Improper Staff Action re Berkeley's Campanile Way Landmark

Former Mayor Shirley Dean
Monday June 11, 2018 - 05:05:00 PM

TO: Mayor Arreguin and Council Members Maio, Davila, Bartlett, Harrison, Hahn, Wengraf, Worthington and Droste

City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley

Director Timothy Burroughs, Planning and Development Department

FROM: Shirley Dean

SUBJECT: June 12 Council Meeting, Item 48

Landmarks Preservation Commission Notice of Decision

I am deeply disappointed to learn that City staff has placed this item on the Action Calendar of your June 12, 2018 Council Meeting. I have had a long history of experience with the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance: first working as a co-author of the Ordinance; then as a person who worked hard to gain approval from the Council in 1974; followed by being a Council Member for 19 years, and serving as Mayor for eight years. Today, after working since 2002 to turn back various attempts by the previous administration to weaken the Ordinance, the community once again faces yet another challenge to its provisions. In this instance, my concerns are twofold: 1) procedural; and 2) substance issues. 

Procedural Issues: This item has not been properly managed by the City 

An item, which is worded the same as the subject item #48, was reviewed by the Council's Agenda Committee on May 29, 2018. At that time, the item was shown on the proposed agenda for June 12 as Consent Calendar Item #21. The website report of the Committee's actions indicates there was no objection, and the June 12 agenda was approved. 

This was improper on its face since items placed on the Consent Calendar are supposed to be non-controversial and likely to be approved without any discussion. It should go without saying that when City staff seeks to modify a recommendation approved by five votes of a board or commission, that item does not meet the criteria for inclusion in the Consent Calendar. 

Secondly, the Commissioner's Manual clearly states that items submitted by boards and commissions are not subject to change when put on the Council agenda. The Manual makes it clear that while the item from a board or commission must be the work of the board or commission in its entirety, City staff may also submit comments as they wish. This item, however, was not presented as a LPC item. It was submitted primarily as a staff item with the Commission's item as an attachment. Additionally, the staff item substantially confuses the issues by leading the public to believe that the LPC landmarked the view which is incorrect. The Notice of Decision (NOD) dated May 29, 2018 for this LPC action states 

"Campanile Way (UC Campus)" 

"Landmark initiation application (#LMIN2017-0006) for the consideration of 

City Landmark designation status for a site on the UC campus. 

The Landmarks Preservation Commission of the City of Berkeley, after conducting a public hear, APPROVED the following designation: 

DESIGNATION: City of Berkeley Landmark" 

The NOD gives no further information as to what was approved except to state:"ZONING DISTRICT: R-4(H)-Multi-Family Density Residential District/Hillside Overlay" While it does include a link for further information, this is hardly an accurate description for the LPC's action which was to landmark Campanile Way and designate the view from Campanile Way as a significant contributing element to that historic resource. 

Somewhere along the line, Consent Calendar #21 was changed to Action Calendar #48 for the June 12 agenda. The City's standing-practice has always been to place LPC decisions on the Information Calendar of Council agendas. One need only look at the Council's agenda for May 1, 2018 to see this when five Information Items: #27 through #31, all Notice of Decision (NOD) items from the LPC were presented to the Council with the standard explanation that Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) Section 3.24.160 requires that a copy of the NOD be placed on the next regular meeting, and giving the Council the opportunity to set the matter for appeal.  

The NOD for this matter states that the appeal expiration date is June 13, 2018, although the Council could appeal on its own motion, if clear and concise written information is submitted by the deadline. No appeal has been filed by anyone. Moreover, the item is misleading in its recommendation to "certify" the LPC decision and sent the matter for public hearing.  

"Certify for Council review the decision of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate Campanile Way as a City Landmark and direct the City Manager to set a date for a public hearing to discuss the matter." 

Substance Issues: 

There is no need to certify the landmark decision as the process has always been that if no action is taken prior to the NOD expiration date, "certification" is automatic. The only action open to the Council is to accept any appeal and set a date for a hearing. The recommendation by staff is not explicit enough as to what is being set for public hearing and what is being certified. 

Staff states in its opposition that it is neither "true or factual" that preservation of the views from Campanile Way is within the purview of the LPC and that views can be a significant contributor to a historic resource. This belies the fact that views are real, most particularly in communities like Berkeley where views are important to the entire city. 

Nothing in the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance prohibits consideration of views. They lend value to public and private property. They are important attractions to the public as people travel for miles to enjoy specific views. They are so important that they often help establish an identity for a building, a university campus, or a whole community. Berkeley's General Plan acknowledges this importance throughout the document. Berkeley's Municipal Code makes reference to views. In every area of this City, citizen after citizen have raised concerns about views in uncounted numbers of land use issues that have come before the Council. Just because a particular view has not been named as a "significant contributing factor" to an historic resource does not mean it can't be done, or shouldn't be done. Berkeley long ago rejected building tall buildings on the waterfront that would block our historic views of San Francisco Bay. How can Planning Department Staff not recognize this? 

Letting the LPC's decision stand as it was approved does not mean that you shouldn't begin to discuss all of the ramifications regarding view issues. For example, it is way past the time by about 15 years when Berkeley should have started the conversation to consider solar and sunlight access to neighboring properties. However, that is no reason to not let the LPC decision made on April 5, 2018 regarding Campanile Way and its views stand in its entirety. It won't be the first time that the city of Berkeley has acted on something that hasn't previously been done, and it won't be the last time, either. 


I had hoped to attend the June 12, 2018 Council meeting, but now find that due to health reasons that will not be possible. I apologize for the lateness of this communication, but I did not know about Item #48 until recently, and I thank you sincerely for your consideration of these views.