South and West Berkeley libraries demolition permits approved

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Correction Appended

While the Zoning Adjustments Board approved permits to demolish the West and South branches of the Berkeley Public Library at a special meeting Thursday night, the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided to take no action on the landmark status of the South branch - which some community members and city officials say deserves recognition.

At the meeting, the zoning board and the commission heard public comment on the project - in which the city's four library branches will undergo structural renovations to meet seismic standards and become more ADA-accessible - and decided to approve the final Environmental Impact Report for the South and West branches with little objection.

The commission's decision was preceded by numerous comments from community members, some of whom said they believe the building should be considered a landmark.

Todd Jersey, a local architect who was hired by the Concerned Library Users, a group that has contested the legality of using Measure FF funds to demolish the South and West branches, said at the meeting that he would like to be involved in the projects, urging the city to consider alternatives to demolishing the South branch.

"There is no reason to tear that building down," Jersey said. "The South (branch) is a fine example of architecture. This is a Berkeley gem."

Meanwhile, the North branch is set to close for construction April 25, while the Claremont branch closed April 4. Projects at all four branches are set to be funded by Measure FF, a bond approved by Berkeley voters in November 2008 that increases property taxes over 30 years and provides $26 million for library improvements.

ZAB Secretary Steven Buckley said the Berkeley City Council will discuss the West and South branch projects sometime in May at a public hearing.


Correction: Sunday, April 17, 2011
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the use permit to demolish the South branch was not approved. In fact, it was approved.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Adelyn Baxter at [email protected]

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