Appeal filed against West Berkeley shellmound development

By Mimia Ousilas And Nadia Farjami, The Daily Californian, June 8, 2021

“The city of Berkeley and the Confederated Villages of Lisjan (Ohlone) filed an appeal May 28 with the California Supreme Court against a housing development on the West Berkeley Shellmound.

“The appeal would force the developers to adhere to the city’s usual zoning approval process. The petition notes that construction on the site would result in the destruction of a ‘sacred local Ohlone landmark’ without any mitigation measures in place.

“ ‘While I appreciate that the Court of Appeal’s recognition of the importance of the West Berkeley Shellmound, which the Court acknowledged was first occupied nearly 5,000 years ago, I am disappointed the Court did not preserve the City’s ability to protect the below-ground elements of the shellmound,’ said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín in an email.

“Jeffrey Anhalt, risk manager for [developer] Rue-Ell enterprises, said the site would not require the demolition of a historic structure, as there is ‘no evidence’ of human remains or artifacts at the site. ‘It has been surveyed, drilled, trenched, cored, and studied by teams of archaeologists and other experts for decades.’

“The Court of Appeal’s decision raised questions as to how far the state legislature can override requirements in local jurisdictions, according to city attorney Farimah Brown [who noted] that SB 35 was modified to correct the oversight of tribal resources.

“ ‘Berkeley is built on Ohlone land. The Shellmound is sacred. Our community wants to protect the Shellmound, and the Legislature agrees,’ [wrote Berkeley City Councilmember Sophie] Hahn in an email. ‘We owe it to the Ohlone and our children to keep fighting to protect this sacred place.’ ”

Read the full article here. (~2 min.)

Previously in Roundup: On May 6, 2021, Alan Murphy, an attorney at Perkins Coie LLP, wrote that the court found Berkeley’s historical preservation decision is the kind of barrier to affordable housing development that the Legislature sought to restrict through SB 35. Read his analysis in the June 2021 Northern News here.

Return to Northern News here.