City Threatens Lawsuit Over Underhill Plan





  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

Construction of a three-story parking structure on the Underhill lot is hardly inevitable as the Berkeley City Council prepares to discuss taking possible legal action against the university.

Despite city opposition, the UC Board of Regents approved the Underhill Area Master Plan, which includes construction of parking spaces and student housing, at their last meeting on Nov. 16. Next week, the council will discuss the possibility of initiating a lawsuit against the university because of the board's decision.

The approved plan has many "inadequacies," according to the city, because it does not include enough student housing. While the parking lot currently holds 340 cars, it will be upgraded to a 1,000-space garage in the new plan.

There will be a new dining commons and student housing for 900 students as well as the parking structure, topped by a playing field.

UC Spokesperson Chuck McFadden declined to comment on the possibility of a lawsuit.

Rob Wrenn, chair of the city's planning commission, said certain parts of the plan are acceptable, although the university's minimal construction of housing directly ignores the desires of the community.

"To sum up my opinion - housing yes, parking no," Wrenn said.

The new parking will only increase the number of students who drive to school, when they could live closer to campus if housing was provided, he said.

The city holds contention with several elements in the plan's Final Environmental Impact Report, which analyzes the university's use of the land and its effect on the surrounding area.

"I wouldn't be opposed to taking some steps (toward litigation)," Wrenn said. "There could be grounds for legal action."

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who sponsored a measure in November to send a statement to the regents outlining the city's suggestions, said the university should listen to the consultants they hired.

"Paid consultants to the

university have said the 'more housing, less parking' plan is 'the significantly environmentally superior alternative,'" Worthington said. "The city wants them to consider what these consultants have told them."

If the city takes legal action, the university will have to review the Environmental Impact Report in its entirety, since city officials said the university did not adequately study the whole plan.

The city attorney is currently reviewing the facts of the case in consideration of legal action in the future. The analysis should be finished by this Tuesday, but due to the complexity of the issue, the City Council will most likely wait until their Dec. 12 meeting to take action, Worthington said.

A new report may be drafted if the city wins in court, although it would mean delays for the project and increased costs, Mayor Shirley Dean said.

"I'm not a big fan of suing simply for a new (report), but if we really need to, then we will," she said. "I believe it is possible we can work together to achieve an end without a lawsuit."

Complaints voiced against the Underhill plans include disappointment with how the buildings will look.

"My big concern is the design plan for the dining commons," Dean said. "The sketches I saw did not look like a building we would want to see in Berkeley."

The city wants to ensure that the design is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, since community members found it a "visual assault," said Councilmember Polly Armstrong.

Tags:






Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
News
Image Student regent resigns after sex crime allegations
Jesse Cheng officially announced his resignation from his positio...Read More»
News
Image Pet shop may occupy planned Goodwill
After failed negotiations with the landlord and resistance from the busines...Read More»
News
Image Campus graduate takes new first steps
UC Berkeley's graduation day this year was symbolic for graduate Austin Whi...Read More»
News
Image Regents rescind part of approval
The ongoing legal battle surrounding revisions to the building plans for th...Read More»
News
Image UC spared additional cuts in budget revision
While the University of California escaped further funding reductions M...Read More»
News
Image UC Board of Regents wary of unreliable state funds
SAN FRANCISCO - Following the release of Gov. Jerry Brown's revis...Read More»
Right Arrow




Job Postings

White Space