People's Park Historic District Advocacy Group

In A few wordS...

We are incorporated in California as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Objective and purpose

to protect, preserve, and enhance public understanding of the significant architectural and cultural landmarks and historic events unique to the outside campus area through outreach, research, and educational and cultural community projects.

We at PPHDAG are proud of the success of our California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) challenge to UC’s attempt to avoid mandated environmental safeguards that would preserve People’s Park.  You, our supporters, have made that success possible.  Thank you! Now as we all await a decision on our CEQA case from the California Supreme Court, other groups of People’s Park defenders, such as People’s Park Council, are also publicizing their efforts to protect the park from UC’s plan to build in the park. For more information, you can visit the People’s Park Council at www.peoplespark.org/wp/

The False Narrative of People’s Park - Comment by People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group

An analysis of the nonfactual presentation in UC Berkeley’s flyer “A Renewed People’s Park for All” reveals the irrationality of the People’s Park project and the venality of UCB administration in pursuing it. This is amplified by the undercutting of park proponents’ win in the State Court of Appeal by AB 1307 and its subsequent impact on the recent State Supreme Court decision reversing that win.

Moreover, an immediate concern is whether UC has done an adequate archeological investigation of the park. Given a recent official filing with the Northwest Information Center of the State Office of Historic Preservation showing evidence of Native American artifacts in or near the park, UC should present information to the public describing what steps it has taken to ascertain it will not continue its long history of destruction of historic Native sites, graves and objects.

AB 1307 was nothing more than a sweetheart, backroom deal concocted by Assemblyperson Buffy Wicks. She had absolutely no contact with the plaintiffs in the court case or with any park proponents in the district she purportedly represents. There were no legislative committee hearings to air arguments on the bill, either pro or con. The bill can only be described as a piece of special interest legislation with the special interest being none other than UC.

This outcome is disappointing because the nonprofit, community-based organizations were only asking for a public process under the California Environmental Quality Act. The Court of Appeal clearly saw that UC pursued a private process in determining it had no alternative other than to build on People’s Park. Our groups hired legal representation at great expense to advocate for transparency from UC. They played by the rules, and when UC did not like the outcome, it got the rules changed.

This begs the question – Is the project about student housing or about destroying the park? This is particularly evident when the millions of wasted dollars of public funds are considered due to delays, legal and police costs, and the shipping container wall with razor wire.

In order to meet its housing goal, UCB has claimed that it wants to build as much student housing as soon as possible. However, as an indication of its outrageously poor planning to reach the goal, UCB chose People’s Park as Housing Project #2 and then admitted early on that it would certainly experience delays due to the controversial nature of the project. Anchor House, Housing Project # 1, is nearly completed. If any of the many alternative sites had been chosen for Housing Project #2, it would likewise be nearly complete.

Cal claims extensive public engagement and input on the project. However, it was only earlier this year that teach-ins were held on campus that included student groups, faculty and community groups that provided an open and balanced analysis of what it would mean to destroy People’s Park. In 2021, People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group circulated an Open Letter with nearly 150 signatures that includes Berkeley residents, UCB professors, three former Berkeley mayors, three former Berkeley city councilmembers, many former Berkeley commissioners, Cal alumni and students, attorneys, architects, historians and many others who are concerned about the threatened destruction of People’s Park. Their representative views were never considered by campus administration.

Additionally, several student groups support preservation of People’s Park – Pay Your Workers Campaign, Historic Preservation Club, Cal ACLU, and Suitcase Clinic. Add to that, two resolutions from the ASUC opposing destruction of the park, the Berkeley Faculty Association’s questioning of the project, and the many editorials in support of the park in the Daily Cal. Support has also come from the country’s leading preservation organization – The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Cal touts that 1.7 acres of the park would remain open space after development. However, the increasingly densely populated Southside needs probably at least three times the acreage of People’s Park to meet urban green space standards at the international, national, state or city level. Stripping much-needed open space from students and the community is particularly perverse because it is unnecessary.

Cal states it has “secured housing vouchers from the City of Berkeley for this project” neglecting to explain that housing vouchers come from the federal Housing and Urban Development voucher program. Vouchers would only be available if UC completed an environmental impact report in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, a requirement UC refused for its original supportive housing project. Since UC has destroyed a site on the National Register of Historic Places, this will likely be a major deterrent for any potential nonprofit housing developer.

Not only are the proposed buildings out-of-keeping with the area, they overshadow a National Landmark (Bernard Maybeck’s First Church), a building by famed architect Julia Morgan, the Anna Head complex by the founding member of Berkeley’s Ratcliff architectural dynasty, and many other historic structures that surround People’s Park.

The university claims to honor the historic importance of the park but does so by destroying a place that is an official city landmark, recognized by the State Historic Resources Commission. And People’s Park is also listed on the federal government’s National Register of Historic Places as a site of such national importance that it’s worthy of preservation. So UC’s idea of honoring this historic place is to destroy it.

Many who consider themselves part of the Cal family honor fact-based research and support social justice. We think of these values as having been strengthened by experiences at Berkeley. Therefore, it pains most Cal-affiliated people when UC Berkeley behaves like a greedy and abusive corporation without a conscience.

Corporations can make expensive miscalculations, e.g., Ford’s Edsel. UC campuses likewise have made costly planning errors, e.g., UCSB’s “Dormzilla.” However, both of these mistakes were recognized and the projects were terminated. Harm only comes when a bad decision is stubbornly sustained at the cost of institutional integrity.

Condensed Review of the Supreme Court Briefs for Housing Project #2 at People’s Park

Read the Review or download the PDF. People’s Park is now officially listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places! This official listing on the National Register follows being nominated unanimously by the California State Historical Resources Commission in recognition of how the park played a key role as a gathering place for free speech during the decades of anti-war and civil rights struggles. Despite People’s Park new designation, UC continues to refuse to consider perfectly viable alternative housing sites nearby, like the Ellsworth Garage site, for student housing.

People’s Park nominated for National Register of Historic Places

Watch the video of the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on cal-span.org.
(People’s Park discussion begins at 2:44:25)

People's Park Open Letter Sent and Release to Media

On April 19, 2021, the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group released an Open Letter that was sent to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, State Legislators, the Board of Regents and Governor Newsom. The hundred and two signatories on the letter include Berkeley residents, UCB professors, two former Berkeley mayors, three former Berkeley city councilmembers, many former Berkeley commissioners, Cal alumni and students, attorneys, architects, historians and many others who are concerned about the threatened destruction of People’s Park. The open letter calls upon the University of California to work with the Berkeley community to protect and enhance People’s Park, rather than destroy it and build a 17-story housing structure. UC argues the destruction of the park is necessary to respond to its housing shortage, yet the university has identified several other possible sites for student residences. While recognizing the need for truly affordable housing, the letter condemns the threat to the historic and cultural legacy of the People’s Park and the environmental damage that would result from the loss of the irreplaceable open space. The letter envisions what would be a properly maintained park and “a safe, well-used public space frequented by all.” The Board of Regents will consider People’s Park project and another poorly conceived UCB construction project in a meeting this summer. Berkeley, Bay Area and California residents are encouraged to investigate the overreach of UC and contact their legislators. See the letter with signatures below.

Update to Open Letter: The State Historical Resources Commission has just nominated People’s Park to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Open Letter

To: The Chancellor, Mayor, State Legislators, the Regents and the Governor

No northern city was more affected by the great social and cultural movements of the ‘60s than Berkeley and no event in Berkeley history brought together more of the diverse forces of that era than the conflict over People’s Park in 1969. That is why the park is designated as a landmark by the City of Berkeley and the State of California and is deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

And that is why the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group and the undersigned call upon the University of California to work with the Berkeley community to protect and enhance People’s Park. Just as the nation preserves the great battlefields of the Civil War of the 1860s, so should it preserve places like People’s Park that commemorate the great social and cultural conflicts of the 1960s.

Instead, the university proposes to destroy the park in order to build a 17-story student housing structure. UC argues the destruction of the park is necessary to respond to its housing shortage, yet the university has identified several other possible sites for student residences. Of all the jurisdictions dealing with the Bay Area’s regional housing crisis, only UC Berkeley proposes to destroy a public park of national historic importance. UC’s development plan would also destroy the view from the park and overshadow the surrounding other distinguished local, state and national landmarks, e.g., Maybeck’s Christian Science First Church.

In destroying the park, the university is eliminating the only public open space in Berkeley’s most densely populated neighborhood. Over the past several years, UC has over-enrolled the number of students, violating its own plans and increasing the number of budget-padding out-of-state enrollees. This greatly increases the population density of the area. Doesn’t the university have a responsibility to maintain and enhance the one piece of restorative nature still open to the public in this over-crowded neighborhood?

The university argues the park is a place of great crime and violence, a claim vehemently denied by park users and their supporters. The university’s unacceptable “solution” is to displace the poor, the unhoused and other park users by paving over the park. UC has clearly allowed the park to deteriorate; however, maintaining it as well as other city parks could ensure that People’s Park could be a safe, well-used public space frequented by all.

Shouldn’t a great university, with a brilliant faculty and immensely talented students, use its resources to work with neighbors and park supporters to create an inclusive public open space welcome to all? Shouldn’t the university’s architecture faculty help design truly affordable low-income housing projects in other Berkeley locations? Such efforts would be consistent with UC’s mission of public education and service and consistent with the best values and ideals of the ‘60s.

Please join with us not just to preserve People’s Park, but to make it a place that respects and commemorates its history and celebrates and serves its diverse surrounding community.

For more background, go to www.peoplesparkhxdist.org. If you want to add your name to this statement, send name and affiliation to peoplesparkhxdist@gmail.com.

Signed:

  • Annette Aalborg, DrPH, UC Berkeley; Public Health Professor, Touro University, California
  • Lynn Adler, Berkeley resident since 1973
  • Gael Alcock, musician, Berkeley resident
  • Phil Allen, former Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commissioner
  • Lee Altenberg, UC Regents Scholar and A.B. in Genetics, UC Berkeley, 1980; Theoretical Biologist and Adjunct Professor of Mathematics, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
  • Elana Auerbach, Berkeley Community Organizer
  • Avram Gur Arye, retired architect
  • Jurgen Aust, AICP, Expert in Land Use, Transportation, City Planning; Berkeley Resident
  • David Axelrod, attorney
  • Russell Bates, 47-year Berkeley resident, Berkeley Copwatch member, People’s Park Committee member
  • Tom Bates, former Berkeley Mayor, State Assemblyman and Alameda County Supervisor
  • Reverend Allan Bell, Director, The Silence Project, London
  • Robb Benson, Food Not Bombs
  • Howard Besser, retired UC Professor and 50 year Berkeley resident
  • Paul Kealoha Blake, activist
  • John Roosevelt Boettiger, Ph.D, psychologist and professor of human development emeritus, Hampshire College
  • Andus Brandt, Berkeley architect
  • Summer Brenner, writer, Berkeley resident
  • Zelda Bronstein, Journalist and former Chair, Berkeley Planning Commission
  • James Brook, poet and translator, Berkeley resident
  • Mina Davis Caulfield, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., UC Berkeley; resident of Berkeley 61 year; Assoc. Prof., Anthropology and Women Studies, emerita, San Francisco State University
  • James Chanin, civil rights attorney
  • Benjamin Christy, anonymous nobody
  • Sas Colby, artist, activist, resident of South Berkeley
  • Alan Collins, former member of Berkeley Housing Advisory and Appeals Board
  • Terri Compost, ecologist
  • Devin Cory, born in Berkeley in 1996; my Grandmother Judy Foster’s memorial lemon tree stands in People’s Park
  • Teah Cory, born in Berkeley in 1998; my Grandmother Judy Foster’s memorial lemon tree stands in People’s Park
  • Tom Dalzell, author, union lawyer
  • Cameron Danesh, UC Berkeley student
  • Cheryl Davila, former Berkeley City Councilmember
  • Shirley Dean, former Berkeley mayor, former Berkeley City Councilmember
  • Michael Delacour, People’s Park co-founder
  • Carol Denney, writer, musician
  • Linda Diamond, Food Not Bombs volunteer
  • Tim Donnelly, Poet, AFT Local 6192
  • Lesley Emmington, former President, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, former Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commissioner
  • Annie Esposito, retired Community News Director at KZYX
  • Laura Fantone. UC Berkeley Research Staff, Berkeley resident
  • Nina Feldman, Berkeley native, local business owner since 1981
  • Susan Duhan Felix, Art Ambassador City of Berkeley, former President of Berkeley Art Commission
  • Isis Feral, environmentalist, labor and disability justice activist
  • Helen Finkelstein, UCB alumna & Berkeley resident
  • Arthur Fonseca, Picuris Pueblo Senior Services Provider.
  • Alisa Foster, Berkeley resident since 1968; my 1st grade class help break cement to create Peoples Park
  • Anne-Lise François, Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley
  • Clifford Fred, former Berkeley Planning Commissioner
  • Robin Freeman, former Berkeley Landmarks Commissioner; Chair, emeritus, Environmental Management and Technology, Merritt College; Co-Director, David R. Brower, Ronald V. Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy and Action
  • Paula Friedman, author and editor
  • Gloria Frym, writer, professor, California College of the Arts
  • Leah Garchik, journalist
  • Ann Garrison, Contributing Editor Black Agenda Report, KPFA/Pacifica reporter
  • Charles Gary, Spiritual Activist
  • Judith Gips, UC Berkeley graduate, writer, Berkeley resident since 1975, K-12 teacher, community organizer
  • Hava Glick-Landes, UC Berkeley alumni 2005, over 20-year community member
  • Rafael Jesús González, Poet Laureate, City of Berkeley
  • Emil de Guzman
  • Alan Haber, Berkeley resident 1968-93, People’s Park since day 1, Ann Arbor Community Commons
  • Hali Hammer, musician, activist, teacher
  • Kristin Hanson, Berkeley resident and professor of English at UC Berkeley
  • Chandra Hauptman, Berkeley resident, former KPFA Local Station Board & Pacifica National Board member
  • Art Hazelwood, Lecturer, San Francisco Art Institute
  • Robbin Henderson, UC Berkeley alumna, B.A., 1963; former Executive Director, Berkeley Art Center; Berkeley Civic Arts Commissioner
  • L. Higa, legal analyst, UC Berkeley alumna, former Boalt Hall law school & UC Berkeley Southeast Asian Studies Dept. employee
  • Aidan Hill, former Vice-Chair, City of Berkeley Homeless Commission
  • Bill Issel, Professor of History (emeritus), San Francisco State University
  • Greg Jan, historical researcher, political activist
  • Susie Johnson
  • Theo Jones, concerned citizen
  • Thomas Jones, MD, Berkeley resident
  • Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Emerita, Youth and Justice Advocate
  • Persis M. Karim, Ph.D., Neda Nobari Distinguished Chair, Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, San Francisco State University
  • George Killingsworth, UCC pastor, actor, activist; Berkeley resident since 1957
  • Jonathan King, editor, writer
  • Ken Knabb, Berkeley resident since 1965, writer and translator
  • Jack Kurzweil, Professor (Emeritus) of Electrical Engineering, San Jose State University
  • Maria-Giuliana Latini, 5th generation Californian of local Native American, Mexican and white descent
  • Moni T. Law, J.D., Chair of Berkeley Community Safety Coalition, Cal Alum, 1982
  • Paul Lee, Visiting Scholar Department of African American Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Ying Lee, former Berkeley City Councilmember, former aide to Congressman Ron Dellums, former BUSD teacher
  • Eric Leenson, co-founder La Peña Cultural Center
  • Michelle LePaule, Berkeley resident
  • Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor Tikkun magazine and Ph.D. in Philosophy, UC Berkeley, 1972
  • Siobhan Lettow, Berkeley resident
  • Murphy Levitt
  • Judi Lewis, MPH, UC Berkeley
  • Joe Liesner, activist
  • Natalie Logusch, tenant at 1921 Walnut Street
  • Thomas Luce, People’s Park Committee
  • Seth Lunine, Lecturer, UCB Geography
  • Bob Mandel, park co-founder, Adult Ed ESL teacher, union organizer, Mumia activist
  • Amelia S. Marshall, UC Berkeley alumna, 1980; retired staff research associate/development engineer; local history author
  • Gary McDole, Berkeley resident
  • Dan McMullan, director, Disabled People Outside Project; former Berkeley
    Human Welfare & Community Action Commissioner
  • Tom Miller, President, Green Cities Fund
  • Ed Monroe, artist
  • Negeene Mosaed, owner, Berkeley Community Physical Therapy
  • Doug Minkler, printmaker
  • Dieter Müller-Greven
  • Marilyn Naparst, alumna of UCB, activist, citizen of Berkeley since 1958, volunteered and worked in Berkeley Schools
  • Sally Nelson, artist, activist, Berkeley resident since 1977
  • Peter Neufeld, Repurposing Artist, Owner of The Store on Telegraph Avenue
  • Osha Neumann, lawyer
  • Gus Newport, former Berkeley Mayor, international activist
  • Martin Nicolaus, Berkeley Law alumnus, Berkeley parks advocate
  • Meave O’Connor, Wireless Radiation Education and Defense
  • Becky O’Malley, journalist and editor, former City of Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commissioner
  • Eliza O’Malley, Opera Singer, Artistic Director Berkeley Chamber Opera
  • Cynthia Papermaster, UC Berkeley alumna, 55-year resident of Berkeley, former Berkeley PTA Council President
  • Tony Platt, Distinguished Affiliated Scholar, Center for the Study of Law & Society, UC Berkeley
  • Marcia Poole, Berkeley resident, artist
  • Jim Powell, poet, MacArthur Fellow, Berkeley native
  • Janette M. Reid, Berkeley resident since 1967, Cal alumna & staff retiree
  • Diane Resek, Professor Emerita of Mathematics, San Francisco State University
  • Justin Richardson, Landscape Architect, UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design alumnus
  • Renee Rivera, Public Health Nurse
  • Eugene E Ruyle, Cal Alumnus, 1963, Anthropology; Emeritus Professor of Anthropology Cal State Long Beach (Puvungna)
  • Jos Sances, artist, activist
  • Marty Schiffenbauer, Berkeley resident 54 years
  • Bob Schildgen, writer
  • Laura Schmidt, UCSF professor, UCB alumnus and Berkeley resident
  • Maansi Shah, UC Berkeley alumnus
  • Patrick Sheahan, architect
  • Dan Siegel, civil rights attorney, ASUC president (1969-70)
  • Gar Smith, FSM vet, author, environmental activist; former Ecology Center board member; editor emeritus, Earth Island Journal
  • Harvey Smith, public historian, educator
  • Margot Smith, retired social scientist, activist
  • Elizabeth Starr, environmental advocate
  • Zach Stewart, landscape architect for Berkeley Shorebird Park and Willard Park
  • Paule Cruz Takash, Ph.D., Anthropology, UC Berkeley, 1990
  • Lisa Teague, People’s Park Committee and Berkeley Outreach Coalition
  • Austin Terry, archaeologist, Berkeley resident
  • Daniella Thompson, writer, historian
  • Maxina Ventura, mother, activist, musician
  • Richard Walker, former department chair UCB Geography, professor Emeritus
  • Paul Wallace, 1921 Walnut Street tenant
  • Steve Wasserman, publisher, Heyday
  • Michael Weber, UC Berkeley student, 1969
  • Pat Welch, graphic designer
  • Jane Welford, activist, gardener, grandmother
  • Jane White, Berkeley resident
  • Tobey M. Wiebe, Ph.D. candidate, School of Education, UC Berkeley, 1978
  • Charles Wollenberg, California historian, writer
  • Lope Yap, Jr., filmmaker

As of June 10, 2024, 10 p.m., 144 signatures

The Future of People’s Park

UC Berkeley’s plan to build a 17-story high rise on People’s Park, which would destroy the historic and cultural legacy and an irreplaceable natural environment, has brought together writers, historians, students and park activists to oppose this ill-considered project.

This Zoom event, hosted by the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group, will present the historic background of the park, give details on the effort to recognize its national landmark status, and share plans for revitalizing this invaluable public open space.

The goal of this meeting is to develop strategies for taking our message to the broader Berkeley community, as well as the mayor, city council, UC Berkeley, state legislature and regents.

Presenters to include:
Tom Dalzell- author of The Battle for People’s Park, Berkeley 1969
Steve Wasserman – Participant and Activist during 1969
Max Ventura – People’s Park Committee
Aidan Hill – Former Berkeley Mayoral Candidate/UCB Student

Length of event: hour and a half

Introductory remarks and moderator – Harvey Smith

Each presentation 8 minutes with 4 minutes of submitted questions

Group discussion following and additional questions from viewers

Closing remarks – Harvey Smith

Time: Feb 26, 2021 07:00 to 08:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

This is what we Are Doing

Protect, Preserve, enhance


RESEARCH

Exploring deeply the background and history of People's Park, the surrounding historic district, and UC Berkeley land use policy.

PLANNING

Creating alternatives to the destruction of People's Park and an enhancement of the historic neighborhoold open to all students, Berkeley residents and visitors.

ADVOCACY

Educating the community and actively opposiing the destruction of People's Park and the surrounding neighborhood.

Endorsers

A cross-section of Berkeley

Historians, preservationists, students, neighbors and concerned citizens.
About Us

Historians, preservationists, students, neighbors and concerned citizens have come together to form the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group to document and preserve the open space of People’s Park and the historic resources encircling it.

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