Berkeley Sacred Site Threatened

Toby McLeod – March 7, 2017

Sacred Ohlone Village and Burial Site Threatened — Citizen Comments Needed on the 1900 4th St. Draft Environment Impact Report by March 13, 2017

The site of the oldest and largest Ohlone village around the shores of San Francisco Bay is the proposed site of a five-story apartment and retail complex at 1900 4th St. This sacred place lies under the asphalt of Spenger’s Fish Restaurant’s two-acre parking lot in west Berkeley. Two ancient burials have already been disturbed by trenching just across the street at another development over the last seven months. A growing chorus of Ohlone descendants and Berkeley residents are calling for a memorial park, a two-acre green space to honor Ohlone history and culture, both past and present. We need your help!

Read more about about it in my previous blog post.

Comments are due on the draft Draft Environment Impact (EIR) by March 13 at 5pm.
You can find the draft EIR here:….
Written comments may be submitted in person, by mail or by e-mail. The mailing address is 1947 Center Street, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704.

NOTE: The EIR was released on Wednesday, November 16. Click here for sample letter you can use for your comments on the draft EIR.
Please be sure to endorse the Alternative “Ohlone Memorial Park Open Space” Proposal. This proposal was presented by Ohlone leader Corrina Gould to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on February 2 and will be released to the public after the Ohlone community can discuss it internally and the proposal concept is developed further. Read about it here.

Information about the site can be found here: West Berkeley Shellmound Facebook Page and Indian People Organizing for Change (IPOC)

Related Public Hearings in February and March:
On March 9, Ohlone leader Corrina Gould will make a presentation to Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB), which has taken three rounds of public comment already. Corrina will present an alternative vision for a memorial open space park on the site. (Concept aerial is below at right.) Supporters are encouraged to attend! It is the ZAB commissioners who will vote either to certify and approve the final EIR later this summer, or they will deny the project.

Public Review Timeline: The public review and comment period for the Draft EIR opened November 16 and has been twice extended, now to March 13, 2017. The City must receive written comments regarding the adequacy of the Draft EIR within this time period. Written comments must specifically address the adequacy of the draft EIR and impacts of the project, and may be submitted in person, by mail or by email. The mailing address is 1947 Center Street, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704. Email comments to Shannon Allen:

Events Where You Can Learn More:



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Background — Help Respect Sacred Ground

The West Berkeley Shellmound (CA-ALA-307) needs you.
by Stephanie Manning

A habitation site of the Chochenyo Ohlone people from 3700 BC to 800 AD, the “West Berkeley Shellmound” is the oldest of more than 425 shellmounds that once rose on the shores of San Francisco Bay. Originally, what is now Spenger’s parking lot and the surrounding blocks were at the Bay’s edge. It’s no wonder the Bay Area’s first people chose this spot to settle: it is where Strawberry Creek flowed into the Bay, the village sat directly opposite the Golden Gate, and shellfish were abundant. Over 45 centuries, spanning hundreds of generations of Ohlone families, a mound of discarded shells grew to more than 20 feet in height and several football fields in width and length. The people lived, worked, played with their children, conducted ceremonies and buried their dead here, a true homeland. In 2002, the site was designated a Berkeley City Landmark. In 2003, it was found eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, California recognized the village site as eligible for the State Register of Historic Places. Now, a coalition of native and non-native people is working to ensure this sacred site’s future as a memorial green space park for the ancient founders of the Bay Area. Please join us in recognizing and honoring this site and protecting it from further development projects.

For more information visit Indian People Organizing for Change.

In the News:

Berkeley Shellmound alternative proposed by activists, East Bay Times, March 7, 2017

Activists draft alternative plans for Shellmound property, Daily Cal, March 7, 2017

Berkeley Shellmound EIR prompts call for do-over from landmarks commission, The Mercury News, February 8, 2017

Berkeley Shellmound proposal comment deadline extended again, East Bay Times, February 4, 2017

Berkeley Developer denies evidence of Native American burials at site ringed with hundreds, East Bay Times, January 18, 2017

Dispute over Berkeley project: likely sacred Indian burial site, San Francisco Chronicle, January 14, 2017

West Berkeley Shellmound site is sacred – project opponents say, East Bay Times, January 11, 2017

Comment deadline extended for West Berkeley Shellmound site plan, East Bay Times, December 24, 2016

Critics question impacts of ‘Spenger’s parking lot’ project on Berkeley Fourth Street, Ohlone heritage, Berkeleyside, March 14, 2016

Ohlone human remains found in trench in West Berkeley, Berkeleyside, April 8, 2016

Second West Berkeley human remains discovery prompts call to re-examine shellmound boundaries, Berkeleyside, May 11, 2016

For the Academics:

Why Here? Settlement, Geoarchaeology and Paleoenvironment at the West Berkeley Site (CA-ALA-307),” by Christopher Dore, Stephen Bryne, Michael McFaul & Garry Running (2004)