March 27, 2007
To: Mayor Bates and Berkeley City Council
West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies urges you to take
strong and decisive action to save the filmmaker community in the
Zaentz Media Center Fantasy Building.
The city cannot afford to lose yet one more artist building. This is a
unique nonprofit documentary film community, found nowhere else in the
Council should tell the building owner in no uncertain terms that he
must treat these tenants in a decent and responsible manner. Tell him
that that is a price of doing business in Berkeley. This landlord
depends heavily on the city being cooperative with his projects and
developments. Tell him that, if he expects the city to cooperate with
him, he needs to cooperate for the betterment of the city.
Council can and must use its full powers to convince Mr. Robins and
Wareham to allow this community to remain whole and in this building at
current rents, which are already fair market rents, or to get these
tenants an extension of six months or more at current rents. During
that period, if relocation becomes necessary, the city can work
with them to find them a new location in Berkeley.
The problem in this building reflects a larger problem affecting all of
our arts and crafts and industries. Developers and landlords are
demanding exorbitant rents because they perceive that it is city policy
to the promote rapid gentrification in West Berkeley. Many would rather
keep their buildings vacant and off the market by offering them at
exorbitant rents. They are doing this because the city is sending them
the signal that they will soon lift zoning protections for arts and
crafts and industries.
Our entire West Berkeley creative community is being dismantled by the
spiraling gentrification fueled by this perception. These are urgent
times for West Berkeley, and we urge you to reverse this disastrous
West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies