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City Council Looks at Bevatron Landmarks Appeal

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday January 30, 2007

In August, the City of Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission landmarked the site of the 180-foot diameter circular Bevatron building at 1 Cyclotron Road, but not the building itself, opening the door to its demolition by the University of California. 

Appellants will argue before the City Council tonight (Tuesday) that the historic importance of the Bevatron building is too great to allow its destruction and that the demolition could constitute an environmental hazard. Their appeal questions the accuracy of the city planning staff’s Notice of Decision reporting the commission’s ruling on the historic significance of the structure. 

At its meeting tonight, the City Council will also look at enacting new laws to control the impact of alcohol sales, adding live-work lofts to inclusionary housing rules, allocating $100,000 to greenhouse gas reduction and more. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a work session on economic development. The meeting is at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Way and is broadcast on KPFB-FM 89.3 and Cable Channel 33. 


Bevatron appeal 

The Landmarks Commission ruling could be used to allow UC Berkeley—which operates the Lawrence Berkeley Labs for the Department of Defense—to tear down the structure that housed a particle accelerator that functioned between 1954 and 1993.  

The demolition is what LA Wood, Pamela Sihvola and 53 others are trying to prevent with their appeal of the Landmarks Preservation Commission decision, saying the building itself as well as a historic record of the science practiced there should be preserved. 

They say that the Notice of Decision for the August meeting, which was drafted by city planning department staff, was not an accurate representation of what the commission actually decided, and that staff neglected to report the commission’s opinion that the property might be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, which would affect the extent  

of environmental review demolition must receive. 

“This is the most historic of the buildings for the lab,” Wood said in an interview Friday. 

However, in its Oct. 2005 draft environmental impact report, LBL calls for the demolition and removal of the Bevatron.  

“Approval of the demolition project (is) anticipated to be considered in early 2007,” says the recently released final EIR, which goes on to say that the Bevatron removal would likely take place some time between 2008 and 2012. 

The plan calls for disassembling the building that houses the Bevatron and the foundation underneath, then removing some 22,000 to 26,000 tons of reinforced concrete, structural steel, siding, glass and other building materials and another 24,000 to 30,000 tons of debris. “The site would then be backfilled, and the fill compacted and leveled,” the EIR says. 

What will be built on the site? “There are no current plans for future development of the underlying site,” the EIR says.  

Critics of the demolition have cited the danger of radioactive contamination being spread from the thousands of truck trips to landfills and hazardous waste disposal sites. 


Confronting alcohol abuse 

The council will address several proposed laws to address alcohol-related problems.  

One proposal is to train servers/sales persons not to sell alcohol to minors and to inebriated persons and to stop consumption on the premises, where it is illegal. 

Another, called a “social host ordinance,” targets adults responsible for large parties on private property where alcohol is consumed, especially by minors.  

The third proposed law would target loud and unruly gatherings as public nuisances. Police would first post the site of such gatherings, then cite persons exhibiting unruly behavior at the site on subsequent occasions. 

The council will also take up regulations leading to reduction of alcohol outlets where they are over-concentrated. 

The council will also look at:  

• A law which would require developers of live-work lofts to provide one “affordable” unit for each five market rate units built, which they must now do for the construction of regular apartments. 

• Allocating $100,000 for the the greenhouse gas reduction program approved by the voters as Measure G, and applying for additional grants from outside source to further fund the program. 

• Questions surrounding the ticketing of high school students who sit on the ledge at the Milvia Street administration building. 

• Joining a national pro-choice campaign. 

• Opposing Bush’s escalation of the war in Iraq. 

• Supporting a resolution to enforce the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.