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UC Berkeley's Chancellor Robert Berdahl told members of the Residence Hall Assembly Monday night [April 5, 1999], that People's Park is a "wonderful site" to build additional university housing -- especially when the city's housing shortage is taken into consideration... Berdahl said building student housing at People's Park would be an ideal solution to the housing problem because it would not reduce parking, it would help eliminate crime and it would make the area more useful for students... After hearing about Berdahl's comments, other university officials denied that there were any proposals to build on the plot of land... Some students also said that developing the People's Park site would be politically unfeasible and incredibly time-consuming.
(excepted from Laurel Westbrook article in Daily Californian, 4/6/99)
On January 14, 1997, Councilmembers Spring, Shirek and Worthington submitted to the Council a resolution in honor of David Nadel, supporting People's Park as a future City Park and reaffirming the Council's commitment to make People's Park a permanent public open space and to work cooperatively with the University of California. The measure passed unanimously.
Councilmember Spring also proposed that the Council adopt a resolution of the Peace and Justice Commission proclaiming January 14th through the 21st David Nadel Week in the City of Berkeley and requesting that the City's flags be flown at half mast during this week. The measure passed unanimously
David Nadel, long time People's Park activist and co-sponsor of this page, died December 21, 1996, victim of a senseless murder (police have identified a suspect). A memorial music and dance festival is being held at David's nightclub, Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Boulevard, Berkeley, Saturday and Sunday, January 18th and 19th, 11:00am-1:30pm (admission free).
On Saturday, January 4, 1997, the detested volleyball courts in People's Park were finally removed by a combination of a university-contracted bulldozer and people's demolition parties. The university had first agreed to the removal of the courts back in January of 1995, but then shilly-shallied for two years. The gaping muddy pit will be filled with dirt and covered by sod.
Affirmative Action took center stage as People's Park became a side
show at the University of California Regents meeting on January 18th in
The Regents refused to modify their controversial decision to abolish Affirmative Action (Obsolete link) - and with one rather bizarre exception (One Regents' Opinion), the Regents more or less refrained from discussing People's Park.
As best can be ascertained from news reports, the Regents have approved
Chancellor Tien's plans for the Park,whereby the University pays for "capital improvements" and the city "manages" the Park as permanent open space.
According to U.C. Berkeley spokesman Jesus Mena, the chancellor can go ahead and enter into an agreement with the City of Berkeley as long as the agreement doesn't cost more than $1 million. No further consultation with the Regents may be necessary.
Will the Park remain permanent public open space? Or will it become
intramural sports courts? On March 21st, the City's lease of the East and West ends of People's Park will expire. The City has still not negotiated a new lease. Both City and University officials claim the new plan will make People's Park permanent public open space, but there is still no legal agreement which guarantees this.
Will U.C. tear out the free clothing box and prohibit serving food to the homeless?
After hundreds of citizens packed January 9's City Council meeting, the City
rejected the most odious provisions the University had demanded: removal of
the free box and a ban on food distribution. Mayor Shirley Dean has since
recanted these threats.
Will the City Council keep its backbone? Now is the time for Berkeley residents to E-Mail their Mayor and City Council members.
Of course, any agreement by the City to "manage" the Park is only a temporary, partial solution. As U.C. spokesperson Irene Hegarty said, the Regents "can always decide to take up People's Park at any time." A lasting solution requires that the U. C. Regents call off their 26-year-long game of political football and turn ownership of the Park over to the people who built it and use it. Pledge
At yet another over-capacity City Council meeting dealing with People's
Park, the Berkeley City Council voted 8-1 on January 9 to endorse a modified
version of U.C.'s "Conceptual Plan." In a nutshell.... A broad
coalition of Park supporters, the Religious Community, Food Not Bombs,
and Merchants forced the Berkeley City Council to substantially modify
the "UC Conceptual Plan." But until UC relinquishes ownership,
there is no guarantee that People's Park will survive as public open space.
For more information check: " CLIFFORD FRED'S ANALYSIS"
Under new pressure from Berkeley's religious community, the Council deleted explicit references to removing free food and clothing services for the poor. How long the Free Box's reprieve will last is anybody's guess.
[For more information check : LETTER FROM RELIGIOUS LEADERS]
The Council added the word "public" to the Plan's goal of preserving the Park as "permanent open space." As Clifford Fred explained to the Council, a private golf course is open space, but it is not public open space -- one could got shot for trespassing.
In another significant development, City Councilmember Donna Spring, seconded by Maudelle Shirek, made a motion to explore acquisition of the Park. She withdrew the motion but vowed to bring it back to the Council in March.
Note: DONA SPRING voices her support for People's Park and shares an early People's Park experience in a short article for the web site.
MAUDELLE SHIREK also expresses her support for People's Park.
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