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Berkeley Shocker: Preservationists Unhappy With Change

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Demolition underway at 2707 Rose Street in May, 2011
[Photo Credit: Jason Strauss via Berkeleyside]

Via Berkeleyside, more developments in the operatic and ongoing battle in Berkeley over Lotus founder/philanthropist Mitch Kapor and Freada Klein's plans to build a new house: The Court of Appeals in San Francisco has agreed to hear an appeal of the December, 2010 judgment that allowed the Kapor-Kleins to go ahead over the objections of preservation activists in Berkeley, principally one Susan Nunes Fadley with the support of BAHA, the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Of course, no NIMBY battle would be complete with attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley representing the appellants, who persistently refers to the planned house as a "mansion" in court documents while permitting herself one disingenuous distinction:

The court may be assured that appellants are not trying to stop the Kapors from building a house?So, size matters. The planned house and garage are almost 10K square feet and includes a ten-car garage planned by the Kapor-Kleins to alleviate the infamous parking issues on Rose Street. In the middle an iconic brown-shingle neighborhood near the Maybeck-Gutterson Rose Walk and Wurster's Greenwood Common, the 1917 cottage on the site had been left unoccupied for decades- except for crack smokers and homeless people- and was demolished in May, 2010 after the subsequent appeals of the December judgment were denied.
BAHA objected to the project in 2009 on preservation grounds, citing both a prominent architect and client: The 1917 house was designed by architect Abraham Applegard for mezzo-soprano Lucia Dunham, who taught at Berkeley before decamping to the Julliard School in New York in 1921. In terms of size, neighboring properties occupy much larger ratios of their lots, and the Kapor-Klein "mansion" despite its size, will be barely visible from the street. Properties designated historic by BAHA are all more than 400 feet away, and despite its provenance, the Dunham cottage was never previously considered eligible for designation.

More classic arguments- clearly, the construction of such an edifice would disrupt the live of the neighbors on the narrow street. Trees will come down. And of course, the spectre of new money and change. Berkeley resident Mildred Henry was quoted in the filing:

the push to insert a truly enormous structure into a closely knit, longstanding, historically interesting residence area and big money, big corporate push everywhere to wipe out smallness and individuality?”Finally, the threat of landslides: Opponents hired geotechnical engineer Lawrence B. Karp, who's no slouch in the landslide department, having worked on projects like shoring up Devils Slide and the Calhoun Terrace retaining wall on Telegraph Hill. Dr. Karp stated that no earthmoving project of similar scale has been undertaken since the nearby Berryman Reservoir had been built and that the structural underpinnings of the design were inadequate. Clearly, the Kapor-Kleins should have hired Dr. Karp first.
· Court Date Moved in Next Stage of Mitch Kapor Home Saga [Berkeleyside]
· Berkeley: Mr. Kapor, 4th Horseman, Builds His Dream House [Curbed SF]
· If you don't want to find anything, don't look anywhere [Berkeley Daily Planet]
· Telegraph Hill Tieback Bulkhead [LBKarp]