Work crews completed a tree cutting, mulching and thinning project at the university-owned People’s Park over spring break.
Out of the 155 trees in the park, 17 were cut down and 10 had their branches thinned, according to Christine Shaff, director of communications for the campus real estate division. A park assessment commissioned for the campus found that as many as 77 trees in the park were “hazardous, and should be removed,” Shaff said. The assessment ranked the trees on a six-point scale, with zero being dead and five being the most healthy.
According to Shaff, some individuals refused to move from their area in the park Friday, forcing workers to not cut down one tree that was deemed hazardous. UCPD officers talked to the individuals, who later left. The tree was left standing.
UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode denied that there were any “real protests” or incidents, and said that some individuals made comments to workers but then left the area. He named the individuals involved as Nathan Pitts, Mark Hawthorne and Erik Eisenberg. Hawthorne could not be found for comment.
“Everybody else was rousted, but Hate Man refused to leave,” said Berkeley resident Mark Browning, using Hawthorne’s street name. Other bystanders in People’s Park also affirmed that Hawthorne refused to leave his area in the park.
Shaff said there were no immediate plans to cut down the remaining hazardous trees in the park. She said that the work occurred from March 25-27 and that other than the one incident involving Hawthorne, the maintenance “went very well.” Mulching occurred Wednesday, followed by some tree cutting and thinning Thursday, and workers finished up Friday.
A press release on the campus real estate website stated the maintenance was scheduled for spring break because it would be less disruptive to the campus and nearby residents, though the park is located three blocks south of the main campus.
“I did not hear anything,” said Yuri Hobart, a program assistant at UC Berkeley’s Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, which is located across from the park. “For better or for worse, it was very quiet on our end.”
Other maintenance and development projects were scheduled for spring break, Shaff said in an email, including concrete demolition as part of the Lower Sproul redevelopment project.