North Oakland Voters Alliance v. Oakland (1992) 1992 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 19033, 1992 WL 367096

The birthplace of several socio-political movements such as the Black Panthers and Chicano muralist movement, the National Register-eligible Merritt College was designed by famed architect Charles Dickey in 1923, and is a “prominent example of school architecture in the bay area." (at 19034.)

In the early 1990's, Merritt College was in shambles and demolition was imminent. The North Oakland Voters Alliance and individuals Robert Brokl and Alfred Crofts, among others, filed suit against the City of Oakland for allowing the building's deterioration by neglect while failing to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel denied the City’s motion for summary judgment, finding that NOVA et al. had standing to bring suit and had a private right of action to enforce Section 106. The Court found that because Community Development Block Grant funds were designed for community development, it was reasonable to infer that the City had plans to improve or develop the college and that the acquisition of the college in 1980 was an “undertaking.”

Judge Patel also ruled that the complaint's allegations of “demolition by neglect” stated a cause of action for violation of Section 106. The Court ruled that until the City completed a Section 106 review, HUD retained authority to ensure compliance with the Housing and Community Development Act.

As a result of the summary judgment denial, the City took steps to repair the roof and secure the historic building from vandals, leading to its eventual full restoration by Children’s Hospital.

Restored Library

Old Merritt College/Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute

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