People’s Park—Symbol of Berkeley’s Storied Past—Temporarily Cleared and Fenced Off for Development

A few days after a judge’s ruling cleared three pending lawsuits blocking the development of People’s Park, the unhoused people living in the park were cleared and fence surrounds the site. Protestors took back the park within a day.

2 minute read

August 4, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Tents fpor people experiencing homelessness are surrounded by signs that impart messages of resistance to change.

Ameer Mussard-Afcari / Shutterstock

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch recently cleared the way for a planned development at People’s Park in Berkeley.  

After hearing arguments from the defense and plaintiffs in the case of Make UC A Good Neighbor et al. v. Regents of the University of California last week, Roesch decided that the plaintiffs “had brought forward ‘nothing new,’ and UC Berkeley has not violated CEQA in its plans for new development,” according to an article by Supriya Yelimeli for Berkeleyside.  

The proposed project would build two 12- and six-story dorm buildings to house for 1,100 university students and 125 unhoused people, according to a separate, paywalled, article by Katie Lauer for the Mercury News. People’s Park was founded in 1969 as a recreational space and location for protest at the height of the campus free speech movement during the Vietnam War—and has been the subject of repeated development attempts by the University of California in the decades since.

While the case was one of three to challenge the project, “Roesch said his tentative ruling will apply to all three lawsuits filed last summer,” according to Yelimeli.

Planetizen shared news in March 2022 that the city has brokered a historic deal to provide housing and services to the unhoused people living at the park and at risk of displacement from the development.

As reported in the article by Lauer, uniformed University of California Police Department officers in riot gear cleared the park in the early morning of August 3 and surrounded the park in fences. “Within an hour after midnight, each of the four streets bounding the 2.8-acre park were barricaded and cleared of any cars, in an attempt to keep people away from the area as dozens of construction workers and private security guards closed down the park,” reports Lauer.

By the evening, however, the university had halted work ad withdrawn police and construction workers from the site, according to an article updating the story by Jessica Garrison and Stuart Leavenworth for the Los Angeles Times. "

It was unclear what would happen next or when. University officials, who rushed to begin work just hours after a judge issued a ruling allowing it, said they would “assess the situation in order to determine how best to proceed” with construction of a project that would provide housing for students and homeless people," according to the artice.

Friday, July 29, 2022 in Berkeleyside

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