It’s time to build on People’s Park

Willow Yang/File

Let’s call People’s Park what it is — a dangerous, crime-ridden lot that offers no real benefit to students or the greater Berkeley community, beyond the select group of homeless individuals who live within its boundaries.

The idea, per the Editorial Board, that People’s Park is a “historical safe haven” and “bastion against campus-initiated gentrification” is a romanticized and oversimplified view of what the park actually is today — a haven for drug use and crime, in which more than 10,000 incidents have been reported in the past five years, that sits at the heart of UC Berkeley’s existing student housing complexes.

In weighing the campus’s need for more housing and the park’s use as a makeshift open-air shelter for the homeless, the Editorial Board asks: “How can these two truths be reconciled?”

The answer is simple, but the Editorial Board completely misses the mark. The university owns a valuable piece of land situated close to the campus. It is located in a very densely populated area and, in its current form, is a danger to both student and local populations. Even in the absence of a student housing crisis, it would make sense for the University to develop this land.

If someone had been squatting on your land for 50 years, and suddenly that land was of use to you, common sense dictates that it would be unreasonable to cede that land to the squatters. The Editorial Board, apparently, would disagree.

It is long past time to build student housing on People’s Park.

Jordan Aronson is a junior at UC Berkeley.