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People’s Park: it’s time for change

Sam Davis, professor emeritus, architecture | September 29, 2015

In my over 50 years at the University of California, Berkeley, as a student, professor, department chair, dean, and architect, I have witnessed many wonderful milestones. Be it intellectual, scientific, social, or architectural, the campus has shown leadership, creativity, innovation, and initiative making me proud and grateful to be a part of it. There is, however, one glaring exception, and that is People’s Park. The park has been a problem for over 40 years, and the University has been unwilling to address it.

I was present at the inception of People’s Park in the spring of 1969. For many years I have also tried through architectural consultation, service on the People’s Park Community Advisory Board, and several other park-related committees, to motivate the campus to come to terms with the many problems caused by its neglect. Nothing has happened.

I realize that people who read blogs are used to pieces that are short, pithy, and to the point. I therefore apologize that what follows is not that. I feel that the 46-year history of, and the various attempts to change, People’s Park need an airing in order to give context and rationale to what I propose.  I have divided my comments into four sections: history of People’s Park, the current situation, previous park proposals, and what I believe should happen now.

My proposal assumes that the University will continue to own this land, and therefore must take responsibility for the homeless who now frequent People’s Park. UC cannot act alone, as the City of Berkeley is complicit by not meeting its responsibility to the city’s most vulnerable citizens. I come to this determination based on my 20 years of writing about, and designing facilities for, the homeless.

What follows in the four sections are answers to questions I hear frequently when people know of my association with UC, and my history of efforts relative to People’s Park.

PART  1 – HISTORY

When did it all begin?

In the mid-1950s the University announced its intention to develop a 2.8-acre parcel of land a few blocks south of the University of California campus.  Among the stated needs was additional student housing. As a public agency, it acquired the land for $1.3 million through the eminent-domain process, and eventually removed several houses. Among them was the home of one of my professors, the living room of which served as his architectural office. The funds for development never materialized, and university’s plans had several iterations and false starts. By default the land became an unpaved, and often muddy, parking lot.

How did it become a park?

In the spring of 1969 the University began to plan recreational fields on this site, a low-density use requiring far less funding than housing. The original idea for an alternative park began when a group of young activist who lived nearby held an evening meeting in their apartment and began devising an idealized vision.  One participant wrote a story for the Berkeley Barb, a new alternative newspaper, seeking volunteers to bring materials to the site. Over the next few days, a few hundred park-building volunteers grew exponentially. Some local activist, among them principals of the 1964 Free Speech Movement five years earlier, envisioned this grassroots effort as creating a place of free speech and community gathering. There was no formal planning or design, but they believed this organic development was superior to the plans of UC.

Police action on May 15, 1969

Police action on May 15, 1969

Negotiations ensued between Berkeley campus administrators and the park builders, but before their conclusion, Gov. Ronald Reagan, in an attempt to solidify his conservative political reputation, intervened by sending police to remove landscaping that had already been planted by park proponents, and to fence the park.  After a noon rally at Sproul Plaza, students and community members, at the urging of the ASUC president to take back the park, marched to the site and a riot erupted. Student James Rictor was shot and killed by police, who reported that he was throwing reinforcing bars at them from a rooftop. Alan Blanchard was blinded by police buckshot.

On May 301969, a peaceful demonstration of 30,000 people marched through Berkeley, not just to support the park, but also to protest the intervention by, and action of, police, most notably the Alameda County Sheriff’s officers. I was among them. Ultimately, the University capitulated on the use of the land, and People’s Park was born.

csp_peoples-park

Building People’s Park

The late 1960s was the height of the counter-culture movement, and a time of great mistrust of institutions. The park was a symbol of community autonomy and self-determination that many feel must be preserved as a touchstone of the historic societal changes of the times, and as a memorial to victims of the police action in 1969. I feel the park no longer reflects the intensions of the original park activists and volunteers.

Why hasn’t the park been improved?

Over 46 years, whenever the University has attempted not just to change the use of the land, but also to alter the park, protests followed. The prominent physical features of the park, such as the stand of trees on the east, were a result of random placement during the initial flurry of activity. In 1979 the campus paved the western portion for a student fee parking lot. It lasted one day. Park activists, among them Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport, tore up the asphalt and formed it into mounds that are now grass-covered berms. Attempts at altering any of these features are seen as a desecration by park advocates.

During Chancellor Tien’s tenure in the 1990s, two volleyball courts were proposed. One of the protestors, Rosebud Abigail Denovo, who earlier had been arrested for vandalism and for carrying a concealed weapon while protesting in the park, broke into University House, the chancellor’s residence, with a machete. She was killed by police. Subsequent chancellors were understandably reluctant to deal with People’s Park. The current chancellor has erected a fence around University House to protect against protestors.

The year-long tree-sitting protest over the rebuilding of Memorial Stadium further dissuades Chancellors from initiating change on this politically charged land.

PART 2 – THE PARK TODAY

 Why do homeless frequent the park?

A place of repose, a supply of food, and access to a bathroom (the only roofed structure in the park), have enabled homeless to stay in the People’s Park throughout the day.

Food Not Bombs is an international organization that began in 1980 as an anti-nuclear group advocating nonviolent social change. Each chapter is autonomous and decides how to further the group’s mission. The local chapter has determined that its sole activity is to provide food to the homeless in People’s Park, and each day its volunteers drive a truck into the park to make a delivery.

Beginning in the late 1950s, with the idea that the mentally ill should be cared for within their own communities, California began de-funding mental institutions. While seemingly a sound premise, the concomitant local funding never materialized. Homeless advocates and experts estimate that as many as 30% of nation’s homeless are mentally ill, and another 30% have drug or alcohol addiction.  Many people who cannot fare independently become homeless. According to City of Berkeley social-service officials, many homeless in the park are in need of social services.

In my more than 20 years designing facilities for the homeless — including drop-in centers, supportive housing, shelters, and clinics — never have I seen the sponsors of these facilities separate basic housing or food needs from social services.

Why is this a problem?

Many will say it is not. If people want to live this lifestyle, let them. I, however, feel that the campus has not just abdicated its responsibilities to the most vulnerable in our community, but has exacerbated the problem.

The City of Berkeley is also complicit. The city has social-service outreach personnel who work in the park, but the numbers are inadequate. The city’s closest men’s shelter, with 48 beds, is in the basement of the downtown Veteran’s building. This location is seen as temporary, and has been for 20 years. The building is not seismically safe. Having designed several shelters, I know that even were this facility safe, new, and larger, it would not be the ultimate solution. Many homeless, particularly those with mental health or addiction problems, are shelter resistant. There is a dearth of housing to address the problem of homelessness throughout the Bay Area. Berkeley is no exception.

The campus manages the park with a full-time staff member, whose noble effort as the park “mayor” maintains a degree of social order. While many will praise Food Not Bombs for its humane efforts, and the campus for monitoring the park daily and for allowing food delivery trucks onto its property, nothing is done to address the underlying problems causing homelessness. We are treating the symptoms but not the disease.

Within the last 20 years the easy availability of drugs has also impacted People’s Park. During one of my two years on the People’s Park Community Advisory Committee, 800 needles were found in the park. A recent analysis of crime in and around campus indicated that the People’s Park area has the most crime, regardless of the time of day. Drug dealing is a frequent occurrence, and most recently there have been sexual assaults in and around the park. Incoming students are told during orientation to be wary of the park.

Because homeless stay in the park throughout the day, and food is brought to them, the campus has to mitigate the recurrent issue of food waste resulting in a rat infestation.

PART 3 – PROPOSALS FOR PEOPLE’S PARK

Besides a park, what might the campus do with the land?

It is not within the core mission of the University to operate a public park. Because the property is large, primarily vacant, relatively flat, within a high-density neighborhood, and highly visible, it is no surprise that there have been several proposals for other campus uses over these many years. Among these uses is recreational sports.

Why Recreational Sports?

The recreational facility standard for a campus of Berkeley’s size is 10 square feet/student. The Recreational Sports Facility (RSF), built in 1983, is only 3.5 square feet/student. In the intervening years, recreational pursuits have changed, primarily because far more women now use the facility. The ASUC leadership proposed a new sports center that would focus on overall wellness, and have programs coordinated with the student health facility, the Tang Center.

In 2011 I was retained by the campus and the Department of Recreational Sports to study People’s Park, among other locations, for an additional Department of Recreational Sports building. People’s Park is a sufficient size to house a facility. It is relatively flat, making construction and access feasible. A new facility would be intended to attract those in the community, and not just students and campus personnel. People’s Park is surrounded by non-campus housing, is along bus routes, and is easily accessible to pedestrians. Such a facility, — incorporating indoor swimming, nutrition courses, and stress reduction management classes — would be a magnet for community/university coalescence. It would also likely help the merchants on Telegraph Avenue by bringing more people to the area who might frequent the shops.

What happened to this idea?

Recreational Sports is funded through student fees. Students must vote on a referendum to tax themselves and students many years into the future. While it is possible to have a successful referendum, the resulting modest tax would allow a facility less than half of what is needed or wanted. Without other sources of funding, such as Chancellor’s discretionary fund used to help build the new lower Sproul facility (which also needed a student referendum) such a project could not proceed.

Another issue working against building a wellness center on People’s Park is that a suitable alternative exists. The venerable, historic Hearst Memorial Gymnasium was built just for that purpose, albeit for women. It is in dire need of renovation, seismic reinforcement, and infrastructure replacement, but it is sufficiently large, well located, and beautiful.

The original motivation for acquiring the land was for housing. Isn’t there still a need?

One of the constraints to the recruitment of faculty is the high cost of housing in Bay Area, and particularly in the neighborhoods immediate to the campus. There is also a need for housing of postdoctoral students. Undergraduate student enrollment has increased and even with the addition of new dormitories more beds are needed. The Department of Housing and Dining did commission a study within the last few years to determine the number of students that could be housed on the site.

People’s Park is perfect for housing of any type, including affordable housing and supportive housing for those at-risk. Providing land at low cost to community-based developers would go a long way towards the campus accepting its role in solving the homeless situation it helped create in the park.

Why not housing?

As appealing and compelling as these proposals might be, they are unlikely to occur. All require substantial funding that is not readily available. Housing and Recreational Sports are among those campus components that must be primarily self-supporting (intercollegiate athletics and parking are others). While each such use may be underwritten by campus funds, this is supposedly the exception and not the rule. If either housing or a Recreational Sports facility were to be built on People’s Park, it would have to be through a third-party agreement. For example, a sports facility could be created by a commercial entity like LA Sports, which would then sell memberships to students and community members. Similarly, housing could be produced by a developer. In either case the campus would allow use of the land in return for favorable, presumably below-market, cost to students and faculty.

Student leaders, however, are reluctant to propose a facility on the park, fearing the controversy that would ensue. Given the political exigencies, housing developers will also be reluctant.

If the campus mission does not include operating a public park, and these other uses are unlikely, why not just sell the land?

The University could sell or donate the land to a conservancy that would then be stewards of the park managing it as a public amenity. It could also transfer the land to the City of Berkeley, which would then operate the park under the city’s Parks and Recreation department.

The Regents of UC, the actual owners of the land, continue to view the property as a valuable asset for campus use, and therefore transferring ownership is unlikely. Not being part of the south campus community directly impacted by the park, and not being sensitive to its nearly five-decade tumultuous history, it would be difficult for a regent to appreciate the complexities involved in developing this land.

There was attempt many years ago to transfer the land to the City of Berkeley for one dollar. The University determined that it could not dispose of land acquired with public money for anything less than market value, even though this was another public entity. I am unsure how it made this determination, as the campus did acquire the School for the Blind and Deaf (now Clark Kerr Campus) 25 years ago for a nominal amount.

Rather, it is more than likely that People’s Park will remain as a park for the foreseeable future, and as part of the University of California, Berkeley. This should not mean it should continue in its current state.

If it remains a park, how might it be re-envisioned?

In the fall of 2006, the People’s Park Community Advisory Committee – a group formed by the University that included community members, neighbors of the park, and park advocates – recommended retaining a planning firm to study the park and suggest both policy and physical changes. With the support of campus planners and those in the university’s community relations department who had long sought improvements to People’s Park, the campus agreed, and MKThink was hired. Among their recommendations were:

Collaboration among the University, social service organizations, community groups, and civic organization to increase and improve outreach to at-risk individuals.

Ensure any social services provided in the park are structured, comprehensive, and meet all applicable codes, and administered by trained professional personnel.

The advisory group also recommended using the MKThink report as the basis for an international design competition to re-imagine People’s Park. Among the design requirements would be a feature that recognized and memorialized the park’s history just as the Free Speech Café does for Free Speech Movement of 1964.

What was the campus response to these recommendations?

While these recommendations seem logical and responsible, the university adopted none. While campus staff may have been keen on a People’s Park renewal, the park is the “third rail” for chancellors of UC Berkeley. It is viewed as a low priority, where the risks of change far outweigh the benefits.

Although this is campus property, it is an integral part of the City of Berkeley and change requires some collaboration and coordination with city officials. This is particularly true for the homeless who frequent the park. It is the city’s responsibility to provide social services and housing.

The campus summarily dismissed the Advisory Board recommendations, but some believe that while the University might have been willing to proceed, there was a mayoral campaign in Berkeley and a People’s Park remake would be a distraction for the incumbent. A majority of the People’s Park Advisory Board, having made a compelling set of recommendations, saw little reason to continue and resigned en mass. The University never reconstituted the board.

PART 4 – THE FUTURE

What should be done now?

If the University’s default position is to retain the land as a park, then the land should be reimagined to attract a larger segment of the population and to advance a more proactive approach to the homeless.

First, using the creative minds in the Department of Architecture, the University should develop a building on People’s Park, wherein the campus food service would ensure that the homeless receive the same well-balanced nutrition provided to students in a clean, safe, and comfortable setting. The structure need not be elaborate or even permanent, but it must be substantive enough to indicate a serious commitment to those who use it.

This alone will be insufficient because many in the community, and particularly homeless, do not trust the University. The campus must forge partnerships with local community-based social services providers and City of Berkeley staff who will have an on-going presence at this facility. Services and food will be inextricably linked. The campus will ensure proper, healthy, fresh nutrition as well as hygienic disposal of waste. Social-services personnel, many of whom are known throughout the homeless population, will continue their work but in a coordinated effort in a single place.

The campus should also convene a steering committee focused on best practices in combating homelessness in the community. There are faculty in Social Welfare, Public Health, Public Policy, Environmental Design, and Law, all of whom have an interest and expertise in homelessness. Patience will be needed. It will take time to change the culture, and move the homeless from subsistence to independence.

With a focused, vigorous, and humane approach to homelessness, the campus assumes a responsibility it has long ignored, improves its community relations, improves the situation for merchants on Telegraph, and stands to be a leader in social responsibility in the public realm, one of its core missions. There is little to lose.

What can we hope for?

As the operation of the park moves from mostly laissez faire, with a single staff member, to an ongoing presence that includes food service and social services, the opportunities for further physical improvements emerge. The residents of Martinez Commons, the new dormitory directly across Haste Street, should be among those who view the park as safe and welcoming, but so, too, should all those in the community.

Such a reimagining of People’s Park has risks. Some will be concerned that providing this level of assistance will only attract more homeless, and in so doing allow the City of Berkeley to further abdicate its responsibility to the city’s most needy. This may be true in the short term, but it also means that there is an unmet need, and the status quo is not acceptable. By taking the initiative the university can rally its many assets to find humane solutions to a societal problem, which is the ultimate goal. In the process, this land can become an attraction and focus for campus-community interaction.

Comments to “People’s Park: it’s time for change

  1. Today’s May 4, 2018, Los Angeles Times center front page headlines read: “On long-contested land, the ground is shifting — UC Berkeley plans to erect housing at People’s Park…..UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ announced plans to develop a large part of People’s Park into much need housing–not only for students, but also for some of the community’s 800 homeless people…..The mixed use idea for the space came from Sam Davis, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of architecture who has long advocated bolder university action on People’s Park. Davis said supportive housing would stabilize the community, improve the community, improve the park’s environment and further the university’s commitment to teaching, research and public service.”

    Congratulations UC Berkeley and congratulations City of Berkeley for finally and together heading in a new direction that finds its compass in the proposals researched, formulated and laid out above by a locally-rooted, non-compromised, progressive thinking individual, Sam Davis. Read for yourselves the proof in the pudding above. Congratulations, Sam.

    There is something more wide range and perhaps significant to laud about Sam’s work, besides the singular PP project. The accumulated knowledge and experience gained from his undergraduate, graduate and professorship years at UC Berkeley, followed by a self-employed professional career based in Berkeley, and then this People’s Park project demonstrate that the bridge between the academic classroom and effectively working with local government to solve critical real-life problems is a real one. The constraining and distant ivory tower image that institutes of higher education are sometimes saddled with can easily be escaped to work in relevancy if the individual is well-trained and motivated. Getting a degree in higher education and then conquering the world’s problems is a viable notion again.

  2. My son is starting at Fall Program for Freshman across the street from People’s Park. I was appalled when I drove by and saw the homeless and filth. Police reports show that this is a very high crime area right next to dorms and the FPF building. How can it be that UC Berkeley has allowed this place to be overrun with crime, homelessness and rats? I fully support housing the homeless and providing social services, but allowing this informal arrangement right next to Berkeley dorms is nothing short of negligent and puts these young students at risk. The neighborhood is deteriorated, and I’m sure people are afraid to walk anywhere near the park.

    Unfortunately, given the history, the University was irresponsible in allowing the lot to turn into a muddy parking lot years ago, and the ensuing events were tragic. However, to continue to ignore the plight of this park today is equally irresponsible. Services for the homeless should not be provided right next door to young students’ housing and classrooms. I honestly don’t care what is put in the place…rec center, housing, whatever, but leaving the park as it is can’t be right.

    The protests that occurred in the park decades ago over the use of the land are not being honored today by the park’s neglect. It is no longer the “people’s park” but a run down, drug infested, crime ridden dump, and it needs to be cleaned up and restored to a park for everyone’s use or turned into some kind of University building. Really, there’s no excuse for this.

    • Being Someone who has lived in berkeley ever since he was a little kid, peoples park is a great place. the homeless are very friendly and some of my closest friends.

      • I wonder which one of your “closest friends” violently attacked my wife last year? Your “friendly” chickenshit friend grabbed her from behind by her hair, unprovoked, without a word, and tried to knee her in the head several times to get her to the ground – to do what I wonder? She was only saved from more serious injury, perhaps worse, by some nearby construction workers. If she had been a 100lb female she would have been shaken about like a rag doll.

        What then occurred is even more remarkable, because she was left to return to work, while all care was afforded her attacker! Oh, and he had only just attacked someone else four days prior, but had been released from jail that morning!

        Neither is this instance an anomaly – look at the Campus and City Police records. But sure, let your lofty ignorance persist, so long as it’s not your family member that gets attacked next.

  3. I have studied the history of People’s Park for over a year now, focusing on its first month because that period ended so radically different from how it began.

    I visited People’s Park in December of last year. I was surprised how small it is, especially considering all the turmoil that has been stirred up about it and the use of deadly force against protesters who, back in the park’s first year, sought to preserve it.

    The original idea for the park was to have a new venue for free speech, especially to hold anti-war rallies, after the city would no longer permit such rallies in Provo Park (now Martin Luther King Park). The Berkeley Barb‘s call for volunteers to build the park came out two days before work began. The announcement claimed it was time to turn the ugly scar of a lot, left by the razing of houses, into a place of beauty to be designed and used by the community. Those two purposes should be preserved.

    I do wish Dr. Davis had supplied more than a short paragraph about May 15, 1969, also known as “Bloody Thursday.” A riot didn’t just suddenly spring up. In addition to police in riot gear using tear gas against the crowds, sheriff’s deputies in protective gear were given shotguns and apparently no instruction on how to use them for crowd control.

    They fired on people who were not involved in the protests at all, including a middle-aged painting contractor out checking on his jobs in the area. Spectators had gathered on the rooftops of some buildings. When someone on one of those rooftops threw something onto the ground (hitting no one), panicked deputies shot at people on several rooftops. A carpenter and artist named Alan Blanchard was blinded for life by birdshot, and James Rector was fatally wounded by double-ought buckshot (nearly the size of .33 caliber bullets). About 100 people ended up in the hospital with buckshot or birdshot wounds; very few law enforcement agents were hurt at all, none seriously.

    There is a mural next to the park which depicts some of this, but a proper memorial ought to be included in plans for the park’s future design. The vacant lot left by the University when it tore down the houses was an eyesore the residents of Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood had to put up with for about a year, and who knows when the University would actually have gotten around to doing something if the park hadn’t been built.

    Many people questioned whether property ownership in a public area meant the owner had the right to leave a dump for the residents to endure. Others questioned the real reasons behind the University’s destruction of the houses in the first place. It has been suggested that this was part of a plan to diminish the counter-culture movement.

    People’s Park certainly needs a lot of help. I applaud Dr. Davis’ desire to help the area’s homeless, but I hope the park can again become a safe and beautiful place for all people. And the history needs to be told.

  4. I was a student at Berkeley in the ’60s. I have been a friend of Sam’s for 50 years. I can assure you that Sam is neither “anti-capitalist” nor cavalier. He is someone who forsook the lucrative professional opportunities available to someone of his intellect, talent, passion and character to give back to his school and his community.

    For those of you who may disagree with his analysis and proposals, at least recognize that he’s concerned about these matters and offers a solution. What you’ll notice from his blog is that he also avoids invective and personal attacks. His proposals may not be the best solution but they offer a means to a constructive dialog, which is what we should be engaged in.

  5. Sam Davis advocates more social services at Peoples Park: more committees and more “experts”. But he says nothing about involving the people in Peoples Park in the decision making process. Doing things “FOR” the homeless disempowers the homeless. The homeless may have better ideas than the “experts” if we listen to them.

  6. I am frankly aghast at the cavalier attitude evinced by Mr. Davis’ piece and most of the comments that have been posted. I have been volunteering in People’s Park for over 20 years, whether with Food Not Bombs, doing volunteer construction work (the all-volunteer-maintained Free Speech Stage, benches, the pergola), and organizing the Anniversary celebration.

    I do not claim the Park to be a perfect place, but one of the biggest problems that I have encountered is the preciousness of university trained “experts” who think that their degrees somehow make their opinions more worthwhile than the people who volunteer there. Another big problem is police and administrative harassment of volunteers.

    If we had every hour of volunteer labor returned back to us through wanton destruction of community projects, the Park would actually be a pretty nice place. If you want the Park to be a better place, I suggest that you go there and volunteer rather than kvetching on a blog.

  7. Sam, I would go further than “The campus should also convene a steering committee focused on best practices in combating homelessness in the community.”

    Why not have the Dept. of Social Welfare run a clinic in the park as an extension of its academic mission? That way it would still remain under University control (a political necessity) and respond to the reality of its current use — as you rightly advocate. Getting the Architecture Dept. to help design it would be good.

    I’d also like to see the Landscape Architecture Dept. involved in exploring permaculture vegetable gardening as a form of therapy and as a contribution to self support. I will be assigning this useful blog to the People’s Park design problem in Arch 110 “Social and Cultural Processes in Architecture and Urban Design.”

    Your appreciative colleague, Galen

  8. Absolutely the best piece written about People’s Park and what should be considered to make this space usable and accessible for the citizens of Berkeley and the World. Bravo Sam Davis! Now, I hope the University and the City listen to your wise thinking.

  9. Sam Davis, what you propose amounts to advancing anti-capitalism. Your plan would require the Regents to retroactively endorse the people’s seizure of the land and effectively endorse the people’s use. You would require the regents to embrace governance of the park in cooperation with a free association of the people. You would have the regents offer “services,” the upshot of which would be helping “clients” resist exploitation.

    As you know, I’m sure, what you propose is an absolute political impossibility for the Regents. Moreover, they have an easy way to couch their refusal in terms of the university’s mission, crime risks (that they themselves create through their policies), conservation of funds, and the alleged value of the land.

    This is not to say your ideas are bad, only that UC will never help with them and will, in fact, actively try to prevent them. Look around at the political landscape. Not much has changed in this regard since 1969. It is arguably worse today.

    What is to be done, then?

    I would note that the University of California is not its faculty, its students, its alumni, or the people: not in our present political order at least.

    Rather than make a case for these ideas to “the Campus” (for which the administration is the embodiment) or to the the Regents, take it to the people, the alumni, the students, and the faculty.

    A food service facility, improved sanitation facilities, and expanded help for those in need can only happen the way the park came to be in the first place: by the direct action of people acting in free association.

    The park was the people’s to take and make. The park is the people’s to improve. Dance with the one’s what brought ya.

  10. Has Cal fallen below SJSU in the ability to fund and build housing and recreational facilities for students?

    Note that currently, in the midst of the expensive San Jose rental market:

    “The building will accommodate 850 students over ten floors. Current plans call for the building to open to freshmen in fall 2016.The budget is $126.1 million, and will be financed through the CSU Systemwide Revenue Bond Program and from housing program reserves. Housing revenue will repay the bond financing.”

    How could it possibly be wrong for UCB to do something to alleviate some stress for students entrapped in the unaffordable Berkeley community housing market? Is Cal actually without the will to confront the floating population of anti-everything reactionaries to create housing in People’s Park and instead masks this timidness and fear as due to some sort of implausible financing constraint?

  11. This was thoroughly interesting. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to weigh in on the People’s Park debate, and should make one take pause before trotting out tired, old, oversimple opinions about the park and its role in city and university life.

    Davis knows his stuff; the university and its partners in the city of Berkeley and community at large should be embarrassed by their years of ignoring this enduring blight and the worthy recommendations of Davis and others.

    Thank you for this provocative and educational post.

  12. I was followed all the way back to my apartment by two vagrants after I walked through Peoples Park. Last time I will walk through there again. I cannot believe the City of Berkeley and the University allow this to happen to their students and community.

  13. The negative impacts of People’s Park chaos can be seen all over south side and down to Shattuck Ave. Years of evidence tells us UCB must be compelled to take action on the park. Telegraph Ave businesses and residents adjacent the park should sue UCB for maintaining a public nuisance. The data supporting a finding of public nuisance is indisputable.

  14. This article is an excellent review of the history and possible futures for People’s Park. Sam Davis has a LOT of experience in these matters, he is dedicated to Berkeley (both campus and city), and his review of what’s next for PP deserves wide attention. Most importantly, his invitation to a constructive dialogue about the PP’s future should be engaged by everyone who cares about the city and its people.

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