Walter H. Ratcliff Landmark # 247
(modification) Resolution N.S. 61,910-N.S.

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Resolution N.S. 61,910-N.S
City Report Dec 17, 2002

RESOLUTION NO. 61,910-N.S.
MODIFYING THE JULY 1, 2002, LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION DECISION TO DESIGNATE THE SITE OF THE CORPORATION YARD AT 1326 ALLSTON WAY, THE RATCLIFF BUILDING AND 28 CEDAR TREES, A CITY OF BERKELEY LANDMARK TO DESIGNATE ONLY THE MAIN PORTION OF THE RATCLIFF BUILDING THAT IS PARALLEL WITH AILSTON WAY AND THE TWENTY-EIGHT (28) CEDAR TREES AT THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF THE SITE A CITY OF BERKELEY LANDMARK.

WHEREAS, on March 4, 2002, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to initiate the property at 1326 Allston Way for landmark consideration; and

WHEREAS, on April 8, 2002, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to open and continue the public hearing; and

WHEREAS, on May 6, 2002, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to continue the public hearing; and


WHEREAS, on June 3, 2002, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to establish an ad-hoc subcommittee to visit the site to discern the extent of the original Ratcliff Building, to assess the open spaces and views, and to continue the public hearing to July 1, 2002; and

WHEREAS
, on July 1, 2002, the Landmarks Preservation Commission found that the site, 28 cedar trees at the northeast corner of the site and the 1916 Ratcliff Building is worthy as a City of Berkeley Landmark because it is a unique and historic asset to the neighborhood. One of early Berkeley's most significant architects, Ratcliff's work and style has long been recognized as part of the fabric of the neighborhood and as a community resource. Moreover, the formation of the Corporation Yard played a critical role in shaping Berkeley's modem municipal government and prompted the development of the Public Works Department, as it exists today. The Ratcliff Building offers the community an educational resource and a historic glimpse of Berkeley's rich architectural past; and

WHEREAS, on July 1, 2002, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, pursuant to section 3.24.100.A of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, found that the following features are significant and should be preserved:
Ratcliff building: the gables, original footprint, small patio open space on northeast corner, garden setback on north side of the building, window patterning and wood framing, decorative brickwork, brick pilasters, two dominant bays on west side of east/west wing, bay window on east side of east/west wing, double arched entryway on south side of east/west wing, original low brick wall and pillar at northwest corner of east/west wing, garages on west side of north/south wing, three sliding wood garage doors, south wood wall in north/south wing, and the interior exposed trusswork of the roofing system; 28 Cedar trees at the northeast corner of the site; and

WHEREAS, on October 22, 2002, the Public Works Department appealed the Landmarks Preservation Commission's decision; and

WHEREAS, on October 22, 2002, the Council certified the Landmarks Preservation Commission's decision for review and set a public hearing for December 17, 2002; and

WHEREAS, on December17, 2002, the Council conducted a public hearing on the designation of the Corporation Yard as a Landmark; and

WHEREAS, the City's Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (BMC chapter 3.24) does not compel the designation of any historic resource, and grants the Council discretion to reverse or modify decisions by the Landmarks Preservation Commission based on its independent judgment as to the significance of the resource, as well as other public interests; and

WHEREAS, the City has been providing vital community services from the Corporation Yard for 86 years by adapting its use and configuration to the evolving needs of the City; and

WHEREAS, the Building Official has notified the Public Works Department that the Ratcliff Building is an unreinforced masonry structure in the highest Risk Category and is vulnerable to heavy damage and possible collapse in the event of an earthquake, thereby threatening many lives and much property, and has ordered the Public Works Department to vacate the building and seismically upgrade, or demolish it; and

WHEREAS, designating the entire site and the original shed portion of the Ratcliff building as a landmark will prevent the City from continuing to provide services in an efficient and fiscally sound manner that also affords a safe working environment for its employees by seriously impairing the Public Works Department's ability to:
1. place temporary modular offices on-site for the relocation of employees from the seismically unsafe Ratcliff Building, which the Seismic Technical Advisory Group has determined is subject to extensive life-threatening damage from moderate earthquake shaking;
2. comply with the City's own Unreinforced Masonry Ordinance as other property owners are required to do, because there is no other facility available for their relocation;
3. remove the original shed portion of the Ratcliff building that can not feasibly be adapted for reuse, and which projects into the center of the corporation yard, interfering with the organization and circulation of vehicles and equipment;
4. organize the yard for improved safety, circulation and efficiency as required by the evolving needs of the community; and

WHEREAS, the City Council finds that of the three main features of the Landmarks Preservation Commission's designation, which included the site, the 1916 Ratcliff building and the 28 cedar trees, the designation of the site shall be excluded from the designation because the inclusion of this feature is overbroad, its continued preservation would impair the City's ability to preserve more important resources, and will hinder the operations of this City's Corporation yard; and

WHEREAS, the Landmarks Preservation Commission's Notice of Decision (NOD) referenced fifteen architectural features of the Ratcliff building and site that the Commission considers significant and worthy of preservation; and

WHEREAS, the City Council finds that five of these features should be removed from protection as landmark elements under this resolution, as follows:
1. the "garden setback" along Allston Way;
2. the original footprint of the original north-south shed of the Ratcliff building;
3. the garages on the west side of the north/south wing;
4. the three sliding wood garage doors;
5. the south facing wood wall in the north/south wing; and

WHEREAS, the Council finds that the "garden setback" on north side of the building should not be included in the designation because the area is completely paved with asphalt and is used for parking and does not have historical merit; and

WHEREAS
, the Council finds that the small, lean-to addition near the south-west corner of the 1916 Ratcliff building should not be included in the designation because this addition obscures the double arched entryway, a detail determined to be important by the LPC, and that this addition is not contemporary with the 1916 Ratcliff building and has not, nor is likely to attain, individual historical merit; and

WHEREAS
, the Council finds that the larger addition along the southern facade of the 1916 Ratcliff building should not be included in the designation because this addition is not contemporary with the 1916 Ratcliff building and has not, nor is likely to attain, individual historical merit; and

WHEREAS
, the original north/south shed would not only be costly to seismically upgrade and renovate, but also projects into the center of the yard, thereby interfering with the organization and circulation and storage of vehicles and equipment that would be displaced by temporary modular offices, which would otherwise be located in the employee parking area, thus forcing employees to park in the adjoining neighborhood; and

WHEREAS, since its construction in 1916, much of the original north/south shed's exterior elevation has been changed or covered over by additions and modifications. The west side of the original shed, which consisted of fifteen, 12-foot wide bays defined by brick piers and siding wood doors, has been modified by the removal of most of the piers and doors and the construction of exterior walls. Most of the shed interior has been built-out for office space with new communicating openings through the original east facing brick wall into the 1950's additions. Its continued preservation severely diminishes the City's ability to perform any restoration work that might be contemplated on the remainder of the Ratcliff building; and

WHEREAS, ten features identified by the Landmarks Preservation Commission would retain full protection as elements of the designated landmark, as follows:
1. gables, 2. the small patio open space on the northeast corner, 3. window patterning and wood framing, 4. decorative brickwork, 5. brick pilasters, 6. two dominant bays on the west side of the east/west wing, 7. the original low brick wall and pillar at the northwest corner of the east/west wing, 8. the bay window on east side of east/west wing, 9. the double arched entryway on south side of east/west wing, 10. the interior exposed trusswork of the roofing system in the east/west wing; and

WHEREAS, two features would actually be enhanced by the modified designation adopted by this resolution, including the bay window on the east side of the east/west wing and the double arched entryway on the south side of the east/west wing; and

WHEREAS, the Council further determines that there is a critical public need for economically feasible renovation of the Corporation Yard and the Ratcliff building, as well as uninterrupted efficient operation of the Corporation Yard; and

WHEREAS
at the conclusion of the public hearing the Council directed staff to return with a resolution that would: (1) designate only the main portion of the Ratcliff building that is parallel with Allston Way and the twenty-eight (28) cedar trees at the northeast corner of the site a City of Berkeley Landmark; and (2) reverse the Landmarks Preservation Commission's decision to designate the entire site, the shed portion of the Ratcliff building and other structures on the site.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Berkeley that the boundary of the Landmark Designation for 1326 Allston Way, Assessor's Parcel No. 056-1993-015-01, shall extend five feet beyond the perimeter of the main portion of the original Ratcliff building that is parallel with and facing Allston Way, and the area within the drip line of the twenty-eight (28) cedar trees located between the Ratcliff building and Allston Way at the northeast side of the parcel as depicted on the attached map.

The foregoing Resolution was adopted by the Berkeley City Council on January 14, 2003 by the following vote:
Ayes: Councilmembers Breland, Hawley, Maio, Olds, Shirek, Spring, Wozniak and Mayor Bates.
Noes: Councilmember Worthington.
Absent: None.
Attest: Sherry Kellly , City Clerk

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