The destruction that occurred at People’s Park in August — after the campus attempted to begin construction on student housing — cost the university over $4 million worth of damage, as first reported by East Bay Times.
Part of this expense resulted from fencing the park, costing $624,000, police and security forces costing $2.73 million and delayed compensation costing $2.6 million, according to campus spokesperson Kyle Gibson. In all, UC Berkeley has incurred over $4 million in expenses.
“The $4 million should have been used for something good, not for putting up fences and cutting down all these trees,” said Maxina Ventura, a member of the People’s Park council.
Gibson explained that these are not the only costs that campus will be spending towards this project.
Additionally, Gibson noted that there will be future costs to worry about when campus restarts construction, due to delays and costs of services.
“Delay compensation due to the general contractor will increase for as long as the delay in construction continues,” Gibson said in an email. “In addition, due to inflation, costs of services and materials needed to complete the project will continue to rise, adding additional expense.”
Campus’s plan is to build student housing, in addition to 100 units for unhoused residents of People’s Park, on the lot. According to Harvey Smith, a member of the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group, UC Berkeley has a remarkably low rate of housing for students, among all nine UC campuses.
Smith mentioned that his organization favors that students should be provided more housing, but said a “historic site” should not be destroyed in the process of doing so. He added that alternative locations would be better than People’s Park.
“Normally, we probably would have hit one of the other 15 alternative sites that UC has available,” Smith said. “One is just a block and a half away at the Elmwood parking structure that will actually, according to UC plans, provide new more advanced student housing beds than People’s Park would.”
Smith said he believes that going through with this alternative would be best in order for students to have more availability for housing.
Additionally, Smith said this would help avoid the cutting of more trees.
“People’s Park is on the National Register of Historic Places,” Smith said. “This is beyond Berkeley, it’s beyond California. It’s a national historic site. And for that reason, there are many people throughout Berkeley, throughout California, throughout the country that support this preservation.”