‘Fatally flawed’: City officials, community condemn 2021 LRDP, EIR

Photo of UC Berkeley campus from overhead
Josh Kahen/File
Campus's long range development plan, or LDRP, has been condemned by the Berkeley community. The draft environmental impact report, which was released shortly after the LDRP draft, analyzes the impacts of future construction on campus-owned land. 

Related Posts

The city of Berkeley and its community members have denounced campus’s 2021 Long Range Development Plan, or LRDP, and its environmental report for its lack of consideration of impacts on the city.

The LRDP draft provides guidelines on how campus should improve transportation and infrastructure, use campus-owned land and address the housing shortage from now until the 2036-37 academic year. It also provides estimates on the student and faculty population growth for the next 15 years.

“An LRDP is analogous to a city’s general plan which is a zoning strategy for where development would take place if funded, and likewise, does not make development guarantees.” said campus spokesperson Kyle Gibson in an email.

The draft of the 2021 LRDP was released by campus in late February, with plans to have it fully approved during the July UC Board of Regents meeting. The draft environmental impact report, or EIR, was released shortly after the LRDP in March. The draft EIR is a 974-page document that analyzes the impacts of future construction on campus-owned land. 

Among other topics, it outlines the development of Housing Project #1, commonly known as Anchor House, as well as Housing Project #2, commonly known as People’s Park.

In response to the LRDP and draft EIR being released, Jordan Klein, director of planning and development for the city of Berkeley, sent a 75-page letter to Raphael Breines, campus senior planner of physical and environmental planning.

The letter noted how the “fatally flawed” draft EIR allegedly fails to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, as well as how it provides no accountability to complete its outlined housing projects.

“This is precisely the scenario that played out with the 2020 LRDP where the plan provided for construction of 2,600 beds, but less than half that number was constructed,” Klein said in the letter.

In response, Gibson noted that the 2020 LRDP was created in the early 2000s and that the Bay Area housing market was “unrecognizable” compared to what it is now. The recent housing crisis is a key motivation for why the LRDP was ultimately revised for 2021, according to Gibson.

Gibson emphasized that the 2021 LRDP does not mandate growth of the campus population. The campus population is expected to grow by 1% or less annually, according to Gibson.

Another major concern of the city is how the LRDP’s “Continuing Best Practices” for environmental mitigation “merely kicks the can down the road,” according to Klein.

“UC Berkeley expanded enrollment beyond the projected enrollment figures during the 2020 LRDP planning horizon,” Klein said in the letter. “The result has been a cycle of housing demand for the campus population that significantly outpaces supply. The proposed LRDP Update would continue this cycle and exacerbate an already untenable housing shortage.”

On April 19, the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group released a letter condemning the Anchor House project and campus’s plans to build on People’s Park.

According to Harvey Smith, a member of the advocacy group, the letter is designed to appeal to the public. The letter was sent to the media, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, the regents, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and other California legislators, and it has been signed by more than 100 individuals.

“This course with the Long Range Development Plan with these two particular housing projects … it’s a horrible way to treat the city,” Smith said, “I think university administration has become quite arrogant in its relationship to the city, as it’s pushing out beyond the bounds of the campus, more and more into the city of Berkeley.”

Contact Karen Vo at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @karenvo_DC.