UC Berkeley’s contentious plan to construct student housing at the historic People’s Park has taken a significant turn for the better with Governor Gavin Newsom’s help.
- On Sept. 8, Gov. Newsom enacted Assemblymember Buffy Wicks’ AB 1307. This legislation dispenses with universities’ obligations to account for “noise impacts” in housing construction.
- Although this doesn’t give UC Berkeley a carte blanche to initiate its 1,100-bed student housing proposal at People’s Park, it challenges an appeals court verdict that sided with the park’s conservationists.
- Newsom consistently supported the housing project and entered the fray during the appeal proceedings. Pinning the resistance on “NIMBYism,” he pronounced, “California will not be held hostage by NIMBYism when it comes to crucial housing.”
- Meanwhile, those opposing the plan underline the park’s esteemed place on the National Register of Historic Places, its pivotal role in the civil rights era, and its prominence as a center for homeless aid.
- On Aug. 29, AB 1307 got the green light from the state legislature, with Newsom, its well-known backer, expected to finalize it shortly. However, its implications for UC Berkeley’s project will only crystallize once the Supreme Court deliberates.
- In a flashback to Aug. 11, UC Berkeley and “People are Pollution” NIMBYs advanced their arguments to the state Supreme Court. Concurrently, the legislature examined a new state bill that could reverse a previous win for the plaintiffs against the university.
What to watch: The state Supreme Court’s forthcoming move will be crucial, especially with the recent bill’s enactment. UC Berkeley remains optimistic that this legislation might speed up the lawsuit’s conclusion. On the other hand, critics, including Harvey Smith from the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group, maintain their stance against the project and the students.
Edit: Updated cover image as it was point out by a subscriber to be the wrong campus