Court injunction halts construction of student housing at People’s Park in Berkeley

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California Construction News staff writer

Construction of student housing at the historic People’s Park in Berkeley is on hold after an appellate court ordered an injunction late Thursday, a day after protesters forced the University of California, Berkeley to halt work on the controversial project.

The temporary injunction precludes the university from demolishing and cutting down trees, but allows security fencing around the park pending a fast-tracked court resolution.

The park was founded in 1969 as part of the free speech and civil rights movement when community organizers banded together to take back a site the state and university seized under eminent domain.

Since then, the gathering space has hosted free meals, community gardening, art projects and offered shelter to homeless people. The park is owned by UC Berkeley.

The university cleared the park overnight Tuesday and installed fencing the next day after an Alameda County Superior Court judge last week ruled it could move forward with its housing plan despite local groups suing to stop it.

Due to the destruction of construction materials, unlawful protest activity, and violence on the part of some protesters, the university decided to pause construction work on Thursday.

All construction personnel were withdrawn out of concern for their safety.

There were seven arrests for charges including PC 243(b): Battery on a peace officer, PC 602(o): Trespassing and 148(a)(1): Resisting, obstructing, delaying an officer.

Two officers were injured.

On Aug. 5, campus officials issued a statement about People’s Park.

“The appellate court has imposed a new injunction that, for now, precludes UC Berkeley from continuing construction work at People’s Park, as well as any other activity at the site that is not necessary for public health and safety.

“While this new injunction will add further delay and significant additional costs to the project, we are pleased the court has agreed to an expedited process. We are also satisfied with the court’s decision to allow the campus to close and secure the construction site pending the expedited ruling. The campus is now assessing options to get that done in a safe, effective way.”

Officials say they are dismayed by the violent and unlawful activity of people opposed to the project.

“Our commitment to addressing an urgent student housing crisis, and to supporting unhoused members of our community, is unwavering. We have confidence in the strength of our legal position and will be exploring all feasible options to make up for lost time.”

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