By Bill Bulkley
55 Laguna, the former UC Berkeley Extension site, has been vacant for over six years while development plans have been drawn, approved, and now flounder in economic limbo. Meanwhile, the five WPA era buildings, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places, languish in a state of disrepair. Recently, HVNA Board members, Art, Culture and Environment (ACE) Committee members, and concerned neighbors, conducted a walk around the campus to survey the state of the property.
Our group is primarily concerned with buildings falling into disrepair and site neglect. We observed specific types of building maintenance issues including moisture damage, ivy penetration and overgrowth, and graffiti. We also observed a variety of site maintenance issues including weed and ivy overgrowth, significant tree abandonment, broken sidewalks, and the presence of human trash and waste on site. The complete findings from this site survey will be presented to the HVNA Board and forwarded to UC Berkeley for action.
This property and others like it deserve better care. We would like to see regular painting over the graffiti to match the existing building colors, regular clean-up and waste removal from the site, general repair and waterproofing happen on the structures.
We continue to ask, “What is the potential for this property both in the interim and the long term? What is the state of the WPA art works on the interior?” Recently, the Lower Haight Neighborhood and Merchants Association organized a tri-neighborhood letter to UC on a proposed temporary mural at Laguna and Haight to combat blight on that corner and create a gateway to the neighborhoods. The HVNA Board strongly supports this idea.
Participants in the walk included ACE committee members David Winslow, Ed Bedard, and Rafael Ochoa, District 6 supervisor candidate James Keys, Save Laguna Street Campus members Cynthia Servetnick and Lavon Taback, concerned neighbor Adrianne Steichen, and HVNA Board members, Nathan Lozier and Bill Bulkley.
If you would like to know more about this effort or be more involved in the ACE Committee, please email Bill Bulkley at firstname.lastname@example.org.