Who Really Won

Stadium ruling allows athletic center to be built after a few changes to the plan, signifying triumph for the university.

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The release of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller's 129-page ruling on the three stadium lawsuits prompted both the city of Berkeley and the university to declare victory. Even the tree-sitters joined in on the celebration. But it was hardly a situation where everyone's a winner.

So who can claim the ruling came down in its favor? The university. For the most part, the court decision is a major green light for UC Berkeley's proposal to build an athletic center near Memorial Stadium.

The primary concern causing the delay in construction is safety (which should not be overshadowed by the absurdity of the tree-sit). Certainly, the university made a few missteps along the way, but its mistakes can be fixed. Though the university's plans currently fail to comply with parts of the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act and parts of the Californian Environmental Quality Act, this can be remedied relatively straightforwardly with revision and resubmission. The city's contention that the athletic center violates seismic regulations has been debunked by Judge Miller, who wrote, "Substantial evidence supports that the proposed [athletic center] will not lie across the trace of an active fault, or across a branch thereof."

And after approval of a modified proposal, the long-awaited construction of the athletic center should start. Indeed, the project should have started more than a year and a half ago. This whole ordeal should serve as a lesson for the university to get it right the first time. Thorough evaluations of building plans, better collaboration with concerned parties and considerations of alternative locations could have prevented the waste of time and money.

Nevertheless, it's reassuring that the fiasco appears to be finally coming to an end. The university may have won this time, but it's a win tainted with a warning about appropriate future conduct.

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