Landmarks Commission to Discuss Mayor’s Revisions

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission will meet Thursday to discuss changes proposed for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). 

Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Laurie Capitelli have proposed revisions to the LPO, measures strongly backed by developers and opposed by preservationists. 

Changes to the law require a review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which mandates an analysis of impacts to a wide range of factors, including cultural resources. 

The mitigated negative declaration prepared by city planning staff found the proposed revisions would have minimal impact on the city’s historical character—a claim strongly dispute by several LPO members. 

Thursday’s meeting was called to give the commissioners time to comment on the proposal within the time window mandated by CEQA. 

Their comments must be addressed in the final environmental document. 

The mayor’s proposal, which would come in the form of a council action, could be trumped by a November ballot initiative drafted by supporters of the current ordinance. 

That measure would keep the provisions of the existing law, while making timing fixes required by the state Permit Streamlining Act. 

The need for changes prompted a rewrite of the ordinance by LPO members, while the Planning Commission undertook their own rewrite. 

The mayor’s measure significantly changes the ordinance, and would add considerably to the commission’s workload—a move some members claim would undermine the commission’s mandate to preserve the city’s historical features. 

Supporters turned in an estimated 3,200 signatures on petitions to send their initiative to the November ballot. They needed only 2,007. 

If voters approve that measure, it would take precedence over any revisions imposed by City Council action. 

Thursday night’s meeting was called as an unusual second monthly meeting by the LPC because of the full agenda at their regular meeting June 1. 

The session begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 


New member  

Thursday’s meeting will be the first for the commission’s newest member Miriam Ng, a principal in the real estate company Korman & Ng. 

Ng has been a prominent figure in city affairs; she served two terms as president of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the boards of the California Association of Realtors, Aurora Theatre Company and the Berkeley Public Library Foundation. 

“I had served together with Miriam on the Housing Advisory Committee,” Moore said. During a recent conversation, Moore said, “I happened to tell her I was looking for someone to serve on the landmarks commission, and she said she had a working relationship with several of the commissioners.” 

Ng replaces Moore’s first appointee Ted Gartner, who resigned several months ago.