Final Ruling on Construction Lawsuits Expected

UC Berkeley Eager to Begin Building Athletic Center But Must Wait on Appeals Court Decision

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After a brief hearing yesterday morning, an Alameda County Superior Court judge is expected to issue her final ruling in the lawsuits over construction of the proposed student athletic center in the next few days.

UC Berkeley has been in a battle with the city of Berkeley, Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation over the right to build an athletic center near Memorial Stadium for almost two years.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller has presided over the suits since they were filed in December 2006. In her preliminary ruling in June, she said the university's construction plan is primarily in compliance with appropriate laws. Since then, both sides have responded to concerns that Miller addressed in her preliminary ruling.

University officials promised Miller during the Monday hearing that if she were to immediately remove the injunction preventing construction at the site, they would not begin construction until after an appellate court decides whether the injunction should remain for the duration of the appeals process.

The university's deal is an attempt to avoid further delays of the center's construction, since each day of delay costs the campus $40,000 to $50,000, according to Dan Mogulof, the campus' executive director of public affairs.

If Miller keeps the injunction in place and the petitioners appeal--as they are expected to do--a 20-day extension of the injunction will automatically apply.

Because of the automatic extension policy, California Oak Foundation attorney Stephen Volker asked Miller to extend the injunction for a few days after her ruling to give the petitioners time to appeal.

University officials said they are hopeful that the appeals court will issue a decision regarding the injunction quickly, since a panel of appeals court judges already reviewed the case earlier this summer. The judges returned the case to superior court on Aug. 7, saying there were still several issues that needed to be resolved before they could consider the case. The issues have since been resolved.

Volker said that should the appeals court uphold Miller's ruling, the foundation plans to take the case to the California Supreme Court.


Angelica Dongallo of The Daily Californian contributed to this report. Jacqueline Johnston covers the courts. Contact her at [email protected]

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