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Calling for a Halt

By Carol Denney
Tuesday March 06, 2012 - 08:47:00 AM

On Monday, March 5th, 2012, the City of Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission unanimously affirmed a resolution to encourage the Berkeley City Council to express concern over the University of California’s bulldozing of the community garden in the west end of People’s Park on December 28th, 2011, and to halt any further construction or alteration of the park until the People's Park Community Advisory Board has been included in the planning process. 

Four members of the People’s Park Community Advisory Board were present at the meeting and spoke about the history of the board and its mission to provide a forum for discussion of park-related issues in the hope of fostering a peaceful, cooperative atmosphere on the southside of campus. The board has tried repeatedly to get the University to give them information about its plans, which have two additional phases, but without response. The next projects are slated for “early spring,” and involve more than $200,000 of public funds. 

The bulldozing in the community garden removed fruit trees as well as a circle of trees known as the Council Grove, which had been used as a meeting circle for decades in the park. The historic berms at the sides of the park’s west end were removed as well, berms which provided seating but also a physical reminder of the university’s effort in the late 1970’s to turn the west end into a UC fee lot. The berms were composed of the asphalt dug up by hundreds of community members. 

The Peace and Justice Commission noted that the university’s demolition project over the holiday was conducted without any notice to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which has purview over city landmarks. People’s Park has been a city landmark since 1984.