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With end of tree-sit fiasco near, plaintiffs should drop appeals and protesters have no grounds to make demands.

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For more than 20 months, costing the university more than $750,000, they've been more of a nuisance than an effective mouthpiece for their cause.

Drawing local and national ire, the tree-sitters' ludicrous attempts have lasted too long and can hardly be characterized as anything short of absurd. But to adequately address all the issues at stake, note that there's more behind the spectacle next to Memorial Stadium.

Certainly, it's tempting to attribute all the problems festering at the oak grove to the tree-sitters' stubbornness and disillusion, but it's also important to make the distinction between the battle in court and the battle among the branches. While contention in the former is actually grounded on rationale, the latter is a misguided display of unreasonable resistance.

Let's start with the legal proceedings. It's a tale that never had to be told if the university had toned down its arrogance in the first place by including the greater community while making plans for the athletic center. The city council's legitimate concerns about the project's adherence to environmental regulations and seismic safety could have been easily resolved through communication and compromise.

Instead, the judicial saga began. While the city's eventual refusal to appeal the case is commendable, the same can't be said about the other plaintiffs. The prolonging of the legal process by the California Oak Foundation and Panoramic Hill Association is unnecessary as it's clear the lower court took ample time to review the construction's logistics, rendering a well-informed decision after reviewing all the evidence. These two parties need to accept the ruling and realize that their continual futile appeals only serve to enlarge their attorneys' price tag.

Now for the illegal proceedings. Indeed, the tree-sitters have blatantly defied the law, perched in trees that are part of private university property. The patience of campus officials in this debacle is admirable, waiting for clearance from the appeal court before cutting down the trees even though they could have been done as they pleased with their own trees.

Understandably, the university also has to tread lightly. Although a quick removal is ideal, the safety of the protesters must also be prioritized. And it's a feat that the campus has accomplished thus far, even offering provisions to keep them alive.

But survival does not come with a seat at the bargaining table, and the tree-sitters are arguably the only group involved in this whole ordeal with no position whatsoever to make demands. Not only have they made a mockery of the revered 1960s protests, they've broken the law and lost any leverage to make requests.

But they've made a list of desires in exchange for coming down from the trees. Their demand for part of football revenues to be allocated to land conservation is laughable. But perhaps their demand for the university to create a Community Land Use and Capital Projects Committee should be considered-only because such a forum could allow for more public comment, which could have plausibly circumvented such a dragged out nightmare.

Otherwise, we're still counting the days until everything is over.

Tags: ATHLETIC CENTER LAWSUIS, TREE-SIT, MEMORIAL STADIUM, OAK GROVE






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