Comments on Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for UC Berkeley's Long Range Development Plan (LRDP)

Carol Denney
Wednesday March 06, 2019 - 10:58:00 AM

I am a former student of the university who does not oppose the university building housing, but who opposes building housing on People's Park, a city landmark on the state's roster of landmarks now in its 50th anniversary year, an international symbol of user development, free speech, and opposition to war.

The University of California, my alma mater, stated at the outset of its plan to build additional housing that it had nine sites to choose from for housing projects, all of which left the main campus property undisturbed. The main effect this has is to force more and more of the town to service the university's housing needs, compounding a housing crisis courting the lead nationwide for high prices and per capita homelessness.

The university's own "Long Range Development Plan" shows it has currently between 8,000 and 10,000 more students enrolled than it agreed to enroll in legally binding agreements with the City of Berkeley and its impacted neighborhoods. Its "Housing Master Plan" states plainly that even its long-term goals only provide for "two years of university housing for entering freshmen," and "one year of university housing for entering transfers" and "one year of university housing for graduate students" making certain that students will shortly, in the middle of their studies, face the housing shortage head-on.

The nine sites cited as available neglected to include vast open spaces on the main campus, which it clearly does not want to disturb in favor of destroying local landmarks. It also neglected to include empty, run-down and what seems to be deliberately neglected housing on the Smyth Fernwald tract near the main campus which once accommodated 74 families, a location with still operative dining room facilities. 

Nor did the list of available sites include the convenient Clark-Kerr Campus now housing 900 students with additional senior housing in buildings which are low-rise, and many of which are single story. The Clark-Kerr Campus has many neglected, run-down buildings and vast open space which the university is currently using to build sand pit volleyball courts, of all things, over neighbor' objections and in violation of legal agreements with neighborhood groups. 

People's Park is still governed by agreements signed in 1978 and 1979 to maintain the land as "educational and recreational" space, agreements which include including neighborhood and park user groups which have been shut entirely out of this discussion. I am not alone in our community in being terrified of having to endure more conflict over People's Park which in the not so recent past cost millions of public dollars as well as disrupting and costing lives. Please consider the many locations currently available for additional housing, and respect People's Park's landmark status and international renown. 

(To add your own comment, write to: planning@berkeley.edu)