Chancellor Carol Christ announces campus will build on all sites listed in housing task force report

Ariel Lung/Staff

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Chancellor Carol Christ said Thursday that UC Berkeley will build housing on all nine sites listed in the January 2017 Housing Master Plan Task Force report in order to add 7,500 beds within 10 years, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

The campus will pick one developer within the next month to oversee the development of all nine locations, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof; in the following month, the campus will issue a request for proposal seeking interested firms. Although she agreed that “there really isn’t an option to pick and choose” housing development sites, incoming ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay said she is concerned about the affordability of new campus housing.

“(The report) laid out in clear terms the specific number of new beds the campus needs to provide in order to meet the goals specified in the report and endorsed by the Chancellor. … The report also provides specific information about the capacity of each of the university-owned sites,” Mogulof said in an email. “When you add it all up it was evident then, as it is now, that each of the mentioned sites will need to be developed.”

Some locations listed in the housing task force’s report include the Oxford Tract, which has been protested by students due to the tract’s current research purposes, and People’s Park. Christ announced plans to build housing on People’s Park May 3, beginning construction in 2020.

Previously, Christ said in an exclusive town hall that the campus must “build on all the land we have” in order to impact the housing crisis.

The first addition to campus housing will be David Blackwell Hall, which is still under construction, and is set to open in fall 2018. It will house over 770 students, with priority given to first-year students.

Khalfay noted, however, that new housing must be priced near or lower than current campus housing in order to be accessible to all students.

“Current university housing isn’t inexpensive, but we definitely shouldn’t be building housing that is more expensive,” Khalfay said. “At this point, if the university is planning to build on every piece of available land then it becomes ‘Fantastic, how do we make sure that housing is accessible to all of our students?’ ”

She added that while the city council has been pushing more student housing items, creating more student housing is the campus’s responsibility foremost.

Certain development sites are more difficult to plan for than others — the Oxford Tract, for example, hosts research facilities that will have to be relocated, according to Mogulof. He added that not all of the sites will be developed at the same pace, but that all are projected to be completed by 2028.

The campus is looking for a single developer to work long-term on all nine of the sites, including People’s Park, due to it being a more “efficient and cost effective” strategy for a long and complicated effort, Mogulof said in an email.

Sakura Cannestra is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.