BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — The California State Assembly has approved a bill that allows the City of Berkeley to continue its housing construction at People’s Park.
This bill approval amends the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 which prevented construction on projects that did not study a potential for noise pollution generated from future residents after they move into the area.
According to the State Assembly, UC Berkeley currently provides housing for only 23 percent of its students, which is the lowest rate in the University of California system.
The new building would house more than 1,100 students in a 148-unit apartment building. The construction will also allow the university to build a separate unit that will house over 60 homeless people who currently sleep at the park.
“This is a victory for affordable housing and that means it’s a victory in our ongoing efforts to tackle homelessness,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin. “These laws were designed to protect the environment, but they’re most often used to stop dense, infill projects which add affordable housing while reducing sprawl and pollution. These are the types of projects which, at scale, help fight the housing crisis which has been a leading cause of homelessness.”
More than half of the 2.8 acres of the park would remain an open space for the public. The bill will go into effect immediately once it is signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.