Community members allege unlawful agreement between campus, city

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A petition was filed against UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley alleging that neither campus nor the city conducted public comment sessions regarding plans to develop parts of the city.

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Make UC a Good Neighbor, People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group and People’s Park Council filed a petition against UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley, alleging that both parties failed to hold a public comment session for negotiations about city development plans.

According to a campus press release, the city agreed last July to drop its lawsuit against campus over the Upper Hearst housing project, as well as to not challenge campus’s People’s Park and Anchor House developments. Campus also agreed to pay the city about $4 million a year for 16 years, the press release added.

Make UC a Good Neighbor, People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group and People’s Park Council amended their initial petition on Jan. 20, according to a press release from People’s Park Council.

David Axelrod, attorney for the petitioners, noted that “timely service” of the amended petition is “underway.”

The petition alleges the campus and city agreement violates the Brown Act and Measure N for failing to provide a session for members of the public to comment on the agreement before approval, as well as Measure L for “collaborating in the destruction of People’s Park,” the press release said.

“Public agencies, such as those in the City of Berkeley’s administration, are not required by the Brown Act to hold live hearings to solicit public comment about whether or not they should settle cases that are being litigated in a court,” campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in an email.

Mogulof added that campus was “transparent” and gave “a great deal of information” to the public about the agreement.

Additionally, Mogulof said campus has not yet been served with the lawsuit.

“(Campus is) trying to confuse people who don’t understand that service is a technicality that sometimes is not required, and was not required by the judge,” People’s Park Council member Maxina Ventura alleged in an email. “But their having been named in the lawsuit as a party is long done, just as the judge requested.”

Ventura further alleged campus has a history of “huge deception,” noting the time campus enrolled roughly 10,000 more students than stated in their 2005 Long Range Development Plan, or LRDP, as well as campus’s use of “vague, vague” language in the 2021 LRDP.

The mayor declined to comment due to this being pending litigation.

“Democracy has been ravaged to make way for UCB’s relentless expansion,” People’s Park Council member Joe Liesner alleged in an email. “UC is not a good neighbor and shows an intent to swallow up the Southside and… we can’t (curtail) their appetite.”

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