly come to look like should we lose our 34 year old LPO, visit the sites of two recent large-scale demolitions, where the real-estate slow-down has derailed previously planned condos:
- Seagate (9 stories). At the beginning of this year there were four 1920s buildings along this half block of Center St between Shattuck and Milvia. They were demolished over the summer for a tax break, along with 6 heritage trees. There is currently no funding for construction according to a contractor who works for the Marin-based developer.1122 University, near San Pablo (5 stories). Received demolition permits 2 years ago and immediately tried to sell the “fully permitted” lot. Over this last summer, they demolished the two 1920s buildings for a tax break, and nothing is being built in their place.
Under Bates’ LPO the City would not even require a development plan to permit such demolitions, creating a potential windfall for real-estate speculators.
November 7, 2006: Measure J loses
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters reports than Measure J opponents outnumbered supporters, with 21,869 opposed vs 16,659 in favor, the second smallest margin in city-wide elections. The bulk of no votes were recorded in the hills, whereas most yes votes were tallied in student areas, perhaps reflecting the neighborhoods that have been most impacted by demolitions to-date. The loss is not entirely unexpected given a biased and inaccurate City Attorney’s analysis and the Chamber of Commerce PAC’s $60,000+ campaign of lies.
We owe it to over 16,000 LPO supporters to continue their fight for neighborhood and commission participation. There are two tracks remaining: 1) referendum, and 2) CEQA lawsuit. Both options will, at least, be easier and cheaper than the election campaign. The CEQA suit in particular, is a slam-dunk given the scope and number of violations in the Bates plan.