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Pro-development Landmarks Commissioner Resigns

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

July 20 -- Amidst concerns that the Landmarks Commission may be using its powers to block development, the most pro-development member of the commission has resigned.

Colin Maduzia -- the sole real estate agent on the commission -- submitted his resignation Monday, less than one week after City staff submitted a report to the City Council arguing that the commission was abusing its powers by dangerously broadening its definitions of a landmark.

Maduzia -- who was appointed in May 2004 to fill a slot reserved for a licensed realtor under the City Charter -- cited personal reasons for resigning, but said he shares some of the concerns expressed by staff.

"A lot of it is personal... but being (on the commission) just stresses the hell out of me," said Maduzia, who has worked as a real estate agent in Southern California since 1992.

"My feeling is that the landmarks commission is heavily weighted... with people who seem to be against development," he said. "If we overstate our reach and landmark every cute house and quaint bungalow, then we are inhibiting change and progress. I just feel there needs to be more balance.

"They're all very nice people, we just have a different agenda," he said. "I would agree the threshold (on what is a landmark) is lower than I'm comfortable with and only the most pristine and exemplary properties should be landmarked.

A former commercial developer from Chicago, Maduzia said he felt the commission's powers -- mainly the right to review every demolition permit -- were too far reaching.

"I don't know of a landmarks commission in the country that has this type of authority," he said. "What happens is we get these demolition permits, and it just seems to me there is a lot of time spent discussing how to get around them."

Maduzia said the Council's decision last week to uphold an appeal of the commission's decision to landmark a modest California bungalow on 19th Street was a "perfect example" of the commission going too far.

At the Council meeting, two Council members disagreed, and some landmark commissioners took offense at the staff report's implications.

Landmarks Commission Chair Roger Genser said he and his fellow commissioners were acting in good faith and took umbrage at the "implications of the staff report."

"I think it's a misplaced accusation and I resent it," Commissioner Genser said after the meeting.

Council member Herb Katz said different people from different backgrounds make for a healthier commission.

"I think you always need to have someone form a different point of view," said Katz, a Los Angeles architect.

"That's why I think we should put a pilot on the airport commission," Katz said. "Should they all be pilots? No, but there needs to be a balance."
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