Prominent Scientist Loses Berkeley Homes After Prolonged Battle With City

 Prominent Scientist Loses Berkeley Homes After Prolonged Battle With City

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BERKELEY, Calif. – An eminent Bangladeshi American scientist, who helms a nonprofit organization attempting to mitigate the effects of arsenic in Bangladesh’s wells, lost a 12-year battle April 30 with the city of Berkeley to retain ownership of his homes.

Property owned by Rash B. Ghosh – founder of the International Institute of Bengal Basin (IIBB) – was sold in Alameda County Superior Court to developer Robert Richerson, who is associated with the Berkeley-based real estate company, Korman and Ng.

The parcel – two houses on one lot at the corner of Dwight and McGee that Ghosh bought in 1992 – sold for $265,000, far below the market rate of comparable properties in the area priced from $465,000 to $685,000.

Declared a “Public Nuisance” in 2001


Citing numerous code violations, Berkeley housing officials declared the structures a “public nuisance” in 2001 and then seized the parcel in 2009, evicting Ghosh and his tenants. Ghosh was homeless for some months, living on friends’ sofas until he was able to purchase his current home, which also faces imminent seizure by the city.

Ghosh believes he has been unfairly treated by the city of Berkeley in his prolonged battle to keep his homes. “I’ve been defrauded all the way,” he asserted, noting that he paid $160,000 in 2011 to a court-ordered receiver to bring the structures in compliance with the city’s housing codes.

“They made me do all the groundwork; I’ve had to sell so much property in Bangladesh to do that, and still I have lost my lifetime investment,” he said, accusing Berkeley housing officials of selectively enforcing code violations against him.

“This house is stronger than any property in the vicinity,” Ghosh stated, alleging that he spent over half a million dollars to repair and maintain the property in the 20 years he has owned it.

The structure on Dwight Way also served as office space for the IIBB and housed a small multi-denominational temple. IIBB has been relocated to Ghosh’s new home.

Ghosh continued to pay his $5,000 monthly mortgage on the contested property, even after he was evicted. He also continued to pay his property taxes.

Peter Smith, co-founder of the lSan Francisco-based law firm Dhillon and Smith, which specializes in real-estate, explained that people remain the owners of their property – even those in receivership – until a sale goes through. Therefore, Ghosh had to pay his mortgage and property taxes until this week’s sale to avoid foreclosure. The city was also allowed to bill him for repairs until the sale occurred, Smith said.

Nobel Laureate’s Plea Rebuffed

Ghosh's attorney, Michael Sims, filed an 11th-hour application for a stay in the sale of the property, and noted that his client was attempting to comply with the city’s requirements for repairing the structures.

But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch approved the sale to Richerson, noting that Ghosh has had 12 years to make the required repairs.

“He has done absolutely nothing,” Roesch asserted, as he denied Ghosh’s application for a stay on the sale.

At the hearing, the judge also cut short a declaration from Nobel Laureate Charles Townes, who has supported Ghosh in his struggles against the city. The judge stated that Townes -- age 97 and an inventor of the laser -- was “singularly uninformed” about the case.

Ghosh is widely respected for having accomplished much of the early work on canopy chemistry – the role of trees in offsetting carbon released into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Salford in Manchester on the pollution of Liverpool’s Mersey River is also well regarded.

In his declaration, Townes, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize for physics, wrote, “I have known Dr. Ghosh for many years and I am thoroughly impressed by his selfless dedication to the remediation of ground and surface waters throughout the world. He is a man of the greatest integrity who has dedicated his life to his cause.”

Townes alleged in his letter that the city of Berkeley was selling the property at “a sixth of its value, with little public notice, to a zoning board member, which may be a conflict of interest.”

No known staff member of the Korman and Ng real estate company sits on Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB). However, Miriam Ng, co-founder of the firm, was appointed to Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in April 2011 by city councilmember David Moore. ZAB and the LPC have frequently collaborated on land-use determination issues in Berkeley.

Richerson subsequently closed escrow and took ownership of the Ghosh properties, but he refused to comment on the sale for publication. Berkeley Deputy City Attorney Laura McKinney also would not comment on Roersch’s ruling.

Ghosh said he now plans to appeal.

“Unattached Stairs and Bootlegged Work”

Superior Court receiver Ben McGrew, who was paid $160,000 by Ghosh for repair work, said in an interview, “This is one of the worst properties I’ve ever dealt with. The property inside is in deplorable condition, with unattached stairs and a lot of bootlegged work.”

McGrew went on, “There were very serious structural deficiencies, including electrical wiring issues, which had not been addressed by Ghosh.” He added that Richerson would have to spend at least $250,000 to get the parcel to the point where it would meet city requirements.

City housing officials also wanted Ghosh to tear down an additional storey he had added to the Dwight Way structure without proper permits.

Reporters examined the exterior of the property on April 25, and found it to be in appalling condition. Although the house facing McGee Street bore external signs of recent renovation, including new electrical wiring, the structure abutting Dwight Way had many rusting appliances housed in its weed-choked backyard, which also stored rotting floorboards and other detritus. Gang graffiti adorned its façade.

But Ghosh’s contractor, Nick Saadi, contended it would have been easy enough to fix all the issues the city had with the properties, which he believed were largely cosmetic.

“It is very unfortunate that he is losing his buildings. Here is a man who is 68 years old, who has done some very important work in his life. We must help him,” said Saadi. He continued that he has worked on homes in much worse shape where the owner has been allowed to retain his property.

The Berkeley City Council will hold a hearing June 8 to determine whether Ghosh should get back the $160,000 he paid to McGrew for repairs.

Photo: By Sunita Sohrabji, India-West

This article was a collaborative project by Sunita Sohrabji, a staff reporter at India West, and Viji Sundaram, an editor at New America Media.
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted May 3 2012

Oh please! I hope that everyone who reads this article is able to come to the corner of Dwight and McGee in Berkeley and see it for themselves. It is an eyesore and has been a thorn in the side of neighbors for years. The neighbors have NEVER supported Mr. Ghosh and have long resented this blighted piece of property. Please, come and see the sub-standard work, the shower tile used as a walk way, the grossly over-grown vines that look as if they'll topple over on a passer-by at any moment, the graffiti, the piled up garbage, the obviously illegal third story, the boarded up windows and ask yourselves if you would want this piece of property in your neighborhood. It is Mr. Ghosh who has done the city and the neighborhood wrong all of these years, not the city that has done him wrong. Come and see it for yourselves and then decide!

Anonymous

Posted May 4 2012

Dr. Townes is not the inventor of the LASER. Courts settled that matter years ago in favor of the rightful inventor, Gordon Gould. Townes and his partner invented the MASER. (The M stands for microwave instead of L for light.)

Anonymous

Posted May 4 2012

Dr. Townes is not the inventor of the LASER. Courts settled that matter years ago in favor of the rightful inventor, Gordon Gould. Townes and his partner invented the MASER. (The M stands for microwave instead of L for light.)

Anonymous

Posted May 4 2012

test

Anonymous

Posted May 5 2012

There are many errors in your reporting. It would be easy to check the court record and zoning record to confirm or deny Dr. Ghosh and his victimization. The main issue has always been the expansion of square footage on the property. It is also alleged that Dr. Ghosh after securing a proper building permit would alter the plans so the site inspector would pass the construction he was inspecting. This is how Dr. Gosh has been able to buy a property in the early 80's which had a 900 sqft store and a 1,100 sqft single family house and make it into a two story residential commercial building with 2,500 sq.ft. And a three story duplex over 3,500 with no fire exits for the third story bedrooms. It is the over building and specific code violations which have placed Dr. Ghosh in trouble since 1983, placed him under court order since 2004 and 2007. Dr. Ghosh has had many contractors architects and attorneys over the years. Michael Sims is not his attorney now and did not file anything on behalf of Dr. Ghosh this year. Dr. Ghosh has had every land use attorney in the area represent him, he also accuses them of siding with the city and has fired more than 7-9 of them over the years.

Check the facts yourself. Do not listen to the city or especially to Dr. Ghosh, it makes for interesting reading. You call yourself a reporter, more of a gossip not interested in the facts.

Sweeny

Posted May 9 2012

Seeing the property does not tell the whole story. Let's state some facts here. The house is no longer under Mr. Ghosh's control since September 2007 when the city evicted him and his tenants without notice. To this day, he cannot even enter his own property . When the city ordered him to board the property , their specific instruction was to " the Notice and Orders required you to secure and board the buildings in a manner approved by the building official that did not have a significant visual impact on the neighborhood and caused the properties to have the appearance of an occupied residence; therefore the boarding was to be applied from within the inside of the building ...". The city dishonored their own order as well as the court order on the same, by boarding the buildings outside, which has now attracted graffiti, dumping, etc , at no fault of him. This is just one of the many lies being spread against him.

Many neighbors have supported the owner in the past (on file) and this time, more neighbors supported him (on file) so to say that neighbors have NEVER supported him is grossly incorrect.

Anonymous

Posted May 12 2012

I have lived in this neighborhood for over two decades and I know the neighbors very well. People LOATHE Mr. Ghosh and do not support him. It is a joke to claim that neighbors support him! I mean, let's be logical. What kind of neighbor wants property that looks like his in their neighborhood? No one does! The neighbors were upset from day one when he started building the illegal third story! I think once Mr. Ghosh came around with some petition or something that he intimidated a few people into signing, but that would be the closest he ever came to getting any kind of support. Sure, he got a few tenants to write letters on his behalf, but they sort of had to since they'd lose their cheap housing otherwise. The condition of the property is appalling and Mr. Ghosh is a dreadful man who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions. It is no ones fault but his own that things have come to this.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 11 2012

The following is a point by point rebuttal to this article. The Article has been reproduced in its entirety. The assertions quested designated by roman numerals ( i, ii, iii, …etc.) which correspond to footnotes at bottom of page.
===========================================


Sunita Sohrabji shares this byline with VIJI SUNDARAM of New America Media.

An eminent Bangladeshi American scientist who helms a non-profit organization attempting to mitigate the effects of arsenic in Bangladesh’s wells lost a 12-year battle April 30 with the city of Berkeley, to retain ownership of his homes.
Property owned by Dr. Rash B. Ghosh – founder of the International Institute of Bengal Basin – was sold in Alameda County Superior Court to developer Robert Richerson, who is associated with Korman and Ng.

The parcel – two houses on one lot on the corner of Dwight and McGee, which Ghosh bought in 1992 — was sold for $265,000, far below the market rate for comparable properties in the area, which range in sale price from $465,000 to $685,000. (I)

Citing numerous code violations(II) , Berkeley housing officials declared the structures a “public nuisance” in 2001 and then seized the parcel in 2009, evicting Ghosh and his tenants(III) . Ghosh was homeless for some months, living on friends’ sofas until he was able to purchase(IV) his current home, which also faces imminent seizure by the city.

Ghosh believes he has been unfairly treated by the city of Berkeley in his prolonged battle to keep his homes. “I’ve been defrauded all the way,” he told India-West, noting that he paid $160,000 in 2011 to a court-ordered receiver to bring the structures in compliance with the city’s housing codes (V).

“They made me do all the groundwork; I’ve had to sell so much property in Bangladesh to do that, and still I have lost my lifetime investment,” he said, accusing Berkeley housing officials of selectively enforced code violations against him.

“This house is stronger than any property in the vicinity, (VI)” Ghosh stated, alleging that he spent over half a million dollars to repair and maintain the property in the 20 years he has owned it.

Ghosh did much of the early work on canopy chemistry – the role of trees in offsetting carbon released into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming – and a doctoral dissertation at the University of Salford in Manchester on the pollution of Liverpool’s Mersey River.

The structure on Dwight Way also served as office space for the IIBB and housed a small, multi-denominational temple. The IIBB has been relocated to Ghosh’s new home.

Ghosh continued to pay his $5,000 monthly mortgage, even after he was evicted. He also continued to pay his property taxes.

Peter Smith, co-founder of the law firm Dhillon and Smith that specializes in real estate issues, told India-West that owners remain the owners of their property – even those in receivership – until a sale goes through. Therefore, Ghosh had to pay his mortgage and property taxes until this week’s sale occurred, to avoid foreclosure. The city was also allowed to bill him for repairs until the sale occurred, said Smith.

Ghosh’s attorney, Michael Sims, filed an 11th-hour application for a stay in the sale of the property, noting that his client was making attempts to comply with the city’s requirements for repairing the structures.

But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch nevertheless approved the sale to Richerson April 30, noting that Ghosh has had 12 years to make repairs required by city housing officials(VII). He cut short a declaration from Nobel Laureate Charles Towne, who has supported Ghosh in his struggles against the city, noting that the inventor of the laser was “singularly uninformed.”

In his declaration, the 97-year-old Townes, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1964, wrote, “I have known Dr. Ghosh for many years and I am thoroughly impressed by his selfless dedication to the remediation of ground and surface waters throughout the world. He is a man of the greatest integrity who has dedicated his life to his cause.”

Towne alleged in his letter that the city of Berkeley was selling the property at “a sixth of its value, with little public notice, to a zoning board member(VIII), which may be a conflict of interest.”
No known staff member of Korman and Ng sits on Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board, but Miriam Ng, co-founder of the firm, who coincidentally lived in Bangladesh during part of her childhood, was appointed to Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in April 2011 by city councilmember David Moore.


The ZAB and the LPC have frequently collaborated on land use determination issues in Berkeley, including a proposal to tear down and rebuild two branch libraries last year.

Richerson subsequently closed escrow and took ownership of the property, but refused to comment on the sale with this publication. He has worked on a number of infill developments – use of land within a built-up area, used in smart growth or growth management – in Berkeley and surrounding cities.

Berkeley city deputy attorney Laura McKinney also would not comment on Roesch’s ruling.

Ghosh said he now plans to appeal.

Superior Court receiver Ben McGrew, who was paid $160,000 by Ghosh for repair work, told India-West, “This is one of the worst properties I’ve ever dealt with. The property inside is in deplorable condition, with unattached stairs and a lot of bootlegged work.”

“There were very serious structural deficiencies, including electrical wiring issues which had not been addressed by Ghosh,” stated McGrew, adding that Richerson would have to spend at least $250,000 to get the parcel to the point where it would meet city requirements((IX)

Significantly, city housing officials wanted Ghosh to tear down an additional storey he had added to the Dwight Way structure without proper permits(X)

Reporters who examined the exterior of the property April 25 found it to be in appalling condition. While the house facing McGee Street bore external signs of recent renovation, including new electrical wiring, the structure abutting Dwight Way had many rusting appliances housed in its weed-choked backyard, which also stored rotting floor boards and other detritus. Gang graffiti adorned its façade(XI).(xi).

But Ghosh’s contractor, Nick Saadi, told India-West that it would have been easy enough to fix all the issues the city had with the properties, which he believed were largely cosmetic.

“It is very unfortunate that he is losing his buildings. Here is a man who is 68 years old who has done some very important work in his life. We must help him,” said Saadi, adding that he has worked on homes in much worse shape where the owner has been allowed to retain his property.

The Berkeley City Council will hold a hearing June 8 to determine whether Ghosh should get

I) Value for comparison to state that it is far below market is based on the purchase price of the next door at 2511 McGee Ave which is approximately 1.6 million

II) Only a portion of the 2507 McGee was declared public nuisance dishonoring their own sign off of the entire project in January 1998. See declaration of former City of Berkeley building inspector Robert Kendall. City council member Kris Worthington acknowledged the signed off of the project during the hearing on December 15, 2009. When the city boarded the buildings from outside in 2009, they made it a public nuisance as the buildings were vandalized.
III) Evicted in 2007
IV) moved in at his current residence
V) Receiver required total US$197,000 to repair both buildings and Ghosh submitted $160,000 cash plus $42,000 in fees and services for a total of $202,000 but the city changes goal post which is supported by receiver (see receiver’s status report of June 30, 2011)
VI) See declaration of Project structural engineer, Dr. H. Nasser
VII) Ghosh obtained permit in June 2008 to address public nuisance after 10 years efforts; Ghosh did new foundation and install hardy frames and increased the structural strength all around the building soon after the permit was issued in 2008; new electrical work was done by Gills Electric in 2008. In spite of these works, they seized the building and prevented the legal work
VIII) Prof. Townes was informed by some authoritative source and confused the developer Richerson with Zoning Board member and staff of councilmember Daryl Moore Ryan Lau, who did illegal work on his property and later was allowed to regularize without problem
IX) The receiver’s June 30, 2011 status report stated that the repair cost, including permit fees and services (including receiver fees) is $197,000 for both buildings, which was the basis for Ghosh to give $202,000.
X) Permit was issued on September 21, 1995 (95-364) which was signed off in January 1998, yet Ghosh obtained new permit (07-1981) to comply but was prevented to replace the roof and seized the property

(XI) It should be noted that a) Dr. Ghosh has been denied access to his property and is not, therefore, at liberty to clean up old building materials leftover from repairs b)floor boards left outside in rain can be expected to rot and cannot in any way serve to make judgments about the structural integrity of edifice in question; c) Dr. Ghosh had at his own expense painted over the graffiti on several occasions before the city denied him this privilege; d) the city is in part responsible for this blight in that they needlessly violated their own antiblight ordinance by boarding the building from the outside, creating the appearance of an abandoned building, and inviting vandalism; e) Dr. Ghosh had previously complied with a court order and had the building boarded from the outside; f) for which he was billed thousands of dollars in excess of the estimates of other contractors he contacted for more realistic assessments of the city’s costs for this unnecessary work.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 28

I am surprised to see that unthinkable thing can happen in liberal Berkeley. Berkeley progressive leaders violate the public trust and failed to return Dr. Rash B Ghosh’s houses as promised and kept his $177K cash deposit for repair and sold the houses at a historical low price to their developer friend Robert Richardson. After a long silent observation about the local Government’s handling of Dr. Ghosh’s house and IIBHB’s facility at 1700 Dwight Way and 2509 McGee, I would like to share with you one of the many evidences on file of this case to clear the air. Here is the testimony of Harvard Graduate Architect Kristin Personett to the city council along with other nine widely respected Berkeley professionals/scholars in support of Dr. Ghosh (video recorded by the city December 15, 2009 at 7pm). The true copy of the text of the presentation below (among many documents forth coming including the articles based on 15 December hearing by Berkeley Daily Planet December 23, 2009) will indicate beyond doubt how Dr. Ghosh’s property was seized and $177K cash deposit for repair was kept by the City appointed receiver in addition to 33K services charges fees were spent by Ghosh. Enclosed please find the true copy of the letter so that one can verify this information and judge the Judge Frank Roesch, his receiver Ben McGrew and the city administrations, the city council leaders. Therefore, please ignore any comment you see from unauthentic sources such as anonymous letter posted. The city Mayor Tom Bates recognized in a letter to IIBB in early 2000 that Dr. Ghosh has dedicated his life to improve the lives of the people both at home and abroad.Please also verify Dr. Ghosh's contribution to the community at large. City recommended another senior architect a Harvard graduate William Coburn having 40 years’ experience in his filed has been involved in this project since early 2001 whose letters and views will be forth coming soon.

N Saha, LBNL, Berkeley
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
True copy of the letter of Kristin Personett

iNDiGO Design Group
Kristin Personett transmittal
510.697.4289p 510. 655.3705 F
To: The City Clerk Sent: via fax
City of Berkeley via mail
Hand delivered
Cc:
Phone:
Date:
Subject: 1700 Dwight and 2507/2509 McGee Street
Number of pages including cover: 4
Materials Enclosed:
Per review comments
To the Esteemed Reviewers,
I was retained by Dr. Rash Ghosh in June of 2009 (after the boarding of the McGee property) to create permits in order to legalize and /or remove building violations from this property. During my professional relationship with Dr. Ghosh, I have found him to be very diligently committed to correcting the building violations at both 1700 Dwight and 2507/2509 McGee.
Although I have worked with him for only the 6 months past, in that time period, I have taken contractor bids at his job site for the work to be performed, met with him and his attorney on several occasions, and drafted two permit submittals responding to building violations on his behalf. It should be noted (as proof of his dedication) that one of these drawings was to remove fire code violations on the Mc Gee building- even though he could not enter it due to the boarding process.
I’m enclosing copies of the two submittable drafted by my firm for your review. During my contract and work on this project, such that it is, I can personally vouch that Dr. Ghosh has acted in good faith in attempting to clear violations, pull permits, and obtain work bids from General Contractors, and sub-contractors. It has been my pleasure to work with Dr. Ghosh in these matters, and for the extent of my contract with him, he has demonstrated clear and intentioned steps in securing permits and corrections for both the properties of 1700 Dwight Way and 2507/2509 McGee.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions or concerns in this matter. Thank you for your time and consideration. Your review of this material is appreciated.
Best regards,
Kristin Personett
December 14, 2009.3:31 PM PDF created with desk PDF writer-Trial:: http://WWw.docudesk.com


Anonymous User

Posted Sep 1

A number of the above responses to the article on the seizure of Dr. Ghosh’s commercially valuable property and its transfer to a well-connected Berkeley developer for 1/6 of its retail value appear written to confuse the issues and misrepresent the facts. The following is intended as a point-by-point response to some of the lies and distortions.

Response to May 3, Letter by anonymous:

Your assertion is that “neighbors have NEVER supported Mr. Ghosh” This is statement is incorrect. 9 neighbors supported Dr. Ghosh’s remodeling of his McGee Building in 1998 (only 5 signatures were required.) The work was completed, approved, and signed off under permit 953641. City attorney Zach Cowan publicly admitted as much in December 15th, 2009, at a hearing by the city council as, reported in a Berkeley Daily Planet article dated 12/23/2009. In fact, Dr. Ghosh’s neighbors who attend this meeting all did so to support him. The hearing record will indicate that none of these neighbors were there in opposition to Dr. Ghosh. Furthermore, after the city’s unprecedented cancellation in August 2007of all previous approvals on his 1700 Dwight Way property going back to 1942, Dr. Ghosh was supported by 21 neighbors.(Among the cancelled approvals was one signed off in 1993 by city Building Supervisor, Joe Cluff, and assigned officer, senior inspector Robert Kendal.) Each of these 21 neighbors signed Dr. Ghosh’s plan to address these retroactive cancelations (copy on file). The City again required $17K in permit fees, which were deposited, despite the fact that approved permit for the Dwight Way property was pending. For details about this duplication of permitting fees, contact the city attorney’s office or Dr. Rash B Ghosh

The “Obviously illegal third story” you are referring to was in fact an “attic,” and not a “third story,” as defined in the building code. Don’t muddy the issue by abusing the distinctions important to this case. Project inspector Kevin Moses has a handwritten note on file indicating that the city received $288 for a use permit for attic space, and that the city took no action. And later the city zoning and attorney’s offices promoted this misunderstanding by referring to the level in question as a “3rd floor,” ignoring the findings of their own field and city-assigned project officer, Kevin Moses. Mr. Moses’ credentials for making such determinations are far superior to nontechnical city officials who have agendas other than a fair and impartial application of the building codes.

It should be noted that this attic was, in fact, part of the property Dr. Ghosh purchased in 1991, and it was remodeled, as approved by permit 953641, which designated “attic space,” and was signed off in early 1998. If it did not qualify as an attic, the building would not have been signed off by Kevin Moses, Alex Roschal (project engineer), Gisele Sorenson (senior zoning officer), Sam Darting (planner), Joe Cluff, (Building Dept. Supervisor), and Joan McQuarrie (Building Chief) . Refer to Berkeley building permit number, 953641. If further clarification is required, please consult Dr. Ghosh and the Berkeley City attorney Mr. Zach Cowan.

Your “boarded up windows” were a result of the City of Berkeley’s own illegal reboarding of a property that was already properly boarded from the inside. In contradiction of a court order and their own anti-blight ordinance, the city reboarded these same windows from the outside. This created the appearance of abandoned property, and, in turn, invited graffiti, the appearance of blight, and illegal activities on the sight. Later the city did not honor the city council’s own decision to allow Dr. Ghosh to complete work,


Response to May 4, Letter by anonymous:

Anyone who understands physics, will realize that the laser and the maser are essentially the same. The real credit goes to whoever can 1) realize the possibility of the concept and 2) actually demonstrate it. Both devices work on the principle of “Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,” Which had been predicted by Einstein in 1905. Dr. Townes was first to demonstrate this principle, he did so despite the fact that some of the 20th Century’s best scientists, including Nils Bohr and John Von Neumann, told him that the technology he proposed for the implementation of the concept was in violation of the 2d law of thermodynamics, and, consequently, impossible. Dr. Townes demonstrated the principle with Microwaves, which have a longer wavelength than visible light. The laser was originally known as an “optical maser,” because, in fact, it was another implementation of the principles demostrated first by Dr. Townes. Consequently, your denigration of Dr. Townes’ accomplishment is simply ignorant.



Response to May 5, Letter by anonymous:

The allegation “that Dr. Ghosh after securing a proper building permit would alter the plans so the site inspector would pass the construction he was inspecting,” is easily proven or disproven by the city’s own records. This allegation is simply ludicrous, and the burden of evidence remains with you. You are obviously not referring to the original plans, i.e., the actual plans that were, in fact, approved and signed off. If Dr. Ghosh had made the changes you allege to the original documents, his altered documents would presently be on file, and the city would have held him accountable. If, as I suspect, you are employed by the city attorney’s office, this is transparent demagoguery.

As noted in the above response to your misleading account of May 3, there was never an question about a “,third story” as the term is defined in the building code, but to an attic that existed when Dr. Ghosh purchased the building in 1991. This attic was used for storage, never for occupation. Further, contrary to your assertion, Dr. Ghosh has not been “in trouble since 1983,” because that date was 8 years prior to his actual purchase of the property. 1983 was, in fact, the date for the unit’s illegal conversion into a duplex by a previous owner. Several weeks later this illegal transformation from a single family dwelling to duplex was made legal by the city building office without hearing or administrative use permit. Talk about selective enforcement. One wonders whether the previous owner worked for the city, like Ryan Lau, the disgraced former zoning official currently employed by Berkeley City Council Member, Darryl Moore. Mr. Lau built an entire addition without any permit
.
As noted in the Berkeley Daily Planet,

Mr. Lau left one wall of the teetering temporary front façade of the old garage still standing precariously, the better to hide the massive construction project in-process behind it. The new building is lovely and substantial: taller, wider, nearly twice as long. It offers the proud owner lovely wide windows and double French doors in front, and what looks like a bathroom, rear entrance and bedroom in the back.

http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2010-03-11/article/34820?headline=Berkeley-Council-Aide-Skips-Permits-for-His-Building-Project

The kindly Councilman Moore subsequently legalized the transgressions of his subordinate, Mr. Lau, and his abuse of the system by assessing double permit fee to legalize the work— still a bargain by anyone’s reckoning. Mr. Moore said he was “flabbergasted and disappointed” and attributed this flouting of the law by his subordinate to youthful indiscretion, noting that this wrist slap was for the 50-something Mr. Lau, “a hard lesson learned” for a “young man.” Mr. Lau is lucky that he did not follow the law, otherwise, his entire property might have been seized by the city, and sold to an even more favored friend for 1/6 of market value, as was the case with the 60-something, but still youthful, Dr. Ghosh. In cases of unconnected young citizens who follow rules, the kindly councilman could not be bothered to trouble himself. One suspects that the actual disappointment is over the fact that his employee got caught.

http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_14701179

Regarding, Attorney Sims, Mr. Sims filed a document for Dr. Ghosh on behalf of Atty. Oswald in April of 2012. Wrong again.

Land-use attorneys. Dr. Ghosh has hired 7-9 land use attorneys? The only land use attorney hired by Dr. Ghosh was Rina Rickles, and she failed to represent him properly during a hearing in 2000 when he was out of the country. I challenge you to name any others.


Response to May 12, Letter by anonymous:

In response to the allegations that the “neighbors LOATH (sic) Mr. Ghosh”: please refer to the response, above, to your May 3 allegations. Dr. Ghosh has 21 signatures indicating support, and the document is on file. Dr. Ghosh never started building an “illegal third story.” The attic was an unproblematic part of the building he purchased. Dr. Ghosh “intimidated” his neighbors? You are obviously deluded. I challenge you to present any one who Dr. Ghosh ever intimidated. If he first intimidated 9 signatories and subsequently 21, he would have his own season on America’s Most Wanted. Furthermore, if Dr. Ghosh’s neighbors did in fact “LOATH” him, surely some of them would have attempted to purchase his property before it was sold to one exceptionally fortunate developers, Korman and Ng, who purchased it for one sixth of its market value. The level of animosity and fabrication regarding Dr. Ghosh in this response and the above responses is quite curious. Are you among the beneficiaries of this transaction?

Arpita Soni

Posted Sep 10

I have been watching the housing tragedy of Dr. Rash B Ghosh and the loss of the Non profit IIBHB facilities caused by Tom Bates, the Mayor of Berkeley, and other city officials. Misrepresenting and distorting the good, honest, accurate assessments, approvals, and sign-offs of the city’s own qualified inspectors in the Building, Planning, Fire, and other departments, Bates and company have serially ignored all the work that has been done at the Ghosh properties by very capable architects, engineers, and contractors (Please refer to the previous response made from a local scholar and civil writer).

The relationship between Mr. Bates and Dr. Ghosh is a long and tangled one that began on good terms. Dr. Ghosh was impressed with Mr. Bates during his service in the California Assembly and wrote to him in early September 1988 in his capacity as a Scientist employed by the California EPA. Dr. Ghosh’s concern was with algae blooms caused by copper sulfate pollution in freshwater lakes which are important sources of drinking water in many parts of the world. Dr. Ghosh hoped that Mr. Bates enact a law in California to prevent dumping copper sulfate in the lakes of Marin, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara counties to improve the water quality. Dr. Ghosh’s recommendation did not become law, but he continued to believe that Mr. Bates would support him on other environmental issues.

However, back from that to the present, Dr. Ghosh’s houses are located on prime real estate and were sold by them in an unusually and suspiciously low price of $265K by the city. It should be noted that the $177K repair deposit made by Dr. Ghosh, in addition to other fees and service charges, was never returned (as noted in the above article and in Professor Nabanita Saha’s response). Where did these funds go? They were given and accepted during the receivership process for the very specific purpose of keeping the property in Dr. Ghosh’s hands. Who has these funds now? Why have they not been returned, given that they were not utilized for their expressly intended purpose? These matters must be investigated. We must root out this rampant corruption and the abuse of law abiding citizens and their rights to property. State Senator Loni Hancock would be an ideal person to lead this investigation. She was formerly the mayor of Berkeley, and her appointment should be acceptable to all parties including her husband Mayor.

As noted by Nobel Laureate and IIBHB Cofounder, Professor Charles H. Townes, Dr. Ghosh’s property was confiscated on the pretext of “concocted” zoning violations and sold for a mere $265K to a favored developer, Bob Richardson of Korman and Ng Realty, although the property is worth more than 2 million dollars. Dr. TOWNES' account is included at the end of this comment.* This gross injustice must be investigated and the corruption brought to an end. It is unthinkable that a city government should harass Dr. Ghosh and target his nonprofit facilities when he dedicated his life to address global water crisis focusing to mitigate ground water depletion and reduce toxins in the drinking water resources.

Arpita

U.C. Los Angeles, CA

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* concluding remarks of PROFESSOR CHARLES TOWNES on July 20, 2013 at U.C Berkeley at the Global Water Crisis conference sponsored by U.C Berkeley Public Health Department and the IIBHB)

“I plan to put some information together, including my letters and supporting papers to various authorities, to demonstrate what a great injustice was done to Dr. Ghosh and to our institute by the city of Berkeley. The city took two of his houses located in central Berkeley by using concocted predatory code [violations] and also kept more than $200,000 deposit for repairs. These documents will be available soon. Please join me to fight for Dr. Ghosh to save the facility of our institute and protect the integrity of our great city.”

Anonymous

Posted moments ago

As promised, providing the true copy of architect Willium Coburn’s letter to the Berkeley city Manager Phil Kamlarz dated April 6, 2010 for posting at the new America Media. Mr. Coburn has provided the facts and requested Mr. Kamlarz to help Dr. Ghosh to resolve the property matters. The City Manager Mr Kamlarz took no action. City Council member Max Anderson , Joan McQuarrie building official and Mr. Kamlarz jointly approved 1628 Blake Street illegally and converted 4 stories from one story single family house without any public hearing or any paper regularization in the same neighborhood of Dr. Ghosh's corner property at McGee and Dwight Way. Mr. Coburn was surprised by sudden closure of the Dr. Ghosh’s houses in early September 2007. Here is the story, described by Harvard graduate Bill Coburn having 40 years’ experience in this area. The city recommended him for this project and approved by Judge Rantzman of Berkeley Municipality Court in early 2001 (to replace Dr. Ghosh’s licensed architect previously approved by the city) to address Berkeley city’s alleged zoning violation. He drew the (settlement) plan at the direction of the city zoning Manager Mark Rhoades and Judge Rantzman. But this was rejected by Mark Rhoades at the eleventh hour. The Judge dismissed the case after he personally checked at the site that the city’s main claim of height (zoning) violation was concocted. During that onsite verification by the judge all parties ackmowledged that Dr. Ghosh's remodeling project was signed off under permit number 95-3641 and all zoning requirements were adequately met.. Later Mr. Rhoades took this matter to the Zoning Adjustment Board and the city council (ZAB) and got it approved in the absence of property owner (see Mr. Coburn’s letter last line of the Ist paragraph). Mr. Mark Rhoades promised that he would not displace anyone from the property at the ZAB hearing of June 2001 (see the ZAB hearing tap and judge yourself how he made the plan to grab this property) but he did exactly the same during his departure in July 2007 and included 1700 Dwight way in this matter and joined as a partner of developer and receiver ( of Dr. Ghosh’s property) Alikashani. Please note that Mr. Coburn’s letter did not mention anything about 1700 Dwight because which was never an issue. The selling the private property (owned by minority retired scientist) by the receiver, Judge and the city Mayer Tom Bates raised more question than answers. The property owner did not receive his repair cash deposit of 177K back and no compensation from the sale of the property. Who got the money? This is an excellent case for investigation in order to protect the property rights and prevent elder abuse by the local government.


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April 6, 2010


To: City Manager, Phil Kamlaz
City of Berkeley
Berkeley CA:
Permit #07-01981 wpc

Re: 2507/09 McGee Ave, Berkeley CA
I have been involved with this property since April 2001. My involvement has been somewhat intermittent and has been largely acting on the behalf of Rash Ghosh in providing architectural documents and permitting-for this property. The initial work performed was to provide clarification of required modifications to the house as required by Zoning Department. At that time, I had shown some removal of portions of the front of the building, and at the attic level to make this attic non-habitable by reducing the height under 6-0 by introducing framing into this space. But after lengthy negotiation-this plan was not accepted and with no resolution went to the City Council. This was, as I remember, done when Dr. Ghosh was out of the country.
Although proposals for this were developed, ultimately the contested issues were adjudicated at a court order dated April 8, 2004. Implicit with the issuance of that court order came the directives that any permit drawings were to follow the specifics of the order. In regards to the roof the order mandated complete removal of the third floor. With this directive, I worked in consultation with the Planning and Building Departments (Steve Ross, planner in charge) to respond to those requirements. At this time, the city wanted to work with myself and not directly with Dr. Ghosh. Conceptual approval from the Planning Department' was secured on May 5 th 2007. At that time, Dr. Ghosh agreed to proceed with required permitting, as required by the court order, and Dr. Ghosh made this his highest priority. 'Drawings were prepared and eventually a permit was secured in June 2008. With that permit approval, it was agreed that Dr. Ghosh would start the construction immediately, which is what, happened.
Work was started with some required demolition, revised framing and electrical work. Work Proceeded as money was available to the Owner and inspections were held as required. There was a good faith understanding between the city and Rash Ghosh that, as work proceeded in an orderly and continuous fashion, it would be allowed to be continued until completed. However, in late August City officials performed an inspection with multiple inspectors from multiple divisions and shut down the property. This prevented the continuation of work and the relationship between Rash Ghosh and the city seems to have deteriorated.
During the construction period, some framing revisions were required as a requirement of a framing inspection. After some time, these it6ms were submitted- as revisions to the permit and they were approved around the beginning of this year. The revisions were done by my office, along with Arun Shah, Engineer for the project. 'These revisions were at the end of December 2009.
A couple of things have been pointed out to me recently, which deserve some attention. One of these involves the upper roof. Although the abatement order requires the entire upper roof be removed, it appears that the eastern portion of the upper roof was not subject to rernoval. This concern was addressed in an email to City Attorney, Mr. Zach Cowan as early as May 4, 2007, just before the preliminary approval of the plans.
The second issue pointed out is the abatement order had apparently not correctly stated the actual property size, thus skewing the building coverage numbers in its favor. This property at one point in time had a section of an adjacent lot annexed to it, but this was not reflected in the city's analysis. There has been a confused history of approvals for work at this property and although I have worked diligently to follow local ordinances and permit requirements as well as to work in conjunction with building department and planning department staff, I feel the two points concerning the upper roof removal and the property size and coverage deserve re-examination, meanwhile I would think the buildings could be opened to allow continued construction with the current active permit.
It seems to me that if these issues could be clarified, and work continued, then this project could more easily move forward with a unified focus and consistency.

Respectfully submitted.


SD on file
Bill Coburn, Architect


WILLIAM P. COBURN, ARCHITECT,
1224 CENTER ST, OAKLAND CA 94607


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