Commissioner Changes Could Tip Balance By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 02, 2005

New appointments at the Landmarks Preservation Commission could create a more developer-friendly majority on the panel that builders love to hate. 

City Councilmember Max Anderson this week sought the resignation of Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Patricia Dacey, thanking the Maudelle Shirek appointee and telling her it was time to name his own appointees. 

“I’m fine with that,” said Dacey, who with Lesley Emmington Jones, was regarded as one of the panel’s strongest preservation opponents. Dacey was appointed to the LPC in August 2004. 

In voting on appeals of landmarks designation, Anderson has often sided with developers, and he has expressed concern that landmarking is being used more as a tool to block development than to preserve truly notable structures. 

“I really appreciated the conscientious work she’s done,” Anderson said of Dacey, “but it was time for a change.” 

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, another critic of many Landmarks Preservation Commission actions, has appointed architect Gary Earl Parsons to fill his slot on the commission, which has been vacant for more than a month until the Nov. 21 appointment. 

Parsons is a Berkeley native who received his master’s in architecture from UC Berkeley in 1982 and started his own firm in 1987 with offices at 814 Camellia St. Parsons fills the slot vacated when Capitelli appointed architect James Samuels to the Planning Commission in September.  

The combined effect of the changes could lead to significant changes in LPC votes, in which many recent pro-landmarking decisions had carried by five-four margins. 

Wednesday night’s meeting of the Berkeley Planning Commission was also the last for Rob Wrenn, an Anderson appointee. 

“We had an agreement that I would serve one year,” said Wrenn. 

His replacement is Lawrence T. Gurley, professor of mathematics and computer information systems at Merritt College in Oakland. He lives on Russell Street in Southwest Berkeley. 

Wrenn still serves on another planning group to which Anderson appointed him, the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee.