Downtown Committee Ponders Green Plan; Landmarks Commission Weighs BHS Gym

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 01, 2007

DAPAC members will finally tackle the central element of their proposed new plan Wednesday night when they consider the role of sustainabilty in the future of Downtown Berkeley. 

And a decision on landmarking the old Berkeley High School Gymnasium—home of the East bay’s main warm water therapy pool—could come as early as Thursday evening, when the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is scheduled to hold a hearing on a building already slated for demolition by the city’s school board. 

DAPAC—the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee—is charged with handing the Planning Commission a draft of the new plan by November, and members have decided that their primary emphasis will be on creating a green city center. 

The meeting begins with a presentation by environmentalist and “smart growth” advocate John Holtzclaw on land use and greenhouse gases, followed by a discussion of the draft sustainabilty element prepared by downtown planner Matt Taecker, UC Berkeley planners Judy Chess and Jennifer McDougall and Berkeley environmentalist Juliet Lamont. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

Proponents of the application to landmark the old gym say the building is a distinguished creation worthy of preservation, while the school board said the site is needed for new classrooms and athletic facilities. 

Representatives of the disabled community have also called for preservation. 

The school board voted Jan. 17 for demolition, but a group of preservationists calling itself Friends Protecting Berkeley’s Resources filed suit Feb. 23 charging that the district didn’t follow the California Environmental Quality Act before casting its votes. 

The building at Milvia and Kittredge was the creation of architects William C. Hays and Walter H. Ratcliff Jr., and features additional details by engineer Thomas F. Chace who conducted a rare—for its time—seismic retrofit in 1936. 

Also on the LPC agenda are proposals to remove shingle siding on a Structure of Merit cottage at 2411 Fifth St. and add additional dwelling units at the rear of the property. 

Commissioners will also review plans by UC Berkeley officials to renovate six residential buildings at the Clark Kerr Campus to keep the buildings habitable and increase accessibility. 

Also on the agenda are plans to add a by-right addition to the home at 1340 Arch St., declared a landmark in November after the commission acted in response to the plans; and plans to refurbish the Sigma Phi fraternity house at 2307 Piedmont Ave. 

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center.