I heard the noise it made, last night, and the sirens. I’m balanced on that awful edge between horror and anger. The fuckers. the damned corrupt fuckers, they’ve managed to kill six kids. For stupid bloody profit, a quick buck. As you can see here, the folks that built this travesty took their money and ran long ago: http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2007-08-17/article/27783?headline=Library-Gardens-Sold–By-Richard-Brenneman
So now it’s corporate shell game time! Trace the money, Lay the blame! Find the culprit! The original developer here:
“DeClercq said a top-notch contractor built Library Gardens and used “the best steel guy in California.” DeClercq couldn’t immediately remember the name of the contractor (he was in shock) but said the company was located in Point Richmond and used union labor.”It was a reputable local general contractor. They hired the best steel and concrete subcontractors. It was a very strong team.””
I’m not really sure where those best steel and concrete workers did their thing, though, since the photos of the fallen balcony show rotted wooden beams that simply broke off. It shouldn’t have been built like that; it should have been better maintained, but, heck, our Planning and Permit department is funded solely by developer fees, and this thing made a lot of money for a lot of people. The guy who headed Planning when this went through retired, and he now contracts with developers to “help” them get their projects okayed by the city. The only rein on development here is citizen outrage, and the city is pretty good at ignoring that. Enforcement is a joke: there’s an unpermitted, uninspected, and totally illegal wooden rooftop deck atop a three-story house a block from here that zoning knows all about. It’s been there about four years now. I hope it doesn’t just slide off one of these days – and that builder is working on literally a half-dozen other projects – Planning loves his stuff. It’s the wild west.
The comment sections on the news articles – god help us – abound in blame for the silly students. Thirteen of them out on a balcony, obviously just asking for it. Welp, the thing was 5 X 10, according to the BBC, and it had French doors opening out onto it. Silly them thinking it was solid and meant to be used. Guess that’ll learn ’em! Because, god knows, an eight-year-old balcony in an EXPENSIVE building can’t be expected to hold anything more than a stored bike, I guess.
Some of the comments also assume the students were dancing or jumping – though I think most likely they were out there smoking. Yes, the building manager did say he thought perhaps the balcony had fallen because maybe the kids had been jumping or something. But that was just an idea he had. He wasn’t there; he saw and heard nothing; he knew nothing. I mean, he is a paid manager, and there was a party there loud enough that the police were called, but he hadn’t gone to deal with it. He had no special knowledge of what was happening before the thing fell. Because lousy management is a complete package – all complaints – noise, maintenance – are equally ignored. That guy was just talking through his hat, trying to imagine what could have made a piece of his building fall off. He might as well have said sunspots. But just tons and tons of comments blaming the kids. People just suck sometimes.
Our fearless leader mayor hasn’t made any comment yet, not even a simple condolence. I guess it is all difficult, given that he is totally committed to making Berkeley more like Manhattan – what a great idea! He’s announced a news conference for later today, but for now he’s been busy with other concerns:
“Berkeley city officials have shut down access to public records regarding the construction of the apartment complex, which was completed in January, 2007. Normally, they would be viewable upon request but zoning office staff cited a pending police investigation and request by the Berkeley city manager that the records not be made immediately available.” [L.A. Times]
The guy’s gotta have priorities, you know. Quick, a broom! Lift the rug! We should be able to cover up all this crap if we get right on it. I mean, what the hell did they build this thing from anyway? A neighbor remembers seeing the OCB supplies sitting out in the (pre-drought) rain, and being concerned that they were going in already waterlogged. Now I’m wondering whether the whole thing will just collapse into a pile of sludge if we ever get regular rains again. I guess that’s why the developers sell these things as fast as they can – hot potato time – cash out before it falls apart! Dang, these things make the 1960 crackerbox buildings look solid by comparison. The thing is, they’ve been throwing up dozens of these crappy buildings all over town – hundreds and hundreds of units. And lots of the buildings have pretty little balconies and other decorative outcroppings. I’m wondering how many deathtraps are out there right now.