University Asks for Ruling to Speed Construction

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday August 21, 2008 - 09:10:00 AM

UC Berkeley filed a request on Tuesday for a court ruling that could allow them to chop down the Memorial Stadium grove just two days after a superior court ruling becomes final. 

Stephan Volker, who is battling to save the trees as attorney for the California Oak Foundation, said papers the university filed with Alameda County Court Judge Barbara Miller ask her to deny a 20-day continuation of her injunction against axing the trees. 

The 20-day period is typically granted to allow the losing side in a court battle to file an appeal. 

“They are offering a two-day stay on their own, but that is not a judicial stay,” Volker said. 

But Dan Mogulof, the university’s spokesman on issues involving stadium-area construction plans, said the two-day period would give Volker and his fellow plaintiffs time to appeal. “They did it in less time than that the last time,” he said. 

Mogulof said the university wants Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller to dissolve her injunction to ensure their ability to start construction promptly should the appellate court reject the appeal. 

If the injunction remains in place when the ruling becomes final, state law provides for an automatic 20-day extension that would continue even if the appeal is rejected. 

Last Friday the plaintiffs withdrew a motion to ask Miller to overturn her own decision and grant a new trial, with the issuance of her final decision the only action left in her court. 

The grove is the site on an ongoing tree-sit that began on Big Game Day 2006. Mogulof said the university has always had the right to remove the tree sitters thanks to a ruling later that month. 

The university hopes to remove most of the trees to make way for a four-level high-tech gym and office complex, the first of three planned phases of construction at the stadium.