Demolition was never an option

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Berkeleyans may be confused and dismayed, as am I, by the escalating rhetoric about demolition of the West and South Branch libraries.

I re-reviewed Measure FF to see if library branch demolition is permitted. The short answer is absolutely not and I urge readers to read the stark reality for themselves.

Voters clearly approved only renovation and improvements, the measure was sold on this basis and FF may well have failed if library demolition was an option.

The sorry conclusion I reach is there has been incompetence, deception or both on the part of library insiders and other city staff, now made much worse by vicious attacks on demolition opponents.

Incompetence. The physical condition and ultimate requirements for all the branches should have been determined prior to floating a bond measure. If there was any uncertainty, then the City Attorney should and could have added two simple words to Measure FF - "or demolish" - to allow for that possibility.

Deception. Some residents believe that there was active deception on the part of bond and demolition proponents who feared that the measure would fail if demolition was mentioned. At the same election, voters showed their strong support for preservation by defeating Measure LL which would have weakened historic preservation rules in the City.

Barbara Gilbert Berkeley, Calif.

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