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Press Release: Berkeley Neighbors sue UC Berkeley for adding students without required housing

Friday April 27, 2018 - 06:05:00 PM

Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods filed suit today against UC Berkeley (Cal) for increasing its student numbers by five-fold more than allowed in Cal’s 2020 Long Range Development Plan (2020 LRDP). The citizen organization charges the excess increase of more than 6,500 undergraduates has led to student homelessness and skyrocketing rents for student housing. 

The organization said the suit filed in Alameda County stems from Cal’s refusal to sit down with local residents to discuss the dramatic impacts of the enormous increase in students and develop plans to maintain the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the campus. 

“Cal Chancellor Carol Christ told me during an October 2017 meeting that she wouldn’t negotiate with the neighborhoods, despite Cal’s clear violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA),” said Phil Bokovoy, president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods. “Cal also refused to respond substantively to our attorney’s written request that it study the impacts of the increase, as required under CEQA. We’ve been left with no other option other than to file this lawsuit.” 

The suit asks the court to compel Cal to conduct an environmental study to assess the impacts of the increase in enrollment and how those impacts may be mitigated. These types of assessments are required by the state legislature. 

To date, major impacts of the extra students include displacement of many low-income renters, increased homelessness, additional burden on police, fire and emergency services, and growth in trash and noise throughout neighborhoods surrounding campus. The student crisis is documented in a YouTube video

In the 2020 LRDP, adopted in 2005, Cal committed to add 1,650 students and 2,500 beds for students. According to information provided by Cal in October 2017, the actual increase in enrollment is almost 8300 and the university has built fewer than 1,000 of those beds. It has also taken several hundred other beds off the private housing market through the use of master leases, greatly diminishing the supply of affordable housing for residents of Berkeley.  

In addition, Cal has reported that its regular faculty numbers have decreased slightly, significantly raising the student/faculty ratio. At the same time, staff numbers remain static despite the need to serve a larger student population. 

Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods is a non-profit organized to provide education and advocacy to improve the quality of life, protect the environment and implement best planning practices for Berkeley citizens.