Flash: UC Berkeley Bulldozes People's Park to Make It More "Sanitary".

By Carol Denney and Planet
Wednesday December 28, 2011 - 03:37:00 PM
A bulldozer removes trees and shrubs in Berkeley's People's Park.
Carol Denney
A bulldozer removes trees and shrubs in Berkeley's People's Park.

Bulldozers ploughed through the west end of People’s Park today turning decades of community garden into rubble. Dozens of police watched as crews tossed mountains of healthy plants and a community-built arbor into dumpsters, leaving behind stripped earth. 

A young student who claimed to be volunteering as a police assistant handed out university fliers which stated, “In response to park users and neighbor concerns, we are doing maintenance work to address the rat infestation and safety issues in People’s Park.” 

A UC press release described the activity as "an effort to provide students and the broader community with safer, more sanitary conditions." 

KTVU Channel Two News reported that the trees in the west end were being removed to improve the views for the university students who will someday inhabit the unfinished dormitory building currently being built in the Anna Head parking lot. 

Park historians note that the bulldozers destroyed decades-old trees and shrubs planted by community volunteers in the seventies in response to the university’s effort to transform the west end into an asphalt university fee lot. The asphalt parking lot, installed without community input, lasted only a few weeks before community volunteers tore it out and replaced it with a garden. 

Those who have gardened for years in the park called the university’s move an obscenity. None of the People's Park Community Advisory Board members were informed about the project, a board which was convened years ago specifically to make certain the community was kept informed about park issues. 

Arthur Fonseca commented that the bulldozing was “worse than the volleyball courts”, another ill-fated project the university tried to build in 1991, because the west end represented decades of dedicated community work on various gardens, fruit trees, pergolas, grape arbors, and benches. 

The university’s destruction in the west end included the Council Grove, a small circle of trees which were the setting for many of the early People's Park council meetings, which traditionally could only take place in the park itself.