University Likely to Get Go-Ahead on Stadium

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Correction Appended

Last week's ruling concerning proposed construction of an athletic center near Memorial Stadium demonstrated that the university will likely get the go-ahead to continue with the project.

While Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller decided partly in favor of the three petitioners-the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation-her ruling indicated that the university does not have far to go in order to adequately address environmental and earthquake concerns.

For most of Miller's 129-page ruling, she dismisses the petitioners' claims that the university's environmental impact report for the center's construction is insufficient. She said that the report shows that the proposed plans for the stadium comply almost fully with the California Environmental Quality Act and the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act.

"She was pretty strong in her ruling," said Berkeley City Councilmember Gordon Wozniak. "Most of the (petitioners') arguments, she said, were bullshit."

However, Miller agrees with the petitioners' arguments on two points. First, she discussed that in order to fully comply with Alquist-Priolo, the university must determine the monetary value of Memorial Stadium.

"Whatever number they produce is a number that also has an impact on whatever they can do in the future with the stadium," said Michael Kelly, the Panoramic Hill Association's vice president for UC relations.

Additions or alterations to certain structures that lie on active faults are subject to the zoning act, which states that alterations cannot exceed 50 percent of the structure's value.

University officials have claimed that Memorial Stadium is valued at $600 million, while Kelly said that its value is less than $110 million, based on an appraiser's 2006 assessment of the site.

Miller additionally agreed with the petitioners in her ruling that the university's impact report does not explain the university's reasoning behind doubling the number of capacity events at Memorial Stadium.

The university has yet to explain why it would be unavoidable for them to double the number of events at the stadium, especially in relation to earthquake-related risks, additional noise and traffic impacts, Miller stated.

Kelly said that if the university adequately addressed these concerns and if Miller were to rule in the university's favor, the association, whose members would be directly impacted by the added number of events, may not decide to appeal.

"But if they don't, then we would consider it," Kelly said.

Before the end of this week, both sides in the case are slated to submit proposed judgements that will be subject to Miller's approval.

The Berkeley City Council is slated to meet in closed session on Tuesday to discuss its options and how to move forward with the case.

"It seems to me that we don't have a very strong case to appeal," Wozniak said.


Correction: Monday, June 30, 2008
In the June 23 article, "University Likely to Get Go-Ahead on Stadium," the headline incorrectly stated that the university will get the go-ahead on a stadium project, rather than on the athletic center project adjacent to the stadium. The same article incorrectly stated that the proposed plans for the stadium comply almost fully with earthquake and environmental laws. In fact, the proposed plans are for the athletic center project, not the stadium.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Angelica Dongallo is the news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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