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Housing Development Approved At Storied People's Park in Berkeley Following Vote By UC Regents

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- The controversial plan to build UC student housing in Berkeley's People's Park is moving forward.

The University of California owns the land and CAL has tried for five decades to build on it. The Board of Regents on Thursday finally approved a housing project at the park and UC Berkeley plans to start construction next year.

But opponents vow to block it with lawsuits.

The $312 million project that will house about 1,100 undergraduates.

"I definitely think it would definitely be beneficial to get more housing because there isn't enough. But I also want to make sure the homeless have a place to go," said Cal freshman Ariana McFarlane.

The university agreed, saying that's why they will build 125 units of supportive housing for the homeless.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said they have a housing crisis. This fall, the school turned away 5,000 students who wanted campus housing.

"[UC] Berkeley houses by far the lowest percentage of students in the system. It is, I think, 23 percent," said Chancellor Christ.

"They're in favor of building student housing. We're in favor of building student housing. But build it in an appropriate location," said Harvey Smith, a member of the People's Park Historic District Advocacy Group.

The group will soon file a lawsuit to block construction.

"They've picked the most controversial site," said Smith.

Smith considers the park a landmark and a site that represents the city's political activism and radical history.

He said the university's plan to keep 1.7 acres of land as park space doesn't go far enough to preserve the history.

"I describe it as irreplaceable open space because once it's gone, it's gone," said Smith.


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