Judge rules in favor of UC Berkeley housing

UC Berkeley’s proposal to develop housing in People’s Park got another shot on Friday – more than half a century after a similar plan sparked a violent clash that established People’s Park as a center of social discontent.

An Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a provisional ruling Friday evening that the university’s plan to build a $312 million housing project in People’s Park does not violate the California Environmental Quality Act.

Judge Frank Roche effectively gave UC Berkeley the fine to begin building on-site housing for 1,100 university students and 125 homeless residents within two 12- and six-story dormitory buildings — coming full circle since 1969, When there was a desire to build housing on the initial wish of the university. The 2.8-acre site ended in thousands of protesters, a state of emergency and one death.

Russell Bates, a 75-year-old Vietnam vet who has found community in People’s Park since the 1970s, and Stark Mike, 73, who currently stays at the park at night, do whatever they can to help, are ready to do. Keep the space open and empty.

“We are ready for battle,” Bates said in an interview at Parks. “That’s what it’s going to take this time. They know we’re serious about defending it.”

On Friday, lawyers for three separate cases sought to halt the development — filed jointly last year by the local 3299 union for UC service workers and community groups, calling UC a call for a better plan. Make Good Neighbors and Berkeley Citizens – all presented their arguments in court.

The groups argued that environmental impact reports within UC long range development plan, which, in part, explain how the institute plans to accommodate its ever-increasing student population over the next 15 years, were insufficient. They did not take into account how student enrollment growth would negatively affect the surrounding community, from increasing greenhouse gases to closing already dangerous wildfire evacuation routes.

Additionally, his lawyers claimed that UC officials failed to consider more than a dozen other locations for housing instead of the historic park, which was Added to the National Register of Historic Places in June.

But construction cannot begin until Judge Roche submits a written order, early next week, due to a stay issued by an appellate court earlier this month that aims to prevent any physical changes to the park. The decision was not given.

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