Public Comment

Hey, Harry, Keep Walking! People's Park Matters

Carol Denney
Friday November 16, 2018 - 09:36:00 AM

My friend Harry Brill wrote an opinion piece arguing that the housing crisis justifies destroying People's Park, our only monument to the anti-war movement. He's wrong. And a short walk will prove it.

Keep walking, Harry. Just a few blocks from People's Park's 2.8 acres is Smyth-Fernwald, 10 solid acres of UC-owned available land on Dwight Way already zoned and currently used for housing in dire need of upgrades. Housing with nothing behind it to stop 10 stories of dorms and apartments with views to die for if that's what the neighborhood wants.

Then look across the street, Harry, at 130 acres of Clark-Kerr campus- again, already UC-owned and zoned for housing and currently housing both students and seniors- but with room for thousands more units with that same view to die for. High-rise housing there will block nobody's view but the squirrels.

Neither of these sites have the landmark status, the international renown, the powerful resonance, nor play the active roles in community sustenance and connection that People's Park has for fifty years. And if you build five to seven stories on 2.8 acres, well, maybe a few of you can dance together, but the gathering place that made the park famous will be subtracted entirely. Which is, and always was, UC's game. Refusing to acknowledge People's Park's cultural significance is the only tradition that needs to be left behind.

There's no excuse, given the excess of options for housing, to fall for Chancellor Christ's game of pitting the obvious and lucrative policy of building only high-end, development-driven housing which manufactured the housing crisis in the first place against our city landmark in this, its 50th year of celebration. Not to mention putting our beleaguered town through the inevitable street battles construction will generate which last time lasted years and cost lives only a decade or so ago. There's even more nearby UC owned sites available on UC's handy online map, if you'll just take a look.

Let's go for a walk, Harry. I'll show you and anyone else interested through a park full of stories, and songs, and history, and wonder. I'll walk you through a park that looks scruffy from the outside, but which has changed lives when given the chance to manifest collective community projects through use-development. I'll show you a living miracle.