In community meetings, one message came through clearly regarding our Main Post Office. Berkeley wants it to remain a post office. And if the U.S. Postal Service refuses to go that route, we want 2000 Allston Way to remain a public building and to continue to be an anchor among the public buildings that hold our Civic Center together.
From public records we know that the U.S. Postal Service couldn’t come to an agreement with the City of Berkeley or with the National Trust for Historic Preservation on protecting our Main Post Office. From the Postal Service itself we know the Postal Service is in contract to sell our Main Post Office. And we also know that the U.S. Postal Service refuses to tell the public who the buyer is.
We can’t be sure but the conduct of the U.S. Postal Service causes us to doubt that the citizens of Berkeley are going to be delighted when, in a day or two, they find out who is the new buyer. For the same reason, we doubt that the new buyer’s plans include keeping 2000 Allston Way as a public building that anchors our civic center.
We trust the courts will rule with the city of Berkeley and against the U.S. Postal Service, but court rulings are never a certainty. The new buyer presumably has a strategy and we worry that it includes pressuring our City Council.
If the voters pass Measure R, the Zoning Overlay can only be undone by the courts or by the voters.
Often it is a good idea to give elected officials flexibility to change legislation. In this case we believe allowing our elected officials discretion to change the overlay will encourage a deep-pocketed real estate speculator to cajole, bully and ultimately attempt to corrupt our City Council.
Is corrupt too strong a word? Will laws be broken? Probably not. No, it will just be a case where serving the common good is ruled impractical and catering to the whims of a deep-pocketed real estate speculator is deemed to be in the best interest of us all.