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The People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group has released an Open Letter today that was sent to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, State Legislators, the Board of Regents and Governor Newsom.

The hundred and two signatories on the letter include Berkeley residents, UCB professors, two former Berkeley mayors, three former Berkeley city councilmembers, many former Berkeley commissioners, Cal alumni and students, attorneys, architects, historians and many others who are concerned about the threatened destruction of People’s Park.

The open letter calls upon the University of California to work with the Berkeley community to protect and enhance People’s Park, rather than destroy it and build a 17-story housing structure. UC argues the destruction of the park is necessary to respond to its housing shortage, yet the university has identified several other possible sites for student residences.

While recognizing the need for truly affordable housing, the letter condemns the threat to the historic and cultural legacy of the People’s Park and the environmental damage that would result from the loss of the irreplaceable open space. The letter envisions what would be a properly maintained park and “a safe, well-used public space frequented by all.”

The Board of Regents will consider People’s Park project and another poorly conceived UCB construction project in a meeting this summer. Berkeley, Bay Area and California residents are encouraged to investigate the overreach of UC and contact their legislators. More information can be found at peoplesparkhxdist.org. 


To: The Chancellor, Mayor, State Legislators, the Regents and the Governor:

No northern city was more affected by the great social and cultural movements of the ‘60s than Berkeley and no event in Berkeley history brought together more of the diverse forces of that era than the conflict over People’s Park in 1969. That is why the park is designated as a landmark by the City of Berkeley and the State of California and is deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. 

And that is why the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group and the undersigned call upon the University of California to work with the Berkeley community to protect and enhance People’s Park. Just as the nation preserves the great battlefields of the Civil War of the 1860s, so should it preserve places like People’s Park that commemorate the great social and cultural conflicts of the 1960s. 

Instead, the university proposes to destroy the park in order to build a 17-story student housing structure. UC argues the destruction of the park is necessary to respond to its housing shortage, yet the university has identified several other possible sites for student residences. Of all the jurisdictions dealing with the Bay Area’s regional housing crisis, only UC Berkeley proposes to destroy a public park of national historic importance. UC’s development plan would also destroy the view from the park and overshadow the surrounding other distinguished local, state and national landmarks, e.g., Maybeck’s Christian Science First Church. 

In destroying the park, the university is eliminating the only public open space in Berkeley’s most densely populated neighborhood. Over the past several years, UC has over-enrolled the number of students, violating its own plans and increasing the number of budget-padding out-of-state enrollees. This greatly increases the population density of the area. Doesn’t the university have a responsibility to maintain and enhance the one piece of restorative nature still open to the public in this over-crowded neighborhood? 

The university argues the park is a place of great crime and violence, a claim vehemently denied by park users and their supporters. The university’s unacceptable “solution” is to displace the poor, the unhoused and other park users by paving over the park. UC has clearly allowed the park to deteriorate; however, maintaining it as well as other city parks could ensure that People’s Park could be a safe, well-used public space frequented by all. 

Shouldn’t a great university, with a brilliant faculty and immensely talented students, use its resources to work with neighbors and park supporters to create an inclusive public open space welcome to all? Shouldn’t the university’s architecture faculty help design truly affordable low-income housing projects in other Berkeley locations? Such efforts would be consistent with UC’s mission of public education and service and consistent wit 

Please join with us not just to preserve People’s Park, but to make it a place that respects and commemorates its history and celebrates and serves its diverse surrounding community. 

For more background, go to www.peoplesparkhxdist.org. If you want to add your name to this statement, send name and affiliation to [email protected] 

Signed: 

Lynn Adler, Berkeley resident since 1973 

Gael Alcock, musician, Berkeley resident 

Phil Allen, former Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commissioner 

Jurgen Aust, AICP, Expert in Land Use, Transportation, City Planning; 

Berkeley Resident 

David Axelrod, attorney 

Russell Bates, 47-year Berkeley resident, Berkeley Copwatch member, 

People’s Park Committee member 

Tom Bates, former Berkeley Mayor, State Assemblyman and Alameda 

County Supervisor 

Reverend Allan Bell, Director, The Silence Project, London 

Robb Benson, Food Not Bombs 

Howard Besser, retired UC Professor and 50 year Berkeley resident 

Paul Kealoha Blake, activist 

John Roosevelt Boettiger, Ph.D, psychologist and professor of human 

development emeritus, Hampshire College 

Summer Brenner, writer, Berkeley resident 

Zelda Bronstein, Journalist and former Chair, Berkeley Planning 

Commission 

James Brook, poet and translator, Berkeley resident 

Mina Davis Caulfield, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., UC Berkeley; resident of Berkeley 

61 year; Assoc. Prof., Anthropology and Women Studies, emerita, 

San Francisco State University 

James Chanin, civil rights attorney 

Sas Colby, artist, activist, resident of South Berkeley 

Terri Compost, ecologist 

Tom Dalzell, author, union lawyer 

Cheryl Davila, former Berkeley City Councilmember 

Shirley Dean, former Berkeley mayor, former Berkeley City Councilmember 

Michael Delacour, People’s Park co-founder 

Carol Denney, writer, musician 

Linda Diamond, Food Not Bombs volunteer 

Lesley Emmington, former President, Berkeley Architectural HeritageAssociation, former Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commissioner 

Annie Esposito, retired Community News Director at KZYX 

Laura Fantone. UC Berkeley Research Staff, Berkeley resident 

Isis Feral, environmentalist, labor and disability justice activist 

Helen Finkelstein, UCB alumna & Berkeley resident 

Arthur Fonseca, Picuris Pueblo Senior Services Provider. 

Anne-Lise François, Associate Professor, English and Comparative 

Literature, UC Berkeley 

Clifford Fred, former Berkeley Planning Commissioner 

Paula Friedman, author and editor 

Gloria Frym, writer, professor, California College of the Arts 

Leah Garchik, journalist 

Ann Garrison, Contributing Editor Black Agenda Report, KPFA/Pacifica reporter 

Charles Gary, Spiritual Activist 

Judith Gips, UC Berkeley graduate, writer, Berkeley resident since 1975, 

K-12 teacher, community organizer 

Rafael Jesús González, Poet Laureate, City of Berkeley 

Emil de Guzman 

Hali Hammer, musician, activist, teacher 

Kristin Hanson, Berkeley resident and professor of English at UC Berkeley 

Chandra Hauptman, Berkeley resident, former KPFA Local Station Board & Pacifica National Board member 

Art Hazelwood, Lecturer, San Francisco Art Institute 

Robbin Henderson, UC Berkeley alumna, B.A., 1963; former Executive Director, Berkeley Art Center; Berkeley Civic Arts Commissioner 

L. Higa, legal analyst, UC Berkeley alumna, former Boalt Hall law school 

& UC Berkeley Southeast Asian Studies Dept. employee 

Aidan Hill, former Vice-Chair, City of Berkeley Homeless Commission 

Greg Jan, historical researcher, political activist 

Theo Jones, concerned citizen 

Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Emerita, 

Youth and Justice Advocate 

Persis M. Karim, Ph.D., Neda Nobari Distinguished Chair, Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, San Francisco State University 

Jonathan King, editor, writer 

Ken Knabb, Berkeley resident since 1965, writer and translator 

Jack Kurzweil, Professor (Emeritus) of Electrical Engineering, San Jose State University 

Moni T. Law, J.D., Chair of Berkeley Community Safety Coalition, Cal Alum, 1982 

Ying Lee, former Berkeley City Councilmember, former aide to Congressman Ron Dellums, former BUSD teacher 

Michelle LePaule, Berkeley resident 

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor Tikkun magazine and Ph.D. in Philosophy, UC Berkeley, 1972 

Joe Liesner, activist 

Thomas Luce, People’s Park Committee 

Seth Lunine, Lecturer, UCB Geography 

Amelia S. Marshall, UC Berkeley alumna, 1980; retired staff research 

associate/development engineer; local history author 

Gary McDole, Berkeley resident 

Tom Miller, President, Green Cities Fund 

Ed Monroe, artist 

Doug Minkler, printmaker 

Meave O’Connor, Wireless Radiation Education and Defense 

Becky O’Malley, journalist and editor, former City of Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commissioner 

Eliza O’Malley, Opera Singer, Artistic Director Berkeley Chamber Opera 

Osha Neumann, lawyer 

Cynthia Papermaster, UC Berkeley alumna, 55-year resident of Berkeley,former Berkeley PTA Council President 

Marcia Poole, Berkeley resident, artist 

Jim Powell, poet, MacArthur Fellow, Berkeley native 

Martin Nicolaus, Berkeley Law alumnus, Berkeley parks advocate 

Janette M. Reid, Berkeley resident since 1967, Cal alumna & staff retiree 

Diane Resek, Professor Emerita of Mathematics, San Francisco State University 

Justin Richardson, Landscape Architect, UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design alumnus 

Eugene E Ruyle, Cal Alumnus, 1963, Anthropology; Emeritus Professor of Anthropology Cal State Long Beach (Puvungna) 

Jos Sances, artist, activist 

Marty Schiffenbauer, Berkeley resident 54 years 

Bob Schildgen, writer 

Patrick Sheahan, architect 

Dan Siegel, civil rights attorney, ASUC president (1969-70) 

Gar Smith, FSM vet, author, environmental activist; former Ecology 

Center board member; editor emeritus, Earth Island Journal 

Harvey Smith, public historian, educator 

Margot Smith, retired social scientist, activist 

Elizabeth Starr, environmental advocate 

Zach Stewart, landscape architect for Berkeley Shorebird Park and Willard Park 

Paule Cruz Takash, Ph.D., Anthropology, UC Berkeley, 1990 

Lisa Teague, People’s Park Committee and Berkeley Outreach Coalition 

Daniella Thompson, writer, historian 

Maxina Ventura, mother, activist, musician 

Richard Walker, former department chair UCB Geography, professor Emeritus 

Steve Wasserman, publisher, Heyday 

Michael Weber, UC Berkeley student, 1969 

Pat Welch, graphic designer 

Jane Welford, activist, gardener, grandmother 

Jane White, Berkeley resident 

Tobey M. Wiebe, Ph.D. candidate, School of Education, UC Berkeley, 1978 

Charles Wollenberg, California historian, writer 

Lope Yap, Jr., filmmaker

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