DAPAC, Landmarks Meet to Finish Chapter

By Richard Brenneman
Friday August 24, 2007

The key document in the battle over the role of historic buildings in shaping the public face of tomorrow’s downtown will take definitive form Monday night. 

At least for the time being. 

The meeting that starts at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center (1901 Hearst Ave.) is the 14th session of a subcommittee comprised of four representatives each from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC). 

The panel is hammering out their version of what will become either one of two possible chapters in the new downtown plan mandated by settlement of a city suit challenging UC Berkeley’s expansion plans through 2020. 

While the subcommittee members have reached amicable consensus among themselves, they have been facing an equally concerted push from five other DAPAC members who are not on the subcommittee, but most of whom have attended the subcommittee sessions offering their own comments and a counter-draft to the subcommittee’s work. 

DAPAC Chair Will Travis, Planning Commission Chair James Samuels, retired UC Berkeley development executive Dorothy Walker, former city Councilmember Mim Hawley and downtown Y advocate Jenny Wenk often find themselves at odds in DAPAC meeting with the four DAPAC members on the subcommittee: Zoning Adjustments Board member Jesse Arreguin, Patti Dacey, architect James Novosel and Wendy Alfsen. 

The LPC members of the subcommittee—Chair Steven Winkel, Robert Johnson, Carrie Olson and Jill Korte—are often teamed up as members of the commission’s strong preservationist majority. 

Samuels, during his time on the LPC prior to jumping to the Planning Commission, often voted against them, while Dacey—ousted from the LPC by Councilmember Max Anderson—teamed with the majority. 

Subcommittee members will be confronting three documents, two of them rival versions of the proposed chapter—one based on revisions from Travis, Samuels and the other three DAPAC-only members, and the other a revision of the subcommittee’s earlier draft by Dacey and Novosel. 

Both versions include changes made in the Dacey/Novosel draft during the subcommittee’s Aug. 13 meeting. 

The titles of the two documents reflect one of the key differences between the two groups. The subcommittee’s chapter is entitled Historic Preservation & Urban Design, while the rival draft is called Historic Preservation & New Construction. 

Subcommittee members will also examine the proposed Streetscapes and Open Space chapter for possible integration with their chapter. 

Whatever the subcommittee produces will then be subject to more changes by the full membership of DAPAC, which is charging toward a Nov. 30 deadline for completion of its work. 

The final version of the plan, after tweaking by city staff and the Berkeley Planning Commission, can’t be adopted by the city until it meets with the approval of the university and its planners—a condition of the settlement of the LRDP lawsuit. 

That settlement is facing a legal challenge currently pending before the state Court of Appeals. 

Two other DAPAC subcommittees are also scheduled to meet this week to put the finishing touches on their own chapters. Both meetings start at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Heart Ave. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

The Transportation Subcommittee meets Tuesday, while the Housing and Social Services Subcommittee gathers the following night.