Public Comment

People’s Park is Berkeley’s most famous landmark and provides irreplaceable open space

Harvey Smith, People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group
Friday March 13, 2020 - 03:45:00 PM

Berkeley is one of the most densely populated cities in California and open space is needed, particularly in the extremely crowded south campus area.

Historians, preservationists, students, neighbors and concerned citizens have come together to form the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group to document and preserve the open space of People’s Park and the historic resources encircling it.

Although there is no denying that truly affordable housing is needed, People’s Park is Berkeley’s most famous landmark and is valuable, irreplaceable public open space for the densely populated south campus area. We oppose construction on People’s Park. Our group, which formed in the summer of 2019, is moved to action by the following issues: 

· People’s Park, a designated City of Berkeley Landmark, is the centerpiece of 11 surrounding landmarked properties, each recognized for local, state, and/or national significance. 

· These landmarks, collectively, reflect the historic beginnings and development of both the University of California and the City of Berkeley. 

· Berkeley is one of the most densely populated cities in California and has a need for open space, particularly in the extremely crowded south campus area. The lack of park acreage in Berkeley has been noted for well over a 100 years. 

· People’s Park, created by the free speech and community activism of the 1960’s, today opens up a clear vista upon the 11 iconic properties, ranging from the pioneer John Woolley House (1876) to one of the great monuments of American architecture, the First Church of Christ, Scientist. 

· The open urban space and the surrounding historic properties have all, together, suffered from disruption, turmoil and instability but share together the potential for transformation as an irreplaceable asset and community resource. 

· Now is the time to call upon the university and the city, together, to acknowledge and to enter into dialogue to preserve and improve People's Park as the heart and soul of a historic district that will provide much needed open space in the Southside, as well as celebrate a shared place of local, state and national distinction. 

We call on the chancellor to join us in celebrating the significant historic and cultural landmarks woven into this unique neighborhood and invite everyone to work together with us to support the People’s Park Historic District as a creative, grassroots, community-based, user-developed initiative. Other sites are available for housing; we oppose construction on the open space of People’s Park. 

To add your support or ask questions, contact us at 





Miguel A. Altieri, Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley 


David Axelrod, attorney 

Reverend Allan Bell, The Silence Project, London 

Howard Besser, professor, New York University 

Paul Kealoha Blake, co-founder East Bay Media Center 

Jim Chanin, civil rights attorney 

Tom Dalzell, author, union lawyer 

Michael Delacour, People’s Park co-founder 

Carol Denney, writer, musician 

Lesley Emmington, Berkeley resident 

Clifford Fred, former Berkeley Planning Commissioner 

Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, the City of Berkeley's first poet laureate 

Jack Hirschman, former Poet Laureate of San Francisco 

Bonnie Hughes, former Berkeley Arts Commissioner 

Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Emerita 

Meghan Kanady, UC Berkeley Landscape Architecture graduate student 

Jack Kurzweil, community activist 

Joe Liesner, activist 

Seth Lunine, educator, researcher 

Tom Miller, attorney and President, Green Cities Fund 

Doug Minkler, printmaker 

Osha Neumann, lawyer 

Carrie Olson, former member of the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission 

Becky O'Malley, editor, Berkeley Daily Planet, former member, Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission 

Revolutionary Poets Brigade 

Marty Schiffenbauer, former Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner 

Bob Schildgen, writer 

Dan Siegel, civil rights attorney, ASUC president (1969-70) 

Harvey Smith, public historian, educator 

Margot Smith, retired social scientist, activist 

Elizabeth Starr, environmental advocate 

Zach Stewart, landscape architect for Berkeley Shorebird Park and Willard Park 

Lisa Teague, People’s Park Committee member 

Daniella Thompson, architectural historian 

Mel Vapour, co-founder East Bay Media Center 

Max Ventura, singer, activist 

Steve Wasserman, publisher and executive director, Heyday 

Anne Weills, civil rights attorney 

Charles Wollenberg, California historian, writer