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December 23, 2009


Dominic Holden

This post is erroneous and, ultimately, makes the same point that The Stranger has made before.

First, the owner of this property didn't get a permit to deface the building, so your claim that "You need a permit" is wrong. The only record DPD had about the work was when someone filed a complaint about it.

Second, nobody is suggesting that builders be forced to develop parking lots--I cited the plentitude of downtown lots as proof that we could achieve density without destroying historic buildings.

It's clear that these developers are technically abiding by the law, but it's an abhorrent abuse of a loophole. To claim that blocking the proposed development on the site is The Stranger's only proposed solution, while linking to another article where I describe alternative solutions, is being willfully naive. I write:

"[City Council planning and development committee chair Sally] Clark should consider requiring attendance of all landmarks-board members at each meeting (or a voting alternate), requiring permits before altering any building in the historic survey (even ones not yet designated as landmarks), and prohibiting anyone with a financial stake in a building's demolition from advocating for or against its landmark status."

You propose essentially the same thing: "make it much harder to get building permits to modify the historically significant details of any building which is a candidate for listing on the historic register."

So it's ludicrous to crow that "The Stranger is wrong."

The problem is that, despite a plethora of reasonable solutions and ample time to implement them, the city has done nothing. That's why it's important to take more drastic action. These developers appear to be deliberately abusing a loophole to destroy something historic. The city needs to put its foot down, both on this building and by reforming the historic preservation process.

Ken Manz

Dominic - thanks for stopping by!

First, it's clear that you were on the right track originally. I liked the earlier report. Mea culpa for not adding my voice to the chorus when it was originally published.

Here are my points:

1. Why no permits for facade alterations? In a major city in the developed world, to operate a scissor lift on a public right of way and remove things from the side of a building - that's a permit. What happens if some beautiful historic facade falls on someone's head while it's being removed?

2. What about this building is so historic that makes it a landmark? Was the established process for designating landmark status not followed in this particular instance? Acknowledging in full that you and I might not have gotten the result we wanted out of that process, and you correctly argue that the landmark board should change their rules about what constitutes a quorum.

3. Advocating for "punishing" people who are exploiting a loophole is not the same as advocating for changing the law that has the loophole.

So perhaps I should amend my earlier statement. The Stranger - those writings which appear under the paper's masthead on a weekly basis - is not wrong. The particular SLOG post I'm calling into question here does, I maintain, advocate the wrong solution to the problem, and I will stand by that.

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