Saturday, July 7, 2007

1505 Shattuck Ave.

When Allen Connolly applied to the Landmark Preservation Commission for permission to tear down the one-story building at 1505 Shattuck Avenue, the most important parts of the story were ignored.

I personally am not concerned about the historic providence of 1505 Shattuck, but I'm very concerned about Allen's plans for replacing that small, one-story building with a larger, two-story building that will also have at least one residential unit.

A few days ago Allen's aide-de-camp, John Coleman, told me Allen being 'forced' to build a residence atop his building by 'the city.' According to Mr Coleman, because Allen wanted to expand the size of the building, the city was forcing him to put in housing.

If this is actually the case, what can we reasonably expect Safeway's enormous redevelopment project to bring to our community?

Safeway's current store also on Shattuck Avenue, less than half a block away, is only 27,000 square feet Safeway's representative, Todd Paradis, told the community on Thursday, May 31. Todd also said Safeway isn't planning for any housing atop its new 40,000 to 60,000 square foot store.

These two stories, don't add up to one believable tale.

I've invited John to write up an explanation of Allen's predicament for the several local neighborhood web-forums, but he seemed reluctant to commit.

I don't know who to believe and I've been around developers too long to take them at face value.

In the 1970s we had both the Landmark Preservation Ordinance and the NPO, a Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance, which was passed by vote of the people. The NPO allowed neighbors to have a voice in what was built in their community.

Unfortunately Berkeley's civic leaders allowed the NPO to be gutted and made non-responsive to community concerns by putting all of the NPO's tools into the purview of the planning department.

Because we no longer have an effective Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance, we're left with using poor tools, such as the 'LPO' for controlling development.

Irrespective of the specific history of the building known as 1505 Shattuck, it appears that the entire group of lots known as the Squires Block has been landmarked by the city of Berkeley. The Squires Block includes the two-story building now housing the woman's fashion store called Earthly Goods, on the corner of Vine Street and Shattuck Avenue; the former home of North Berkeley Wines (1505 Shattuck Avenue); the one-story brick storefront on Vine Street; and the ancient brick buildings behind all of those buildings.

Welcome to North Berkeley

The world expands.

Evidently I'm a noisy, nosy, noxious fellow with too many opinions and too many questions.

Last week Alan Gould kicked me off his LOCCNA, the anti-North Berkeley Plaza email listserve, for the sin of 'posting too often.'

I've always believed the best way to confront an issue is to dive into it, so I've decided to expand the scope of my North Berkeley Plaza blog to cover everything north of Hearst, east of Euclid, and west of Shattuck.

Welcome to my logorrhea.

To see what came before, click here or go to