Sunday, September 06, 2009

Preservation lite: the Harding Theater

Photo by Haighteration

From last week's article on the Harding Theater in the SF Examiner: "Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is anxious for a project to move forward at the blighted theater and plans to arrange meetings with neighbors and Kestoff, said aide Rick Galbraith." ("Plans for theater to keep historic facade intact," John Upton, SF Examiner, Sept. 1, 2009) But what are they going to talk about? The city has made it impossible for Klestoff to develop the property, and the recession has made it impossible for him to sell it.

Recall that it was Mirkarimi who led the original move to "save" the derelict, undistinguished building from being demolished to make room for condos and retail space on Divisadero.

The city is now insisting that Klestoff pay for an expensive, time-consuming environmental impact report to examine the building's status as a landmark. "The city is also insisting that Klestoff retain the old theater sign: The entire historic facade of the vacant Harding Theater in Alamo Square would be preserved and rehabilitated under the latest proposal to build shops and condos at the site."

This is the kind of hollow symbolism city progressives love so much. Recall that Amoeba Records on Haight Street was required to retain the old bowling alley sign on the facade of that building. An historic bowling alley!

This isn't preservationism; it's nothing but the emptiest symbolism, Preservation Lite. And it's implemented by a Planning Department that didn't do a landmark study---required by CEQA before a project is approved---for its massive Market/Octavia Plan that rezones thousands of properties in the middle of the city to encourage population density in a part of town that has many beautiful Victorian buildings. Uber prog Mirkarimi was point man for the Planning Dept. on this awful project.

That part of town also has a state and national landmark---the old UC extension property on lower Haight Street---that the city is allowing UC to trash for a huge housing development. Supervisor Mirkarimi pushed that sell-out because the development includes some housing units for gay seniors. Symbolism uber alles, comrades!

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