Berkeley neighborhood groups oppose construction of beach volleyball courts at Clark Kerr Campus

Leonie Leonida/Staff

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Three Berkeley neighborhood associations have opposed UC Berkeley’s new construction plan for beach volleyball courts that will replace the softball field at Clark Kerr Campus.

The associations claim the courts will disrupt the community and violate legal land agreements, according to Dean Metzger, president of the Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association. Metzger said the Claremont-Elmwood, Dwight-Hillside and Panoramic Hill neighborhood associations, all of which surround the Clark Kerr Campus, are “worried” that the university is not upholding a land agreement.

“If the neighborhood does not want the courts, then I won’t be supporting the construction,” Metzger said. “The main issues are traffic, parking, noise and later hours during the day. I don’t know whether this will turn into a legal issue or not, and we are hoping not.”

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said everything the campus is doing in its plan for the volleyball courts abides by the “spirit of law.”

The neighborhood associations have argued that the construction of the courts violates the land agreement because no facilities used for major spectator events can be built on the Clark Kerr Campus land, according to Berkeleyside.

However, Mogulof said the legal documents do not define the term “major,” but it “should be obvious” what a major event is. Volleyball games are already being played at Clark Kerr, he said, and they only attract crowds of about 50 people — a sharp contrast compared to the 40,000 people who show up to football games.

“This will not add any noise from the Clark Kerr campus, which is also home to hundreds of students who participate in recreational and cultural events held in the same area. A beach volleyball game that hosts 50 people really won’t add to the noise,” Mogulof said. “At every step of the way, we are being scrupulous in our adherence to the covenant and memorandum of understanding.”

The new volleyball courts are part of a plan to build more female sports facilities so women have the same athletic opportunities as men, in compliance with Title IX provisions, according to a letter from Chancellor Carol Christ.

Mogulof said the plans are still in the very early conceptual stages, and the campus is still engaged with the community about its plans.

UC Berkeley sophomore and club volleyball player Yasmin Koo said in a text message that she is excited for the new beach volleyball courts because they will make volleyball more accessible.

“Last year, my club teammates and I would always play pickup games at the (Clark Kerr Campus) courts on the weekends, and I know a lot of other students enjoyed having an alternative form of exercise available besides just going to the gym,”  Koo said in a text message. 

Contact Stanley von Ehrenstein-Smith [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @von_ehrenstein.