Community members and protesters attended the second open house hosted by UC Berkeley Capital Strategies regarding the proposed housing project at People’s Park on March 4.
The second of three, the open house was held at the Clark Kerr Campus Krutch Theatre with the goal of providing more community insight on the project. The open house featured posters providing an overview of the project and tables with project members explaining the proposal.
The concept for the development currently includes a building for student housing that ranges from 950 to 1,200 beds, supportive housing for vulnerable members of the community with about 75 to 125 apartment homes, an open space and a type of food service, according to Kyle Gibson, communications director of Capital Strategies.
“We would like to do and hopefully be able to hear from them how we can make it better and make something to the best of our ability that is welcoming and safe to everyone,” Gibson said. “We are very proud of this project. It is a value-driven project, through that, we are trying to design the open space, student housing, supportive housing and trying to create something that is safe and welcoming.”
The timeline for the process includes a third open house that will present a finalized concept before going into an environmental review and design process. Gibson added that the plan will be presented to the UC Board of Regents for final approval, with construction potentially starting in 2022.
Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson said supportive housing would provide more capacity to the city to support the homeless population. He added that a planning process is overdue, as there is community concern over the project and questions that need to be answered.
“We are in a housing crisis at every level,” Robinson said. “It’s also certainly historic for a campus to be offering their own land to tackle the homelessness crisis.”
There were more than 40 people at the event, including representatives from various groups involved in the project as well as protesters.
Protesters brought up concern over the cost of the rent for affordable housing and the alleged lack of regard for preserving the historical legacy of People’s Park.
Michael Sullivan, a campus senior and member of the Suitcase Clinic Advocacy Task Force, added that he wants to keep People’s Park a public space that is safe and accessible to communities.
“People there have so many visions for what the future of this park could be,” Sullivan alleged. “So if they just actually had agency over the future of the park it could turn into an incredible space that is not displacing everyone who is currently there.”