UC Berkeley blocked from constructing student housing at People’s Park after court ruling

The California First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco blocked planned construction of UC Berkeley student housing in People’s Park after finding the university in violation of environmental laws, Berkeleyside reported.

The University of California plans to take the issue to the state Supreme Court and request the decision be overturned, UC Spokesperson Dan Mogulof told Berkeleyside.

“Left in place, this decision will indefinitely delay all of UC Berkeley’s planned student housing, which is desperately needed by our students and fully supported by the city of Berkeley’s mayor and other elected representatives,” Mogulof said to Berkeleyside.

The planned student housing was forced to halt construction in August after facing large student protests. UC Berkeley community members have protested the development in support of the park’s houseless residents.

“They decided in our favor on two issues — most importantly [that] UC failed to analyze alternative sites,” People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group (PPHDAG) member Harvey Smith told Berkeleyside. “This is key to what the PPHDAG has been arguing.”

PPHDAG and Make UC a Good Neighbor initially filed the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit against the UC last year. 

Following the ruling, Governor Gavin Newsom’s office issued a statement criticizing the effectiveness of CEQA.

“Our CEQA process is clearly broken when a few wealthy Berkeley homeowners can block desperately needed student housing for years and even decades,” the office said in a statement on Twitter. “I am committed to working with lawmakers this year to making more changes so our state can build the housing we desperately need.”

UC Davis identifies cause of mass fish death

Chlorine exposure caused the death of 21,000 fish in August at the UC Davis Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture, the university reported on March 1. 

The mass casualty occurred in August 2022, and an independent investigation was conducted by University of British Columbia professor emeritus of zoology Anthony Farrell. 

The investigation found that the cause of the incident was an “accumulation of mineral deposits inside sealed piping carrying wastewater away from the facility,” according to a press release from the university.

“This blockage caused chlorine, added to effluent water as a disinfectant, to back up to a water line used to lubricate pumps at the well supplying the fish tanks, and thus contaminate the tanks,” the press release read.

No single individual or group is responsible for the incident, which occurred without warning, Farrell wrote in the report.

“The support staff, faculty and students, who dealt with the catastrophe are to be commended for their collective responses to the catastrophe. The responses were both rapid and appropriate,” the report stated.

A version of this article appeared on p. 2 of the March 9, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Sindhu Ananthavel
Sindhu Ananthavel (she/they) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ananthavel was the Deputy News Editor for the 2022-23 school year, the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2021-22 school year and an assistant news editor for the 2021-22 school year. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com.