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Why you should vote NO on LL

Measure LL would repeal our current Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, which is certified by the State of California.

Voting NO on Measure LL maintains Berkeley’s State-certified Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO), enacted in 1974. In 2000, Berkeley was designated a Certified Local Government by the State Office of Historic Preservation. This included certification of the LPO as containing proper procedures and review criteria consistent with State and Federal guidelines for a landmarks preservation ordinance. Under the Certified Local Government program, Berkeley is eligible for Federal preservation grants and survey funding (see General Plan, Urban Design and Preservation Element). The certification could be lost if Measure LL were to pass.

Measure LL subverts the public process.

Measure LL makes demolition of architecturally and historically significant buildings easier for developers and speculators. If allowed to pass, Measure LL would severely restrict public participation in the landmarking process. Confusing timelines, extremely short review periods, and draconian appeal rules would allow demolitions to be approved before neighborhoods even recognize the threat to important historic buildings and community resources like Berkeley Iceland. Instead of going through a legal and open public process, consultants who may not even live in Berkeley could be hired by developers and paid with our tax dollars to decide what is “historic and worthy” for the City to protect—often before Berkeley citizens can be heard.

Measure LL eliminates resident approval in creating historic districts.

Our current LPO allows residents to make decisions about whether or not their own neighborhood should become a historic district. Measure LL would eliminate residents’ rights to make these crucial decisions.

Measure LL puts affordable housing at risk.

Measure LL would destroy Berkeley’s historic neighborhoods and replace single-family homes and older rent-controlled apartments with shoddily constructed apartment buildings, like the ones widely built in the 1960s and ’70s, before the LPO was passed. Rents in the new apartments would be at market rates. Berkeley would lose the diversity that we all value if affordable housing is lost.

Measure LL increases red tape for homeowners.

Under the current LPO, applications for permits to carry out exterior alterations or demolition to non-designated residential properties are exempt from review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unless they are flagged on a historic resources list or are initiated by some other means. Under the Mayor’s Measure LL, all permits for exterior alterations or demolition would automatically go on a list of projects to be reviewed by the Commission, and those deemed as possibly historic would be initiated for landmark review.

Let’s say your home is older than 40 years and you want to build a bedroom addition. Under the current ordinance, unless your home is a Landmark or listed on a historic resource inventory, you can obtain your building permit with no LPC review. Under Measure LL, your permit application would be sent to the LPC for review. The commission could choose to do nothing, hold the permit for another month, or initiate your home. Since the majority of Berkeley homes are older than 40 years, it’s not difficult to imagine the red tape this requirement would create.

Measure LL hurts small businesses.

The Mayor’s plan would hurt local carpenters, plumbers, and electricians by ensuring that their already lengthy permit applications will take even longer. Under Tom Bates’s administration, permit fees have doubled and will likely rise even higher. Appeals can cost as much as $1,000 or more.

Measure LL sets Berkeley back.

The most common myth that Measure LL proponents spread is that Berkeley has “too many landmarks” compared to other cities. This is not the case. Berkeley currently has 284 standing landmarks, and our Landmarks Preservation Ordinance is moderate by national standards. In fact, other cities have outpaced Berkeley with strong preservation zoning. Pasadena, for example, has 11 Historic Districts, one of which, Bungalow Heaven, contains 800 homes deemed historic. San Jose has 3,255 Historic Resources. Outside of California, New Orleans has 20 National Register–designated Historic Districts covering half the city, and 38,000 historic structures. Measure LL will make it even harder to protect the historic resources we have.

Measure LL is bad for the environment.

By expediting demolitions, Measure LL would rob us of two of our most effective weapons against Global Warming—the preservation and retrofitting of older buildings. Unnecessary demolitions waste the energy and resources used to build historic structures. Demlitions release pollutants into the air and fill our landfills with debris. Then new construction uses more energy and irreplaceable resources to build structures that won’t last as long as historic buildings. Even when a new, energy-efficient building is made of some recycled materials, there will still be a net loss in energy and resources. The result is increased Greenhouse Gas production.

Major neighborhood organizations and non-profits oppose Measure LL.

Measure LL is opposed by the Council of Neighborhood Associations and all of Berkeley’s major neighborhood organizations, including CENA, Le Conte, NEBA, and Willard. The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) and Berkeley Citizens Action (BCA) oppose Measure LL. So does the Berkeley Daily Planet. No Berkeley or East Bay political party or environmental organization supports Measure LL. The Berkeley Green Party and the Alameda County Green Party didn’t just say to vote NO on LL—they said: Vote NO! NO! NO! Some proponents of Measure LL falsely claimed that the Sierra Club endorsed their position, but the Sierra Club refuted this most vigorously, having taken no position on Measure LL.

Measure LL benefits only developers and speculators.

Measure LL benefits only those large real-estate developers and speculators who want to demolish historic buildings, not Berkeley homeowners or renters. New apartment buildings would be hastily constructed by out-of-town developers and very likely sold to out-of-town real estate companies.

Measure LL violates state and local laws.

Measure LL’s RFP provisions bypass California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements. CEQA law provides that an EIR must be prepared whenever it can be fairly argued, on the basis of substantial evidence in the administrative record, that a project may have a significant effect on a historical resource. (Guidelines Section 15064.)

If allowed to pass, Measure LL would shorten review periods for new development projects, allowing demolition before a proper CEQA review is carried out, in blatant disregard for State law.

Measure LL will force the City to spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to defend illegal processes in the Ordinance that violate CEQA. Lawyers expert in California’s environmental protection laws have stated that Request for Determination (RFD) provisions in Measure LL violate State laws protecting historic resources (see letters by Brandt-Hawly Law Group).




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