Walter H. Ratcliff Landmark
Property Endangered

Property Endangered?
City Report Dec 17, 2002
Public Works HISTORY
City Council APPEAL


16. Is the Property Endangered?

A. Corporation Yard

The City of Berkeley's Corporation Yard is the largest non-conforming land use in Berkeley. Because of this, City planning documents since the 1950s have repeatedly recommended that the Corporation Yard be moved so the site can be used as open space.

Several years ago, the Vehicle Maintenance Facility underwent a seismic upgrade, and now the Ratcliff Building is preparing for extensive seismic work as well. This new upgrade project has once again raised questions about the relocation of part, or all, of the Corporation Yard.

In February 2002, Public Works announced the permanent relocation of Building Maintenance with its staff of approximately twenty-five employees. This change signals the beginning of a major reorganization of the Yard. Several of the Corporation Yard structures will be subject to alteration or removal as this new capital project moves forward. (21)

B. Ratcliff Building

Since the late 1920's, Public Works has regularly altered this building without any real consideration of its historic value. In fact, the city has never recognized the unique architectural elements of any of the Yard's structures. Today, at least three quarters of the original building is intact. Some of the details are simply covered up by sheet rock and interior partitions. Most are still in place. The last major capital project at the Yard in 1987 considered removing part of this structure, but failed to follow through with those plans.

Currently, the City has not fully revealed its future plans for the Yard or how the upgrade would affect the structure or its character. This, in part, is due to the increased interest by residents in the preservation of this neighborhood and city treasure.

Berkeley Public Works Vehicle maintenance facilityC. Vehicle Maintenance Building

This structure is not endangered because it has already lost much of its original structure and architectural distinction due to several alterations. (Photo shows vehicle building during the 1933-34 capital improvement work.)

D. Quonset Hut

Linked to the many changes made at the Corporation Yard in 1987, the Quonset hut was scheduled for removal. The building site was to be cleared, and the area developed into twenty-two additional parking spaces for employees. This mitigation was never completed, and so the Quonset structure remained untouched. Now, fifteen years later, staff has again raised questions regarding the fate of this storage building. Future plans at the Corporation Yard will determine that.

E. Cedar Trees

Twenty-eight trees remain of an estimated five dozen. The 1987 Corporation Yard capital project had scheduled a number of the trees to be removed. Since that time, several trees along the bowling green were cut down. Unfortunately, these trees are not recognized by Public Works as a community resource. The latest city site map is missing fourteen of the twenty-eight remaining trees. It is worth noting that the Corporation Yard property contains a number of mature trees that deserve protection, including redwoods and oaks.

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