UC Berkeley proposes defunding 4 projects, allocating money to replace Evans Hall in absence of Prop. 13 funding

Evans Hall and the courtyard between it and Stanley Hall.
Michaela Swensen/File

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The UC Board of Regents will vote Tuesday on whether to take funding from four UC Berkeley projects and allocate it toward the replacement of Evans Hall, after voters rejected Proposition 13 in March and stopped the UC system from receiving additional funding.

Prop. 13 was a general obligation bond that appeared on ballots in the primary election. While residents in Alameda County passed the measure with a large margin, the proposition failed in the state vote 47% to 53%. If the proposition passed, the UC system would have received $2 billion from the state, which would have made the measure the first general obligation bond to provide funding to the UC system since 2006, according to the UC Office of the President.

“UC’s capital needs have grown significantly since 2006,” said UC Berkeley spokesperson Kyle Gibson in an email. “University administrators have identified more than $11.8 billion in unfunded capital needs across the 10-campus system, partly due to the fact that more than half of all UC space is more than 30 years old.”

According to Gibson, many UC campuses revised their requests for capital funding to prioritize only their highest needs.

For UC Berkeley, this means requesting to remove funds from a proposal to seismically retrofit Durant Hall, Stephens Hall and Wellman Hall and a different proposal to update University Hall, and to allocate the money solely toward Evans Hall, UC Berkeley’s “highest seismic priority,” Gibson said.

“While these four projects are important, the buildings are not as populated and their programs are not as student-facing as those in Evans Hall,” Gibson said in the email. “These four projects would resume when funding becomes available.”

Last year, Evans Hall, along with five other buildings, was determined to pose a “severe” risk to life in the event of an earthquake. According to the regents’ meeting agenda, Evans Hall represents more than 45% of the campus space deemed a “severe” risk, and defunding the other four projects would result in $118.55 million of additional funding for the completion of Evans Hall.

According to a list of Prop. 13 UC proposals, the campus hopes to replace Evans Hall with a building including modern classrooms, lecture halls and computer labs after demolishing the existing building, which was determined to be the most cost-effective measure.

Gibson added that if the regents approve the proposal, the campus will commence developing a timeline, design and program for the construction.

Kate Finman is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.