Feb. 2020-Some History for Beginners


Berkeleyside Newsletter


Feb. 2020: KPFA’s building in Berkeley set to be auctioned off for non-payment of taxes

The progressive radio station has not paid property taxes since December 2013 and owes $486,751. The Pacifica Foundation, which owns the station, is not revealing whether it has a rescue plan.

KPFA’s iconic building on Martin Luther King Jr. Way is set to be auctioned off March 20 because of the non-payment of taxes.

The progressive radio station has not paid property taxes on 1929 MLK Jr. Way since December 2013, and currently owes $486,751 to Alameda County. The Tax Assessor’s office has a contract with Bid4assets to sell off delinquent properties. The public auction will start at 8:30 a.m. March 20 and continue until March 23 at 3:30 p.m. The minimum bid is $486,853.

The station has until March 19 to pay the debt to stop the auction.

“We’re all freaking out about it,” said Christina Huggins, the chair of the KPFA local station board. “We’re all worried about it. It’s alarming.”

KPFA HQ in Berkeley. Photo: Siciliana Trevino
KPFA is currently located at 1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

The management of the Pacifica Foundation, the parent organization of KPFA, and four other radio stations around the country, did not respond to a request for comment. Huggins and other KPFA officials have been told to step back and not get involved with the tax bill, said Huggins.

She and others believe that the Pacifica Foundation has hired a Southern California law firm, Alpert Barr & Grant, to negotiate a settlement with the Alameda County Tax Collector. Berkeleyside’s call to Alpert Barr & Grant was not returned. Lydia Brazon, Pacifica’s new interim executive director, did not return Berkeleyside’s emails.

The enormous property tax bill is only the latest crisis for the progressive radio network that started in 1949. For many years there has been infighting among various factions at the Pacifica Foundation and inside KPFA, as well as between the foundation and radio station. There have been revolving executive directors and interim EDs at Pacifica Foundation — 19 since 2003 — and a changing cast of board members at KPFA. The internal politics are complex . . .”

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