Berkeley neighborhood groups sue UC Regents over beach volleyball court construction at Clark Kerr Campus

A broken chain link fence gives view to an empty baseball diamond.
Leonie Leonida/File

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Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, a nonprofit education and advocacy group, along with three Berkeley neighborhood associations filed a lawsuit against the UC Regents over planned construction of four beach volleyball courts at the Clark Kerr Campus, or CKC.

Claremont-Elmwood, Dwight Hillside and Panoramic Hill neighborhood associations are all petitioners in the lawsuit. Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association president Dean Metzger said that the project violates a 1982 covenant agreement. He said the courts’ construction would violate a provision within the agreement that forbids “facilities for major spectator events” at CKC.

In a September interview with The Daily Californian, Metzger said that neighborhoods are concerned the courts would bring traffic, parking and noise issues. In order to account for these potential consequences, Metzger said he would like the campus to complete an impact study before moving forward with construction, as the new courts are likely to affect about 700 people living near CKC.

“We are not against the construction at all,” Metzger said. “The issue here is the impact that it’s going to have on the neighborhoods. Without a study we are at the mercy of whatever the university wants to do.”

The construction of new volleyball courts is necessary for the campus to remain in compliance with 1972 education amendments to Title IX laws, which require the equal upkeep of men’s and women’s sports facilities. Chancellor Carol Christ said in a statement last year that the planned courts’ construction is part of an effort to provide women’s teams with amenities “that are similar to what their male counterparts at Cal already enjoy,” while also meeting legal obligations.

Currently UC Berkeley’s beach volleyball team uses the two existing courts at CKC. The campus plans to construct four courts at a new location at CKC near Sports Lane and Dwight Way, equipped with seating, restrooms and a scoreboard. The project, in conjunction with new softball field construction, is estimated to cost $30 million. Campus freshman and Clark Kerr resident, Nikhil Lohe, thought that the new courts would be “a gross misuse of the university’s funds.”

While Christ anticipated “concern and dismay” in response to the price tag of the facility improvements, the decision stems from a history of “insufficient investment” in facilities that support some of the women’s sport programs, according to her statement last year.

“This issue is first and foremost about our values, specifically the value the University places on gender equity,” Christ said in the statement.

Representatives from the campus and its surrounding neighborhoods have met multiple times to try to address this issue, according to Metzger and campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, who added in an emailed statement that the campus “regrets” that the neighborhood groups have decided to move forward with this “unnecessary litigation,” as the planned facilities will not lead to additional neighborhood impacts.

Mogulof added in the statement that the campus is prepared to “vigorously and successfully” defend its position in court but is still open to working with neighborhood groups.

“The campus remains ready and more than willing to listen to, and work with our neighbors to address any actual issues or realistic concerns they may raise,” said Mogulof.

Contact Rachel Barber and Leon Chen at [email protected].