Kudos to City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque for her action disqualifying four members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in the matter of Congregation Beth El.
The manipulation of this particular city commission by key members of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) has been a disgrace for years. Ms. Albuquerque’s recent action begins to address the outrageous problems that a BAHA-dominated LPC has inflicted on Berkeley and many of its citizens.
By virtue of several of the current appointments by the City Council to LPC, BAHA board members have come to dominate LPC and have turned a city commission into the enforcement arm of a private organization whose agenda is much broader than LPC’s legal mandate.
This obvious conflict of interest is unfair to project applicants, and economically costly in terms of lawsuits against the city which result from this conflict.
The Council should applaud Ms. Albuquerque’s correct and welcome action. In addition, the council should further support this effort by appointing to the LPC persons who do not carry the potential to create politicized commission actions on behalf of a private group.