Support Housing in an Exclusionary Berkeley Neighborhood

Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission

Eelx1y7u0aa1pkd

Support a 10 unit apartment building in a wealthy, exclusionary neighborhood by signing this petition, emailing the Berkeley City Clerk (council@cityofberkeley.info) and calling into a public comment session at 6PM on January 21st (see bottom of page for details)

January 2021 Update:

Despite the attempted landmarking failing at the Landmarks Preservation Committee thanks to amazing turnout among pro-housing, equity and environmental advocates, NIMBYs have filed an appeal to the city council to try and stop these homes from being built!  As a result, we are encouraging everyone to share the petition, mail their Berkeley City Council Member (council@cityofberkeley.info), and call into the Zoom public comment session at 6PM on January 21st.

Building housing in exclusionary neighborhoods is one of the most important ways that we can fight the legacy of redlining and housing segregation that drives inequality today. On August 4, 2020, we were disappointed to learn that a proposed 10-unit project in North Berkeley, California, which would include 1 very low income unit, is being delayed by a potential landmark designation of the vacant house currently sitting on the property at 1915 Berryman St, known as “The Payson House.” The 10-home project would be the first apartment complex built in the neighborhood since the 1960s. Even more disappointing is the fact that former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Berkeley Professor Robert Reich is among those in favor of the landmark designation of The Payson House and consequently opposed to the new construction.

On the same day that Professor Reich submitted a letter to the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission opposing the construction of new housing - which would include low-income housing - in his neighborhood, he published an article entitled, Time to Invest in Affordable Housing and Education, Not Tear Gas, Batons, and State-Sanctioned Murder. In the article, Professor Reich states that, “This moment calls on us to relinquish social control and ramp up our commitment to social investment.” Unfortunately, blocking the construction of new housing in an exclusionary neighborhood exhibits exactly the kind of “social control” that Professor Reich proclaims to resist.

Furthermore, one must consider the exclusionary history of this neighborhood in Berkeley that has used zoning as a form of "social control" to keep the neighborhood wealthy and White. Looking at the neighborhood's demographics, it is 74% White, only 1% Black, and has a median household income of $140k. Neighborhoods like this using "historic preservation" as an excuse to keep more diverse and lower income residents out is a form of racism that should be unacceptable in today's society.  

Even the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission Staff notes that, “While the Payson House has discernible character and feeling, and a direct association with the building firm Lord and Boynton ... it possesses limited other aspects of integrity. Most importantly, it lacks the aspects of design, materials and workmanship that are necessary for any structure to exhibit historical significance related to its architecture.” Given the severity of our housing crisis and the need for more homes in exclusionary neighborhoods with good transit options, the staff's lukewarm assessment of the house is clearly not justification for preventing more homes from being built.  

Housing activists are asking Professor Reich and other North Berkeley residents to recognize that the severity of the housing crisis demands that people relent from abusing the landmarks designation process, which in this case has clearly become nothing short of an obstructionist delay tactic, and instead focus on driving equity by building more housing in exclusionary neighborhoods.

TAKE ACTION:  

Step 1) Sign the petition below

Step 2) Email the city council at council@cityofberkeley.info to express your support for this project

Step 3) Public Comment: The City Council is meeting at 6PM on Thursday, January 21st to discuss this project - please dial in and express your opposition to landmarking 1915 Berryman and support for building more housing!

To access the meeting remotely: Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or Android device: Please use this URL: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83612924326. To request to speak, use the “raise hand” icon by rolling over the bottom of the screen.

To join by phone: Dial 1-669-900-9128 or 1-877-853-5257 (Toll Free) and enter Meeting ID:836 1292 4326. If you wish to comment during the public comment portion of the agenda, Press *9 and wait to be recognized by the Chair.

Petition by
Samuel Deutsch
San Francisco, California
Sponsored by
14311353_1759091247675233_1275985991679395941_o
San Francisco, CA
Additional Sponsors
14311353_1759091247675233_1275985991679395941_o
San Francisco, CA

To: Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission
From: [Your Name]

Building housing in exclusionary neighborhoods is one of the most important important ways that we can fight the legacy of redlining and housing segregation that drives inequality today. As a result, I was disappointed to learn that a proposed 10-unit project at 1915 Berryman St. in North Berkeley, California, which would include 1 very low income unit, is being delayed by a potential landmark designation of the vacant house currently sitting on the property.

The proposed 10-home project would be the first apartment complex built in the neighborhood since the 1960s. One must consider the exclusionary history of this neighborhood in Berkeley that has used restrictive zoning to keep the neighborhood wealthy and White (the neighborhood is 74% White, only 1% Black, and has a median household income of $140k). Neighborhoods like this using "historic preservation" as an excuse to keep more diverse and lower income residents out is a form of racism that should be unacceptable in today's society. ​

Even the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission Staff notes that, “While the Payson House has discernible character and feeling, and a direct association with the building firm Lord and Boynton ... it possesses limited other aspects of integrity. Most importantly, it lacks the aspects of design, materials and workmanship that are necessary for any structure to exhibit historical significance related to its architecture.” Given the severity of our housing crisis and the need for more homes in exclusionary neighborhoods with good transit options, the staff's lukewarm assessment of the house is clearly not justification for preventing more homes from being built.

I am asking the Berkeley City Council to recognize that the severity of the housing crisis demands rejecting this type of abuse of the landmarks designation process, which in this case has clearly become nothing short of an obstructionist delay tactic, and instead focus on driving equity by allowing more housing in exclusionary neighborhoods.

In the midst of the Bay Area's housing shortage, this project would provide much-needed homes and affordable housing in an exclusionary neighborhood. Please affirm the LPC's rejection of this landmark designation and allow housing to move forward without delay!