University of California considers San Francisco expansion
The University of California is weighing options to open a new campus in San Francisco following a letter from San Francisco Mayor London Breed asking the university to expand its presence downtown, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The UC Office of the President (UCOP) and UC Berkeley are both involved in this effort. UCOP officials met on Friday to discuss options, the SF Chronicle reported. Parties are in “continuing conversations” but there are “no concrete proposals,” Jeff Cretan, Breed’s spokesperson, said.
Breed’s letter was penned to the Regents in May 2023 and proposed “bringing students into the heart of San Francisco.” According to the San Francisco Chronicle, more than one-third of the city’s office spaces are vacant after an increase in remote work following the pandemic.
“There are a number of properties that would be uniquely able to house a mixed-use UC campus complete with student housing, classrooms, lab space, and student services,” Breed’s letter stated.
UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said “the only thing not on the table for us is undergraduate housing in San Francisco,” but described openness to “potentially buildings for academic purpose.”
Berkeley’s People’s Park cordoned off by shipping containers, construction to begin
UC Berkeley police lined People’s Park in Berkeley with two-container high walls of shipping containers on Jan. 4 after protestors attempted to curtail housing development on the vacant lot, according to CBS News.
People’s Park was established as a de facto public park by community members in the 1970s. Recent attempts by the university to construct student housing on the land sparked protests from community members in August 2022, and again this month.
Several protesters were arrested at the site on Jan. 4 and forced to evacuate by threat of tear gas and pepper spray from UC Police Department, according to the Daily Californian.
“UC Berkeley has begun work to cordon off the People’s Park construction site, where it will build much-needed housing for students and unhoused people, while preserving more than 60% of the 2.8 acre site as open park space that reinforces the park’s history,” the university said in a statement issued Jan. 4.
University police will now be at the site 24/7 until the housing complex completes construction, CBS News reported.
The decision to surround the park with containers was made to minimize disruption and expediently begin construction, university spokesperson Dan Mogulof told CBS News.
Neighborhood groups have filed suit over the project’s potential local impacts; the lawsuit is pending in the state Supreme Court but the university maintains the right to close off the construction area while the case is litigated.
A version of this article appeared on p. 2 of the Jan. 18, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.