Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 2, 2022

On the train to Sacramento

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

In case you hadn’t caught it by now, the State Historic Resources Commission (SHRC) decided to pull the Maritime School application at the start of the meeting on Friday. The State Preservation Officer mentioned that there had been lots of correspondence that had come in and that they felt that they needed more time around this item.

The SHRC only meets quarterly so the next meeting was supposed to be in July but word is that they pushed that to August due to scheduling conflicts. The meeting is not yet up on the website yet to review but, based on information from folks who listened to the entire meeting there were people who spoke at the beginning of the meeting wondering why the item had been pulled and at the end, imploring the SHRC to do something or else the non historic buildings on the GSA property would be demolished.

So here’s what we learned about the way these meetings are conducted. First, there is exactly one full packet for public review at the meeting which is held in Sacramento. That means that someone gathered up all these materials that were, most definitely, submitted in electronic format and proceeded to use an entire ream of paper to print out these electric files rather than upload these documents somewhere on the internet so that the public doesn’t have to take time off work to go to both review the packet in advance and then make a separate trip to then speak at the meeting itself. This is California. The home of Silicon Valley, the birthplace of many of the open government website companies out there. To paraphrase from Norma Shearer in one of my favorite movies, the Women: this is wrong, shockingly wrong.

Second, the suspicion was that the SHRC was simply a rubber stamp for whatever staff recommendations were from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) but between the discussion and public comment from Seiche House example I wrote about on Friday and then the St. Francis Wood item that was heard on Friday those suspicions have been confirmed. St. Francis Wood, for those who may not know, is a very exclusive neighborhood in San Francisco which has been seeking historic designation because it’s very “special” but mostly because it will help them skirt SB 9 laws a la the attempt by Woodside to designate their whole city as a mountain lion sanctuary. As you can imagine the YIMBYs organized and had plenty of speakers to fill up a lot of Zoom comment time, while the St. Francis Wood supporters were able to turn out people in person which, again, shows you how our existing status quo processes privilege those with privilege. Had it not been for this hybrid model forced upon the commission by the pandemic, this would have been yet another meeting where the SHRC need not be confronted with the socio-economic impacts of their decisions. After every handful of YIMBY speakers who exhorted the Commission to consider that, by recommending this application in this manner, they were opening a door on other historically exclusionary neighborhoods to do the same to continue being exclusionary under the banner of “historic preservation” the chair of the meeting would read off some pre-written nonsense about how the Commission was unable to consider social and economic impacts. It was the Commission version of saying something enough that maybe you will start believing it.

In the end the Commissioners attempted to give lip service to equity and considering the impact, using their legal counsel as a shield to why they couldn’t do any more than just agree to the staff’s recommendation. Someone actually said that because of the exclusionary history it was important that it be designated as historic because that history needs to be remembered too. We don’t designate memorials to Nazis but we apparently designate memorials to segregation because otherwise how will we remember that it exists other than the legacy of existing segregated neighborhoods throughout the United States?

And finally, of the people from Alameda who were able to make the trek to Sacramento to speak on the Maritime School item, I understand it was Carmen Reid, the applicant, who came with Janet Gibson (a former School Board member and ACT member), as well as Trish Spencer who advocated for the GSA buildings to be demolished to make way for a bus turnaround for EBRPD.

If I haven’t repeated myself enough about this SHRC process is broken. You want to talk about too much power in the hands of an obscure and opaque government department? This is it folks. No one who has watched this unfold should ever complain about how Alameda City government ever again. In comparison the City of Alameda is begging the public to read its document, speak at its meetings. You could see the lights dim from the eyes of the commissioners every time a YIMBY spoke. You could tell they were not accustomed to so many speakers telling them they were doing wrong rather than extoll the virtues of historic preservation. This discussion of history and preservation, once again, brings up the uncomfortable question around whose history is worthy of preservation and why is the answer to that question always “white people history.”

14 Comments »

  1. Well, a version of white people history, and only 1850-1950, +/- five years.

    Comment by Gaylon — May 2, 2022 @ 7:09 am

    • Not true. Instead of claiming “racism” do your homework.

      The historical commission recognizes sites honoring many minority groups, and pre-Colombian sites of Native Americans, as well as those honoring Japanese American, African American, and Hispanic Americans. It is quite an impressive list. And all the members of the commission were appointed by Democrats.

      Like it or not, Alameda and the Bay Area has a rich WW2 history which should be protected.

      Comment by Good Swimmer — May 2, 2022 @ 1:50 pm

      • You people literally wanted to tear those “historical” buildings down for a park that nobody wanted rather than help the homeless too close to your precious backyards. So take your new found love of history and shove it!

        Comment by Rod — May 3, 2022 @ 11:45 am

  2. Thank you for your insightful commentary and shedding light on a shamefully corrupt process, historywashing, akin to greenwashing. You have pierced another veil of hidden systemic privilege. Now that we see what needs cleaning, let’s get at it. I hope that the funding for the Alameda Wellness Center holds up while we clean.

    Comment by 2wheelsmith — May 2, 2022 @ 8:09 am

  3. Most of the letter writers in opposition to the US Maritime Service Officers Training School had a direct financial interest in the outcome. They include – Doug Biggs (lead developer, entitled to developer fees), Nicole Nappi, Brenda Goldstein, Bonnie Wolfe, Rochelle Neutra, Gary Struthers (who at least acknowledged his potential conflict of interest unlike the rest), and Ryan Lalonde (artist employed by Wellness campus). None of the letter writers in support have a financial interest in the nomination.

    Comment by Details, details... — May 2, 2022 @ 12:33 pm

    • To point out the obvious, most people know nothing of this peculiar organization. Who did? The usual suspects (Lipow, Spencer (of course) et al.) who are trying to misuse it, and those trying to do something positive, who found out about it. So what you note is precisely what one would expect.

      Comment by BC — May 2, 2022 @ 1:20 pm

    • Carmen, can you post a link to the blueprints you claimed to have found? TIA.

      I mean, you were one of the few people to attend in person and have access to the complete packet.

      Comment by Lauren Do — May 2, 2022 @ 1:24 pm

      • Nope. Not Carmen. I doubt she wastes time reading this nonsense. Sadly Lauren, yours appears to be a non-reciprocated obsession….

        Comment by Details, details... — May 2, 2022 @ 3:04 pm

        • Sure Carmen.

          Comment by Lauren Do — May 2, 2022 @ 3:16 pm

        • Oh, I’m more than certain Carmen Reid – you – has the time to read this blog. We saw you complaining about the blog on Nextdoor not too long ago so you’re very obviously an avid reader. Sad.

          Comment by Observer — May 2, 2022 @ 9:47 pm

    • Okay, Carmen Reid. Keep conjuring up baseless, defamatory claims and casting nonsensical aspirations, see where that gets you. Your reputation in this town is in tatters because all anyone sees is someone with a single-track mind who’s been absolutely obsessed with this for three years and has nothing better to do with her excessive free time.

      Comment by Onserver — May 2, 2022 @ 9:45 pm

    • This isn’t Carmen. It’s Apple Strudel! Jeez people, get your pseudonyms correct!

      Comment by Rod — May 3, 2022 @ 11:48 am

  4. This is skewed reporting. In summarizing the SHRC meeting, Lauren conveniently omits the item immediately prior to the St Francis Wood hearing. Commissioners voted unanimously to uphold the nomination of the Patsiata Historic District encompassing Owens Lake – which is far more radical than wokey-woking around SF neighborhoods. Patsiata may lay the groundwork for reparations from the City of Los Angeles payable to nine area tribes devastated by the diversion of the Owens River watershed southwards. Alas – this momentous event doesn’t seem to fit Lauren’s narrative about SHRC and whiteness.

    Comment by Tim — May 2, 2022 @ 12:53 pm

  5. Lauren, you have just stumbled into a whole new world. I didn’t become aware of this world until I became a genealogist. The key is (and the challenge is) to not get bogged down with their mission – but to focus entirely on your mission.

    I found the following quote to be helpful during times like this:

    “If your intentions are good and noble – the Universe will provide you with everything you need to succeed”.

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 2, 2022 @ 1:13 pm


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