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University Describes $130 Million Clark Kerr Campus Rehabilitation

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 29, 2007

Berkeley Planning Commissioners got their first look last week at the university’s plans for a $130 million retrofit of the Clark Kerr Campus, the 500-acre, 20-building Spanish Colonial Revival complex on the corner of Derby and Warring streets. 

In a second briefing, commissioners learned about the city’s plans for workshops under Measure G, the measure passed by Berkeley voters last December which calls on the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. 


Clark Kerr Campus 

Originally known as the State Asylum for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, the site was transferred to UC Berkeley in 1982, two years after the renamed California Schools for the Deaf & Blind moved to Fremont in a deal brokered by then-Assemblymember Tom Bates. 

Though it was claimed at the time that the move was prompted by concerns that the Berkeley site was located on the Hayward Fault, the Fremont site suffers from the same fault. 

Designated for student housing, the complex was renamed after the former UC Berkeley Chancellor and Board of Regents president and opened to students in 1984. 

Beth Piatnitza, the university’s associate director of physical and environmental planning, briefed commissioners on the project, which targets six of the ten structures currently used by the university for student housing. 

Work will begin next year and continue for the next seven years, with the work focused on improved safety, accessibility and infrastructure upgrades. 

The university has already issued a call for submissions from contractors for work on a $13 million infrastructure retrofit, which is scheduled to begin in July 2008. 

Piatnitza said the project will maintain the site’s architectural integrity, a critical factor since the campus is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and Berkeley’s own list of designated landmarks. 


Measure G 

Timothy Burroughs, hired by the city to formulate the city’s plan for reducing climate-heating greenhouse gasses, told commissioners he is planning workshops with city policy boards “to help develop a community-wide climate action plan.” 

Measure G, endorsed by 81 percent of Berkeley voters, calls on the city to formulate the plan by the end of the year, and to help guide the process, Burroughs said he is meeting with seven commissions in the upcoming months. 

In addition to the long-term goal, Burroughs said the plan will feature short-term targets as well as “a variety of ways for people to get involved,” including surveys, an on-line forum for discussions, focus groups and other measures. 

“We want to develop a series of strategies, including the top three to five things people can start doing today,” he said. 

Once the strategies are formulated, members of the commissions will then have a chance to review the resulting plan, which he said should be ready by the end of summer or in the early autumn. 

The only skeptical comments of the evening came from commissioner Gene Poschman, who asked, “What if Berkeley does something wonderful but no other government in California does? Then we’ve saved our souls, but had no impact. It’s so difficult to separate the hype” from meaningful action. 

Burroughs said individual citizens can take immediate actions in their own spheres of influence, and that “what happens first in California often happens later in other parts of the country, and the State of California is looking at the cities to figure out what it can do as a state.” 

“It’s an interesting theory,” said Poschman. 

The planning Commission workshop, titled Climate Protection and the Built Environment, will be held during the commission’s regular July 11 meeting.