Today, the Seattle Times editorial page weighed in on the controversy over the old Ballard Denny's/Manning's diner. Their bottom line: it's old, it's boarded up, it was a Denny's, therefore not worthy of saving. But they go even further and argue that "involuntary landmarking" amounts to a taking, and therefore a violation of property rights. This issue of property takings is an important one, but landmarking is constitutional, just like zoning laws and environmental rules. It's not theft. There's a formal process to examine whether or not a building is a landmark--it's part of the permitting process. In any case, contrary to suggestions by the Times, the property would not be seized by the government nor is anyone asking for public money to restore it. And consider: if we only saved buildings that property owners wanted to save voluntarily, we wouldn't have the Pike Place Market, whose major property owners wanted to raze it for a parking lot. This is the same Pike Place Market the Times spent endless amounts of ink celebrating during its 2007 centennial. No one is arguing the Ballard restaurant is equal to the market, but relying only on voluntary landmarking would be a recipe for loss of architectural heritage. The Times editorial is also fraught with other misunderstandings. I won't go into detail here, but contrary to the Times' assertions, the most passionate proponents of the diner are not anti-development. Many are architects who love (and design) modern buildings. Indeed, depending on the landmark board's findings, a significant, dense development could still occur on the site. In addition, no one is arguing to save Denny's--you cannot landmark a "use" anyway. They are arguing to save a building they believe is architecturally significant. The Times also dismisses the diner's connection with Manning's, the Seattle-based restaurant chain the built it, despite that company's origins as a local coffee company with origins (shared by Starbucks) at the Pike Place Market. It's fine to argue whether that matters or not, but it's rather amusing to hear the Times dismiss the history of a locally owned family company that played an interesting role in our foodie culture when Frank Blethen endlessly brays about the virtues of local family ownership of his newspaper, and continually asks the public to give him special consideration because of it. I will be a guest on David Goldstein's radio show on KIRO-AM (710) tonight (Jan. 6) at 9 p.m. talking about historic preservation. It's a call-in show. The number is 1-877-710-KIRO (5476). Also, the Ballard diner was the topic of discussion on the Jan. 4 Weekday. Check out the podcast of Friday's show (it's in the second half of the hour). Also, those interested in the diner can find more information at the DoCoMoMo WeWA website, which has just been updated to include the diner as an "endangered" example of Googie. The group is the local chapter of a national group devoted to celebrating the tradition of Northwest modernism.